Cardinal intervention, or intervening
Cardinal O'Brien wrote an article in the Telegraph today. I thought it sounded familiar, and indeed he'd written the same thing a few months ago in a different paper, though the Telegraph's coverage placed it as an intervention in the forthcoming UK consultation.
I've made spacing changes and ignored minor changes that didn't really affect the meaning.
Mail, 11 September 2011
Just over a week ago the Scottish Government launched a consultation on same
sex marriage. Over the next fourteen weeks the Government intend to accept
responses from anyone in Scotland on whether or not same sex marriages should
On the surface, the question of same-sex marriage may seem to be an innocuous one.
Civil partnerships have been in place for several years now, allowing same-sex couples to register their relationship and enjoy a variety of legal protections.
When these arrangements were introduced, supporters were at pains to point out that they didn't want marriage, accepting that marriage had only ever meant the legal union of a man and a woman.
Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnerships believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, warned that in time marriage would be demanded too. We were accused of scaremongering then, yet exactly such demands are upon us now.
Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.
Redefining marriage will have huge implications for what is taught in our schools, and for wider society.
But can we simply redefine terms at a whim? Can a word whose meaning has been clearly understood in every society throughout history suddenly be changed to mean something else?
Last month as rebel forces in Libya moved towards Tripoli, Colonel Gaddaffi was
asked if he would be willing to stand down from his position as Leader to avoid
violence and bloodshed. He replied by saying he held no such position in Libya
as all offices of state had been abolished and he had created a "perfect
democracy" in his country where the people of Libya governed themselves. He
simply redefined the term democracy to mean what he wanted it to mean. As with
most of his remarks, this comment was, rightly, greeted with derision.
Yet when Scotland's politicians suggest that they might jettison the
established understanding of marriage and subvert the meaning set out in
Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as a relationship
between men and women, the response seems meek and muted. Their madness is
This proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human
right. Meeting earlier this week, Scotland's Catholic Bishops undertook to
strenuously oppose these proposals. Preaching at a mass for politicians that
evening I told the gathering of MSP's, which included the First Minister,
that the Catholic Church would do everything in its power to defend and protect
There is no doubt that, as a society, we have become blasé about the importance of marriage as a stabilising influence and less inclined to prize it as a worthwhile institution.
It has been damaged and undermined over the course of a generation, yet marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father.
As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or
government. It was not created by government and should not be changed by them,
instead recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society
they should act to protect and uphold it not attack or dismantle it. This is a
point of view that would have been endorsed and accepted only a few years ago,
yet today advancing a traditional understanding of marriage risks being
labelled an intolerant bigot.
This brings us to the one perspective which seems to be completely lost or ignored: the point of view of the child. All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father; the evidence in favour of the stability and well-being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal. It cannot be provided by a same-sex couple, however well-intentioned they may be.
Interestingly, in the United States, David Blankenhorn, a prominent supporter
of gay rights has drawn a line at same-sex marriage, saying "Redefining
marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law,
and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father
for every child."
He is of course right.
Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.
While same sex activists in this country have framed demands for marriage as a
personal matter, some oftheir US counterparts have been more frank and
revealing about their long term purpose. American activist Michelangelo
Signorile has urged campaigners "to fight for same-sex marriage and its
benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage
completely." He sees same-sex marriage as "the final tool with which to get
education about homosexuality into public schools."
There is no question, that normalising gay marriage means normalising
homosexual behaviour for public school children.
In November 2003, after a court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary schoolchildren were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King. Some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century. Education suddenly had to comply with what was now deemed 'normal'.
Other dangers exist, if marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a
man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three
men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their
fidelity to one another? Canada has legalised homosexual marriage, and
litigation is now underway in one Canadian Province to legalise polygamy. If
marriage is simply about adults who love each other, on what basis should three
adults who love each other not be allowed to marry?
Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same-sex marriage wouldn't be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is staggeringly arrogant.
No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage.
Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that "no one will be forced to keep a slave".
Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is crystal clear: marriage is a right which applies to men and women, "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State".
This universal truth is so self-evident that it shouldn't need to be
repeated. If the
Scottish Government attempts to demolish a universally recognised human
right, they will have forfeited the trust which the nation has placed in them and
their intolerance will shame Scotland in the eyes of the world.