Gay Catholics 'pained' by Cardinal's 'bigot' award
A nationwide spiritual support network for people with same-sex attraction has condemned gay lobby group Stonewall for naming a Scottish cardinal 'Bigot of the Year'.
EnCourage, which is made up mainly of Catholics, said it felt "profound sorrow" over Stonewall's annual award, which took place on Thursday.
Leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland and an outspoken gay marriage opponent, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, was named as 'Bigot of the Year'.
Stonewall went ahead with the award despite threats from Barclays and Coutts banks to withdraw funding from the awards if the Bigot of the Year category was not withdrawn.
EnCourage praised Cardinal O'Brien for "daring to speak out the truth" about homosexuality and gay marriage.
“It is this type of incendiary and immature reaction to anything that might even slightly disagree with Stonewall’s position on so-called gay rights that actually further damages the excellent work being done in Britain by civil agencies, charities, different faiths and all the Christian churches to help mainstream society better understand the daily life stories of those of us with same-sex attraction," the group said.
“There are literally thousands of same-sex attracted men and women who will be grateful to Cardinal O’Brien for daring to speak out the truth.
"Far from being a bigot, we experience Cardinal O’Brien as a prophetic voice to those of us who are same-sex attracted. We ask him, and other truly concerned and educated leaders, to keep speaking out on our behalf."
The group added that any public agency running a "gratuitously ofensive" award should be disciplined.
"This type of arrogant and infantile behaviour should not be tolerated in 21st-century democratic Britain.
"It merely breeds a culture of greater division and injustice. We will be holding all those involved in our prayers.”
The Catholic Church said the award was part of Stonewall's "intolerant and intimidatory tactics" against those who do not share its views.
The Church has called upon major donors, who also include the Scottish Government, to reconsider their funding for the group.
“Stonewall’s decision to award their 'Bigot of the year' award to Cardinal O'Brien reveals the depth of their intolerance and their willingness to attack and demean those who don’t share their views," a spokesman for the Church said.
"Stonewall and others have promoted terms like ‘bigot’ and ‘homophobe’
relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose
"It is an agenda which the wider public does not endorse and which their excessive language has undermined."