The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has criticised the new Government for failing to support marriage in its policy plan published last week.
The Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, expressed disappointment that the word “marriage” had been left out of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat programme for Government.
He said the document “contains a number of welcome initiatives in support of the family” but that “it lacks any specific reference to marriage”.
Archbishop Nichols told a congregation of 600 married couples at a service in Westminster Cathedral that “marriage brings considerable and measurable benefits to individuals, children, family life and society”.
“It deserves a greater measure of public support,” he said.
The Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to support marriage during his election campaign by introducing tax breaks for married couples. The Liberal Democrats dismissed the plan as “patronising drivel” at the time.
The Archbishop said: “Families, for better or worse, are the first school of life and love, where the capacity to relate to others, to grow, is founded.”
He commented: “When we look at our society today we know that its wellbeing passes by way of the family.
“Despite family breakdown, many parents provide a loving and stable home for their children. This is, of course, to be applauded and we must always be on the look out for ways in which families can be more clearly and consistently supported”, he added.
The new Government has pledged to make the country “more family friendly” and is committed to protecting children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation.
The document, entitled The Coalition: our programme for government, states: “The Government believes that strong and stable families of all kinds are the bedrock of a strong and stable society.”
“That is why we need to make our society more family friendly, and to take action to protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation”, it adds.
In February Archbishop Nichols said marriage is the foundation for building a stable society and politicians must support it if they are serious about pursuing the good of all.
He said there could be no solutions to social problems caused by family breakdown unless marriage was promoted.