The Archbishop of Westminster opposes gay marriage
3:05am UK, Sunday March 11, 2012
Churchgoers at hundreds of Catholic services in England and Wales will today be urged to oppose the Government’s proposals to legalise gay marriage.
A letter by the Archbishop of Westminster explaining why the Catholic Church is against the changes will be read out in all 214 of its parishes.
Ministers are looking at redefining the word marriage so it would allow same sex couples to be married in civil ceremonies.
Under current laws, such couples can undertake a civil partnership but it cannot be called a marriage.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols wrote: “This week, the coalition government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.
“Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society. The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature.
“Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility.”
Civil partnerships for same sex couples cannot currently be called marriage
The archbishop added: “The reasons given by our government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination.
“But our present law does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognises and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.
“A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved.
“There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.”
Outside Westminster Cathedral, Sky News met Matais Wibowo. He is a Catholic. He is also gay and next year he is going to America where he can be married to his partner.
“For me marriage is an inseparable issue in relation to equality and human rights. The church should have the honesty to observe the conversations going on at the kitchen tables about homophobia,” he said.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien has criticised the Government’s proposals
Writing in the Telegraph newspaper, he said any change in the law represented “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
“Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists,” he wrote.
“Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”
Liberal Democrat MP Steven Williams, who found Archbishop O’Brien’s words offensive, welcomed Archbishop Nichols’ more ‘considered’ letter.
“Much more thought has gone into (Vincent Nichols) epistle. The language is not inflammatory, it is far more considered.
“But I just think we have to recognise that there is a fundamental difference of opinion between the Catholic Church as to what the meaning of marriage is and between many politicians and the state ultimately.”
Mr Williams, who is gay, said the coalition government’s proposals were very straight-forward.
“All the Government is doing is having a consultation on whether civil partnerships can instead be called civil marriages.
“Just like couples of the opposite sex who go to a registry office or a hotel and get married and have a civil marriage, same sex couples ought to be able to do the same so when they walk through the door, their rights are already exactly the same but what they call their relationship is the same as well.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government believed that “if a couple love each other” and want to commit to a life together they should “have the option of a civil marriage irrespective of their sexual orientation”.
Last week, Mr Cameron’s spokesman said the Prime Minister was a “passionate” advocate of the change.
At last year’s party conference in Manchester, Mr Cameron said: “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”