Pope’s representative demands united front against gay marriage
The Pope’s representative in Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, is calling for a united front with other faiths including Islam and Judaism to oppose the government’s plan to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales.
Archbishop Mennini said that plans for a united front against gay marriage would be a “lengthy and probably difficult campaign” at the plenary meeting with English and Welsh bishops in Leeds on Thursday.
“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam”, Mennini said.
Archbishop Peter Smith told the Telegraph that there had been no “formal” contact with Jewish groups to form a united front on the subject of marriage. But Smith added: “We are working as best we can with all sorts of different faith groups; the Church of England is very much along the same lines as ourselves on this.”
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the traditional definition of marriage should remain unchanged. Farooq Murad, Secretary of the MCB, said: “Like other Abrahamic faiths, marriage in Islam is defined as a union between a man and a woman. So while, the state has accommodated for gay couples, such unions will not be blessed as marriage by the Islamic institutions.”
Opinion is sharply divided among the Jewish community. The main united synagogues have expressed opposition, but the Liberal and Reform synagogues have supported the government’s plan to legalise gay marriage.
The coalition government has made it clear that it wants to see gay marriage law before the next general election in 2015. The proposed law is also supported by the opposition leader, Ed Miliband. On the government’s way to legalise gay marriage, it has launched a 12-week national consultation on allowing gay couples in England and Wales to marry on 15th March.
The current proposal written in the Home Office’s consultation paper suggests it allow same-sex couples to marry in a registry office or other civil ceremony, but to maintain the legal ban on couples marrying in religious services.
Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone told the Independent that the plan was a “liberal idea” and would “hugely strengthen” the institution of marriage, praising it as “a very logical and progressive step”.