Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PTT dismisses Cardinal's 'anti-secularist, anti-gay' sermon

A secular charity has accused the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, of trying to outdo Pope Benedict XVI in his attacks on secularism and gay rights. 

The Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) was responding to comments made by Cardinal O'Brien during the Easter sermon he gave at the weekend.

As reported by the BBC, O'Brien said: “Perhaps more than ever before there is that 'aggressive secularism' and there are those who would indeed try to destroy our Christian heritage and culture and take God from the public square. Religion must not be taken from the public square.”

Cardinal O'Brien's boss, Pope Benedict XVI made similar comments during his state visit to the UK last year.

The Cardinal spoke of the "right to equality" while appearing to question the rights of LGBT people to that very thing.

Quoting from O'Brien's address, the Scottish Herald reported: “Recently, various Christians in our society were marginalised and prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they were not willing to publicly endorse a particular lifestyle.

“You have only to ask a couple with regard to their bed and breakfast business; certain relationship counsellors; and people who had valiantly fostered children for many years of their particular experiences [. . .] even at this present time Christians must be united in their common awareness of the enemies of the Christian faith in our country, of the power that they are at present exerting, and the need for us to be aware of that right to equality which so many others cry out for.”

The PTT points out that, in 2006, O’Brien claimed that the then Labour Government's proposals to "outlaw sexual-orientation discrimination constitute grave threats to 'freedom of conscience' and to 'religious freedom', and that, "In the same year, he compared same sex partnerships to paedophilia."

In 2009, Cardinal O'Brien urged the Scottish Govenment to abandon its plans to give gay couples the right to become foster parents. "He described the measures as 'misguided and inappropriate' and claimed they would put vulnerable children at risk," the PTT reports.

Of O'Brien's latest remarks, the PTT's secretary George Broadhead said: “It seems as if O’Brien is trying to outdo his boss in the Vatican with his anti-secularist and anti-gay rhetoric. When referring to the enemies of the Christian faith in Britain, he no doubt has in mind organisations like the National Secular Society, which campaigns for a society where everyone is free to practise their religion, change it or not have one, but asserts that religion must not have privileged influence in the public and political arenas where it can so easily become an excuse for conflict, inequality and injustice. The National Secular Society provides some of the most vociferous support for LGBT people and their rights.”

Meanwhile, Dr Evan Harris, until last year a Liberal Democrat MP, told the Herald: “It is not ‘aggressive’ to call for an end to religious privilege in society and many people of faith agree with the call for the state to be neutral in religious matters."