Sunday 2 September 2012
Cardinal O'Brien raises "fears and concerns" on Same Sex Marriage
In an opinion article in today's Mail on Sunday newspaper, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will raise a range of "fears and concerns" over the Scottish Government's proposed Same Sex Marriage legislation.
The Cardinal will argue that previously mentioned concerns have been widely ignored and have not formed part of the political or public debate which should have taken place before the Government's decision.
He will cite the recent case in Brazil, where a civil partnership between three people has been officially recognised in the state of Sao Paolo, the vote in the Danish Parliament in June to force churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and a proposed new law in the State of Kansas, which would mean that if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party.
Cardinal O'Brien will argue that all these developments vindicate fears raised by the Catholic Church and others and undermine assurances proposed by the Scottish Government.
The full text of the Cardinal's article is shown below.
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
0141 221 1168
Cardinal O'Brien - Mail on Sunday - Sunday 2 September 2012
In the course of recent months the debate on Same Sex Marriage has ebbed and flowed to little real effect. The Scottish Government set itself on a course to redefine marriage and notwithstanding the inconvenient truth of a public consultation on the matter, which returned a 65% no vote; it remains set on that course.
We are told that the parliamentary process involved will require action by both the Scottish and UK parliaments and a raft of new guidance for employers and others. This is because the administration actually promised two things: legislation permitting same sex marriage and protection from compulsion for those opposed.
Amongst the most overused replies to the Catholic Church s opposition to marriage redefinition is the hackneyed; no church will be forced to carry out same sex marriages Incredibly, proponents of the change seem to think that by simple repetition this empty phrase will somehow develop meaning. The Church opposed the Abortion Act passed in 1967, and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act passed in 1990, even although none of these legislative acts imposed any requirement or burden on the church it opposed them vigorously and completely. Why? Simply because it cares for society and humanity. This includes a deep concern for the vast majority of our fellow human beings who are not Catholics
The religious identity of the tens of thousands of women who have had abortions over the past 45 years is irrelevant to the church as is the religious affiliations which countless thousands of embryos might have enjoyed had they been allowed to survive into child and adulthood rather than ending up in laboratory waste. The Church addresses the great human suffering they all represent. It is motivated by compassion for life, all human life.
The Catholic Church cares that across the Western world young men and women, but especially men, who are coming to terms with same sex attraction, are being prematurely locked into what may be a passing phase in their sexual identity, and are being encouraged and even urged into potentially harmful patterns of behaviour, which even our own NHS Scotland admit leave them, disproportionately affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Earlier this year I suggested that the disingenuous attempt to marginalise church concerns by repeating the mantra you won t have to take part was a bit like Government legalising slavery with the words you won t need to keep a slave It would be hypocritical. Many, then and since chose to mischievously and maliciously misquote my comments and suggest I had equated homosexuality with slavery “ which I demonstrably hadn t. This deceitful dissembling however did cause me to draw a very serious conclusion; many of those who support Same Sex Marriage do not want to engage in detailed debate on the subject, rather they prefer to attack, to marginalise and to misrepresent.
I take this opportunity to restate some of the concerns of the Church, concerns which have previously been ridiculed or ignored.
Along with others, we have asked what can stop further erosion and destruction of the meaning of marriage once it ceases to be the relationship between a man and a woman and becomes the recognition of a commitment made by adults who love one another? Such redefinition must surely, logically allow for multiple partners to enter into marriage we have warned.
Our warnings have been dismissed. Yet, earlier this week we read reports from Brazil, where a civil partnership between three people has been officially recognised in the state of Sao Paolo. The relationship between one man and two women was passed by public notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues, who said the trio were entitled to family rights adding "What we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today," The notary said in granting the wishes of the man and two women, that there was nothing in law that prevents such an arrangement. The trio have lived together in Rio de Janeiro for three years, and have a common bank account and share bills and expenses.
Along with others, we have warned that opt outs from legislation can easily be overturned. If Parliament votes to protect religious celebrants from being compelled to conduct Same Sex Marriages it can just as easily vote to overturn that protection.
Earlier this summer the Danish Parliament voted to force churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies inside their sanctuaries, although one-third of all the denomination s priests say they will not participate in such rituals.
Denmark s Parliament voted by an overwhelming 85-24 margin to compel churches to carry out unions for same-sex couples that are identical to heterosexual marriage celebrations. The law took effect in June, overturning the previous decision to allow churches to opt out. Interestingly and worryingly, in this context the Scottish Government s rhetoric has focussed on protecting religious celebrants rather than churches.
Along with others, we have warned that even if religious ceremonies are not forced on churches allowing the use of their premises may well be. In April of this year - The city council of Hutchinson, Kansas, considered enacting a new statute adding sexual orientation and sexual identity to the city s non-discrimination policy in all public accommodations. The measure would specifically include churches that rent their property to the public.
According to a city spokesman; If a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party, such as a same-sex ceremony or reception.
Religious facilities, including churches, would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals, Meryl Dye, a spokeswoman for the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission, confirmed. Unless the city council includes an exemption for churches, it would generate a discrimination complaint for the gay couple and it would be investigated “ and possibly lead to a fine.
Each of these cases confirms and expands on the fears and concerns we have expressed. They show where this debate is going and our media and our politicians have almost universally ignored them.
Launching a National Marriage Sunday in the Catholic Church last week, I said that
the Church's teaching on marriage was unequivocal; it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that Governments, politicians or Parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.
While I pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, I can assure the Scottish Government that together with Scotland s silent majority, we will continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society.