Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio, called for closer co-operation with other faiths as well as Christian denominations to put pressure on the Government over its plans to allow same-sex couples to marry.
In an address to Catholic bishops from England and Wales, he echoed the recent comments of Pope Benedict who said the Church faced “powerful political and cultural currents” in favour of redefining marriage.
His comments come after a series of high-level interventions by some Muslim and Jewish leaders last month after the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, launched a national consultation on how same-sex marriage might be introduced.
Last month the Muslim Council of Britain voiced opposition to the plans, describing it as “unnecessary and unhelpful”.But, as the Islamic faith in Britain does not have the same hierarchical structures as Christian Churches, much of the Muslim opposition has been voiced through local alliances.
In Scotland, the Council of Glasgow Imams recently agreed a joint resolution describing same-sex marriage as an "attack" on their faith and fundamental beliefs.
Opinion in the Jewish community has been more sharply divided. The Liberal and Reform synagogues have given their support to same-sex marriage but rabbis within the main United Synagogues have expressed opposition.
The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who is retiring, has so far resisted pressure to voice opposition to the proposal.
But Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue in north London, who advises him on family issues, recently accused the Coalition of launching an “assault” on religious values.
Meanwhile Lord Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, recently said the proposed reforms represented “a sideways assault on religion”.
Addressing English and Welsh bishops at their plenary meeting in Leeds, Archbishop Mennini, warned them they faced a “lengthy and probably difficult campaign”.
“I wonder if we shouldn’t ask for and look for more support among other Christian confessions and indeed, persons of other faiths,” he said.
“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.”
Speaking in London yesterday the second most senior active Catholic cleric in England and Wales, Archbishop Peter Smith, of Southwark, said there had been no “formal” contact with Jewish groups to form a united front on the subject of marriage.
But he said: “We will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to more confusion.”
He criticised the Government’s plans as “dangerous” and lacking in the usual consultation processes required for major legislation.
“It has not been thought through,” he said.
“It is a very dangerous way to go forward in terms of legislation on such a vital topic.”
Archbishop 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.
“I went to see Theresa May back in February and the Church of England was well represented.”
In a reference to suggestions that the redefinition of marriage could challenge the Anglican position as the established church, the Archbishop said: “It is particularly difficult for the Church of England because of all the legal ramifications of it.
“There are something like 3,000 mentions of marriage in various statutes and it is quite clear that the Government has not thought through the implications of the changes they are proposing.”
He also defended the right of Catholic schools to promote the Church’s position on marriage following accusations of “political indoctrination” from secular and humanist campaigners.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Vatican representative in Britain calls for alliance with Jewish and Muslim groups to combat same-sex "marriage"
As reported by John Bingham of London's Daily Telegraph, April 27, 2012: