Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has spoken out in favour of the political separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Writing in the Daily Record, he stated that he would be "happy" to see Scotland become "an independent country."
Referring to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland in 1982, the Cardinal insisted that the Pope's act of kissing the ground upon his arrival at Edinburgh Airport was intended to remind "the world that Scotland is a nation among nations." The Cardinal made the sinister assertion that "the (Roman Catholic) Church traditionally has a deep fondness for Scotland," and referred to declarations by previous Popes in support of Scottish nationhood in the Middle Ages. Conveniently, he neglected to mention the subsequent events of the 16th century, when Scotland as a nation threw off the papal yoke, and the succeeding centuries of vigorous and resolute Protestant witness against the Antichrist.
The Catholic designs upon Scotland are perfectly explicit: O'Brien writes of the "vibrancy of the Celtic Tiger" in the Republic of Ireland. It is his desire to re-make Scoltand in the Irish image, as a country bound hand and foot to the Papacy, taking its political cues from Brussels and Rome.
The Scottish National Party naturaly welcomed the Cardinal's remakrs. Alex Salmond described him as a man of wisdom and stature" and added that he was "delighted that he has issued positive signals about independence and self determination for the nation." The Scottish Labour Party, however, was very unhappy with the Cardinal's article. It has for generations relied on the Catholic communities of the Central Belt for its bedrock of support in Scotland, and with Holyrood elections approaching in May of 2007, it is very concerned that Scottish Catholic voters will take the Cardinal's remarks as tacit support for the SNP
Despite his well publicised Catholic sympathies, Tony Blair was therefore sharply critical of the Cardinal's intervention in the debate. Speaking at a Downing Street press conference he effectively accused the Cardinal of wanting to "take the country backwards." Obviously concerned that the Cardinal's words will sway Catholic voters he insisted that the debate was not "a matter of religious faith," and declared: "independence would be a disaster for Scotland because it would wreck its economy, stop it functioning as part of the UK and take the country backwards."
The Cardinal's words clearly demonstrate to Scottish Protestants the crucial importance of the Union in preserving the rich Christian heritage of the nation of Scotland.