Thinking Anglicans

RC archbishop attacks government plans for equal marriage

The BBC carried this interview: Archbishop of Westminster attacks gay marriage plan

And Robert Pigott writes

This was Archbishop Nichols’s strongest attack yet on the government’s plans for gay marriage.

There was anger in his passionate criticism of the government’s plans, and a call to Catholics to become involved in the political struggle against them.

He said MPs would have a free vote on the issue, and they should feel the weight of the Church’s opinion.

I’ve never heard him speak with such emotion. This is something very close to the Church’s heart and his personally.

Many Christians – including Roman Catholics – do support marriage for same-sex couples, and the government has made it clear that no churches will have to perform gay marriages.

However, the Church feels very strongly, not about whether it has an exemption about carrying out same-sex weddings, but about the distinction between the ceremony – the wedding – and the institution of marriage.

The Church says the government’s plans will weaken society, “hollow out” marriage and diminish it for everyone else who’s been married.t

The text of the archbishop’s midnight mass sermon is published here.

The Independent reports: Archbishop of Westminster attacks gay marriage plan

And reports on a new public opinion poll: Gay marriage: public say Church is wrong

By a margin of 2-1, people oppose the Government’s proposal to make it illegal for the Church of England to conduct gay marriages. Asked whether its vicars should be allowed to perform such ceremonies if they wanted to, 62 per cent of people said they should and 31 per cent disagreed, with seven per cent replying “don’t know”.

And comments on the archbishop’s sermon: Editorial: The Archbishop’s unseasonal note

…No more of a shambles, it might be said, than the Archbishop’s Christmas message. His words might have given the impression that the Government would require the Roman Catholic Church to marry homosexual couples. But nothing is further from the truth. Indeed, one disappointing, even shameful, aspect of the proposed law is that the Church of England, the established Church, will be banned from conducting gay marriages, even though – as we report today – opinion is strongly in favour of letting individual priests do so if they wish.

And if the Church of England will not be permitted to conduct gay marriages, at least for the time being, it is unthinkable that any pressure would be placed on the Catholic Church, whose hierarchy is far more united in its opposition than that of the Anglican Church. The proposed legislation is designed to give gay people, not before time, full equality before the law. So what is the Archbishop so worried about?

Telegraph Gay marriage plans are totalitarian, says Archbishop of Westminster

Guardian Archbishop attacks David Cameron’s same-sex marriage plans

Update

Guardian Three in five voters back gay marriage, new poll shows and Same-sex marriage plan boosts Tory support among gay voters

…Although Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters remain more likely to support gay marriage, with respective majorities of 67% and 71%, there is now also a majority among Conservative supporters. Among those who voted Tory in 2010, gay marriage now enjoys 52%-42% backing, a big turnaround from ICM’s survey in March, which recorded 50%-35% opposition from 2010 Conservative voters.

Both men and women support gay marriage, although the majority is bigger among female voters, 65% of whom support gay marriage, compared with 58% of men. Gay marriage is backed by 60%+ majorities across every nation and region, the 74% majority recorded in Wales being the most emphatic. There is a pro-gay-marriage majority, too, in every social class – although the majority is somewhat smaller in the DE class, which contains the lowest occupational grades. Fifty-one per cent of this group is in favour of the change, as opposed to 68% in the C1 clerical grade, which emerges as the most enthusiastic.

Sharper differences emerge when the results are analysed across the age ranges. The over-65s resist the proposal, by 58% to 37%, but support is progressively stronger in younger age groups. The pro-reform majority is 64% among 35-64s, 75% among 25-34s, and an overwhelming 77% among 18-24s…

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mark nicholls
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mark nicholls

The weasel wording of the archbishop’s statement demonstrates that he knows full well that his argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. He deliberately fudges over what ‘extra’ he thinks there should be to marriage beyond ‘love and commitment’, by using the woolly expression ‘commitment to the future generation’. Assuming that he is referring to procreation, he is trying to gloss over the highly relevant point that hetero couples who can’t or choose not to have children are still authentically married.

I contend that love and commitment are the sufficient criteria for marriage. Nothing ‘extra’ is necessary.

