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Deborah Orr, Saturday 28th July 2012 00:10
It makes you proud to be a Scot, seeing the nation cracking on with legalising same-sex marriage, no matter how much Christian fundamentalists complain. Oh, but how they do complain. The Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has been accused of suggesting that the former Labour MP (and former Catholic priest), David Cairns, died at 44 not of complications due to acute pancreatitis – that's just what the silly doctors say – but, in some weird way, because he was gay.
He seems to have his institution behind him. In a petition against same-sex marriage, the Scottish hierarchy insists that: "No government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the state." But it also wants to "appeal to everyone to recognise the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction. We reject all hatred, mockery and abuse against any person." Sadly, acute pancreatitis appears to operate under no such restrictions.
Of course, one shouldn't worry too much about such remarks. They are so patently stupid and superstitious that they harm only the institutions they are said in the name of. And anyway, if Scotland is anything, it's dualistic – alcoholism jostling with temperance, socialism coexisting with deep conservatism, pride in the nation's achievements tempered by a horror of "showing off".
The Catholic church in Scotland has long been considered highly eccentric. The Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, for example, can be stalwartly relied upon to make absurd and crass pronouncements. Devine reckons too that the "gay lobby" attends Holocaust memorials "to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution". Why would they bother with such elaborate ploys, when they have the likes of Devine to do all that heavy lifting for them?