The legalisation of gay marriage will place Catholic professionals under “intolerable moral pressures”, the Bishop of Portsmouth has said.
the vote on Tuesday night, where a majority of 225 MPs voted in favour
of the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Bishop Philip Egan
said: “Just as the Church has been forced to abandon its adoption
services, so too Catholics who work in the medical profession and in
social services are going to find themselves under intolerable moral
pressures. These pressures will also arguably be felt throughout our
Catholic schools, by teachers, staff and parents.”
expressed his disappointment at the “Orwellian manner” in which
Parliament had approached the issue of gay marriage. He said: “It is now
clear that the Catholic view of Matrimony will in future differ
markedly from what society will call marriage. One possible consequence
of this is that the Church will be forced to withdraw from the civil
registration of marriages.”
On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference
of England and Wales, Archbishop Peter Smith said that debate was not
about equality as proponents of the Bill argued.
He said: “The
Church opposes the Government’s Bill to re-define marriage. Despite
claims by supporters of the Bill that the central issue is one of
equality, the Bill actually seeks to re-define marriage and will have
consequences for society at large.”
He continued: “It became clear
during today’s debate in the House of Commons that the government has
not thought through a number of profound problems in the Bill raised by
members of Parliament during the debate. It will be extremely important
that the many concerns we and others have expressed will be fully and
carefully considered during the next stages of the Bill’s passage
Among the MPs who supported the bill were Catholic parliamentarians including Iain Duncan Smith and Daniel Kawczynski.
MPs who opposed the bill included Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough,
former minister Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, and Jim Dobbin, MP
for Heywood and Middleton and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary
Sarah Teather was one of only four Liberal Democrats who voted against the bill. Following the vote, the former Coalition minister said:
“I have found this a difficult decision because of my work previously
on gay rights issues, and my judgment is finely balanced. I recognise that others may reflect deeply on these issues and come to a different view, in good faith.
it is my view that where the extra protections offered to same-sex
couples are marginal, and where the potential negatives to society over a
period of time may be more considerable, I am unable to support the
David Cameron did not contribute to the debate on gay marriage but voted in favour of the bill when the vote was called.
Prime Minister said that the vote was an “important step forward”, and
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, described it as a “proud day”.
Egan’s warnings about the Bill’s implications for religious liberty
follow suggestions that Michael Gove, Education Secretary, is secretly
concerned about the legislation’s impact on Catholic schools.
publicly Mr Gove has insisted that he has full confidence in the
legislation and the “quadruple lock” which will ensure churches are not
forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies, other sources suggest that the
Secretary of State holds private reservations.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live this week, Geoffrey Vero, Mr Gove’s constituency chair, said:
“Although Michael says in the Mail today that he has total confidence
in the legislation, well that’s not what he told me only a week ago when
I met him in Parliament.”
He later continued: “When we discussed
the matter there is no doubt that any legislation we pass in Parliament
may well be overturned by the European courts and therefore we don’t
have total confidence in that. And also, as regards the church, that
although they talk about the quadruple lock, we don’t have total
confidence that that is going to stand the test of time.”