Pope weighs into gay marriage row condemning 'powerful, political and cultural currents'
By Steve Doughty
PUBLISHED: 21:02, 9 March 2012
Veto: The Pope has refused to support same-sex marriages
The Pope yesterday condemned David Cameron’s plan to allow same-sex marriage, calling it an attack on justice.
He said that marriage between a man and a woman must be preserved because it protects parents, children and the whole of society.
Pope Benedict urged Roman Catholics to stand against ‘powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage’.
The remarks were timed to add Papal authority to the campaign against same-sex marriage launched this week by Roman Catholic leaders in Britain.
A letter in which two archbishops say a new law would undermine the family is to be read to Catholic congregations in England and Wales tomorrow, and Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien has strongly attacked the plan.
In the Church of England, both Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York John Sentamu have opposed it, following the campaigning lead set by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.
The stance of church leaders means that Mr Cameron is likely to face determined opposition when he introduces his same-sex marriage scheme in a consultation paper later this month.
The Pope made the Vatican’s view plain in discussions with a group of visiting American bishops.
Discussing the political campaign to change the nature of marriage, Benedict said: ‘The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defence of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation.
‘Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage.’
The Pope continued: ‘Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.’
Supporter: David Cameron has backed same-sex marriages
Benedict said there were serious problems caused by cohabitation among couples ‘who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society.
‘Let me conclude by recalling that all our efforts in this area are ultimately concerned with the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships.
‘Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognising our responsibility to teach, defend and live by the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfilment.’
The Pope’s standing in Britain has been high since his visit in 2010, when his charge that Christianity is being pushed out of public life struck a chord with many.
However in recent years the churches have lost their major political battles with the gay rights lobby.
Five years ago Tony Blair’s government passed a set of Sexual Orientation Regulations, despite a Cabinet rebellion by Catholic ministers and the reluctance of the Prime Minister himself, which made it unlawful for any organisation that offers a public service to refuse it to same-sex couples.
As a result, 11 Roman Catholic adoption agencies have shut down or severed links with the Church because they are no longer allowed to decline to place children with gay or lesbian couples.
Mr Cameron’s ministers have assured the churches that same-sex marriage will be permitted only through civil ceremonies, and churches will not be forced to celebrate gay marriages.
However Church of England lawyers believe that if same-sex marriage becomes lawful, then under the Sexual Orientation Regulations churches will be compelled to offer weddings to gay couples.