Legalising gay marriage would undermine Christian view of family, claims leading Catholic archbishopArchbishop of Birmingham says government can't see 'full consequences' Warns of impact for 'children involved or wider society' in letter to churchesRemarks are latest attack from senior Catholic on David Cameron's plans
02:11 GMT, 30 December 2012
Outspoken: Archbishop Bernard Longley, writing in a letter to churches in his diocese, warns that plans to legalise gay marriage could tarnish the Christian view of family life
Plans to legalise gay marriage would undermine the Christian view of the family, according to a leading Roman Catholic archbishop.
The Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley warned that the Government cannot foresee the 'full consequences' of the proposals.
In a letter to churches and chapels in his diocese, the Archbishop warned of the impact gay marriage would have on 'children involved or for wider society'.
His warnings are the latest attack from a senior member of the Catholic Church on David Cameron's plans to allow gay couples to marry in churches.
In the letter, due to be read to worshippers tomorrow, the Archbishop said: 'Government policy cannot foresee the full consequences, for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father’s influence or by two fathers without a mother’s influence.
'We first learn about diversity and acquire a respect for difference through the complementarity of our parents.'
He describes the 'complementary love of father and mother' as a 'precious gift that we should wish for every child'.
Archbishop Longley adds: 'We know that many single parents courageously and generously look after their children and often struggle to give them a fine up-bringing.
'If it had not been for the
understanding of St Joseph, our Lady herself might have had to face the
difficulties of being a single parent.
so, the experience of growing up with our father and mother to teach
and guide, to console and love us unconditionally is an invaluable
blessing in life.'
Views: In the letter the Archbishop describes the 'complementary love of father and mother' as a 'precious gift that we should wish for every child'
Criticism: The archbishop said that the Government could not foresee the consequences for 'children or wider society'
The remarks follow the more pointed criticism from the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic in England and Wales.
He lambasted the Prime Minister for his 'undemocratic' and 'Orwellian' plans to legalise gay marriage.
The archbishop 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'.
The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury,
Mark Davies, also used his Christmas homily to liken moves to legalise
same-sex marriage to the way Nazis and Communists tried to undermine
Nichols criticised successive governments for failing to stand up for
marriage and promoting sex before marriage instead.
'Shambles': The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the plans to introduce same-sex marriage laws are undemocratic
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 attacks from leading Catholics come despite the fact polls show the public is largely in favour of allowing gay couples to marry.
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.
Opposition: The most senior Catholic in England and Wales described the plans as 'Orwellian'
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.
Pope Benedict XVI has also reiterated his opposition to gay marriage earlier this month, saying that it was destroying the very 'essence of the human creature'.