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Monday, August 27, 2012

"All are welcome in this place."

A post by Kelvin, the Provost of St. Mary's (Episcopal) Cathedral, Glasgow, about Catholics (and others) asking to visit his church on "National Marriage Sunday". Here's the beginning of his post ...

An Invitation

Update – this blog post is featured in an article in the Herald newspaper.

I think it is appropriate to post on this blog the invitation that I shared with the congregation last weekend.

We are currently living through a period of social change, as the Scottish Government finalizes its plans to allow same-sex couples to get married.

Now, the churches tend to react in their own distinctive ways. Christians are not of one mind about whether marriage for gay couples is a good thing or not. However, it is clearly coming.

Over the summer, I’ve been contacted a number of times by people who have asked me whether they can come to St Mary’s Cathedral on a one-off basis on Sunday 26 August 2012. The reason for this is that the Roman Catholic Church is declaring this coming Sunday as National Marriage Sunday and has said that it is setting up a special commission – a new body which will be “charged with promoting the true nature of marriage”.

Now, I believe in marriage. I believe in marriage for straight couples. I believe in supporting family life. I also happen to believe that marriage should be open to same-sex couples who wish to publicly declare that they are going to be faithful, stable and loving in the same way that straight people can. I believe in Equal Marriage and hope it comes soon.

The trouble is, the rhetoric that is currently coming from the Roman Catholic Church on this topic can be hugely negative. We saw that on Scotland Tonight on Thursday evening when one of their spokesmen once again asserted that gay people live shorter lives than straight people and seemed to suggest that people needed to be “warned” against being gay. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to describe it as homophobic and that is a word that I almost never use. It is also my view that the attitude of the Scottish Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy seems to be at odds with the membership of that church whom I generally encounter as gentle, respectful, caring and kind.

Now, the fact is, not everyone at St Mary’s Cathedral has the same views on this topic. The truth is, the people at St Mary’s Cathedral tend not to have the same views about many things, as it happens.

However, we all do tend to agree that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. My congregation is not a place where people question whether gay people are loved by God. We know it is true that everyone is loved by God.

The people who have contacted me about this upcoming Sunday to ask if they can join us for a week are quite varied. Some are straight people and some are gay. Some are Roman Catholics who simply don’t want to be told what to think about this topic and who reject the current rhetoric coming from the Scottish Roman Catholic Church. Others have no connection with that church but simply want to turn up to a church on that Sunday where the message is of compassion and love. Indeed, I have been contacted by a couple of atheists who said that they would like to come to church on that day to mark a particular anniversary and wondered whether they too would be welcome. The answer, of course, was yes. All are welcome in this place .......


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