Cardinal: Gay Marriage as Bad as Slavery
Remarks widely condemned, called 'scare mongering'
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2012 1:15 AM CST
Updated Mar 5, 2012 4:08 AM CST
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, attends a mass held by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica last month in Vatican City.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Catholic cardinal in charge of Scotland provoked stinging criticism over the weekend for calling gay marriage a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right," and saying it's as morally reprehensible as slavery, reports the Independent. "Imagine for a moment that the government had decided to legalize slavery, but assured us that 'no one will be forced to keep a slave.' Would such worthless assurances calm our fury?" wrote Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

In response, gay rights groups called the remarks "insensitive beyond words." Margot James, Britain's first openly lesbian Conservative member of parliament, called the cardinal's comments "scare mongering." It is a "completely unacceptable way for a prelate to talk," she said. "The government is not trying to force Catholic churches to perform gay marriages at all. It is a purely civil matter."