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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Cardinal comes under fire
Cardinal Winning
The clergyman is outspoken
The often controversial style and language used by Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic churchman has come under fire.

In a BBC Scotland Frontline programme, to be broadcast on Tuesday evening, Cardinal Thomas Winning is criticised for alienating churchgoers and placing the church at odds with the Scottish Parliament.

But his supporters say he is simply following Papal teachings.

A lot of people who would have not much problems with what he's saying do have a problem with the way he's saying it

Annabel Miller, The Tablet
The clergyman, nicknamed "Cardinal Controversy", has always been one for capturing headlines.

Most recently he defended Section 28 - the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools and which the Scottish Executive branded homophobic and pledged to abolish.

There was public outrage when the cardinal called the homosexual act a perversion.

And he has also had run-ins with the Labour Party over its condemnation of the Scottish National Party; with Prime Minister Tony Blair over his stance on abortion and with homosexuals for comparing their sexual orientation to a "physical handicap".

'Alienate followers'

He is also accused of making pronouncements without conferring with other Scottish Bishops.

That has lead some Catholics to say more dialogue should precede Cardinal Winning's media appearances.
Cardinal Winning with baby
The cardinal backs pro-life causes
Annabel Miller, executive editor of Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said: "I think sometimes on the Section 28 debate he's been so forthright as to alienate some people who could have otherwise supported him.

"I think there is quite a big ground swell of opinion that people don't want children to have homosexuality thrust at them at school as an alternative lifestyle.

"But a lot of those people actually don't want words like perversion used to describe homosexuality.

"A lot of people who would have not much problems with what he's saying do have a problem with the way he's saying it because it comes across as uncompassionate, rather reactionary."

Pro-life initiative

Martin Hogg, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Association, told Frontline that Cardinal Winning - who declined to appear on the programme - does not need to act in the way he has become known for.

But Sister Rosann Reddy, who helps to run Cardinal Winning's Pro Life Initiative which gives financial help to pregnant women, hit back at the critics.
Annabel Miller
Annabel Miller: The Tablet
"All the Cardinal is doing is what a Cardinal of the Catholic Church should be doing, and that is leading his people, that is teaching his people," said Sister Reddy.

Cardinal Winning, a miner's son from Wishaw, was in his early 30s when he caught the eye of The Vatican and the Pope and was made Spiritual Director of the Scots College in Rome.

He was only 49 when he became Archbishop of Glasgow.

And in 1994 he made history when he joined the elite of the Pope's closest advisers, Glasgow's first ever cardinal and only the third Scottish cardinal since the Reformation.
Pro-life Initiative leaflet
Abortion has been an issue of controversy
Ronnie Convery, Cardinal Winning's spokesman, accepts that his boss is well known and is not afraid to speak out.

"Very few people in public life are prepared to put their head above the parapet and say what they believe to be true.

"He happens to be prepared to do so, and he gets a bit of flack for it, but he gets a lot of support for it. But he doesn't do it to make the headlines," said Mr Convery.

This summer, Cardinal Winning reaches a fresh milestone when he celebrates his 75th birthday.

Under Church law that means he must offer his resignation as a bishop, but rumours abound already that The Vatican will not accept it.

 Click here to watch the Frontline programme on Tuesday, April 4, at 2215BST

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See also:

11 Oct 99 | Scotland
Scotland's 'Cardinal Controversy'
02 Dec 99 | Scotland
Cardinal condemns sex clinics call
17 Jan 00 | Scotland
Gay law debate set to intensify
23 Jan 00 | Scotland
Winning says sorry to gays
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