Church’s right to oppose gay marriage
Alistair McBay of the National Secular Society implies that the Catholic Church has no right to interfere in politics and reminds us that: “Scotland is a democratic country, not a theocracy.” Norman Bonney asks: “Why should the Church’s leaders have such privileged access to government?” (Letters, 21 August).
In a modern democracy the Catholic Church claims its right to speak out for the same reason that any other civil society association or organisation does – a natural right to proclaim and promote its values, and to persuade others, to start a debate about the health of society and its priorities, applying the wisdom and insights of the Christian tradition to the great questions besetting contemporary life.
The Church does this because it cares, above all, for the common good, meaning that which belongs to all by virtue of their shared humanity.
The common good, says the catechism of the Catholic Church, is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily”.
The common good is a key tenet of the Church’s vision for society and the principles which it believes lie behind its healthy functioning.
Both Mr McBay and Mr Bonney should be reminded that the Church’s authority to speak out derives from its moral authority and independence as one of the world’s leading and oldest civil society organisations.
Although I do not agree with the SNP’s policy, I am at a loss to understand Mr Clayton’s anxiety regarding the future actions of the party (Letters, 21 August).
There is not the slightest indication the SNP would consider jailing ministers and priests for refusing to marry homosexuals. Cardinal Keith O’Brien is entitled to put forward his views on homosexual marriage as the leader of a significant church in Scotland. The Scottish Government is elected by the people to govern and it has rejected the cardinal’s views.
We should remember that although the cardinal is head of his church in Scotland, it is probable that he does not speak for all Catholics.
Talk of jailing ministers and priests for refusal to marry homosexuals is sheer hysteria.
R Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian
Alan Clayton (Letters, 21 August) writes: “I believe it is only a matter of time before a Swedish model emerges and we see the sacking of teachers, the jailing of clergy and the closing of churches for the ‘hate crime’ of teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman”.
I assume Mr Clayton refers to the fact that Sweden is a secular state and, accordingly, does not offer any privileges and exemptions in the law to religious groups.
Yes, that is indeed the case, and hence it does not give any special protection to teachers or clergy – or anyone else because of their religious affiliation and accompanying inclination – to encourage discrimination against other citizens who have the “audacity” to disregard religious doctrines. Is that a problem?
Alan Clayton’s letter (21 August) refers to a concern held by many in relation to same-sex “marriage”. Assurances have been made by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others that no member of the clergy will be “forced” to officiate at such, if unwilling so to do. However binding such assurances may or may not prove to be, my concern goes wider than clergy and celebrants of marriage. The insidious and unremitting persistence of those behind the pressure to create “a new morality” in the name of “equality” causes repercussions beyond the church.
Across our Scottish social spectrum (Christian and non-Christian alike) parents and teachers, in particular, are in the front line of influencing the next generation when passing on moral guidance by word and example.
Many express the difficulty they would have when required to uphold the validity of same-sex “marriage” alongside the marriage of a man and a woman.
Is this to be guilty of a “hate crime” leading to possible loss of one’s job and career, as Alan Clayton and others fear?
What would have read like science fiction a few years ago is now a reality and all because too many of us have sat quietly, fooled by a false need to appear politically correct.
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