Catholic leader opposes bid to legalise gay-marriage
LONDON: The Catholic Church seems to be heading for a showdown with Prime Minister David Cameron, as one of its most senior figures has voiced his opposition to the government’s plan of legalising same-sex marriage.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, says the proposals to allow same-sex unions are “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
The cardinal’s intervention, in an article written by him for a British daily, is the strongest criticism yet from any church figure of the plans, which are due to be unveiled this month by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister.
He accused ministers of trying to “redefine reality” and change long-standing laws and traditions “at the behest of a small minority of activists”.
The cardinal has added his voice to those of leading figures in the Coalition for Marriage, a group of bishops, politicians and lawyers opposed to the changes. The group’s supporters include Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The group is in outright opposition to Cameron, who hopes to make legislation changing the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, expected by 2015, one of the central achievements of his time in office.
Featherstone is to launch a consultation on how the changes will come about this month. Despite opposition from some sections of his party, the Prime Minister has personally associated himself with the proposals.
Cameron had told last year’s Tory conference in Manchester, “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
Last week his spokesman said he was “passionate” about the issue.
Cardinal O’Brien, the only British Catholic to be part of the College of Cardinals, the body which elects popes, accuses ministers of showing “intolerance” and coming up with plans that would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.
Featherstone, however, has argued that marriage is “owned by the people” and that governments have a duty to change laws to bolster the “underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms”.-Agencies