Any attempt to fundamentally redefine marriage in Scotland will be “strenuously opposed”, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has warned.
Last week the Scottish Government released a consultation on whether to change the definition of marriage for the sake of homosexual marriage.
But Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “The Church esteems the institution of marriage as the most stable building block upon which any family can rest.
“The view of the Church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the state and are built on the union between a man and a woman.
“Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed.”
His concerns were echoed by Mario Conti, the Archbishop of Glasgow, who warned that such a move would render the word marriage “meaningless”.
Archbishop Conti cautioned: “In a proposed consultation regarding the redefinition of civil partnerships, we are talking not of human rights or of civil liberties, nor of legal or fiscal equalities, but of redefining a particular relationship to give it a meaning it doesn’t possess.
“We would use a word which carries huge significance, and render it meaningless in respect of one of its essential attributes, its capacity to create a natural family – I mean of course marriage.”
The official consultation document says the Scottish Government’s initial view is that it supports redefining marriage for homosexuals.
But the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has released a statement questioning the Government’s approach.
It said: “It is not clear at this stage whether ministers have decided to legislate regardless of the outcome of the consultation. If a decision to legislate has been taken, it is not clear what purpose a consultation serves.
“If not then it is to be hoped that the Government will accept that any consultation must permit proper, balanced reflection of the arguments and not just be an exercise for justifying the campaign demands of a vociferous lobby group.”
However, Green MSP Patrick Harvie claimed: “It’s absurd to suggest that one marriage can undermine other marriages.”