Christian Life 

Catholics and the Free Church standing together

The Roman Catholic Church has stepped up its campaign against same-sex marriage while the Free Church of Scotland has now added its voice to the debate and consultation.

Mario ContiTo coincide with a national campaign launched across Scotland's Catholic parishes, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow has released a detailed statement on the Catholic Church's position on the definition of marriage and its response to attempts to dismantle the definition. In his document Archbishop Conti advises, "Those in Government need to be respectfully reminded that a mandate to govern does not include a mandate to reconstruct society on ideological grounds" Refering to proposals to redefine marriage, the Archbishop adds; "The Catholic Church, for one, will not accept it, and indeed will actively campaign against it."

Archbishop Conti's text will form the basis of a letter being sent to all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes urging Catholics to complete a declaration in defence of marriage it will be part of a mailing of 100,000 campaign postcards distributed by the Catholic Parliamentary Office encouraging responses to be submitted to the Scottish Government’s consultation

Meanwhile the Christian Institute reports that the Free Church of Scotland has added its voice to that of the Roman Catholic Church in speaking out against moves to rewrite the definition of marriage.

The Free Church Commission said that to change the meaning of marriage shows “an irrational determination to force a form of equality upon society which is not rooted in any recognised moral foundation”. It warned that “the timeless definition of marriage as the voluntary union of one man and one woman would be changed irreversibly”.

At the time of writing the national Church of Scotland has made no public statement.

The full texts of Archbishop Mario Conti's and the Free Church statements are shown below.


Ed footnote: Whatever their views on same-sex marriage, reformed presbyterian churches have the difficulty of being seen to agree with the Roman Catholic Church given that the Westminster Confesssion of Faith – their 'subordinate standard' – deems the Pope to be the Antichrist.


Statement from Archbishop Mario Conti

Jesus responded to a question on marriage by going right back to the beginning: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’, and that he said: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body.’” (Matthew, 19: 4-5)

The question was on divorce, not, as now raised by the Scottish Government, on whether a union of two persons of the same sex might be a “marriage”. Indeed that question was unthinkable, and has remained so throughout the Judaeo-Christian era until the present time, and not only within the moral and social order of our own western civilisation, but also in the other great world religions and traditional philosophical systems of thought.

Today’s question arises within a largely post-Christian society, which retains certain values which have characterised Christianity, most notably compassion for the disadvantaged and a desire to build inclusive social structures. It is a society, however, which increasingly tolerates sexual promiscuity, while reacting strongly, and rightly so, to all instances of sexual abuse.

However the question would not be asked were it not for the increasing acceptance, wittingly or unwittingly, of a particular ideology which considers all structures and ethical systems as inimical to human freedom. It places personal autonomy above even physical realities so that, for example, the very determination of one’s own sex and gender is regarded as an issue of choice – even a supposed human right.

Of course any system of human rights presupposes a legal framework and the ability of individuals to defend what is justly theirs, which is why such an ideology, which, of its nature would tend towards moral anarchy, seeks to have changes in the law to accommodate its demands.

In other words, those who hold to this ideology rely on the modern preoccupation with human rights to press for a change in the concept and definition of marriage to cover what any group in society might want it to be. It provides same sex advocates with a philosophical tool to seek a change in our law and our definition, to serve their own purposes.

While there may be some who, acting out of a religious instinct and desire, wish to receive the blessing of religion on a same sex union - and indeed there may be some ministers of religion desirous to give it - in truth this campaign has very little to do with religion and everything to do with a change in the concept of marriage, ostensibly to grant equality to same sex couples.

The first successful moves in this direction, led Government to introduce the legal instrument of civil partnership. Those of us who foresaw the way that it would likely develop were not in favour of this legal instrument but could be persuaded that it was done in the interests of fairness, ie according to justice, so that same sex couples might enjoy some of the mainly financial and fiscal benefits of married couples.

However it is worth reflecting that discrimination in their favour left other couples, equally engaged in supporting one another, without such legal and fiscal benefits. Indeed in the logic of discrimination as applied today, these latter may well consider themselves as discriminated against!

Those in Government need to be respectfully reminded that a mandate to govern does not include a mandate to reconstruct society on ideological grounds, nor to undermine the very institution which, from the beginning, has been universally acknowledged as of the natural order and the bedrock of society, namely marriage and the family. In terms of law, its support and defence have been on a par with the defence of life itself. We weaken it at our peril.

There are those who would argue that the contract of two persons in an exclusive sexual relationship is what constitutes marriage. From a Catholic and traditional perspective that is only part of the essence of marriage since it is the procreative aspect of marriage as well as its unity which is of its essence.
No one versed in Christian teaching can be ignorant of that truth which the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and those who follow their tradition regard as a sacrament, something created by God himself, blessed by Christ, for the spiritual as well as the social and material benefit of those who regard it as a“holy state”.

