Wednesday 7 September 2011
Catholic church promises strenuous opposition to attempts to redefine marriage.
At their meeting in Edinburgh today, Scotland s Catholic Bishops released a statement underlining their opposition to any attempt by the Scottish Government to undermine or redefine the meaning of marriage. The bishops made clear that the Catholic Church will respond to the consultation and urged Scotland s Catholic community to do the same.
(The full text of the statement is shown below)
At a homily to be delivered at a Mass for Politicians in Edinburgh this evening (Wednesday 7 September) Cardinal Keith O Brien will ask MSP s to accept that the family and marriage existed before the State and are built on the union between a man and woman.
Reminding politicians It is part of their vocation as politicians to work towards this common good Cardinal O Brien added; Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society
(The full text of the Cardinal s homily is shown below)
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Note to Editors:
1. Cardinal O Brien will celebrate a Mass for Politicians at St.Patrick s Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh at 6.30pm on Wednesday 7 September. St. Patrick s is the Catholic Parish of the Scottish Parliament, situated a short distance from the Parliament buildings. You are invited to send a photographer/reporter/camera crew.
STATEMENT ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE CONSULTATION
Issued by the Bishops Conference of Scotland 7th September 2011
"The Catholic Church will study the consultation document in detail and
respond to it. The view of the church is however clear, no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the State and are built on the union between a man and woman. Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed."
" It is not clear at this stage whether ministers have decided to legislate regardless of the outcome of the consultation. If a decision to legislate has been taken, it is not clear what purpose a consultation serves. If not then it is to be hoped that the Government will accept that any consultation must permit proper, balanced reflection of the arguments and not just be an exercise for justifying the campaign demands of a vociferous lobby group."
Lastly, we share the concerns which have been raised about the efficacy of Scottish Government consultations. Assurances must be given by the Scottish Government that only voters resident in Scotland will be able to participate and the response mechanisms should ensure this."
Individual members of the Bishops Conference will make their own contributions to the consultation and urge the Catholic community to do the same.
Today s readings recount the beatitudes where our Lord offers consolation to the weak, suffering or marginalised people of society. The warning to those who live amid plenty and enjoy good fortune calls us to ponder carefully the things that make for justice and to consider carefully the path that we choose to tread as we make our way through life.
Each of us will one day give account for every aspect of our life and of how we have responded to the possibilities and situation in which we find ourselves. The reminder of this in considering the rewards of the just and the punishment of the unjust does of course prompt us to consider our own commitment to justice. The Church has always upheld the importance of each person s responsibility in this regard which is ultimately a question of our faithfulness to conscience.
It is in our conscience that each human person finds himself alone with God. Blessed John Henry Newmann, beatified last year on the Pope s visit to the UK, called conscience the aboriginal Vicar of Christ . It is all persons, not just Christians that internally perceive a voice which commands our assent to choose good and avoid evil. In a world where many competing voices and pressures compete; particularly for those in positions of authority, for leaders, there is a need to remain true to one s conscience which needs to be listened to in a dispassionate and reflective manner. It is conscience which reflects the dignity of every person and which cannot be sacrificed to any human power.
It is upon the reflection of conscience that we build a social order based on an understanding of what is right and wrong which we discover together in community.
The values which underpin such a society are not the monopoly of one part of society or of one generation. It is this fact that requires us to cooperate in working to build a better society. It is part of your vocation as politicians to work towards this common good and it is a challenge which has to be taken up anew in every generation and in every life as we refine the lessons of our own lives, societies and reflect on them alongside the lessons learned by those who have gone before us.
We approach such work with an openness to the other, from which we can benefit. It is almost a year since Pope Benedict spoke on this subject to representatives of civil society in Westminster Hall and he affirmed that politics and religion have nothing to fear from each other, when he said;
the role of religion in political debate is ¦ to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.
Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person.
¦Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.
(Pope Benedict Westminster Hall Address 17 Sep 2010)
I assure you of the Catholic Church s spirit of cooperation in pursuing the task of bettering Scotland. We pursue justice together whilst respecting our own competencies and autonomy. As a Church we aim to inculcate the virtue of justice in the persons of our society whilst recognising that it is the work of politicians to ultimately secure justice in society.
We cannot overlook the importance of nurturing virtues of every person which takes place firstly and most directly in the family and for such reason we uphold the importance of the family which is the first building block of every society. Equally, the church esteems the institution of marriage as the most stable building block upon which any family can rest. The view of the church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the State and are built on the union between a man and woman. Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed."
Tonight is the vigil of the Feast of the birth of Mary the Mother of Christ. Her life was one dedicated in faithfulness to God from which the fruitfulness of her self-giving to God s plans flourished in the birth of Our Lord, the redeemer of Mankind. Jesus took his place in a family and spent long years of hidden life under the authority of a mother and father and thus presented a prototype for all families. A strong and successful Scotland needs strong families on which to build, it needs a spirit of cooperation between the voices of politics and of the Church and faith communities. Together we strive for the Common Good supported by God s grace as we face the challenges of our common future. Tonight the work of politicians is especially borne in mind as we offer our support to them in the crucial task that they give in serving our nation.