Cardinals Use Christmas Sermons to Rail Against Marriage Equality and Abortion

I almost feel bad writing disparaging posts about the religion of my youth because it’s almost too easy. I don’t even need to write, say, or do anything to hasten the end of the Church — they seem quite content to do it themselves.

One would imagine that this time of year is every Christian church’s annual opportunity to spread a message of joy, celebration, and charity in an attempt to claw back punters who only plonk themselves in the pews once a year. Why do that, though, when you can re-enforce your own stereotype and spread a message of hate and bigotry instead?

The major movers and shakers in the Catholic churches of England & Wales and Ireland talked about either gay marriage or abortion. So much for Christmas cheer. The Catholic Church’s leader in England & Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, is getting especially criticized after declaring government plans for gay marriage are a “shambles”:

Archbishop Vincent Nichols (via Faith Makes A Difference)

Nichols told the BBC:

There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no Green Paper, no statement in the Queen’s Speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation. From a democratic point-of-view, it’s a shambles. George Orwell would be proud of that manoeuvre, I think the process is shambolic.

Nichols was then savaged by an editorial in The Independent:

No more of a shambles, it might be said, than the Archbishop’s Christmas message. His words might have given the impression that the Government would require the Roman Catholic Church to marry homosexual couples. But nothing is further from the truth. Indeed, one disappointing, even shameful, aspect of the proposed law is that the Church of England, the established Church, will be banned from conducting gay marriages, even though — as we report today — opinion is strongly in favour of letting individual priests do so if they wish.

Over in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady thought Christmas would be the perfect time to remind the faithful which way they are expected to side in upcoming changes to abortion legislation. This in spite of the very recent and emotionally charged case of Savita Halappanavar, who died in October after being refused an abortion after a miscarriage. News of her death at the University Hospital Galway led to a series of protests against Ireland’s abortion laws and the Irish Government is preparing legislation when the mother’s life is at risk. Such legislation would have gone a long way to potentially saving Savita’s life.

Cardinal Brady called for Ireland’s Catholics to unite and fight against the proposals:

I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright way to their representatives, reminding them that the right to life is conferred on human beings not by the powerful ones of this world but by the Creator.

Up in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien was unusually quiet. Perhaps he’s still grumpy at gay rights group Stonewall’s decision to unanimously award him the title of “2012 Bigot of the Year.” Earlier in the year, O’Brien described gay marriage as a “grotesque subversion” of the universal human right which defines marriage as solely heterosexual and has been vocal throughout the year in his opposition to government plans to legalize gay marriage.

Perhaps the cheer and joy that is hoped for at this time of year can be found in the ever more public suicide the Catholic Church seems to be heading towards. The future of their Church is in the young, and to the young, the church is an outdated and irrelevant.

About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.


  • SeekerLancer

    Catholics leaders are such broken records. With nothing useful to say I guess they have to keep repeating themselves.

  • 7Footpiper

    I’ve said it several times in different forums but I think I may see the demise of the Catholic Church in my lifetime. They’re entitled to their outdated views but they must make sure that I and others are not compelled to live by them. I also think Cardinal Brady is right with one small addition, the right to life is fundamental and that includes the lives of the already living, like Savita Halappanavar.

  • de

    It’s interesting, but I find that the Catholic leaders are as out of touch with their membership as anybody. Most catholics I know support same sex marriage, use contraception, and do not view the pope as infailable.

  • ortcutt

    Sean Brady personally covered up child rape in the 1975 when he swore two teenager to silence during a Church investigation of Brendan Smyth, a priest who raped hundreds of children in Ireland and the US over four decades with Church knowledge and acquiescence. After the 1975 investigation, Smyth wasn’t reported to civil authorities and he wasn’t removed from the priesthood or contact with children. Smyth went on to rape dozens more children before he was arrested in 1994. Sean Brady is personally responsible for the rape of children, and he want to lecture us on morality. That takes some chutzpah.

  • chicago dyke

    i’m actually glad this was their message. because it just reminds fence sitters and moderates who haven’t left the church yet what horrible people represent it. old, out of touch, bigoted, grumpy, cheerless hypocrites lecturing the rest of us about issues from their medieval viewpoints. i share the enthusiasm for the future of a previous poster; it would be so wonderful to see the end of these outdated institutions in my lifetime and at this rate that is at least possible.

  • Richard Smith

    if the catholic church had the same disdain for pedophiles as they do for anything gay or abortion-related, people might actually listen to them – though doubtful!!!

  • Baby_Raptor

    “I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright way to their representatives, reminding them that the right to life is conferred on human beings not by the powerful ones of this world but by the Creator.”

    In other words…”We don’t care what the law says, what science says, or what you personally may believe. You motherFuckers are gonna live by OUR views.”

    And the church wonders why it gets to much crap.

  • Rain

    They couldn’t figure out something else to rail against during the holiday season? There are plenty of worse things happening in the world. For example there is an epidemic of Christians praying in public, not giving up all their worldly possessions, not hating their families, and worrying about the morrow. It makes one wonder if the Cardinals have lost all sense of priority.

  • Octoberfurst

    How true and the pedophile problem would have been solved long ago. But hey, stopping priests from having sex with young boys is not high on the Church’s priority list. Contraceptives are the REAL evil in their minds and they are working like mad to make it as hard to get as possible. Praise Jeebus!

  • Felyx Leiter

    Yup. And yet, they still visit the doctor when they fall ill. See, it’s okay to interfere with the Master Plan® when you end up with cancer or a broken arm, just not when you’re a woman with a massive infection caused by irreversibly dying tissue in her womb.

  • anniewhoo

    Me too, which makes me wonder why they consider themselves Catholics at all?

  • anniewhoo

    I am hopeful that we will! It is not just the young who are leaving the church. My mother, a devout Catholic her whole life has abandoned the church, and god, and now labels herself an agnostic. So many members of the church, both young and old, have finally had enough. I hope these cardinals keep talking. With every word they distance themselves even further from their flock.

  • Stev84

    It’s almost impossible to rise to the rank of Cardinal without having covered up sexual abuse.

  • Matthew Baker

    Maybe because the Cafeteria is still open? Take a little this a little of that leave the carrot raisin salad right where it belongs.

  • pagansister

    Seriously? That’s all they could think of to talk about on a day when, according to church doctrine, the greatest dude that ever lived (then died and lived again) was born? Not terribly creative are they? But then they are leaders in the RCC so they don’t have to think, just recycle.

  • Anna

    Nothing says Christmas like railing against homosexuality and abortion. You’d think they could lay off the rhetoric long enough to encourage a little peace and goodwill.

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    The catholic church is a dying animal taking it’s last few swipes.

  • roberthughmclean

    One would need to be rank to become a cardinal.

  • roberthughmclean

    The Phillipines have passed their first ever reproductive health legislation today, after much whinging from the catholic church. It’s another example of just how useless and ineffective their silent, invisible and totally inactive god/babyjesus/ghostthing is.

  • Sandy Kokch

    Take heart though Mark. Show me a US equivalent of the Independent editorial. Articles critical of religious ranting are rare as a blue moon in the mainstream US press. The Hartford Courant is the only exception I can remember when they ripped into kiddy fiddling priest cover ups by the state RCC.

    At least in our green and pleasant the press are always more than ready to stick it to the religions….apart from the Torygraph of course.