Marriage was not instituted by civil society, though civil society saw its importance and defended it through its laws. However many of the laws relating to marriage, certainly in the west, arose out of the Church’s own laws and there are countries which still recognise the Church’s competence in this field.

There is more to marriage therefore, than a service of blessing. However for a minister of a church to bless a marriage implies that the marriage is in conformity not simply with the laws of the Church, but with the institution itself, which ultimately, as part of the natural order, is instituted by God.

No Church on its own authority, wishing to remain faithful to its Christian heritage, can be justified in unilaterally altering what has been handed down to us from the beginning.

Nor is Christianity alone in holding marriage in such respect. There are many within our own society, members of the great world religions, whose support of the family matches that which we in the Catholic Church ourselves maintain.

While on the face of it, and to many, the redefining of civil partnerships as “marriage” may seem a small step and one that ought to be taken out of consideration for the feelings of those who are unable to form the relationship with a person of the opposite sex which has traditionally been described as marriage, such a determination by the Government is of serious import and will be rightly resisted by many.

The Catholic Church, for one, will not accept it, and indeed will actively campaign against it.

This cannot be seen to be in any way helpful in fulfilling the broader aim of social cohesion by which Government is clearly motivated. It will act to create larger divisions in society and could lead in the future, as we have seen in some of the legislation to date, to gross allegations of discrimination.

There will be other consequences in law, and social policies stemming from it which need to be taken into account, for example housing provision, social security entitlements and the legitimate expectations of families for support in having and bringing up children on whom the future of society depends, and for which society should make provision.

Members of the Scottish Parliament should recall what is written on the mace of that institution, words which reflect the traditional cardinal virtues – those by which everyone must act and most particularly, those who govern.

Justice is of course included among them, but the first named is prudence, or as expressed on the mace by the word “wisdom”. Prudence, or wisdom, means taking into account all aspects of one’s decisions and actions, seeing them in the broader picture – described by a sage from the past (Pope St Gregory the Great) as “seeing life whole”

More than any other, that is the task of Government and it has traditionally been the duty of the Church to offer insightful guidance on moral matters. The Catholic Church will not fail in attempting to do so, nor in guiding its own members and influencing public opinion towards moral truth.


Statement Issued by the Free Church of Scotland Commission of Assembly

Wednesday 5th October 2011

At its meeting on 5th October 2011, the Commission of Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland agreed to issue the following statement on the proposal to introduce same sex marriages in Scotland.

The Commission of Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, (5th October 2011), wishes to express its deep dismay over the Scottish Government’s current proposals to introduce same sex marriage in Scotland. Its opposition does not arise out of any kind of homophobia, but a concern that 1) the timeless definition of marriage as the voluntary union of one man and one woman would be changed irreversibly and 2) the timeless institution of marriage would be permanently undermined if the government effectively changes its meaning to include same sex couples.

For the government to take it upon itself to change the meaning of marriage shows 1) an irrational determination to force a form of equality upon society, which is not rooted in any recognised moral foundation and 2) a disregard for the unique place and stabilising influence which marriage has always had in our society.

The Commission recognises the complexity of the issue of human sexuality, and deplores all persecution of and violence against homosexuals.

However, the Free Church wishes to respectfully remind the Scottish government that to undermine Scotland’s moral roots may be to create a moral vacuum and chart a course of social instability. They implore the Scottish Government to reverse proposals to introduce same sex marriage and return to Scotland’s greatest, tried and tested historic qualities, which are rooted in the Bible.

In this respect, the Free Church Commission wishes also to applaud the courage of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow and support their clear statements in opposition to same sex marriage.

Christians Together, 10/10/2011

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Martin Lisemore 11/10/2011 23:13
'and plenty other denominations teach a lot of nonsense too.'

Louise, that's why I'm not in a denomination, and haven't been for twenty years.

When I refer to the Roman church, I refer to the institution, not individuals. I have known several born again Christians who have said, the Lord did not tell me to leave the Roman Catholic church.

Good enough for me, but they aren't the institution.

So, there we are, we're both right.
Peter Carr 12/10/2011 09:51
We won't always see eye to eye, but on occasions we can stand shoulder to shoulder on moral issues which will clearly be detrimental to our society if things go unchallenged!!
Penny Lee 12/10/2011 13:01
I agree with Tartan. We don't need to agree with the beliefs of an organisation to be able to stand with them on a moral issue. Doesn't the Bible itself say we are to live in agreement with everyone as far as is possible? Agreeing with them on one issue is not the same as agreeing with them on every issue.
Peter Carr 12/10/2011 16:11
"FORMER SNP leader Gordon Wilson has called for a referendum on the government’s proposals to allow same-sex marriage, which he warned could have “extremely destructive consequences” for Scotland."
Jenny 12/10/2011 17:44
".....I agree with Tartan. We don't need to agree with the beliefs of an organisation to be able to stand with them on a moral issue. Doesn't the Bible itself say we are to live in agreement with everyone as far as is possible? Agreeing with them on one issue is not the same as agreeing with them on every issue....."

