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?
…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…