Marriage is “very important to the well-being of society”, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has said as he hit out at Government plans to redefine the institution.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: “I am very disappointed that the Government seems to be choosing this direction.”
His comments come ahead of next year’s public consultation on how, not if, to redefine marriage for the sake of same-sex couples.
The Archbishop, speaking at a press conference, warned that “the distinctive nature of marriage is something that is very important to the well-being of society because it is the foundation of family life as we know it and as it is experienced by the vast majority of people”.
He also said that while he respected David Cameron’s position on equality and commitment, those two notions do “not equal marriage”.
And he cautioned that the idea of same-sex couples ‘marrying’ would “annexe the territory of marriage”.
David Cameron has previously praised same-sex marriage, claiming he does not support it “despite being a Conservative”, but rather “because I’m a Conservative”.
A poll revealed earlier this month that 83 per cent of churchgoers are opposed to Mr Cameron’s plans.
And 57 per cent said that the Prime Minister’s commitment to rewriting the definition of marriage made them less likely to vote for the Conservatives.
Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed were concerned that schools would be required to teach the equal validity of same-sex and heterosexual relationships if the definition of marriage was changed.
When the Government’s plans on marriage were revealed, The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “If marriage is redefined for homosexual marriage, that new definition will be the one that the state promotes as the standard. It will have huge implications for what is taught in schools and for wider society.”