4 March 2012

Cardinal O'Brien: Same sex marriage would be " a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right"

Writing in today's Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's senior Catholic, calls on the UK Government to drop plans for same sex marriage, ahead of a consultation on the issue being launched this month. Although the proposal applies only to England & Wales, it will be voted on by all Westminster MP's including Scottish members of Parliament.

Cardinal O'Brien describes Government assurances that religious bodies needn't participate in same sex ceremonies as; "disingenuous" and "staggeringly arrogant" and calls on David Cameron's Government to protect rather than dismantle marriage.

The full text of Cardinal O'Brien's article is shown below.


Peter Kearney
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168
07968 122291

Sunday Telegraph - Commentary  
By Cardinal Keith O Brien
THE GOVERNMENT is this month launching a consultation on same sex marriage, asking the public whether or not it should be introduced in England and Wales.
I hope many respond and consider signing the petition in support of traditional marriage organised by a new organisation, the Coalition For Marriage .
On the surface, the question of same sex marriage may seem to be an innocuous one. Civil partnerships have been in place for several years now, allowing same sex couples to register their relationship and enjoy a variety of legal protections. When these arrangements were introduced, supporters were at pains to point out that they didn t want marriage, accepting that marriage had only ever meant the legal union of a man and a woman.  
Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnership, believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, warned that in time marriage would be demanded too. We were accused of scaremongering then, yet exactly such demands are upon us now.
Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.  
Redefining marriage will have huge implications for what is taught in our schools, and for wider society. It will redefine society since the institution of marriage is one of the fundamental building blocks upon which society is built. The repercussions of enacting same sex marriage into law will be immense.  
But can we simply redefine terms at a whim? Can a word whose meaning has been clearly understood in every society throughout history suddenly be changed to mean something else?
If same sex marriage is enacted into law what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell   pupils that marriage can only mean - and has only ever meant - the union of a man and a woman?
Will that teacher s right to hold and teach this view be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils in simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?

In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren t derided. Instead, their attempt to redefine reality is given a polite hearing, their madness is indulged. Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.  
As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by governments and should not be changed by them. Instead, recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society, they should act to protect and uphold marriage, not attack or dismantle it. This is a point of view that would have been endorsed and accepted only a few years ago, yet today advancing a traditional understanding of marriage risks one being labelled an intolerant bigot.
There is no doubt that, as a society, we have become blasé about the importance of marriage as a stabilising influence and less inclined to prize it as a worthwhile institution. It has been damaged and undermined over the course of a generation, yet marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father.  
This brings us to the one perspective which seems to be completely lost or ignored: the point of view of the child. All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father; the evidence in favour of the stability and well being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal. It cannot be provided by a same sex couple, however well intentioned they may be.  
Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.  
Other dangers exist. If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another? If marriage is simply about adults who love each other, on what basis can three adults who love each other be prevented from marrying?  
In November 2003, after a court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary school children were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King . Some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century . Education suddenly had to comply with what was now deemed normal .  
Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same sex marriage wouldn t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is staggeringly arrogant. No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage. Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that no one will be forced to keep a slave . Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is crystal clear: marriage is a right which applies to men and women, the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.  
This universal truth is so self-evident that it shouldn t need to be repeated. If the Government attempts to demolish a universally recognised human right, they will have forfeited the trust which society has placed in them and their intolerance will shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world.
Cardinal O Brien is President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland and Britain s senior Catholic.

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 122 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Dunkeld Priest to become Spiritual Director of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome

