London: The Catholic Church in England
intensified its campaign against government plans to legalise
same-sex marriage on Sunday, urging the faithful to protect the
"true meaning" of matrimony for future generations.
In a letter read in 2,500 parish churches across the
country during Sunday Mass, the church`s senior archbishops
argued that the proposed change would reduce the significance
"The law helps to shape and form social and cultural
values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably
transform society`s understanding of the purpose of marriage,"
Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith said in
"There would be no recognition of the complementarity of
male and female or that marriage is intended for the
procreation and education of children," they wrote.
The archbishops ended the letter by calling on Catholics
to fulfill their duty to make sure "the true meaning of
marriage is not lost for future generations."
Britain`s government plans to allow everyone, regardless
of their sexual orientation, to have the option of a civil
marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has openly backed the
plans, and the equalities minister will launch a consultation
later this month on how to change the legal definition of
marriage to include same-sex couples.
Human rights activists said the Catholics` opposition
amounted to discrimination.
"They want the law to discriminate against gay couples.
Discrimination is not a Christian value," said gay rights
campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Currently only heterosexual couples are permitted to get
married in Britain, while civil partnerships, introduced in
2005, are limited to same-sex couples.
The archbishops` message came after Pope Benedict XVI on
Friday denounced what he called the "powerful" gay marriage
lobby in America and told visiting US bishops to not back down
in the face of "powerful political and cultural currents
seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."
Last week Keith O`Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic
Church, condemned the British marriage proposals as "madness,"
and accused the coalition government of trying to "redefine