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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

Press Releases

Church will always uphold true meaning of marriage, says Bishop

Sunday 10th February 2013

For immediate release:

The witness of Christians to the truth of marriage will become ever more important if Britain continues to drift from its Christian foundations following the decision of Parliament to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said.

Speaking just days after the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the Rt Rev. Mark Davies repeated the teaching of the Church that the understanding of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union between a man and a woman is written into human nature itself and cannot be changed by Parliaments.

He said that Christians did not believe in the false equality at the heart of the Bill but rather in “a radical equality: recognising that every human person without exception, is created in the image and likeness of God, redeemed and loved by Christ and called to eternal life”.

He told married couples gathered from all over the Diocese of Shrewsbury to celebrate landmark anniversaries at an annual Mass of Thanksgiving for Marriage that it was possible to “quickly see the absurdity of changing the identity of marriage in the name of a false understanding of equality by the desire to even strike out the cherished names of ‘mother’ and ‘father’”.

The Bishop said that recognising the truth of marriage was not “an injustice to be remedied” but predicted that soon it could even become an offence to repeat “the beautiful teaching of Christ” that marriage is the lasting union of one man and one woman which forms the foundation of the family.

He told more than 300 worshippers during the Mass at the Church of Our Lady and the Apostles, Stockport, Cheshire, on Saturday February 9 that the Church has always “defended the essence of marriage against all who have sought over the centuries to change or distort its reality” and that Catholics “must do so again today”.

Bishop Davies also suggested that the claim by Culture Secretary Maria Miller that those people who opposed the controversial Bill were “on the wrong side of history” showed ignorance of the vital and transforming reality of the Gospel over 2,000 years. The Bishop also paid tribute to the courage of Cheshire and Shropshire MPs who voted against the Bill at its Second Reading last week.

Bishop Davies said: “As Christians, we must never fear being on the wrong side of any moment of history but we do fear being on the wrong side of Eternity. And our society should surely fear placing its trust in passing ideologies. And here, I wish to pay public tribute to those Members of Parliament across the Shrewsbury Diocese who, in the face of many pressures, stood up for the meaning and identity of marriage and defended the religious freedom of future generations. Such politicians deserve our gratitude and our support for their courageous and principled stand. 

“As our country drifts away from its Christian foundation, then surely our Christian witness to marriage becomes more not less important for generations to come.”  

 

Notes to editors:

The Diocese of Shrewsbury covers the parts of Merseyside south of the River Mersey, the southern parts of Greater Manchester, parts of Derbyshire, almost all of the county of Cheshire and all of Shropshire.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed by the House of Commons by 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225, following a debate during its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 6.

A total of 134 Conservative MPs rejected the legislation, leaving the Prime Minister depending on the votes of MPs from rival parties to push the Bill through to Committee Stage. Less than half of Conservative Party MPs – a total of 126 – supported the Bill while 35 abstained.

The Catholic Church has campaigned vigorously against the Bill which is also strongly opposed by the Church of England, mainstream Protestant and Jewish denominations and by Muslim and Sikh leaders.

The Catholic bishops have directly warned MPs and peers that the proposals will destabilise marriage, harm the well-being of children, jeopardise religious liberty, undermine the ability of the Church to function effectively in civil society, and has reminded the Government that it has no mandate for the Bill from the electorate and that there is no popular demand for it.

Members of Parliament who voted against the Bill and who have constituencies within the Diocese of Shrewsbury include Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, the Conservative MP for Shropshire North, who, as a Cabinet Minister, was one of the most senior members of the Government to oppose the proposals.

They also include Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Minister, who was among a number of junior Government Ministers to vote against the Bill. Miss McVey, MP for Wirral West, was one of more than 25 Catholic MPs to oppose the Bill.

Other MPs from within the Diocese of Shrewsbury who voted against the Bill included the Conservatives Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton; Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West; Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin; David Rutley, MP for Macclesfield, and former Northern Ireland Minister Paul Goggins, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East and a Catholic.