David Walker
Guest
David Walker

The trouble with the ComRes survey is that it asks an impossible question. There is no way, as I see it, in English law, for individual Church of England clergy to be able to choose to perform marriages for same sex couples. Either every cleric has to be required to conduct the ceremonies or all have to be banned from doing. The present system that allows opt outs for individual clergy with regard to the marriage of divorcees with a previous partner still alive cannot be extended as sexual orientation is, rightly, a protected characteristic. I’ve not seen anybody suggest… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

The Church has become dialectical, rather than affirming and liberating, it instead declaims and enslaves.

Merry Christmas!

Deacon Charlie Perrin
Guest
Deacon Charlie Perrin

SInce they’ve never been in one, Roman Catholic clerics have no clue as to what being married is like and have no business saying how anything will affect any marriage. There’s an old saying that goes: If you don’t play the game you shouldn’t make the rules.

Bob McCloskey
Guest
Bob McCloskey

Re: David Walker’s comment, I appreciate that C of E clergy are in a different cultural and ecclesiastical environment than we clergy in TEC USA and other places no doubt. I am glad that our local parish clergy are not required to officiate in any wedding if they choose not to – period. Many of us yearn for the day when a civil ceremony might be required here, following which those earnestly seeking the church’s blessing could do so without the impediments of canon law or the like.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Others have commented on how sad the use of Christmas pronouncements in this way is. Yes, the injunction to ‘goodwill towards all men’ has become a core part of the secular feast of Christmas but nonetheless one feels at times the spell that the secular feast casts was broken at times this Christmas – like gay people don’t mark and celebrate Christmas in different ways and don’t like being assailed from pulpits at this time of year in particular. Once the spell is broken it means (unless one is a churchgoer) that Christmas is just a time for parties, presents,… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

It takes some considerable courage to speak out against the flow. Isn’t the Gospel mandate of the Church supposed to be counter cultural? The Archbishop of Westminster is quite correct – David Cameron has no democratic mandate for this legislation as no such proposal appeared in any political party’s manifesto at the last General Election. Yet one more example of the omnishambles we have come to expect from this Coalition Government.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Isn’t one way “around” this problem to remove the requirement that all things being equal, everyone has a right to marry in the parish church? I realize this is a step towards, or could be seen as a step towards, disestablishment — but this is a cognizable legal point. It may be a way around that people would not want to take, but is it not possible? And isn’t another way around simply not to provide a rite that is, in its unaltered form, suitable to a same-sex marriage? (This is rather like the original US anti-marijuana law that did… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

The last General Election took place on 6 May 2010. A few days before that, on 3 May, the Conservative Party published its equality manifesto that includes proposals to convert civil partnerships to marriages. http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2010/05/Our_contract_for_equality.aspx Page 14 of the manifesto includes: “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.” Pink News writes: This makes the Conservatives the only one of the major political parties to raise the prospects of re-classifying civil partnerships to marriage in formal manifesto or policy documents. However, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
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Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Not forgetting the bishop of Shrewsbury, who, for some reason, released the text of his midnight mass sermon to the press a day ahead of its delivery. In the sermon, he likened the government to “Hitler and Stalin [who] challenged Christianity with the notion that what they were doing was ‘progress’”. The bishop could do worse than remember that Hitler, Stalin and the Roman Church all, when they had the opportunity, worked – systematically, violently and cruelly – to extirpate gays. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252699/Mark-Davies-Senior-Roman-Catholic-Bishop-links-push-gay-marriage-Nazi-attack-religion.html

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Although I believe in a higher power, whom out of convenience I call God, and although I admire many of the precepts of the Christian religion, The more I see and hear religious institutions and certain religious people in action, the less I like religion. No Roman Catholic church or priestly official (priest, arch/bishop) will ever be forced to perform a same-sex marriage. Just like, right now, no Roman Catholic church or priestly official will ever be forced to marry a Roman Catholic man and woman who were civilly divorced but not religiously annulled from a previous marriage. Just like… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Gratifying – in a bitter-sweet way – to see that the RC hierarchy is even stupider than the C of E one. Whether ot not one agrees with the actual stance in question, the sheer disproportion of these reactions condemns them.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

