The prelate made this appeal during a Mass on Sunday in St. Mary's Cathedral of Edinburgh. The Mass commemorated the forthcoming second anniversary of Benedict XVI's election.
Archbishop Conti said: "The respect due to lawgivers and law administrators must be merited by the respect which they have for truth, and for that wisdom which has been handed down, secured by revelation and tempered by experience."
In recent weeks the Catholic bishops of Scotland have sharply criticized plans by the United Kingdom government to oblige adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples.
"Recent conflicts between Church and state are disturbing," the prelate said. "Despite good intentions on the part of lawgivers to remove all forms of discrimination, the outcome is the establishing of other discriminations, most seriously the practical denial of the right -- indeed the duty of citizens -- to act according to their conscience in matters which go beyond opinion and ideology to touch the very grounds of moral truth."
Denied or deconstructed
Archbishop Conti delivered his homily in the presence of the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, the bishops of Scotland, and members of the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments.
He said: "Moral truth is by its nature a reality which cannot be denied or deconstructed without serious consequences for the well-being of society. Indeed Pope Benedict insists on this in his new apostolic exhortation, 'Sacramentum Caritatis.'
"Recognizing the truth about humanity is, he writes, 'especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.'
"'These values,' the Pope said, 'are not negotiable.'"
Archbishop Conti added: "This must be another way of saying that these values form the bedrock of society.
"A society which, on the other hand, builds itself on the untested ground of new ideologies or the shifting sands of liberal -- or perhaps I should say illiberal -- opinion is doomed to failure."