Leader of the Catholic Church attacks Government's 'Orwellian' plans for gay marriage as undemocratic and a 'shambles'Archbishop of Westminster says Government has no mandate for lawHe says the moves by the Government would make George Orwell 'proud'He also claimed most people were against the plans
23:42 GMT, 25 December 2012
The most senior Roman Catholic in England and Wales has lambasted the Prime Minister for his ‘un-democratic’ and ‘Orwellian’ plans to legalise gay marriage.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the proposals were a ‘shambles’, and accused David Cameron of pushing through the changes without a mandate.
In his Christmas Eve sermon at Westminster Cathedral, he said that only marriage between a man and a woman shares in ‘the creative love of God’.
'Shambles': The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols says the plans to introduce same-sex marriage laws are undemocratic
The criticism follows that of the Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, who used his Christmas homily to liken moves to legalise same-sex marriage to the way Nazis and Communists tried to undermine religion.
Mr Cameron wants to allow gay couples to get married in churches but he says religious organisations will be able to opt out.
Archbishop Nichols criticised successive governments for failing to stand up for marriage and promoting sex before marriage instead.
In an interview with the BBC, he attacked parties who were promoting same-sex marriage, saying the plan was ‘Orwellian’ because there was no mandate from the public.
‘From a democratic point of view, it’s a shambles,’ he said. ‘George Orwell would be proud of the manoeuvre. I think the process is shambolic.’
The Archbishop’s comments come despite the fact polls show the public is largely in favour of allowing gay couples to marry.
Opposition: The religious leader seven to one of people who responded to a 'period of listening' were against the plans
Criticism: Churchmen have already accused the Prime Minister of being out of touch with the 'vast majority' of religious people
PAPAL BLESSING FOR CHINA
The Pope has sought to heal relations with China as he asked for blessings for the communist leadership for the first time in his Christmas Day message.
But speaking in St Peter’s Square in Rome, Benedict XVI also urged the regime to respect religion. It follows a row two weeks ago when the Vatican refused to accept China’s decision to revoke the title of a Shanghai bishop.
Asking for China’s leaders to ‘esteem the contribution of the religions’, the Pope said it would help build a ‘fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people’.
He also spoke against the slaughter of the ‘defenceless’ in Syria, and urged Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate.
Turning to the nations of the Arab Spring, he urged that they build just and respectful societies, especially Egypt.
The 85-year-old also prayed for peace in Mali and in Nigeria, where, he said ‘savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians’.
Civil partnerships – which come with most, but not all, of the legal safeguards of marriage – were introduced seven years ago.
They allow gay couples to celebrate their unions in civil settings, but not in religious buildings.
Now the Government wants to allow them to call their unions marriage and have the ceremony in civil and religious settings.
Religious organisations such as the Quakers and the Unitarians have said they would like to be able to host gay marriages. But the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church are against it and the legislation says it would be illegal for any Anglican vicar to marry a gay couple.
Ministers insist that churches will never be forced to carry out gay marriage, but opponents say homosexual couples could get the ban overturned under European human rights laws.
Last week Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his opposition to gay marriage, saying that it was destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’.
Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams admitted yesterday that the rejection of women bishops had damaged the Church of England. In his last Christmas Day sermon, he said last month’s Synod vote had been ‘deeply painful’. But he argued believers should take heart from the fact more than half the population – 59 per cent – describe themselves as Christian in the most recent census.