The Catholic Church is to continue its drive against plans to legalise gay marriage with a letter from the Archbishop of Westminster calling on Catholics to oppose same-sex weddings, which will be read out at every mass in England and Wales this Sunday.
The letter, signed by Vincent Nichols and his colleague the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, comes just days after Cardinal Keith O’Brien â€“ the most senior Catholic in Britain â€“ described gay marriage as “grotesque”.
Archbishops Nichols and Smith use less shrill language in their pastoral letter but call on Catholics to oppose government plans to allow gay men and women to marry in secular ceremonies. The letter will be read out at more than 2,500 pulpits in what church leaders hope will spur lay Catholics into active opposition against gay marriage.
David Cameron has signalled his intention to legalise gay marriage and later this month the Government will begin a public consultation on the issue. Church leaders have set up the Coalition for Marriage, a pressure group that intends to lobby against any equalisation of Britain’s marriage laws.
Calling on Catholics to support such an initiative, the Archbishops wrote: “Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously.”
Pro-gay marriage groups hit back. Terry Sanderson, head of the National Secular Society, said: “What the Government is actually proposing is entirely secular in nature, they are only proposing changes to civil marriage. For all their double talk about it being about religious freedom, homophobia does lie at the heart of it. If you see the sort of language the Pope uses about gay people it’s not just a kind of ‘we stick by our biblical morals’, it’s a kind of ‘we are repulsed by this’.” [More]