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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January 2005, 18:03 GMT
Status quo 'is not an option'
Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Catholic Church

The concerns of the Catholic Church are for the health and wellbeing of all Scots.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Cardinal Keith O'Brien said a fresh start was required

Scotland's dismal sexual health record is a matter of serious concern for us all.

It is appropriate that the Scottish Executive should have examined this key policy area in great detail.

In common with others, the Catholic Church participated in the consultation process, with well-argued submission and took part in the wider public debate - these contributions attest to the depth of feeling and concern aroused by this issue.

However, the fact remains that this debate was precipitated by a dramatic decline in our country's sexual health.

No matter how we measure it, the picture of failure is the same in every area; rates of teenage conceptions, abortion rates and levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

We are left facing a single incontrovertible fact; all our current approaches have failed. Accordingly, the status quo cannot be an option.

There remain areas of the strategy which cannot be reconciled with the views of the Catholic Church and which appear to be at odds with wider public opinion

I am also pleased the health minister recognises marriage as 'a key pillar of our national life' and that he endorses the principle of abstinence.

We desperately need new thinking, new approaches and a fresh start in this area.

Having been a full participant in the debate, the Catholic Church has offered many proposals and strategies for action and remains ready to collaborate with all relevant agencies in enhancing Scotland's sexual health.

There remain areas of the strategy which cannot be reconciled with the views of the Catholic Church and which appear to be at odds with wider public opinion.

Among them is the continued support for the distribution of the morning-after pill to schoolchildren without parental consent through pharmacists, general practitioners and clinics.

I hope such areas of disagreement will be the subject of debate and discussion by the new National Advisory Committee announced today and I underline the willingness of the church to participate in its work.


SEE ALSO:
Respect at centre of sex strategy
27 Jan 05 |  Scotland
'Ignorance puts children at risk'
27 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Sexual health plans: Your views
27 Jan 05 |  Have Your Say


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