The Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, criticised attempts north and south of the border to redefine marriage.
In a strongly worded sermon to mark the seventh anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election last Sunday morning, the Archbishop said that it is “not the role of law to recreate our society according to passing fashions or ideologies, nor to redefine nature whether in terms of persons and their rights or its natural institutions”.
He said: “We live in a culture of human rights which appear to be ever more in need of codification and protection. And I wonder why; I do not think society itself ought to be more needful than before of laws and laws, unless, of course, we can no longer rely on the generality of citizens to act virtuously and according to conscience.”
The Scottish Government carried out a consultation at the end of last year to gauge public opinion on its plans to redefine marriage to include same-sex partnerships.
A similar was launched across England and Wales this month but the Government made clear at the time that the consultation was not to determine whether to go ahead with the plan, but to determine how to implement the change.
The Archbishop hits out at attempts to redefine marriage “without any reference to children”, and to put the claim of equality and diversity “on a higher level than faith and reason”, “ultimately asserting the moral equivalence between marriage and same-sex unions, contrary to the virtue of chastity”.
He warns that a change to marriage laws could see society “descend further into ethical confusion and moral disintegration”.
“Governments seem to think it necessary to cover almost every aspect of human behaviour with law, and consequently to require the judiciary to be engaged in interpreting and applying these terms, leaving me with the impression that those preoccupied in this manner feel that unless human behaviour is so minutely governed, society will dissolve into moral chaos,” the Archbishop will say.
He continued with a warning that secularist voices calling for religion to be pushed to the private realms are “growing ever louder in our country”.
He stated: “That attempted marginalisation is becoming ever more acute and we are witnessing the transformation of tolerance into a kind of tyranny in which religious views are the only ones which seem unworthy of respect and acceptance. Governments which fail to take into account the wisdom that is handed down generation to generation in communities of faith or fail to underscore the right and duty of following informed conscience on the part of citizens will, it seems, inevitably find themselves attempting to be wise by creating ever more legislation and requiring judges to interpret it according to the mores of the day.”