Cardinal O'Brien's comments on a referendum on equal marriage are the latest to have caused deep hurt to me and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics ("Cardinal calls for gay marriage referendum", The Herald, July 16).
I was baptised into the family of the Catholic Church and continue to practise today. My faith is deep and strong, and it is through this faith that I can summon some forgiveness towards Cardinal O'Brien.
I was a member of the Catholic Students Union (CSU) at the University of Edinburgh.
Cardinal O'Brien is the patron of the CSU. Several years ago, Cardinal O'Brien presided over mass, as he does once a year. He said how it hurt and offended him to see two people of the same sex entering into a union.
I sat in the chapel, almost ready to cry, but also ready to shout with anger.
A union is an expression of deep love between two people. God is Love. Surely two people committing to spending the rest of their lives loving, caring and helping each other is exactly what God would want?
To quote the act of contrition that I learned while preparing for First Confession and Holy Communion: "O God, I am sorry for all my sins, for not loving others and not loving you. Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again".
How then, can Cardinal O'Brien speak words that hurt members of his flock?
I also don't understand how he can call for a vote which at its core opens the door for a majority to oppress a minority.
I pray that those who lead the church will one day see that we are not intent on hurting others; rather we just want to love.
101/5 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh.
I CAN assure Jennie Kermode (Letters, July 17) that Cardinal O'Brien, like myself, is truly grateful that we live in a state governed by a parliamentary democracy in which elected representatives have an obligation to protect the rights of minorities. After all, we belong to a minority. Albeit a sizeable minority and not one which would struggle to half-fill a football stadium on an SPL matchday.
We are even more delighted that our democracy is so arranged that there are various mechanisms in place to prevent unrepresentative, vocal, well-funded (much coming from the public purse) minorities being able to railroad the rest of us by their ability to dictate the political agenda.
The greatest protection the electorate have at their disposal is recourse to a referendum. The only way Holyrood and our MSPs can prove their honesty in this matter is to support a referendum to be held after a full, frank, open and honest public debate, conducted in a civilised manner.
The first thing the public is entitled to be made fully aware of during such a national conversation is, of course, that this is not, and never has been, about equality, or human rights, or even marriage. Alter the definition of marriage and then schools must get into the business of promoting homosexuality.
The fact remains that the European Court has stated quite unequivocally that, once same-sex-marriage is on the statute book, no institution licensed to conduct marriages can have an opt-out.
24 Russell Street, Mossend, Bellshill.
As a religious leader, Cardinal O'Brien is in a powerful and privileged position. When he speaks on issues such as this and uses inflammatory language, ordinary Catholics begin to question their faith and ask themselves, do I really want to be associated with this?
The core Christian message is one of compassion and charity.
This is something that I believe in strongly. However, I cannot reconcile this with what the Cardinal has said.
With so many facing unemployment, financial hardship and an ever-deepening cycle of poverty, perhaps it is time for the Cardinal to refocus his attention on that core Christian message of compassion for others and charity rather than on LGBT people for seeking formal recognition of their relationships, whether in faith-based ceremonies or in civil marriage.
121 Wester Drylaw Drive. Edinburgh.
IT is untrue that the European Court has ruled that if same-sex marriage is on the statute book no institution licensed to conduct marriages can have an opt-out ("Equal rights and gay marriage", Herald leader, July 18).).
There are eight European countries that already have same-sex marriage on the statute book, and in not one of them is the Roman Catholic Church required to conduct same-sex marriages. In the most recent example, the Church of Denmark decided that its parishes would offer same-sex marriage (although individual ministers have a personal opt-out available), while other churches, including the Catholic Church, have opted out completely.
Far from blocking these opt-outs, European law, and in particular article 9 of the Convention on Human Rights (freedom of religious expression), fully supports them.
30 Bernard Street, Edinburgh.
I HAVE been an active, if obscure, member of the SNP for more than 40 years. Over that period I have been impressed by the calibre and competence of my colleagues, and in particular of the present Government.
That is why it beggars credulity that these normally sure-footed people should needlessly embark – two years before the crucial referendum on independence – on such a provocative and divisive measure as legalising gay marriage.
For one reason or another, many voters will be upset whether this legislation now goes ahead or not, and may decide, however irrationally, to punish the SNP by voting No to an independent Scotland.
Homosexuals are a small minority of the population (and of voters), and I guess that a minority of these actually demand the right to marry. It would seem, therefore, that it is a minority of a minority that is driving this matter forward.
It is to be hoped that the Government will have the political sagacity quietly to defer this matter indefinitely, or at least until after the referendum.
Donald R Buchanan,
75 Antonine Road, Bearsden.
AS a minister of the Church of Scotland I cannot be compelled to marry anyone against my conscience. If I decline to carry out a marriage ceremony I could not be sued or taken to any human rights court. In fact I have on only one or two occasions declined to conduct a marriage.
By the same token the Catholic Church will not solemnise the marriage of divorced persons and if a divorced Catholic were to take the church to court for betraying their human rights it would be pointed out to them that the Catholic Church has a right to put its beliefs into practice in this area.
Therefore it seems to me that the anxiety that some religious groups are expressing about the issues they might face should same-sex "marriage" become permissable are entirely misplaced. I very much doubt that any appeal to a human rights court would lead to an instruction to carry out a wedding against the dictates of conscience.
Rev David A Keddie,
21 Ilay Road, Bearsden.
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