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English bishops to join debate against same-sex marriage

Catholic World News - March 06, 2012

In a message that will be read on Sunday in 2,500 Catholic churches in England and Wales, the bishops of England and Wales will warn against the “profoundly radical step” of extending legal recognition to same-sex marriages.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who doubles as president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, has co-signed the message from the episcopal conference along with Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark.

Although the bishops’ message argues against same-sex marriage, the Daily Telegraph, which has obtained a copy of the document, says that it “adopts a strikingly moderate tone” in presenting the argument. The Telegraph contrasts the letter from Archbishops Nichols and Smith with the strongly worded statement on the same subject released by Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh, Scotland. The Scottish prelate has described same-sex marriage as a “grotesque subversion” of society and a “great wrong.”

Archbishops Nichols and Smith reason that the understanding of marriage as an institution involving a man and a woman is supported by both natural human instinct and ancient tradition. “Neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself,” they argue. “Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion.”

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