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Scottish cardinal accuses Govt of 'state-sponsored' child sex abuse

Cardinal Keith O'Brien has signalled the start of a massive campaign against the Scottish executive over sex education, accusing ministers of favouring programs that are akin to "state-sponsored sexual abuse" of children.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien said the bitter row over the abolition of section 28 in Scotland would pale into insignificance as church leaders, parents and teachers battled with the executive over a new sexual health strategy, which he called "one of the biggest challenges to the morality of our nation in a generation".

The Scottish executive, a relatively new institution, has some of the functions of the state governments in Australia.

First minister Jack McConnell rejected the cardinal's claims and dismissed his concerns as misplaced.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Cardinal O'Brien said the executive's proposals would mean sex education being given to children as young as three and four, and contraceptives and abortions being made available to teenagers without the knowledge of their parents.

"I fear the passions ignited by the section 28 debate could be a mere flicker compared with the protests of parents determined to preserve their children's innocence and pro tect their childhood," he said.

The executive is nearing the end of a consultation process on a sexual health strategy. Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in western Europe, and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase.

In his article, Cardinal O'Brien said there is a sinister agenda in some health and education services to sexualise children, including getting graphic sex education materials into primary and even nursery schools.

Cardinal's anger at sex lessons (The Guardian 30/8/04)

Scottish Cardinal attacks "child abuse" of sex ed (Catholic World News 31/8/04)

32 Sep 2004