… one may smile and smile, and be a villain.
Thanks to Haggis for the link to the story in the Scotsman. Here is Philip Tartaglia, archbishop-elect of Glasgow in the Roman Catholic Church, presently the bishop of Paisley. Nothing special about that and not really worthy of note at all, but his truly idiotic remark about the death of a Scottish MP is really beneath contempt. These guys think they have the right to speak on any pretext whatever, if it helps to get their regressive morality noticed. It should actually get him sued for libel, since he attributed David Cairn’s death to his gay lifestyle. According to the Scotsman report:
Philip Tartaglia’s suggestion prompted criticism from friends and the partner of the late David Cairns, a former priest, who claimed the Catholic leader had suggested the politician’s death at the age of 44 was somehow connected to his sexual orientation.
Tartaglia’s comments were made in Oxford, where he was attending a conference on freedom and equality (of all things!). Asked to comment on the suicide death of a gay author in the United States, Tartaglia replied:
If what I have heard is true about the relationship between the physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society is being very quiet about it,” the archbishop-elect, 61, said.
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.”
Cairns, a Scottish MP, former Roman Catholic priest, and a devout Catholic, had lived in a committed relationship for fifteen years, was a highly respected member of parliament, and a member of cabinet. He died of acute pancreatitis, and his death had nothing to do with his “gay lifestyle.” That the new archbishop elect of Glasgow should have suggested a conspiracy of silence regarding the physical and mental health of gay men is the kind of innuendo one comes to expect of Catholic officials who, when unable to make an accusation stick, assassinate by suggestion rather than speak the truth. As Mr. Cairn’s partner said:
I don’t care what his views on gay marriage are, but to bring in my dead partner to justify those views is wrong.
Not just wrong, however. It was cruel and unnecessary, and unacceptable coming from a public figure. It was not, however, surprising, since the Catechism of the Catholic Church has normalised the practice of using unduly prejudicial language to speak about practices and relationships that the church finds morally questionable. At the same time it claims to receive and welcome with respect those who are spoken of as gravely disordered.
It is worthwhile remarking that the cherubic faced archbishop elect will not get the last laugh, which is reserved for the Scottish Parliament, which has announced its intention to introduce legislation legalising same-sex marriage. According to the Scotsman, despite the fact that two-thirds of respondents opposed the measure (generated, one suspects, by the churches, who have weekly opportunities to harangue their charges), the Scottish National Party has announced that it will proceed with the legalisation, because it is “the right thing to do.” In announcing the decision, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared that
We are committed to a fair and equal Scotland.
Not surprisingly, of course,
[r]eligious leaders have dismissed the plans as a “dangerous social experiment”, amid concern that it conflicts with traditional doctrines that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But the move has been widely welcomed by campaigners and political leaders, with the first gay marriages likely to be held in Scotland by 2015.
Religion is simply on the wrong side of history, desperately holding its finger in the dyke of privilege and pontification, while all around it people are simply walking away in disgust. It is impossible to pry religion loose from the decaying remnants of another time, when clerical privilege justified practically any outrage against humanity. But now the sleek, overfed virgin who is slated to take over the archdiocese of Glasgow, reminding one, for all the world, of Chaucer’s Pardoner, simply cannot understand what ordinary people think and feel, but it makes no matter:
… let me briefly make my purpose plain;
I preach for nothing but for greed of gain
And thus I preach against the very vice
I make my living out of – avarice.
And yet however guilty of that sin
Myself with others I have power to win
Them from it, I can bring them to repent;
But that is not my principal intent.
Covetousness is both the root and stuff
Of all I preach. That ought to be enough.
The Pardoner had just said:
The curse of avarice and cupidity
Is all my sermon, for it frees the pelf.
Out come the pence, especially for myself
For my exclusive purpose is to win
And not at all to castigate their sin.
Once dead what matter how their souls may fare?
They can go blackberrying for all I care!
Tartaglia has said that it was not his intention to offend, and though he has been asked to stand down, it is clear that he will not do so, saying that, despite his offending words, David Cairns was buried as a Catholic (although, it needs to be said, according to the church he was living in grave sin), and pastoral aid was offered to his family and friends.
Dermot Kehoe, David Cairn’s partner, will have none of this, and called for the bishop to resign. According to the Daily Record, Kehoe said:
It is beyond belief that a man of God can come out with something as ridiculous and hurtful as that. He is not fit for public office.
I would also like him to show some genuine contrition for what he said. Tartaglia now has no authority for moral leadership at all and he must resign.
I hope to God he never has to watch someone he loves lying in intensive care. It was horrific and traumatic.
David was my life. I was with him till the end. For two months before he died, I spent every day at David’s bedside hoping he would pull through as he slipped in and out of consciousness.
That is what I think relationships are about. We loved each other and were devoted to each other.
It is devastating enough to lose someone you love without people like Tartaglia coming out and trying to blacken his name. He has besmirched David’s memory by saying he died because of his choice of lifestyle and seeking to use this to influence the issue on equal marriage.
This is more than distressing for me and his family, it has caused us all a great deal of emotional and physical pain. It makes me very angry.