Gay marriage is like slavery, Catholic leader says
Britain’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has condemned gay marriage as an “aberration”, likening it to slavery and abortion.
The new clash between the Coalition and the Catholic Church comes as the Church of England also appears increasingly split over the issue of gay rights
Photo: David Cheskin/PA
By Hannah Furness
8:59AM GMT 05 Mar 2012
Cardinal Keith O'Brien said countries which legalise gay marriage are “shaming themselves” by going against the “natural law,” and should not consider their actions “progress”.
He claimed same sex unions were the “thin end of the wedge” and would lead to the “further degeneration of society into immorality.”
In a series of controversial comments, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if same sex marriage were legalised, “further aberrations would take place and society would be degenerating even further than it already has into immorality.”
The interview, conducted by John Humphries, followed an article Cardinal O’Brien wrote for the Sunday Telegraph, in which he likened gay marriage to slavery.
He wrote: “Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that ‘no one will be forced to keep a slave’.
“Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?”
He has now defended his comments, saying: “I think it’s a very, very good example of what might happen on our own country in the present time."
Describing same sex marriage as the “thin end of the wedge,” he also used the Abortion Act as an example of what could follow, claiming it had let to about seven million abortions and “further aberrations”.
Responding to accusations that his use of language, including the word "grotesque", was inflammatory, he said:
"I am not saying it is grotesque, but perhaps to some people it might appear grotesque.
“I don’t think it’s inflammatory at all. I think it’s handing on the teaching of the Christian Church for more than 2,000 years and I am doing my best to hand it on in a way than many people can hear it.
“I think if the UK does go for same sex marriage it is indeed shaming our country.
“We’re taking standards which are not just our own but standards from the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations where marriage is defined as a relationship between man and woman and turning that on its head.
“We are trying to redefine something which has been known and revered for centuries and making it something rather different.
“This is changing the whole notion of what marriage and what a family is. It affects children who are born, who have a right to a mother and father.
“The natural law teaching of what marriage is is quite simple. It is natural for a man and woman to be together for the procreation and education of children and for their own mutual love.
“I think that it is time now to call a halt to what you might call progress. I do not call what is happening nowadays progress.
"I would say that countries where this is legal are indeed violating human rights."
His inflammatory remarks led commentators on social network site Twitter to condemn him as bigoted and incoherent, with some accusing him of “hate speech”.
One user, calling herself Sam Whyte, said: “Think I'm up too early. Just turned the radio on and it appears to be the 1950s.”
Another, Sophie Atherton, said: “Cardinal Keith O'Brien, YOU shame the country with your hateful, bigoted backward views.”
But another, F R Hill, said: “Thank goodness someone is out there talking sense and truth, well said Cardinal.”