I agree too, with one caveat. many people aren't going to make distinctions - they'll see the Free Church and the RCC standing together, full stop.
Biblical Churches have their work cut out as it is to make clear to the disinterested that there is a difference, and a difference that matters.
We shouldn't get too cozy, - or ever forget that we have a Gospel to proclaim to which our co-belligerents are no friends
Martin Lisemore 14/10/2011 12:47
Agree on the issues, by all means, but be seen to share a platform, or cozy up on a TV programme, no.

Although I can't now find a reference for it, I recall reading many years ago the declared ambition of Rome is a return to pre-Reformation days, and as far as I can see, Rome is still focussed in that direction. It will do just anything to achieve it's ambitions.

Rome will be a co-belligerent with you while it suits Rome's purposes. It remains an enemy of born again Christians; no Christ, no Gospel, no hope of glory.

Editor 08/12/2011 14:30
Press Release from Roman Catholic Church:

Bishops seek clarification on consultation

Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Bishop Philip Tartaglia have today (Thursday 8 December) written to the First Minister and the Deputy First minister respectively seeking urgent clarifications on the Scottish Government's 'Same Sex Marriage' consultation.

The consultation which began 14 weeks ago sought views on whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed. In the Ministerial Forward to the Consultation, Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon wrote; "We want to hear from all sections of Scottish society."

In recent weeks same sex campaign groups outwith Scotland have urged people to submit responses whether or not they live in Scotland. The Scottish Government appeared to concede that such responses would be accepted but identified separately.

In his letter, Cardinal O'Brien points out that in his speech to the SNP Conference in October, the First Minister said on the matter of the Independence referendum;

"The people of Scotland – the sovereign people of Scotland – are now in the driving seat." and concluded; "The Scottish people will set the agenda for the future.”

The Cardinal adds that; "Allowing thousands of respondents outwith Scotland to actively participate in our political process utterly subverts this stance. Even to collate and separately identify non-Scottish responses would be to undermine the singular sovereignty of the Scottish people which you have so eloquently upheld"

Both Cardinal O'Brien and Bishop Tartaglia call for an urgent clarification that only submissions from Scotland will be evaluated by the Scottish Government and that all responses whether sent via the online response form or any any other means will be counted.

Comment: This situation regarding widening the 'catchment' area to other countries illustrates (if any further proof were needed) that the homosexual agenda is world-wide.

However as the RC churchmen point out the real danger here is loss of democratic control within Scotland's own borders. For a party whose principal aim (supposedly) is autonomy for Scotland, this is a very worrying development and runs completely against the fundamental underlying philosphy on which nationalism is based.
Peter Carr 08/12/2011 15:55
It is now very clear that the current Scottish Govt, although elected democratically, are now acting in a very undemocratic way. They seem so desperate to achieve this legislation that they are now opening they way to the gay lobby in London (for example) which no doubt will be very influential in a city that size.

This no doubt will in some way be tied in with the rainbow coalition that we hear about on the news today!

Mr Salmond has already decided for Scotland!!
Anon (Guest) 13/12/2011 10:09
If some 'Christians' believe the Pope to be the Anti-Christ, who do they suppose Alex Salmond and David Cameron to be?
eshortal (Guest) 03/11/2012 22:43
I do not understand why churches are behaving in such a vitriolic way against something that is a purely a civil matter. No one is suggesting that and religion institution should amend their sacraments to include same sex Sacrament of Marriage.

Surly the is a problem here with the interpretation of the english word and the development of its meaning and what it implies today?

The RCC church only recent admitted to concealing and promoting, by concealment, the abuse of children for the last how many centuries?

How come they are not so vociferous when it some to things related to issues directly impacting the daily lives of their partitioners, like healthcare and schooling?

Where is the love and understanding preached by Jesus Christ and His apostles??

The Church is just another large institution that fears the its traditional power over the poor and ignorant people is slipping away. What about the RCC in USA who have declared that anyone supporting the idea of same sex civil marriage does not have the right to participate in Holy Communion?

What sanction did the RCC put on their pedophile members? I believe that they simply moved them on to fresh and delicious new "pastures" without any restriction on their pedophile activities.

Shame on you the RCC and others who show this 'holier that thou' mentality while supporting much more damaging philosophies. Does anyone seriously believe that the current Pope did not know of the dreadful situation in the church, either in his early career as a priest or during his rise to his now holy place where every decree is to be taken as the 'word of God"

A large percentage of priests are Gay, most are celibate and bring a dedication and understanding and compassion that is seldom found in 'straight' clergy.

When is the RCC going to recognize and admit this?

Shame on you for your hypocrisy and lack or honesty, shame on you for continuing to hide the truth from the world.
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