'Ignorant' new Archbishop upsets family of dead gay MP
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia's comments about the late David Cairns have 'added to family grief'
A NEWLY appointed Catholic Archbishop has been accused of "adding to the grief and pain" of a late MP's friends and family by linking the politician's death to his homosexuality.
Philip Tartaglia was named as Archbishop-elect of Glasgow by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday. On the same day, it was claimed that at an Oxford University conference in April this year Tartaglia had made “anti-gay comments” about David Cairns, Labour MP for Inverclyde.
At the Oxford event, which focused on religious freedom and equality, Tartaglia said: "If what I have heard is true about the relationship between physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society has been very quiet about it.
"Recently in Scotland there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so and nobody said anything and why his body should just shut down at that age, obviously he could have had a disease which would have killed anyone, but you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing. But society won't address it."
Cairns, a former Catholic priest, died in May 2011 at the age of 44 after suffering from acute pancreatitis. Today, his partner for 15 years, Dermot Kehoe, said the Archbishop’s remarks were made in "complete ignorance".
Kehoe told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that Tartaglia had "implied that David's death was due in some way to his homosexuality and his being gay". He added: "This has not only upset me and David's family, but it [has] added to our grief and pain.”
Tim Harris, MP for Glasgow South and a close friend of Cairns, has written an open letter to the Archbishop, saying his remarks were not only "unsupported by any evidence" but "unworthy" of his position as a leader in the Church.
Tartaglia, who has been an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage, which were announced today, said he had not meant to cause offence.