(Same Sex Couples)
Friday, 25th January 2013
Archbishop Peter Smith, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of England and Wales issued the following comment today
in response to the news that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
has been introduced in Parliament.
It is deeply regrettable but not unexpected that the Government
has chosen to proceed with introducing a Bill to change the
definition of marriage. Alongside many people of all faiths and
none we will be vigorously opposing the Bill.
Marriage has an identity distinct from any other relationship, no
matter how much love or commitment may be involved. Marriage is
and always has been the union of one man and one woman, for love
and mutual support, open to procreation. Marriage has, over the
centuries, been the enduring public recognition of this commitment
and it has rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal
protection. It furthers the common good of society because it
promotes a unique relationship which benefits children. The
fundamental problem with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is
that it will radically alter the meaning of marriage for everyone
and therefore undermine the common good. This is what is at stake.
The Bill also raises very serious questions especially about
religious freedom and freedom of expression, the effect on
teaching in schools, and the work of chaplains and others with
religious convictions involved in the delivery of public services.
There is no electoral mandate for this Bill and last year’s
consultation process was shambolic. We welcome the promise of a
free vote for MPs, and hope the Bill will be defeated. We will be
producing a briefing on the Bill once we have studied it in detail
with our legal advisers.