Monday, 5 March 2012

Grotesque Rantings of an Illogical Cardinal

I must begin by saying that I am not anti-Roman Catholic.  I have always valued fellowship, prayer and discussion with Roman Catholic colleagues and friends.   In fact I was baptised as a Roman Catholic when a baby, and when at University, I even played guitar at the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy Folk Mass each week in rebellion to the anti-catholic rhetoric of the Christian Union - even though I was and am a evangelical.

But it is hard to know where to start in responding to the illogical rantings of Cardinal O'Brien in the Sunday Telegraph  this weekend, and on Radio 4  this morning.

Describing the prospect of same-sex marriage as grotesque, shameful and a violation of human rights,  he compared redefining marriage to legalising slavery, abortion and polygamy.

"Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right."

Yet who is being grotesque here?

In comparing same-sex marriage to slavery he said, "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' ".  Ironic really, when there was a time when Christian leaders and Churches defended slavery on the basis that it was permitted in Scripture, and nowhere did Jesus tell us to put an end to it.  In fact many went further and defended it as part of God's natural created order.  Perhaps he would like to tell us that the Church was right and the State was wrong then as well?

On Radio 4, he compared the development from Civil Partnerships towards marriage to the creeping extension of laws on abortion, when one is about celebrating life-giving love and commitment and the other (however necessary it might sometimes be) is about destruction of life.

He says that there is no need for same-sex marriage as Civil Partnerships provide all the legal protection which same-sex couples need.  Ironic while he also lets slip that he opposes Civil Partnerships because "such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved."

Finally, appealing to the United Nations declaration of human rights, he quotes the section which states that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”, and claims that extending marriage to same-sex couples would "demolish a universally recognised human right".  But how can extending this right to a minority demolish the rights of the majority?  David Cameron has stated that he is on favour of same-sex marriage precisely because he believes in marriage and commitment as the glue which holds families and society together.

What will be most grotesque to many however, is that a church which has been shown to have systematically covered up and even colluded with child abuse, should now be preaching to the rest of us about what will harm children.

I came across a quote sometime ago on an anti-religious website, which hurts me every time I read it.  It says,

"Considering all the evil that exists in the world,
the fact that all of religion's condemnation is focused
on expressing disapproval of two people loving each other
proves just how evil religion is."

As a religious person, I grieve every time one of our Christian leaders adds fuel to this perception - and Cardinal O'Brien - you just have.


  1. Well put and argued. Bless you

  2. I guess I find in my personal life and in the wider world, that women provide me as a male an essential balance of perspective on most problems. And the Catholic Church has unfortunately cut itself off from this source of balancing wisdom. I see no evidence that its female members voices are heard. The Catholic Church in the eyes of many of my Catholic friends and in my own view, will not heal itself, will not move past the sexual abuse scandals, until it allows its priests to marry and also admits women as priests. The Anglican Church has benefitted enormously in this regard and the woman priest who conducted my father's funeral and gave me support was amazing.

    How can a Church pontificate (excuse the pun)on marriage (gay or otherwise) when its members have no personal experience of ordinary human marriage? Refusing to have its own priests marry, I might suggest casts more doubt on the institution than anything gay marriage could possibly do. So to address the problem that Benny so well comments on above, the Catholic Church has to embrace women as full members: as priests and as the wives of priests. Soon may that happen.

  3. I thought his comments this morning were so irrational and would alienate so many from the Church. Clearly a man who is very afraid of gay people, there was no sense he was talking about other human beings, let alone people in loving and committed relationships. Very very sad.