On an earlier thread We read: Two extracts from his article which may be of particular interest to English or Welsh readers: The [consultation] document begins with a list of “proposed protections” at para 1.06 (which is not on all fours with the recent English proposals): religious bodies that wish to solemnise same-sex marriage or register civil partnerships will have to opt in to do so; there will be no obligation on religious bodies and celebrants to opt in to solemnise same-sex marriage and register civil partnerships; religious celebrants will only be able to solemnise same-sex marriages or register civil… Read more »

Counterlight
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Counterlight

“It takes some considerable courage to speak out against the flow. Isn’t the Gospel mandate of the Church supposed to be counter cultural?” I can remember (and I’m not that old) when saying that gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities were anything other than criminals and freaks was quite counter-cultural, and even dangerous. Persons identified as such could be arrested, prosecuted, jailed, forcibly institutionalized and “treated” by court order. That did indeed happen, and to a lot more people than we think. That happened to friends of mine. As recently as 20 years ago, the very idea of same-sex marriage… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

The audience for Archbishop Nichols’s attack on civil marriage equality is most likely his boss in the Vatican. It makes little sense to assume the addressee is the people of England. He might be able to get a promotion down the line by defending the Vatican’s homophobia.

The new civil rights movement has left most of the churches behind.

Gary Paul Gilbert

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

FAther David wrote: “David Cameron has no democratic mandate for this legislation as no such proposal appeared in any political party’s manifesto at the last General Election.” This argument appears (on this issue) frequently, but I’m not sure where it comes from. In a parliamentary system like that of the UK, governments have never been limited to doing what was in their election manifesto (and in the more distant past, didn’t have manifestos at all). The task of governments is to respond to the needs of the day, as they perceive them: manifestos are only guides to the kind of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Church says the government’s plans will weaken society, “hollow out” marriage and diminish it for everyone else who’s been married”

So, on a direct parallel then, does the bestowal of Holy Orders on a priest ‘weaken society, hollow out membership of the Body of Christ, and diminish it for everyone else in the priesthood of all believers’ ?

This does seem a silly argument, to me.

Gene O'Grady
Guest
Gene O'Grady

In response to Vincent Nichols’s remarks on gay marriage, I submit that perhaps the single most important reason I now belong to the Episcopal rather than the Catholic Church is that under Montini and Wojtyla the church has almost totally abandoned its commitment and service to families. Probably a not so indirect result of Humanae Vitae. My formerly Baptist now Episcopal wife once said that in thirty years of marriage to a Catholic none of the things she had expected problems with, such as Marian devotion, saints, priests had bothered her but she had been shocked by the lack of… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

With a tiny minority of the population active Christians and a diminishing majority who profess themselves Christian but don’t practice, marriage is a secular contract, not a religious sacrament, probably a majority now see it that way. Therefore the fulminations of assorted RC bishops and others about same sex marriage fall on deaf ears since what they are defending Is meaningless to the majority. They may be acting counter-culturally but they have lost the culture in which they operate. Moreover, to use Christmas to propagate their message must be seen to be mean spirited, ungenerous and indeed homophobic, not the… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

With regard to the Kaiser’s invasion of Belgium – we elect politicians not psychics and clairvoyants. As the Common Worship marriage liturgy states:- “Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty which all should uphold and honour. It enriches society and strengthens community.” Something as important to society as a change in our understanding of marriage must surely find expression in the manifesto of any political party (Mr. Cameron is discovering this fact too late as his former supporters desert to UKIP now standing at 14% in the opinion polls – well ahead of the Liberal Democrat coalition partners) as… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Yes, indeed, Vincent Nichols is maybe keen on getting a red hat asap.

But at what cost to his own integrity and ours as lgbt ?

I wonder what a Basil Hume thinks of it all ?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

With opinion polls showing an overwhelming majority of people in support of this legislation I think we can probably say that charges of undemocratic totarialism are ever such a slight little bit exaggerated.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Disgusting to spew hate on Christmas. However, I’m sure it was politically expedient and will win brownie points for him in Rome.

