The Catholic Church in Scotland has declared today ‘National Marriage Sunday’ and has this morning had a letter read out in 500 Catholic parishes condemning the Scottish government’s plans to legislate for equal same-sex marriage

The letter calls on the government to “place a special emphasis on the role of the family founded on marriage” and stress that “marriage is a unique lifelong union of a man and a woman”

In the message penned by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland and the most senior Catholic in the UK restates his “deep disappointment that the Scottish government has decided to redefine marriage and legislate for same sex marriage.”

Cardinal O’Brien said: “The Church’s teaching on marriage is unequivocal, it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that governments, politicians or Parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.”

“With this letter we will announce the creation of a National Commission for Marriage and the Family, a body which will be charged with promoting the true nature of marriage, it will develop an online prescence and produce materials and organise events which will help Catholic families to
support and sustain marriage”

“While we pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, we promise to continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society.”

Tom French of the Scottish Equality Network said: “It is increasingly clear that the Church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society.

“We urge the Scottish Government to stand firm on plans to introduce equal marriage and not give in to demands that would discriminate against LGBT people.”

“In particular, the Equality Network would be deeply concerned at any attempt to promote an anti-gay agenda in schools. School should be a welcoming environment for all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or their family situation.”

Last week Cardinal O’Brien moved to further isolate himself from Alex Salmond’s government after suspending direct communication over the issue of equal marriage.

In March, Cardinal O’Brien wrote: “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 partnership, 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.”

Cardinal O’Brien claimed that gay marriage redefines marriage for everyone: “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. It will redefine society since the institution of marriage is one of the fundamental building blocks of society. The repercussions of enacting same-sex marriage into law will be immense.

“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?”

“In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren’t derided.”
Controversially, Mr O’Brien wrote that gay marriage is “madness and grotesque”: “Their attempt to redefine reality is given a polite hearing, their madness is indulged. Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”

“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.”