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Robert Mugabe aides hail Cardinal O’Brien for opposition to gay marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Backed by Robert Mugabe's aides. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Backed by Robert Mugabe's aides. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by JANE FIELDS and ANDREW WHITAKER
 

A STRONGLY worded attack on same sex marriage by the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland has attracted the support of close allies and supporters of the Zimbabwean regime of President Robert Mugabe.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien branded same-sex marriage an “aberration” and warned that it would lead to further “immorality” in society, in what appeared to be the most scathing criticism yet of the Scottish Government’s proposals.

The cardinal’s controversial stance was yesterday praised by those close to the Zimbabwean president, who has argued that homosexuals are “worse than pigs and dogs”, as well as using the issue of gay rights to attack the West and opposition parties that back same-sex unions.

Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper, controlled by top allies of Mugabe, said yesterday that Cardinal O’Brien was “among rare church leaders from the West who have seen the light”.

There was also strong support for the cardinal from Zimbabwean clerics, with one church leader in the crisis-torn African nation saying: “He is like a Martin Luther who had a revelation and has been inspired to get the truth.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, a leading supporter of same-sex marriage, seized on the support that the head of Scotland’s Catholic Church had attracted from allies of Mugabe to warn that the cardinal had made a “serious misjudgment” with his stance on the issue.

Mr Harvie, who is gay, said: “It’s one thing for the cardinal to argue with people like me who are in favour of equality. But having this sort of company on this issue shows that the cardinal has got to think again.

“He’s made a serious misjudgment, and I suspect that many practising Catholics will be furious about the way their church is being misrepresented.

“There is no way that anyone can think that these figures close to the Mugabe regime are on the right side of any progressive argument,” Mr Harvie went on.

“When you get into that sort of rhetoric, then it’s clear that you have lost the argument.”

A leader of the campaign to change Scotland’s law on same-sex marriage yesterday accused the cardinal of pursuing an “unsavoury agenda”, after the Scottish Government held a consultation on the proposals.

Tom French, the policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said; “It is telling that Cardinal O’Brien’s attacks on the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Scots have been lauded by the Mugabe regime with its horrendous record of state-sponsored homophobia and human rights violations.

“People will wonder why the cardinal is so obsessed with opposing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

“His recent comments, and appalling record, reveal an unsavoury agenda that extends well beyond ‘protecting traditional marriage’.”

The latest row over same-sex marriage comes after Cardinal O’Brien said it would be the “thin end of the wedge”, comparing it to the legalisation of abortion in 1967.

He said: “Further aberrations would be taking place and society would be degenerating even further than it has into immorality.

“It is changing the whole notion of what marriage and what a family is. Children have the right to have a mother and a father.”

Zimbabwean clerics interviewed yesterday lavished praise on the cardinal, with Dr Noah Pashapa, the Bishop of Life and Liberty Churches International, claiming: “He is like a Martin Luther who had a revelation and has been inspired to get the truth.”

Church leader Abel Matimbe of the little-known End Time Ministries described the Scottish cleric as “progressive”.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland yesterday declined to comment on the support for the cardinal’s stance from clerics in Zimbabwe.

 
 
 

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