Scottish Bishops Challenge SNP Government on Freedom of Conscience

Scottish Bishops Challenge SNP Government on Freedom of Conscience

President of Scotland’s Catholic Bishops asks First Minister to protect freedom of conscience

The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert has written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to express his

Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB

concerns at the attacks launched against the SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron (right)  following her vote against an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill that would have lifted the legal protections presently afforded to the unborn child in Northern Ireland.

In his letter on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Bishop Gilbert calls on the SNP leader, on behalf of all those “who cherish freedom of conscience within the public square” to provide an urgent reassurance that freedom of conscience will be protected within the SNP and valued in Scottish public life, at every level.

The full text of the letter is shown below.

Letter to the First Minister

Dear First Minister,

I write following recent public comments made by Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.

On Tuesday 9 July, Dr Cameron voted against an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill that would have lifted the legal protections presently afforded to the unborn child in Northern Ireland. It is a long-standing parliamentary convention that votes on such ethical issues are considered matters of conscience and, thus, are not subject to the party whip. Indeed, this was confirmed in writing to Dr Cameron prior to the 9 July vote by the SNP Chief Whip, Patrick Grady MP.

In the days following the vote, however, Dr Cameron has been subject to a significant degree of hostility from many quarters, including ordinary members and officer bearers of the Scottish National Party, some of which she describes as being “nothing less than vitriolic” in nature. She adds that according to local officials it may “now be incompatible to hold pro-life views and be a SNP MP, candidate, to pass vetting or be elected in any capacity”. She further notes that, despite prompting, she has presently received no public re-assurance from the leadership of the SNP that this is not, in fact, the case. I therefore am writing to you as Leader of the Scottish National Party to seek such a public re-assurance.  [emphasis added – Ed.]

I believe I write on behalf of all who cherish freedom of conscience within the public square and hold in high regard those in public life who remain true to their conscience, even at the expense of personal popularity or political advantage.

“Moral courage is readiness to expose oneself to suffering or inconvenience which does not affect the body,” wrote the co-founder of the Scottish National Party, Sir Compton Mackenzie, in 1962, “It arises from firmness of moral principle and is independent of the physical constitution.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter First Minister.

I await your reply with anticipation. In the meantime, please be assured of my continued prayers and good wishes.

I am, Yours Sincerely,

Bishop Hugh Gilbert
Bishops’ Conference of Scotland   – Source:  website of the Catholic Parliamentary Office 


On this occasion, we are pleased to thank the Bishops of Scotland for their public support of Dr Lisa Cameron – and we await the response from Nicola Sturgeon with nothing akin to bated breath 😀  Predictable assurances of respect for freedom of consciences to be expected. 

To offer your support to Dr Cameron MP, you can email her   [email protected]  – for more contact details and information click here 

Comments (12)

  • Fidelis Reply

    I looked into this since there was not a word about it on the TV news and was shocked to find that this MP fears being de-selected! When you think of the MPs at the very top of the tree who have boasted about using drugs and remain in their posts, it’s utterly scandalous.

    If Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t come out and support this MP, then she will be in for a shock at the next election. The SNP lost 21 MPs last time there was an election, so they’re not guaranteed their seats. This needs lots of publicity, so good on the bishops for writing to the First Minister.

    July 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm
    • editor Reply


      Thank you for that link.

      I’ve now emailed Dr Cameron to offer our support and I’ve sent her the link to this thread.

      The SNP Government cannot be permitted to shut down the right to vote conscientiously on matters such as abortion. And that’s not to mention the interference with the devolved status of the Northern Ireland assembly – it is very odd that the SNP is not objecting to Westminster’s over-riding of that devolved Government.

      July 18, 2019 at 5:16 pm
  • Margaret Mary Reply

    It’s disgraceful that Dr Cameron is in fear of being de-selected, but nothing surprises me any more about the pro-abortion lobby. Their hatred of the unborn child is truly chilling.

    I saw Stella Creasy MP on TV denying that she was in favour of abortion up to birth yet it’s a fact that she is agitating for the decriminalisation of abortion – which means abortion up to birth for those who “choose” it.

    Savages, that’s what the laughably named “pro-choice” people are. The baby victims don’t have any choice, but that seems to have escaped their notice. As President Regan once said “I notice that all those who want abortion, have been born.” Exactly.

    July 18, 2019 at 5:21 pm
    • editor Reply


      Thank you for that link about Stella Creasy MP – I wrote to her back in February, but no reply to date … For the record, here’s my message – she’d been arguing for a second Brexit referendum on a lunchtime politics show on BBC:

      Dear Ms Creasy,

      After watching you on today’s Politics Live show, noting that some of your opinions, if applied to abortion, would be very helpful to developing debate on the subject, I thought I would write to you because I have followed with interest your dedication to extending abortion provision, over time.

      Since it is one of those issues which is widely debated from time to time, and everyone knows that it is about “a woman’s right to choose”, it is disappointing that there is never any mention of the other person involved, the unborn child, generally regarded as a nuisance and disposable.

      Given that everything about us, our eye colour, hair colour, fingerprints, everything is there from the very moment of conception, I am puzzled by this and I can’t help wondering – given that some operations ARE televised – if it would help to either consolidate or change opinions, one way or the other, if we were all to be given the opportunity to actually SEE what is involved in an abortion: either the “products” of a medically induced abortion or the actual surgical procedure, where surgery is the woman’s choice.

      Your desire for a second BREXIT referendum is based, you said, on the fact that we are now more informed and that what we voted for first time around is not what is the situation now (for the record, I’m an ardent LEAVER and will remain so, if you’ll excuse the pun, even during a second referendum!)