The Incarnation. The most powerful manifestation of God’s love. May all see it in one another these 12 days and beyond.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty which all should uphold and honour. It enriches society and strengthens community.” – Father David, et al –

Quite right! And so it should prove to be for same-sex persons a sign of commitment of two people to one another in love and fidelity. In fact, a sign of stability in the Gay community – as it ought to have been in the heterosexual world.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

In applying the British constitution as it is rather than as some people think it should be to suit their purposes at a given point in time governments can enact laws not contained in the manifesto (Civil Partnerships were not included in a manifesto – it is also not necessary for Bills to always be included in the gracious speech). This is going to be even more likely when the identity of the government is ‘shared’ between two parties when in a coalition. How the manifesto works is that the governing party should definitely do what they promise to do;… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“I’ve never heard him speak with such emotion.”

And this is the issue? How very sad.

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

Might I suggest that it’s up to those getting married what their motives are, not some externally imposed dictate. Unless, I suppose, we want to make windows into their souls to somehow dictate motives by decree. Didn’t we learn not to do that somewhere along the way?

David Shepherd
Guest

‘Might I suggest that it’s up to those getting married what their motives are, not some externally imposed dictate.’ I agree entirely, your motives can be whatever you want them to be. Nevertheless, your motives should not trigger a reciprocal duty on society for support as marriage. The CAUSE OF MARRIAGE i.e. the legal purpose of marriage for which its duties are enforceable is very different from the motives for getting married. The CAUSE OF MARRIAGE is to ameliorate the potential impact of heterosexual union (shared responsibility for each other and offspring as part of a biological family) for the… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Consummation cannot be part of the essence of marriage because it is not a legal requirement in many countries.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

I know nothing about the legal requirements for marriage in England. The legal requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the English speaking world. And, contrary to much popular thinking, many of them do not require “consumation” to make the marriage legal. For example, in California (where I live), the only legal requirements for marriage are (1) consent, (2) a state-issued license, and (3) a “solemmization” of some sort. “Consumption” is not required. A “physical incapacity” for “entering the marriage state” that (1) exists at the time of marriage and (2) is “incurable” makes the marriage “voidable” in California This… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Please, DavidS, spare us your oxymorons. If “it’s up to those getting married what their motives are” and you “agree entirely”, then you permit those (consenting adult) couples to MARRY. Period.

If you wish to slam-the-door in the faces of those couples, then OWN IT. You’re just being inhospitable, is all. It’s not like you’re committing the Sin of Sodom (oh, wait…)

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

It is a great pity that those making decisions on equal marriage in the church are by and large the demographic most opposed to it: old men.

Tom
Guest
Tom

It is a pity someone normally as level-headed as Vincent Nichols allows himself to join in the Pope’s increasing desperation against equal rights for gay people that no one in the wider educated lay Catholic world seems to take him seriously because of his own rather obvious ambitions for a Red Hat. As for the Pope, someone else has said he is the opposite of King Midas – everything he touches turns to dross; we’ve seen it from the Regensburg lecture downwards.

mark nicholls
Guest
mark nicholls

@ David Shepherd

The law is to enshrine the requirements of society. Not the other way round.

“What a shameless misappropriation of the institution of marriage!”

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“Since they’ve never been in one, Roman Catholic clerics have no clue as to what being married is like” Deacon Charlie Perrin

You forget our ordained, married Anglican chums who joined the Ordinariate – currently having their cakes and eating them too.

Tobias Haller
Guest

David continues to blur the very important legal distinction between “voidable” and “void.” Consummation does not “make” the marriage, but renders it non-voidable on the cause of non-consummation; but that is all it does. The marriage may still be voidable on other grounds; but that does not make it void.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Every baptized Catholic is taught that marriage for a Catholic whether in a registry office or in a non catholic ceremony is totally invalid without the prior permission of the Church.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Marriage is an executory agreement. As with all executory agreements, after the exchange of promises, the partners must fulfil the inaugural conditions in order to make it mutually binding. In other agreements, we call it completion, in marriage, we call it consummation. The binding precedents of case law clearly define this as heterosexual intercourse.”

I have never heard of “completion” as being a requirement for any contract, executory or otherwise.

David Shepherd
Guest

Craig: ‘Consummation cannot be part of the essence of marriage because it is not a legal requirement in many countries.’ Your argument would be like saying that because the transfer of title at completion is not part of the earlier exchange of contracts, it cannot be part of the essence of that sort of agreement. You predicate the essence upon a fictional set of universal legal requirements. On that basis, you could also claim that monogamy is not part of the essence of marriage because it is not a legal requirement in many countries. We are dealing with UK law,… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

“You forget our ordained, married Anglican chums who joined the Ordinariate – currently having their cakes and eating them too.”

