The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of his support for the Church of England’s current stance against redefining marriage.
Earlier this year the Church criticised the Government’s proposal, saying it threatened the 500-year link between church and state.
Bishop Welby voiced his support for the Church’s official position at a press conference about his appointment earlier today.
He said: “I support the House of Bishops’ statement in the summer in answer to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage.
“But I also know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking carefully and prayerfully.
“I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us.”
The Rt Revd Welby, who is currently the Bishop of Durham, also said it is “absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people cohabiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships”.
Bishop Welby’s appointment as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was confirmed by Downing Street earlier today on Twitter, a prominent social networking site.
The Prime Minister is committed to introducing same-sex marriage, despite widespread opposition.
More than 610,000 people have put their names to a petition demanding that the divisive proposals be ditched by Mr Cameron.
The petition, run by the Coalition for Marriage, has been signed by politicians, academics and swathes of the public.
Earlier this week Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the Government will publish the results of its consultation on redefining marriage before Christmas.
The Government says it has received a staggering 228,000 responses – the largest number in British Government history.
But that number appears not to include the names and addresses of a further half-a-million people, submitted by the Coalition for Marriage.