| 2 days ago | Blogging

Fr James Walls, currently parish priest of St. Pius X parish in Dundee, has been appointed by the Scottish Bishops’ Conference as Spiritual Director of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.      Commenting on the appointment, Bishop Stephen Robson, the Bishop of Dunkeld said:       “I am absolutely delighted that the Bishops have decided to appoint Father James Walls as spiritual director to the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. As a former Spiritual Director in Rome myself, I can recognise great qualities, spiritual, intellectual and moral in Fr Jim’s priestly ministry.  He has been well trained in spiritual direction and accompaniment, and together with his pastoral experience as parish priest in a large North Dundee Catholic Parish Community, I believe him to be an ideal choice to serve the community of seminarians there and as an effective collaborator with Fr Fitzpatrick the Rector and Fr Parkes the Vice Rector.”        Bishop Robson added;       “Fr Jim will be going to Rome, Salamanca and for training in the USA from the end of May onwards and will take up his new role in September. Fr Jim has my full support and I wish him many blessings and congratulations.”        Reacting to his appointment, Fr. James Walls, said:       “I would like to give thanks to God, and the bishops of Scotland, in appointing me as Spiritual Director in the Scots College. I would also like to give thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for taking my mum into their home; without this generosity, the decision would have been much more difficult. I look forward to getting to know those men who have generously put themselves forward for the priesthood.”       Responding to the appointment, Fr. Dan Fitzpatrick, Rector of the Scots College said:       “I am very grateful to Fr Jim for generously accepting the post of spiritual director here at the Pontifical Scots College. He brings with him his experience of parish ministry, spiritual direction and priestly life. I am sure he will find great joy and fulfilment in his important role of helping the men here in the College discern and prepare for service as priests in Scotland.  As the community gets ready to welcome him, I would also like to thank Fr Mark Cassidy, our departing spiritual director, for his hard work, enthusiasm and positive contribution to our seminarians and to the College during his seven years here. Our prayers are with him as he returns to the Diocese of Dunkeld and I would like to thank Bishop Stephen Robson for his on-going support for the College.”       ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291   Note to Editors:   1. An image of Fr. Walls can be downloaded here:

Scottish bishops offer condolences to Cardinal’s family and friends

| 3 days ago | Blogging

The President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and Bishop Joseph Toal have offered their condolences on the death, earlier today (Monday 19 March 2017) of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.     Archbishop Tartaglia said;     “We have received the sad news of the death of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Emeritus Archbishop of  St Andrews & Edinburgh.  On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland I wish to express my sincere sympathy on the death of the late Cardinal to his family and close friends. I ask for prayers for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.”     Bishop Toal said;     “I will pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, who died early this morning – may he rest in God’s peace. I extend my sympathy and prayerful support to his family, friends and all who mourn his passing. With constant hope in the Lord’s goodness and mercy.”     ENDS     Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291

Archbishop Emeritus Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien (1938-2018) RIP

| 3 days ago | Blogging

Death Notice   Archbishop Emeritus Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien (1938-2018) RIP     At 1am on Monday 19 March 2018, His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop Emeritus of St Andrews & Edinburgh, died at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne surrounded by family and friends and fortified by the rites of Holy Church. RIP. He was 80 years old.     Commenting upon the news, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: “In life, Cardinal O’Brien may have divided opinion – in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down. May he rest in peace.” ENDS Notes to Editors: 1.   For more information, contact David Kerr, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, on 07903 621232 m.     2.   Archbishop Leo Cushley will be available for interview at 11am at the Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB.     3.   CV of Archbishop Emeritus Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien: Born at Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Ireland, 17 March 1938, educated St Patrick’s High School, Dumbarton, Holy Cross Academy, Edinburgh; University of Edinburgh (BSc, 1959; Dip.Ed., 1966); St Andrew’s College, Drygrange; ordained priest at Edinburgh, 3rd April 1965, assistant priest, Holy Cross, Edinburgh 1965- 66; St Bride’s, Cowdenbeath and Chaplain to St Columba’s Secondary School 1966-71; St Patrick’s, Kilsyth, 1972-75; St Mary’s, Bathgate 1975-78; spiritual di- rector, St Andrew’s College, Drygrange 1978-80; rector, St Mary’s College, Blairs 1980-85; nominated Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh 30 May 1985, and ordained by Cardinal Gordon Gray, Archbishop Emeritus of St Andrews & Edinburgh, at Edinburgh, 5 August 1985. Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Argyll & the Isles 1996-99; created Cardinal 21 October 2003. Resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh 25 February 2013.     4.   Following a series of allegations relating to his personal life, Cardinal O’Brien resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh 25 February 2013 and issued a media release on 3 March 2013 in which he announced his retirement from public life, stating: “I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland." With the agreement of the Holy See, he subsequently moved to the north of England. 5.  Following an apostolic visitation to Scotland led by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Holy See announced on 20 March 2015 that Pope Francis had "accepted the resignation of Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien from the rights and duties of a Cardinal". The Holy See Press Office O'Brien stated that Cardinal O’Brien would not take part in future papal elections, act as papal adviser, or take part in Vatican congregations and councils and would lose other roles of a cardinal. 6.  Funeral arrangements for Cardinal O’Brien are still to be finalised but will be done so in coming days in consultation with the Holy See and Cardinal O’Brien’s family. 7.    Suggested commentators and potential interviewees for the media;       * Ian Dunn, former Editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer. Ian was 10 years with the Scottish Catholic Observer until January 2018. Tel: 07908 871858   * John Deighan, former Parliamentary Officer for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. John worked alongside Cardinal O’Brien for many ...

