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FOLLOWING the resignation of Cardinal Keith 0'Brien, the Catholic Church's most senior representative in the UK, over allegations of "inappropropriate behaviour" towards three young priests, and an ex-priest, comes news that an another crazy homophobe has been chosen to temporarily replace him.

The BBC reports today that the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has been put in charge of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Tartaglia said:

These are painful and distressing times for the archdiocese. I also feel pained and distressed. With the grace of God, I will do my very best to oversee and govern the archdiocese until the appointment of a new archbishop. I ask for your prayers.

Last April, shortly after having been made the new Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Tartaglia "opened his mouth and stuck his size-nine red velvet slipper right in it", according to Tom Chivers, writing for the Telegraph.

Referring to the sadly premature death the previous year of the Scottish Labour MP David Cairns, Archbishop 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.

Chivers retorted:

One or two problems here, Your Worshipfulness. One, the whole 'He was gay, then he died. Therefore he died of gay' thing. People do actually die young and suddenly, and it is very sad. They do die of previously undetected heart conditions, or of sudden adult death syndrome, or of meningitis, or (as in Mr Cairns's case), of complications following acute pancreatitis. Unless you have some sort of actual reason to believe that his sexual orientation was connected to his death, then your speculation is both cruel and unwarranted.

Two, 'what you have heard about the relationship between physical and mental health of gay men' is, if what you heard is what I suspect you have heard, not true at all.

I believe he is referring to one of two things. The first is 'research' (scare quotes intended) by a man called Paul Cameron, a US psychologist. He claimed that he had determined, via analysis of obituaries in gay newspapers, that homosexuals have a median life expectancy of 43.

This is not true, as I'll show later; further, Cameron's methods and approach were so slapdash that he was ejected from the American Psychological Association, the Nebraskan Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. There's a lengthy breakdown of the various flaws in his methodology here, but essentially, he'd failed to take into account the obvious point that if you're getting an obituary in a gay newspaper, your death may well have some sort of newsworthy significance for the gay community: so there were disproportionate numbers of people killed in violent attacks, or who had died of Aids.

Also, it only included those who died; people of the same generation who lived much longer simply were not in the sample.

The other piece of research that the Archbishop may have vaguely heard of was a paper in the International Journal of Epidemiology, which found that gay and bisexual men in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 1990s had a life expectancy between eight and 21 years less than that of heterosexuals.

That was a valid piece of research, albeit a single and highly specific one which should not have been extrapolated to a more general rule about gay men. (Although it was, of course.) But the authors of the paper wrote a follow-up letter in 2001, pointing out that deaths from Aids dropped dramatically in the years afterwards.

Nowadays an HIV-positive man's life expectancy is not significantly reduced. While it's hard to tease out the actual figures, this site suggests a figure of between one and two years' difference in life expectancy between gay and straight men (more, sadly, for gay black men).

'Society won't address it' not because there is some law of gay omerta, but because there is very little to address.

But three, the Archbishop is simply a PR disaster for the Catholic Church and for all opponents of gay marriage, confirming all stereotypes with his ignorance and prejudice. If he wants to express concern about homosexual public health issues, then he is welcome to do so, but he ought to make damn sure he's checked his facts first.

It's sad that a senior Church figure is willing to spout this sort of nonsense.

Sad, but hardly unexpected. This sort of crap comes with the territory, especially within the vile, corrupt and criminal Catholic Church.

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