This morning, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, appeared on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs broadcast, The Today Programme.
You can hear the interview here, in which the Cardinal argues that the recognition of homosexual “marriage” would be in contravention of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. He also draws attention to the fact that as an institution, marriage pre-dates government.
The Cardinal is not the only churchman to have spoken out on the subject, as John Duddington’s CTS bookletChristians and the state explains:
“At present under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 it is possible for homosexual couples to enter into a civil partnership but not to marry. However in 2011 the UK Government and the Scottish Government said that they were to begin consultations on the legalising of same-sex marriage. This is despite the clear statement of the Government, when civil partnerships were legalized, that it had no intention of introducing same-sex marriage.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has said that
‘Marriage does not belong to the state any more than it belongs to the church. It is a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself’.
Thus Catholics would argue that any legislation providing for same sex marriages is against the natural law and as such we are bound to oppose any law which allows it.
Pope Benedict XVI, whilst not referring directly to UK legislation on civil partnerships, has referred to what he sees as the danger of the relationship between man and woman
‘becoming increasingly detached from legal forms, whilst at the same time homosexual partnerships are increasingly viewed as equal in rank to marriage’. This trend, he says, departs from the ‘entire moral history of mankind’.”
In an article in The Daily Telegraph this weekend the Cardinal is quoted:
“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?”
In his article Cardinal O’Brien said that “no government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage”.
He pointed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where marriage defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. He argued that same-sex marriage would be a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
He described the consequences of such legislation, saying: “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 simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?” he said.