Catholic Church in anti-gay marriage stance

Paisley, Scotland - Bishop of Paisley Philip Tartaglia said a Scottish government which backed same-sex marriage did not deserve the support of the Catholic community.

His comments followed warnings from Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti.

The Scottish government said it was holding a consultation on whether same-sex marriage should be introduced.

It said its initial view was religious bodies should be permitted to introduce it, if they wished.

However, as part of the consultation, Bishop Tartaglia, who is tipped to be the next Archbishop of Glasgow when Mario Conti steps down, said such a measure would pile the pressure on any church which chose not to carry them out.

'Huge implications'

Bishop Tartaglia's comments came after the most senior Scottish catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said legalising same-sex marriage would "shame Scotland in the eyes of the world".

The cardinal said allowing such a change would have "huge implications" for society and would represent a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

He also accused ministers of being "disingenuous" and of "staggering arrogance" over suggestions that churches would not be obliged to solemnise gay marriages.

Archbishop Conti said at the weekend that same-sex marriages would be "meaningless".

The Archbishop of Glasgow said allowing gay couples to marry in a traditional sense would be pointless as it would not result in the creation of a "natural family".

In his submission to the Scottish government on the Consultation on Same Sex Marriage, Bishop Tartaglia said: "Marriage is an institution which does not owe its existence or rationale to governments or legislatures.

"Governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry."

He said dismissing objections because they came from a religious body was "tantamount to an incitement to religious intolerance".

The bishop added: "A government which favours and allows for same-sex marriage does wrong.

"It fails in its duty to society. It undermines the common good. It commits an act of cultural vandalism.

"Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it."

Bishop Tartaglia said the Catholic Church would never register civil partnerships nor celebrate same-sex marriage.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said more than six in 10 people supported same-sex marriage.

He said: "I can't see how it is "cultural vandalism" to bring greater equality into Scottish society.

"Under the changes the Catholic Church, nor anyone else, will not be forced to conduct a same sex marriage ceremony but if they wish to the law will no longer stop them. That's a very tolerant and fair approach to this issue."