      But, it occurred to me listening to you today, why not apply that same logic to the Abortion Law – we are much more informed now about the unborn child that we were in 1967…

      So, I write to ask you two things: firstly, will you campaign for the televising of abortions, in the interests of ensuring that we are all as well informed as we can be on the subject, with up-to-date scientific knowledge provided? And secondly, will you consider campaigning for a referendum on the Abortion Law with a view to its abolition, given that we are now much more informed about the life of the unborn baby in the womb?

      I look forward to your positive response.

      Kind regards


      Easy to see why she chose to ignore the above, isn’t it? There’s just no answer…

      July 18, 2019 at 11:13 pm
      • Nicky


        Seriously, you cannot have expected a reply to that letter to Stella Creasy, LOL! She’s a rabid pro-abortionist. Her Wiki page says she has had numerous miscarriages, so if they haven’t changed her mind about the humanity of the unborn baby, I don’t think anything else will, except maybe the movie Unplanned which is very moving indeed. Here’s the trailer – you can watch it online but it’s not been promoted in UK cinemas – that’s how moving it is!

        July 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm
      • Josephine

        It’s a disgrace that the film Unplanned was not promoted here – it just shows how intolerant the so-called “pro-choice” people really are.

        I think this clip is also interesting because it shows the really Abby demolishing the pro-abortion opposition.

        July 20, 2019 at 3:39 pm
      • Josephine

        This is also extremely interesting – it’s only around 5 minutes, with Abby speaking about the day she realised the truth about her life as an abortionist. It’s shocking that all of this testimony is being withheld in the UK. I’m disgusted at the way the “liberal left” is treating us like dummies who can’t be allowed to see any opposition view to abortion.

        July 20, 2019 at 3:45 pm
  • gabriel syme Reply

    I am pleased and also surprised the Bishops have spoken out to support Dr Cameron (not least since they failed to publicly support Fr Mark Morris, when he was victimised by Glasgow Caledonian University).

    I am reminded of the old saying that, if you give an infinite amount of monkeys an infinite amount of typewriters, one of them will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

    There must be a similar saying about Scottish Bishops; give them an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of things to speak out on and they will eventually contrive to do something worthwhile.

    Anyway, here’s hoping the letter merits a response. But I doubt it, given Nicola Sturgeon has thus far chosen to ignore Dr Cameron herself .

    Sturgeon must study the methods of Pope Francis, given how often she response to challenges and circumstances with………silence. Her continued silence on anti-Catholicism for another example.

    Additionally, Sturgeon – a horrible woman – is herself an abortion fanatic, previously offering to use Scottish money to pay for abortions for women from Northern Ireland.

    The SNP treat the naive Bishops like patsys. This SNP “love in” seems to have started in the days of Alex Salmond and Cardinal O’Brien. And I believe that there are many prominent lay people (Peter Kearney?) who are heavily wrapped up with the SNP too.

    Yet the SNP push many wholly un-Christian agendas, especially related to the LGBT lobby and abortion, and also are very lukewarm in their responses, when it comes to anti-Catholic bigotry as mentioned.

    The Bishops ought to wake up and smell the coffee and realise that the SNP regards the Church as being “in its pocket”, where it was once aligned to the Labour Party. Really the Bishops ought to be a lot more combative and demanding towards the Government and make certain matters into election issues.

    Representatives of the Muslim community adeptly have politicians rolling over to have their belly ticked on the mosque carpet. The Bishops could learn a lot from their political savvy, instead of being the ever smiling dafties who get the occasional pat-on-the-head from Holyrood.

    July 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm
  • editor Reply

    Gabriel Syme,

    Well said.

    I agree totally about Nicola Sturgeon’s use of silence to “answer” critics.

    When she was Health Secretary, I wrote to her twice about abortion with no reply on either occasion. However, I’ve since discovered that that is a feature of the pro-abortionists. They can’t answer any facts given, so they just ignore the communication.

    July 18, 2019 at 11:09 pm
  • liberanos Reply

    The SNP , in common with most (all?) Political parties are profoundly anti-life. I cannot understand why so many Catholics have been duped into supporting them. This it was an act of sheer hypocrisy for 25 of their MPs to vote for this NI bill. Considering the amount of noise they make about Westminster interfering in Scotland..

    July 19, 2019 at 10:48 am
    • Margaret Mary Reply


      Too right. The SNP really are profoundly anti-life as you say and it is a total scandal that Nicola Sturgeon isn’t supporting Dr Cameron for her conscientious pro-life decision.

      The only concern I have is whether or not Dr Cameron would have voted pro-life if she had not received the assurance from the Party Whip that it was OK to do so. Quoting from the intro:

      “It is a long-standing parliamentary convention that votes on such ethical issues are considered matters of conscience and, thus, are not subject to the party whip. Indeed, this was confirmed in writing to Dr Cameron prior to the 9 July vote by the SNP Chief Whip, Patrick Grady MP.”

      So, she obviously checked with the Chief Whip that it was allowed to vote pro-life – otherwise, would she have gone along with the party line? I hope not, but it’s not clear from the above.

      July 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm
  • Nicky Reply

    Margaret Mary,

    That’s a good point but I hope Dr Cameron was just covering her back by writing to the Chief Whip. However, saying that, I’ve just checked her voting record and found this:

    1) She voted for Westminster legalising same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

    2) She abstained or was absent on the vote to require the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to provide guidance to promote same-sex marriage and abortion

    3) She abstained or was absent for the vote on abortion on demand up to 24 weeks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

    So, I wouldn’t call her a committed pro-lifer, unfortunately.

    July 20, 2019 at 3:02 pm

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