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British churches attack government's gay-marriage plan

posted 11 Mar 2012, 12:20 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 11 Mar 2012, 12:23 ]

The British government's plans to legalise same sex marriages runs into opposition as a pastoral letter opposing the moves is read out during Sunday masses in Catholic churches.

NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 11, 2012) (POOL) - The British government is planning this month to launch a formal consultation document on allowing homosexual couples to marry, spearheaded by a minister from the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the government coalition.

Junior partner in the British government's coalition government, Nick Clegg stressed at a Liberal Democratic Party conference in Newcastle that his party was committed to making gay marriage legal.

"We are bringing forward proposals for gay marriage which are already provoking fierce debate. Let me say if you are a young gay person your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental right in a liberal society and you will always have our support," he told party delegates.

The Roman Catholic Church, which has some 1.3 billion members worldwide, teaches that while homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are, and that children should grow up in a traditional family with a mother and father.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England launched his "no" campaign to the government's plan to legalise same-sex marriages from the pulpit this weekend.

A pastoral letter written by Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols was read out during Mass in dozens of churches on Sunday, warning about the dangers of changing the legal definition of marriage.

Nichols' letter states: "Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. 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. It would reduce it 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."

One unidentified churchgoer said the government proposals were "a sign of the times just part of the crazy things we do these days, it flies in the face of tradition and the establishment."

Glenyth Roberts, Conservative Party councillor for the London West End ward said she disagreed with her own party's proposals in this instance.

"Marriage is ordained between a man and woman for the procreation of children. I am extremely pleased that gays have a civil partnership. I think that is absolutely right, equal economic rights and equal rights socially but I do think marriage is something else and should remain marriage," she said.

At a gay wedding fair, gay couples criticised the Catholic church's attitude to the government proposals.

Chas Riley said: "I think it is sad for gay people. I think we have come such a long way in our journey I think it is immensely sad that the Catholic church feels this way."

David Mann said: "I dont feel I need religious authorities to justify our relationship. We have been together for 20 years we don't need some cardinal or vicar to justify our relationship. We are very happy."

Prime Minister David Cameron is already facing a religious backlash from many in the Anglican mother church, the Church of England.

The Church of England is the established church in a country that is becoming an increasingly secular society.