Civic office requires Christian belief and principle like never before

| 06th March 2018 | Blogging

The abusive criticism aimed at politicians like Elaine Smith and Tim Farron might be enough to put Christians off political office for good, warns Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office in The Scotsman.     This follows recent derision of Elaine Smith’s appointment as shadow cabinet secretary for the eradication of poverty and inequality, which some have claimed is untenable because she voted against the redefinition of marriage in 2014.     Mr Horan echoes Pope Francis’ concerns that there is a sustained and ongoing “persecution” of traditional religion.     “For dissenters like Elaine Smith the persecution tends to take the form of bullying and abuse, some of which is obvious and some of which is a little more insidious”, he writes.     He argues that a secular, allegedly progressive religion has taken hold in Scotland attempting to convince people, particularly the young, that it is the only belief system that guarantees freedom; “that its tolerance knows no bounds. The truth is that it guarantees neither”.        He calls on politicians and people of all faiths and none to return to the basics and recognise “the inherent dignity of the human person and the common good”, and to encourage and support those who sacrifice a much easier life to uphold these values and ideals in public office.   Full text of the Friends of the Scotsman article is copied below.      ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291       Notes to Editors   1. An image of Anthony Horan is available at:   2. Full text:     Friends of the Scotsman by Anthony Horan, Director, Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office     The thought police are on the prowl once again, this time criticising the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard for giving Elaine Smith the portfolio for the eradication of poverty and inequality. Mr Leonard was challenged publicly on his choice and criticism has inevitably followed.     Elaine Smith, an MSP for Central Region, voted against the redefinition of marriage and this, it seems, is unforgivable. Like Tim Farron, Mrs Smith must now prepare herself for the very real possibility of a distasteful, humiliating and painful public inquisition until she is dethroned from her shadow cabinet post and perhaps even forced out of political office altogether. Her crime was to break from the stifling political orthodoxy by which we are all bound.     Even some politicians have taken to social media to join the throng of critics anxious to question Mr Leonard’s judgement and to attack Mrs Smith. Social media, by its very nature, painlessly facilitates the mob culture, giving it a soap box to spew forth intolerant attitudes with the sole intention of damaging anyone who strays from the orthodoxy. It is, in many respects, a secular progressive religion; its doctrine is fundamentalist, imposing on everyone ridicule and abuse if they do not adhere. This new religion also unashamedly clambers for a favoured place in officialdom, seeking favourable legislation and government policy. But unlike other religions, there is little room for forgiveness. It is a zealous faith and it brooks no dissent.       Pope Francis recently spoke of a “polite persecution” of traditional religion. There is indeed a persecution, but it is not necessarily polite. In fact, it is quite the opposite. For dissenters like Elaine Smith the persecution tends to take the form of bullying and abuse, some of which is obvious and some of which is a little more insidious. But it is bullying nonetheless.       The new orthodoxy simply wants to silence those who might hold a view contrary to its doctrine. For example, Elaine Smith has in the pas...