Friday, March 09, 2012

Stand against threat from gay marriage, head of the Catholic church will tell worshippers

Churchgoers are to be urged to take a stand against gay marriage by the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales.

In a letter to be read from 2,500 pulpits during mass this Sunday, the Archbishop of Westminster will warn that David Cameron’s pledge to legalise homosexual marriage would threaten the true meaning of a sacred union.

In a significant intervention in the gay marriage debate, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols will urge the country’s five million Roman Catholics to sign petitions and lobby their MPs about the changes.

The letter warns that plans to extend marriage to same-sex couples would be a ‘profoundly radical step’ that reduces it to a vague commitment between two people.

The letter says the roots of marriage lie in human nature and the pattern of complementarity and fertility in the union are affirmed by many other religious traditions.

It argues that matrimony is an expression of 'our fundamental humanity' and says: 'Neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself.'

It continues: 'Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way, society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.'

The text, which is co-signed by the RC Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, argues that marriage between a man and a woman is at the ‘foundation of our society’.

In an article for the Daily Mail last month, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote: ‘Marriage precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.’

The last time the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church used a pastoral letter to intervene on a political issue, during attempts to inflict quotas on faith schools in 2007, the government climbed down within days.

The letter is expected to have a more moderate tone than comments made at the weekend by Keith O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, who described gay marriage proposals as grotesque.

Cardinal O’Brien insisted that the reforms would shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world.

He said: ‘Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear this proposal is not about rights but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage at the behest of a small minority of activists. If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men, or a woman and two men, to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another?’ 

The Prime Minister is a strong supporter of plans to legalise same-sex marriage, which are also supported by the Lib Dems, and are set to be formally unveiled later this month.

But the proposal has divided the Conservative Party and put Mr Cameron on a collision course with religious leaders.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: 'The Government has made clear its commitment to equality. We believe people should have the option of civil marriage, irrespective of sexual orientation.'

He also said that the timing of the consultation had been chosen to allow legislation to be taken through Parliament before the general election planned for 2015.

But he declined to speculate on the timetable for any Bill, telling reporters: 'We normally set out the timetable for legislation at the time of the Queen’s Speech and we do it session by session. We have purposefully set up this consultation with a timetable that would allow us to have that legislation in this Parliament.'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told ITV’s The Agenda: 'I think marriage is defined surely by two people who love each other and want to make a commitment to each other. Depriving same-sex couples of that public display in this day and age, I think most people think "Come on, let’s move with the times".'

Civil partnerships were introduced for gay couples in 2005 but by law they cannot be referred to as marriages.

The clergymen are the latest to denounce the Government’s backing for marriage to include gay couples. 

In January, the Anglican Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, insisted governments did not have the moral authority to redefine marriage.

If the law is changed, Britain will become the seventh European country to recognise same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Norway.

The Catholic archbishops’ letter also appears to challenge Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone’s remarks last week that the church does not ‘own’ marriage and that the state was entitled to make changes to the institution.

‘The reasons given by our Government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination,’ the letter says.

‘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. Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children. The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. This pattern is affirmed by many other religious traditions – understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.’

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We must oppose gay Marriage as it is an abomination to the Lord and wickeness