The leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics has suspended meeting with the Scottish Government over gay marriage, because key issues are being “completely ignored”.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien says his officials can continue the meetings, but he himself has put face-to-face communication over the issue on hold.
His spokesman, Peter Kearney, said it “can be difficult when you feel all the things you have to say, to date at least, have been completely ignored.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kearney commented: “Cardinal O’Brien is really keen that the perspective and the position of the Catholic church is conveyed to the Scottish Government, but he isn’t convinced that he necessarily has to do that in person.
“Also the situation we find ourselves in is one where we want to maintain a dialogue, and the cardinal wants to maintain a dialogue with the Government, but that can be difficult when you feel all the things you have to say, to date at least, have been completely ignored.”
He also said: “We really need the Government to address the substance of our concerns.
“The Government talks about protecting religious celebrants, but for us that is a complete red herring.
“We want to stop hearing it. Our concern is about the wider impact on society.
“For example, it will presumably become illegal for a teacher to tell a child that marriage is the relationship between a man and a woman.
“What will be done to protect their religious convictions or prevent them from using a same-sex storybook?”
The First Minister’s spokesman said the Cardinal and Alex Salmond shared an “entirely amicable conversation on first-name terms” on Saturday.
He added: “While this is an honest disagreement over policy, on a personal level relations between the First Minister and the Cardinal are extremely good, as they are with Scotland’s other faith leaders.
“Mr Salmond holds the Cardinal in the highest regard and will always do so.”
The Scottish Government has said it wants to push ahead with redefining marriage – despite two thirds of people in its own consultation rejecting the idea.