Thursday, 13 October 2011

Comments on The (Glasgow) Herald Letters on Same-sex marriage

On Wednesday, Oct 12, there were three Letters to the Editor published in The Herald. I replied to one from Tim Hopkins, Equality Network, 30 Bernard Street, Edinburgh. Naturally, as per usual The Herald declined to publish my response. (That they recently published my Letter to the Editor re Bishop Hugh Gilbert was very much an exception to their usual rule and was doubtless a result of the Letters boys having little choice as it related to a matter on which one of their senior journalists had interviewed me some weeks earlier. See below.)

This was by no means Hopknss first Letter to the Editor on the topic. For illustrative purposes, the purpose of which illustration being to demonstrate the intellectual paucity and dishonesty of his contributions, I will give in full his Letter of Sept 20. He wrote (my comments in square brackets, in red):

“The report of Brian Souter’s comments about marriage states that five MSPs have signed a Parliamentary motion saying that churches should not be forced to approve same-sex marriages (“Society will implode if marriage fails, warns Stagecoach tycoon”, The Herald, September 19).

“Four MSPs signed that motion, including its author, John Mason, but no-one is proposing churches be forced to do anything. [In 2004 no-one was proposing same-sex marriage, but they are back now not ‘proposing’ but demanding exactly that.] It should also have been reported that 50 MSPs signed Patrick Harvie’s counter motion supporting same-sex marriage. [Why should it also have been reported that 50 MSPs had signed the pro-homosexualist motion? That was not the story. Are the homosexualist lobby now demanding that all reporting/comment on this matter should be balanced, objective? No, this is evidence of the homofascism now so evident in the USA and Canada having swiftly crossed the pond.]

“Mr Souter says stable marriage-based families are the bedrock of society. There are excellent families where the parents are not married, or only one parent is present. [But they are NOT the bedrock of society.] And there are excellent families headed by same-sex couples. [But they are NOT the bedrock of society, even if they can be shown to be in any way ‘excellent’. They are also, excellent or nay, an infinitesimally small and hence statistically irrelevant segment of society.] If Mr Souter believes marriage is good for mixed-sex couples, their children, and society, surely it would also be good for same-sex couples, their children and society?[ Non sequitur.]

“Why should the children of same-sex couples be discriminated against [they aren’t] by denying their parents the choice of the same married status as other parents? [The same-sex couple themselves made a choice, a choice by which they excluded themselves from the institution of marriage. Marriage preceded the state and so the state cannot legitimately legislate to redefine it.]

I will not quote Hopkins’s Letter of Wednesday, it would take too long to type out. My unpublished reply read:

“Scotland’s Catholic bishops are being castigated for doing what the Scottish Government claim they want us all to do: engage in a dialogue about same-sex marriage. Apparently, you are only allowed to talk if you say what the homosexualist, it would be more accurate to say homofascist, lobby want you to say.

“Mind you, unlike some of them our bishops aren’t so wrapped up in this question that they are neglecting other matters. Domestic violence, poverty and war: the Catholic Church here in Scotland, led from the front by our bishops, are actively involved. Mind you, you won’t read about it in your newspapers because not everything our bishops say and do is ‘automatically newsworthy’ (Tim Hopkins, Letters, Oct 12). For example, did you know that the Catholic Church was the first, and remains the biggest, provider of HIV/Aids care in Africa? Thought not.

“Hopkins states that according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 61% of Scots ‘support same-sex marriage’ with only 19% opposed to it.

“I am no expert on statistics and sampling methodology and those sampled may or may not represent a statistically fair cross-section of the Scottish people, but all that can be said is that of those sampled, 1500 or so, 21%, 300 or so, were prepared to tick the box on the questionnaire which indicated that they were strongly in agreement with the statement ‘Gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to.’

“79%, or 1,300 or so, weren’t.

“There is, of course, a world of difference between ticking a box on a form that someone leaves for you after having had a nice wee chat — and you want to please them, I presume but wouldn’t know as I’ve never been sampled and neither has anybody I know — and ticking a box on a ballot paper in a booth in your local primary school. That involves a real choice, with real consequences.

Since Tim Hopkins is so confident that the support for his position is so overwhelming, and in any election support of 61% of the population would be overwhelming, I presume that he will be entirely happy to see me soon have the opportunity of casting a ballot on the matter? Referenda should only be held for matters of the greatest import and what can be more important than the very foundation upon which our society, our civilisation is based: the family? And that is the family as we know it.

Hopkins also states that his carefully constructed 69% included a majority of Catholics. This is ambiguous but I presume he meant that of those interviewed who self-identified themselves as Catholics most indicated what he has interpreted as support for same-sex marriage.

This would be interesting IF it were true. However, I have searched through the material published on the Scottish Government website and can find absolutely no justification whatsoever for this assertion. Christians are not further subdivided.

Strangely, Hopkins insists that the introduction of civil partnerships in 2004 hasn’t, contrary to the then stated fears of the Catholic hierarchy, undermined marriage. If it hasn’t, then how come he is now back doing his Oliver Twist and demanding more?

Some years ago I pointed out in these columns that Parliament had in its wisdom voted to make homosexual acts between consenting couples in private legal but that it hadn’t made them compulsory. Today I add ‘as yet’. Yours etc

That Letter on Bishop Hugh Gilbert (see above) was published on Aug 16 and read:

“Rebecca Gray (Ex-monk is first of the new bishops, p11, Aug 15) refers to Bishop Hugh Gilbert as a ‘former monk once chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales’.

She later refers to a piece by Gerry Braden earlier in the year which highlighted the fact that all but two of Scotland’s Catholic bishops will have to be replaced within the not too distant future. Since I was quoted by Gerry in his piece, and since the hierarchy and their official spokesmen are busy elsewhere (hence the article), perhaps you will allow me to comment on the above?

Firstly, Bishop Hugh is not an ‘ex-monk’. He continues to be a professed Benedictine, as evidenced by the fact that he will continue to be known by his name in religion, Hugh, and not by his baptismal name, Edward. He has, of course, for the foreseeable future been freed from his obligation to ‘stability’, to remain resident within the abbatial cloister. Hopefully, in the fullness of time, should the good Lord grant him sufficiently in excess of the proverbial three score years and ten, he will return thereto.

Secondly, Bishop Hugh was never ‘chosen by’ Pope Benedict to be ‘the next leader’ of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Between Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor submitting his resignation as Archbishop of Westminster on his 75th birthday (Aug 4, 2007) and the appointment of Archbishop Vincent Nicholls as his successor (Apr 3, 2009) many kites were flown. In The Times, Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisleywas put forward as a serious proposition by Ruth Gledhill (November 22, 2008). Abbot (now Bishop) Hugh was posited by Simon Caldwell in the Daily Mail (Jan 1, 2009).

Laugh? I nearly took out a couple of subscriptions.

I had the good fortune to meet Archbishop Nicholls, whom I correctly predicted for the position of Archbishop of Westminster as soon as it became vacant (and thereafter stuck with), at Bamburgh during my recent annual holiday on the north Northumberland coast. If you want another prediction, I look forward to meeting him in Rome when (and not if) he is made a cardinal, probably in November of 2012. Yours etc”

Monday, 10 October 2011

Cardinal Andre Armand Vingt-Trois of Paris

These photos were taken by me in St Peter's Basilica on the Monday morning of the consistory weekend in November 2007.