Scottish bishop Philip Tartaglia met with U.K. Health Secretary and Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in Edinburgh Wednesday to discuss the Roman Catholic Church's concerns regarding government proposals to legalize same-sex marriage.
The U.K. government has been holding 14-week consultations surveying opinions on whether civil or church unions between people of the same gender should be allowed, reported British media. Officials have declared they will listen to all main arguments, including those of churches and faith groups.
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland announced in September that it does not support a government that backs same-sex marriage, with church officials describing such unions as "shameful" and "cultural vandalism." Under these circumstances, the meeting between Sturgeon and Tartaglia is a diplomatic step forward.
"I also made clear that while ministers tend towards the initial view that same-sex marriage should be introduced, faith groups and their celebrants should not be obliged to solemnize same-sex marriage," Sturgeon said in a statement, as reported by the BBC.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, stated the same day Sturgeon issued his statement, that there was a significant number of Scots who were opposed to gay marriage and would continue to morally object it, even if doing so could oppose the law or put their jobs in danger, Scotland's Sunday Herald reported.
So far, politicians have assured religious organizations that the new law, if passed, will not force them to register same-sex marriages against the institutions' will.
Currently, same-sex couples are legally entitled to a civil partnership in the United Kingdom, but the ceremony cannot be conducted in a church or on any other religious premises, according to the BBC.
Scottish Catholic Church parliamentary officer, John Deighan, said Monday that Bishop Tartaglia was "forthright in his assertion that proposals to legislate for same sex marriage would be harmful to society and to the government," reported The Scotsman.
In September, church officials made outspoken attacks on the Scottish government, which has been debating whether same-sex marriage should be legalized.
Bishop Tartaglia reportedly said at the time: "We don’t want marriage to be redefined to include same-sex."