However, our former co-communicants are not bishops in the part of the Church that they have joined. Rome will not at present allow married bishops even if it makes an occasional exception for married priests.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

But the Oh-so-important episcopal accoutrements – yes.

Anne
Guest
Anne

David Shepherd: “On that basis, you could also claim that monogamy is not part of the essence of marriage because it is not a legal requirement in many countries. We are dealing with UK law, rather than some imaginary lowest common denominator of all marriage laws everywhere,” The argument that I have been hearing again and again in this debate is precisely that marriage IS some universally understood thing – one man and one woman for life – fixed by God from the foundation of the world, which people are now wickedly and perversely trying to redefine. If marriage can… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Aquinas addressed this question of consent and consummation and was quite clear that the consent is to marriage, not to consummation, although consummation is implicit. It is not, however, explicit and does not form part of the matrimonial compact as such. Marriage is valid prior to consummation, and remains valid even if consummation is deferred.A couple could intend never to live together as husband and wife and still have a valid marriage. (Vervaeke v Smith (1983)) This is what English law actually says. Moreover, consummation is not “enforceable” — though failure to consummate could lead to annulment if one of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Nothing succeeds better at demonstrating mutually-exclusive worldviews, than the notion of “consummation [whether hetero- or homo-, I really don’t care!] is necessary for marriage.” What happens intimately after a couple makes their vows is NOBODY’S BUSINESS, except for the couple’s! Criminey, can we please let couples close their bedroom doors, and not I-Spy-with-My-Little-Eye any further??? Mercy!

David Shepherd
Guest

Tobias: If consummation, as you say, is implicit, it is as implicit as the absence of duress. In the case of a freehold agreement, the transfer of title is implicit to the earlier exchange of contracts. Yet, the transfer of title, though deferred until completion, is essential to realising a freehold agreement. So, based on your logic, marriage is equally valid without ensuring the absence of duress. A couple or on spouse could intend to capitulate to duress and still have a valid marriage. Yet, this would contradict the goal of freely granted mutual consent. Duress and non-consummation both make… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

BTW, the common understanding for marriage, as with voiding many other civil agreements, is that legal enforceability does not entail a demand for specific performance, but a judgement that returns both parties, insofar as is possible to their state before entering the agreement, i.e, annulment.

Of course, it only helps to resort to this tactic, if it appears to undermine the credibility of the opposing argument.

In all cases of executory agreements, the completion involves the deferred exchange of actual value. It is no different with consummation. A legal institution involves a shared social meaning defined in law.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

As seems to have happened repeatedly of late, this thread has diverted rather far from the original topic, in this case what the RC Archbishop of Westminster said. Please, no further comments relating to consummation.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Do whatever you like in private, just don’t expect the public purse to support and privilege it as marriage. Especially, when it is incapable of delivering the same social goods!” And Archbishop Nichols speaks of a weakening of society if gay people can marry. Both those arguments completely miss what social goods marriage provides. Leaving aside this nonsense about consummation, society has a legitimate interest in supporting stable relationships. A stable couple is financially and emotionally better placed to look after aged parents, for example. In view to the expensive and lamentable care of old people in our society this… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Simon. Point taken.

I do, however, think it right to note, in light of the address being given on Christmas and all, that under Section 12 of the Matrimonial Causes Act the marriage of the Joseph and Mary could have been voidable under the title “pregnancy per alium.” Matthew makes precisely that point.

The highly irregular nature of the means by which the conception of our Lord took place, which in a number of ways some might say significantly undermines the “traditional institution of marriage,” ought to be taken into account by a senior cleric of any Christian tradition.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The original story is moving on. See these news reports:
Telegraph
Gay marriage: Catholics urged to write to MPs
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9771682/Gay-marriage-Catholics-urged-to-write-to-MPs.html

Press Association
Gay Marriage: Archbishop Tells Catholics To Lobby MPs
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/31/gay-marriage-archbishop-catholics-mps_n_2386913.html?utm_hp_ref=uk