Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic has moved to further isolate himself with Alex Salmond’s government after suspending direct communication over the issue of equal marriage.

In July Scotland’s government announced it would bring forward legislation that would allow gay couples to marry in civil and religious ceremonies – in circumstances where faith groups choose to permit it – much to the annoyance of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

The majority of MSPs have pledged to support a change in the law with the first ceremonies likely to take place in 2015.

However, Cardinal Keith O’Brien has previously described equal marriage as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, in March of this year, he also claimed introducing the measure would lead to three-way marriages and is akin to legalising slavery.

The BBC reports Cardinal O’Brien has now turned down an invitation to discuss the issue, leaving any future talks to his representatives.

Despite the apparent snub, the Scottish government said First Minister Alex Salmond and the cardinal continue to be in contact with one another and yesterday had an “entirely amicable conversation on first name terms”.

Earlier this summer Scotland’s Catholic Church said it would spend an additional £100,000 on an advertising campaign against equal marriage, on top of the £50,000 it has already spent, saying it had declared “war” on the measure.