"The Meaning of Marriage Matters"

UK Prelates Speak Out on Government Response to Same-Sex Marriage Consultation

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LONDON, DECEMBER 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith, president and vice-president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales respectively, released a joint statement following the British government's response to the same-sex marriage consultation.

The government yesterday released its response to the "Equal Civil Marriage" consultation, announcing that the government would be pushing forward legislation in 2013 to legally redefine marriage in such a way as to allow same-sex couples to marry.

In their statement, also released yesterday, Archbishops Nichols and Smith asserted: "The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family. Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognized as unique and worthy of legal protection."

The statement notes that, although 600,000 people signed a petition to legally preserve the current definition of marriage, "legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament."

"We strongly oppose such a Bill," the statement reads, saying that "the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today."

The statement concludes by urging "everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote."

"It is not too late to stop this Bill."