Catholic Church in Scotland takes to pulpit to resist same-sex unions

Congregations across country urged to 'safeguard' marriage between men and women

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland stepped up its fight against same-sex marriage yesterday as a letter asserting that marriage must remain "the union solely of a man and a woman" was read from pulpits in every parish.

Congregations across the country were urged to pray for Scottish political leaders "that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been". Equality groups accused the church of pushing an "anti-gay agenda".

The pastoral letter represents the latest attempt by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the outspoken leader of the church in Scotland, to mobilise opposition to First Minister Alex Salmond's plans to legalise gay marriage by 2015. He has previously described the proposals as "a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

The letter read: "Our faith teaches us that marriage is a great and holy mystery. The Bishops of Scotland will continue to promote and uphold the universally accepted definition of marriage as the union solely of a man and a woman."

A new bishop-led Commission for Marriage and the Family was also announced to help challenge what the cardinal claimed was the "deep disappointment" over the Scottish Government's continuing determination to "redefine marriage".

The combative letter is the latest chapter in the high-profile fight between Cardinal O'Brien and Mr Salmond over gay marriage. Although the First Minister's advisers had described initial conversations with the cardinal as "entirely amicable", it was announced last week that Cardinal O'Brien had personally decided to end direct discussions with Holyrood.

In response to the letter, a spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "We intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships because we believe it is the right thing to do." The statement re-affirmed earlier assurances that religious celebrants would not be forced to take part in or solemnise same-sex ceremonies.

Cardinal O'Brien's strategy of a direct appeal to Scotland's Catholics from the pulpit mirrors a similar tactic used earlier this year in England and Wales. In March, a letter from the church's two most senior clerics in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith, was read out in 2,500 parishes.

Holyrood's timetable for same-sex marriages is similar to the assurances given by Prime Minister David Cameron that legislation will be introduced in Westminster before the end of this Parliament.

Last week Pope Benedict XVI told visiting US bishops in Rome that there were "powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage".

The Equality Network, which supports same-sex marriage in Scotland, yesterday urged the country's politicians to "stand firm on its plans". The campaigning group's policy co-ordinator, Tom French, said: "The Church has an anti-gay agenda it wants to impose on the rest of society. The Scottish government should not give in to demands that would discriminate against gay people."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Technical BA - Banking - Bristol - £400pd

£400 per hour: Orgtel: Technical Business Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £400pd...

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice