The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols will tell Catholics on Sunday that marriage has an “instinctive understanding” and that changing the definition to include homosexuals would be a “profoundly radical step” that would strip it of its “distinctive nature.
The warning will be read in 2,500 churches during Sunday Mass, and will also be co-signed by the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith.
In appealing to wider society the archbishops will call marriage a “natural institution” with meaning beyond the confines of religion and a setting for secure relationships and the bringing up of children.
The letter has been sent to bishops throughout England and Wales and will be accompanied by a covering note encouraging an estimated 5 million church-going Catholics to sign the petition established by Lord Carey’s Coalition for Marriage.
“The reasons given by our Government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination,” say the archbishops.
“Our present law does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognises and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.”
“Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now.”
Calling a possible law change a “profoundly radical step” that would “gradually and inevitably” change society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage, the archbishops say changing the definition of marriage “would reduce it (marriage) just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.”
“The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature,” say the archbishops.