Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales have discussed whether to stop performing the legal part of wedding ceremonies because of gay marriage legislation, according to media reports.
Earlier this week, an article for Roman Catholic newspaper The Tablet said the bishops were set to consider a new system in response to the redefinition of marriage.
Professor Christopher McCrudden, the bishops’ legal adviser, warned that the move may be necessary in order to protect Roman Catholic priests from legal action for refusing to perform same-sex weddings.
Many pro-traditional marriage supporters have raised concerns that the European Court of Human Rights could force churches to conduct gay marriages against their wishes.
Leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC previously highlighted the way the Church of England’s gay marriage exemption is “eminently challenge-able” in Europe.
This is because the Church has a legal obligation to marry anyone in their local parish.
But The Christian Institute is advising churches to continue providing the civil elements of the wedding ceremony.
Spokesman Mike Judge said: “The very fact the Roman Catholic Church is even discussing this move shows how ill-considered the gay marriage legislation was.”
“However, our advice to churches is that it is still perfectly lawful to conduct weddings that are legally recognised, and only between a man and a woman”.
“They should continue to perform such ceremonies while it is still legally possible for them to do so.”
The bishops’ discussions took place during a bi-annual conference in Leeds this week.