Church intervention lacks humanity

Despite my atheism I find myself in agreement with Martin Conroy (Letters, 22 August) when he talks of Church representatives’ entitlement to speak their minds.

As a secularist I would fight for that right so long as their platform has no more privilege nor access to the ear of government than any other social sub-group.

However, as Mr Conroy speaks of the Church’s facilitation of individuals reaching their “fulfilment” and of “shared humanity” it seems churlish indeed that these lofty intentions should now be reduced to the vilification of gay people who are asking for no more than equality.

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Neil Barber

Saughtonhall Drive


Martin Conroy says that the Roman Catholic Church’s right to speak out is grounded in the fact that “it cares, above all, for the common good”, which, according to the ­catechism of the Roman 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”.

That sounds a great deal nicer and more caring than it is in reality, given that the Roman Catholic Church regards homosexual men and women as “objectively ­disordered”, so that loving relationships grounded in their sexuality must be ­excluded from the sum of ­fulfilments included in the common good.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road


The squabbling over “gay marriage” can be easily solved. In my view the state should have nothing to do with religious ceremonies.

In respect of marriage the state should only concern itself with agreeing (or terminating) secular legal relationships. The government should, therefore, put in place a system whereby every couple, whether heterosexual or homosexual, that wishes to form a legal relationship should go through a civil ceremony. This can be called a marriage, a civil partnership or anything you like.

If couples then wish to have a religious ceremony they should approach a religious organisation of their choice to see if that organisation will agree to give them a religious ceremony. Whether they do or not should be no concern of the state.

Henry Kinloch

Campbell Park Crescent


Graham Spiers’ attempt to adopt a Voltairean defence of Cardinal Keith O’Brien (Perspective, 22 August) manages to be both disingenuous and limp. His argument rested on four premises.

First, the cardinal is a man of spiritual and religious ­conviction. Second, he is a warm and engaging and decent character. Third, he cannot ignore the sacred words of the Bible. Fourth, as a ­follower of Jesus he can’t detest outsiders or minorities.

On the first point, many evil things have been done in the name of spiritual and religious conviction.

On the second, one might think of many a tyrant who was kind to his friends and family. On the third, religious leaders and their followers have always ignored or re-interpreted sections of the Bible; and fourth, see the first point.

Cardinal O’Brien’s views, expressed in the press, are ­invariably moulded by his defence and promotion of his Church and its doctrines, and his own position of ­authority. However, to paraphrase Richard Holloway, he is a bishop of the Church, not of the parliament.

Many readers of the Scottish press, including those who support gay marriage, or those who oppose his disintegration of the Church’s archives, find the cardinal’s views and actions at best misguided, at worst detestable.

Graham Spiers rejects those who castigate this man of principles. Others might conclude that the principles and the man deserve robust criticism.

Graeme Forbes

Longformacus Road


Graham Spiers wrote a fair-minded article on the subject of gay marriage. One point concerning believers in social liberalism (equal rights, gay marriage, abortion and so on), is that many do not practise what they preach. A central tenet of liberalism is tolerance – yet many (not all) are quite intolerant of those who oppose them, such as Cardinal O’Brien.

William Ballantine

Dean Road

Bo’ness, West Lothian