GLASGOW, July 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – One day after his appointment was announced, the new archbishop-elect of Glasgow has already been attacked in the media for his opposition to same-sex “marriage.” On the day the appointment was made public, Archbishop-elect Philip Tartaglia, a long-time and highly vocal opponent of the homosexualist political agenda, told journalists that he believed he could end up in prison for his views.
“I could see myself going to jail possibly at some point over the next 15 years—if God spares me—if I speak out,” Archbishop-elect Tartaglia, 61, told STV News on Tuesday.
Catholic News Agency quoted him saying, “I am deeply concerned that today, defending the traditional meaning of marriage is almost considered ‘hate speech’ and branded intolerant. Such a response is undemocratic, closes debate and is highly manipulative.”
Within only hours of the announcement, The Scotsman published a piece accusing Tartaglia of having made “hurtful” and “ill-informed” remarks, back in April, about the death of an openly homosexual Labor MP and former Catholic priest.
In a speech Tartaglia, who was then bishop of Paisley, gave in April at a symposium at Oxford University on threats to religious freedom, he predicted that the government’s latest push for “gay marriage” is a near-guarantee of outright persecution of any religious group that dissents from the liberal zeitgeist. Christians who refuse to “bend to become a religion of the state,” he said, will soon no longer be tolerated.
He asked, “Will society continue to afford the Catholic Church and other religious bodies the oxygen and the vital space to be themselves and to express themselves in the public square, or will my Church be forced to conform to a publicly acceptable form of religiosity, a kind of patriotic Church?”
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“Or worse, will we be driven to the margins of society, and perhaps denied the legal right to carry out our mission and to express our faith in public?” he asked.
After this speech, he responded to a question from the audience on the health risks and dangers of the homosexual lifestyle, saying, “If what I have heard is true about the relationship between the physical and mental health of gay men… then society is being very quiet about it.”
He continued, “Recently in Scotland there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so, and nobody said anything, and why his body should just shut down at that age? Obviously he could have had a disease that would have killed anybody. But you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing, but society won’t address it.”
The Scotsman reported that friends of the openly homosexual Scottish Labor party MP David Cairns, who died last year at age 44, were upset by the comments. Cairns, whom the newspaper described as a “devout Catholic,” was a laicized Catholic priest who reportedly died of complications of acute pancreatitis.
Cairns’s live-in “partner,” Dermot Kehoe, has since given an interview with the BBC accusing the archbishop-elect using the MP’s death to make a political point about “same-sex marriage.” Kehoe called the comments “deeply painful” and said they had added to the suffering of the family.
On the same day, The Scotsman published a lengthy letter by leading Labor MP Tom Harris who called the comments “hurtful” and “ill-informed.” Harris, who identifies himself as a “Christian,” continued, “As it happens, I feel strongly that the Church should not be reluctant to voice unpopular or unfashionable opinions. In the ongoing debate on the issue of equal marriage, we are undoubtedly on different sides,” he wrote.
“It’s important, however, that those who oppose equal marriage for reasons of faith are not universally smeared as ‘homophobic.’ But I fear that your comments about David play into the hands of such critics and will do the reputation of the Church more harm than good,” he concluded.
But Tartaglia is not backing away from his strong stand against homosexual activity in general and “gay marriage” in particular. His office issued a statement defending the comments, saying he had agreed “that the health risks of same sex behavior were largely unreported.” The statement said the archbishop-elect had not intended to “cause offense and he regrets that anyone may have been upset,” and noted that Cairns’ “funeral was conducted in the Catholic Church and pastoral support offered to his family and friends.”
Catholic News Agency quoted a Scottish lawyer, Aidan O’Neill, who has joined the many voices warning that same-sex “marriage” legislation, for which the Scottish government has already opened a “consultation,” will radically undermine religious liberty. O’Neill said that re-writing the definition of marriage would pose a threat of civil suits and job-losses for anyone, including ministers and priests, who refuse to participate in such “wedding” ceremonies. The devolved Scottish parliament has recently refused to consider a public referendum on the topic.
Notably, the archbishop’s comments came at the same time a court in Spain was dismissing a suit brought by homosexualist organizations and left wing politicians against Juan Antonio Reig Plá, the bishop of Alcala de Henares for his criticism of the homosexual lifestyle in a sermon on Good Friday this year.
Reig Plá had told a large audience at the World Congress of Families in May that the “ideology of gender” and “queer theory” are undermining “the nature of the person” and are devoted to the deconstruction of the family. He also criticized radical feminism, moral relativism, and artificial reproduction, and he affirmed that the sacrament of marriage is “an institution intended by the Creator.”
Tartaglia’s appointment was warmly welcomed by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who said he “has been outspoken in the defense of the sanctity of human life, as well as the dignity of the family based solely on marriage between one man and one woman.”
SPUC director John Smeaton said, “We at SPUC look forward to supporting Archbishop-elect Tartaglia in his pro-life and pro-family ministry in the coming, challenging years.”
When the appointment was announced yesterday, the archbishop-elect said, “In some ways I’m surprised at the public reaction to our position, because religion is supposed to be dead. But other Christian groups say good things, important things, and they must be heard, too.”
He added, “The Church’s core mission goes on, irrespective of other circumstances it finds itself in. Same-sex marriage is one such issue. It will characterize the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Scottish government going forward, but we can deal with that.”