Church harms itself in marriage debate
I WRITE to commend Joyce McMillan for her excellent article (Perspective, 27 July) and to praise the Scottish Government for holding to its principles and supporting legislation on same-sex marriage, despite the illogical arguments and threats from religious groups.
The shameful remarks from Archbishop-elect Tartaglia about the late David Cairns and the claim from the Church that gay lifestyles shorten lives (dismissed by the researchers on which this nonsense is apparently based) provide further evidence of an institution which should be supporting inclusion, tolerance and love for all, but which does exactly the opposite in practice.
These statements follow other outrageous comments from the Scottish Catholic leadership that women seeking terminations should be forced to have scans and to see the results and that gays have hijacked Holocaust celebrations (ie ignoring the fact that homosexuals were targeted by the Nazis).
It seems perverse that the Church bases its campaigning on marriage as the union between a man and a woman when its own clergy is barred from marriage and when women are barred altogether from joining the priesthood.
Some of The Scotsman’s readership have suggested the Scottish Government’s stance ignores public opinion. However, a telling statistic quoted in your reports suggested that, when orchestrated campaigns from both sides were stripped out, two-thirds of respondents were in favour of the proposals.
It is a great pity, given the reassurances provided from the outset that no-one would be forced to marry same-sex couples, that the Catholic Church (and the other mainstream religions) could not adopt a more pragmatic and tolerant stance.
Several of my Catholic friends are appalled by the language emanating from their unelected leadership. It is ironic that Cardinal O’Brien recently called for more balanced and less aggressive political debate in Scotland but clearly, this was another example of “do as we say, not as we do”.
I am sure that the debate generated by the same-sex marriage issue will further reinforce paranoia that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, are under attack from secularists, atheists and the “gay lobby”. The reality, I believe, is that the biggest threat to these institutions is self-inflicted damage from the sort of ill-informed commentary we have seen recently. I hope the Church leadership will reflect on this, but I doubt it very much.
How arrogant of Joyce McMillan to throw back bits of the New Testament into the face of Philip Tartaglia, who has given up his life to follow Jesus Christ. She writes from her own, well-protected citadel of opinion and life of bourgeois ease and wealth.
There is no congruence between what happened in Ireland, indefensible as it most certainly is, and what is happening in Scotland.
Christian pastoral theology is not about the exercise of rights or social power; it is about obedience. Christianity has always sought the healing of both soul and body. It has contributed immeasurably in doing so. Christianity would not exist without the living and the proclaiming. We do not speak for ourselves in articulating claims for Jesus Christ. Christianity has been the foundation of European civilisation as it has become for many peoples in the world today. Its values are universal and overwhelmingly positive in the lives of countless of humanity.
Ms McMillan ignores the results of the Scottish Government consultation because it reflects substantial grassroots disagreement with her own views in the face of a determined and powerful media campaign, including her own.
That the Scottish Government should take a further step away from our Judaeo-Christian inheritance is grieving. Ms McMillan will no doubt continue to have the hypocrisy to lament the state of the nation while undermining simple Christian living and principles with her undiscerning vehemence.
Rev Dr Robert Anderson
Blackburn & Seafield Church
Joyce McMillan states that the New Testament is riddled with warnings, one of them being that one must attend to the beam in your own eye before denouncing the mote in someone else’s.
That is true, but the New Testament is not a pick-and- choose document. Another of the relevant comments or warnings is contained in St Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 1, verses 26 and 27 which states “Because of this [the worship of images] God gave them over to shameful lusts.
“Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
The teachers of the Church cannot ignore the tenets of the New Testament. It is all very well to point the finger at Archbishop Tartaglia. I have known many Catholic priests in the course of my life. Almost all have been men of compassion and integrity. I am sure Archbishop Tartaglia comes well within this category. It is a common fallacy to think that everyone must be perfect except, of course, ourselves. Alas we are all imperfect.
Murray Terrace, Aberdeen
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