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In a strongly worded homily to be delivered to a congregation of Catholic Peers and MP's in Westminster tomorrow, Cardinal Keith O'Brien who is on a three day visit to London will warn that the Governments proposed regulations designed to outlaw " Sexual Orientation Discrimination" constitute; " a threat to freedom of conscience" and "a threat to religious freedom".  

The proposals have recently been the subject of a DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) consultation which closed on 5 June 2006 and to which the Catholic Bishops of Scotland responded. The Equality Act 2006 included a power that allows the Government to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services, it intends to use this power to make Regulations that take effect in October 2006.  

In their response, the Bishops argued that; "A fundamental principle that has to underpin any proposals for regulation is that the freedom of conscience of individuals must be respected. It is not licit to force an individual to act contrary to his moral belief. It is a well-established and reasonable moral position to regard homosexual acts and the promotion of the moral equivalence of heterosexual and homosexual relationships as wrong."  

In his homily, Cardinal O'Brien will claim that the regulations will, "force people of faith to approve and cooperate with values that they can never in conscience accept. Faced with such threats, the Church must speak out not just for its own freedoms but the freedoms of all."  

He will also claim that if approved the Government will have "overreached" the boundaries of its authority and accuse it of, "trampling legitimate moral freedoms when it imposes values, which are without rational and sociological merit."  

Citing the example of St. Thomas More, he will claim; "the right to adhere to one s beliefs, is beyond the powers of earthly sovereigns and human governments." In a strongly worded warning he will add that "democracy which separates itself from truth, taking the path of moral relativism, can soon become thinly veiled totalitarianism"  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  


NOTES TO EDITORS:  

1. The full text of the Cardinal's homily is shown below.  
2. During his visit to London Cardinal O'Brien's programme will include:  

Tuesday 13 June:  
Meeting with the Secretary of State for International Development  
Hilary Benn MP.  
Meeting with Lord Brennan, President of Catholic Union, House of Lords  
Lunch with Tom Clarke MP  
Meetings with James Dobbin MP, Alex Salmond MP, Gordon Brown MP,  
Hosting a reception at the Scotland Office, Dover House,  

Wednesday 14 June 2006  
Mass in the Crypt of the House of Commons  
Attend - International Development Questions and Prime Minister s Question Time as guest of the Speaker of the House of Commons  
Meetings with the Prime Minister, Nigel Griffiths MP, Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP and Conservative Party MP s  
Address by Cardinal and Prayers in Speaker s Apartments “ Palace of  
Westminster followed by Dinner in the Speaker s Apartments  

Thursday 15 June 2006  
Service of Thanksgiving marking 80th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen in St Paul s Cathedral, London
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