I wonder if Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien is familiar with the story of how Thomas Becket later to become Saint Thomas Becket met his grisly end following this plea by King Henry the 4th. It wasn't pretty and there was blood and snotters all over the altar where he was slain, like today's cardinal he chose to follow his faith and conscience, still I digress.
The issue of gay marriage never seems to be far away from the headlines, it seems also to be impossible to discuss or write about the subject here in Scotland without Cardinal Keith O'Brien being involved. The Cardinal must feel like just staying in bed some days but of course he doesn't, he lives his life with his head always above the parapet, a "turbulent Priest" if ever there was one. He does not need nor I suspect would he take advice from me so I won't bother to offer it but, there is always a 'but' isn't there? What I am about to say might shock some people particularly those who know me well and also know my views on this subject, Cardinal O'Brien is getting a raw deal in the media and from commentators both professional and amateur here in Scotland.
Those who know me well will not be surprised however when I suggest why in my opinion he is getting such a raw deal here, the reason is what Jack McConnell once eloquently and devastatingly called "Scotland's secret shame" meaning of course 'Sectarianism' one half of Scotland's twin shames sectarianism and racism. He is not under such vicious personal attack because he is man of God he is under such attack because he is a high ranking high profile Catholic. There can be no doubt that religions of every stripe in Scotland have no shortage of members and indeed leaders who agree with Cardinal O'Brien and the stance of the Catholic Church, they however seem to be able to avoid the opprobrium visited on the Cardinal and the RC Church, have you ever wondered why? The answer is sectarianism.
Consider the point that in every corner of the world there are paedophiles and child molesters every religion has them, as do children's youth clubs, sports clubs, schools etc. they are devious and dangerous. Most of them are of course within those loving straight families which religious people so want to preserve. It is only in recent years that we have become aware of the scale of the problem hence we are becoming rightly more vigilant. Scotland however manages to give the impression that only the Catholic Church has this problem, there is nowhere else where such a feeding frenzy like this takes place targeted at one church, , why is that? It's sectarianism.
The coverage in the media is outrageously biased and the amateur commentators in press letters and internet sites in Scotland are as ugly and viciously sectarian as anything we have seen in the past, it means that Scotland is incapable of moving on and is still stuck with its dark ages reputation, sullen, pinch faced and bedevilled by Bible black proponents of the God of Wrath. "Thou shalt not whistle or be merry or travel on a ferry, that'll get ye hung on Scotland's Sabbath day" (Hamish Imlach)
I will now cut away the line of attack which I know is coming from some of the people I have just been criticising. If any religion were to claim me I suppose it would be the Catholic Church, perhaps with reservations though on their part. I believe that Gay people should be treated fairly and equally in all matters including marriage, I would make it a crime for anyone to treat any gay person unfairly or unequally; including churches of whatever brand. Having said that I do not believe that Cardinal O'Brien is as he has been described by many a 'bigot' on the issue of gay marriage I believe him to be 100% wrong but; I also believe that he is 100% sincere, this I suspect applies to all those who have so far managed to keep their heads below that parapet which the Cardinal looks out from with his head above it. He is driven by his faith not by hatred of anyone gay or not. The day will come when the Catholic Church along with the other churches and religions will follow the true meaning of their creeds which are all relentlessly good and kind, those who mistreat Gays and indeed others they disagree with will someday do the right thing. If you don't believe me check out Galileo who got an apology from the Pope last year approximately 370 years after the Church persecuted him for claiming the Sun was the centre of the Universe, the Church reckoned the Earth was the centre of the Universe. They now agree with Galileo or at least most of them do.