Vatican Seeks Out Other Religious Leaders to Oppose U.K. Marriage Equality

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday May 1, 2012

The Pope's representative in the U.K. is urging Roman Catholic leaders to join forces with Muslim and Jewish religious leaders in order to oppose marriage equality in the U.K., the British newspaper the Telegraph reported.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the papal nuncio, called on leaders from a number of faiths and Christian denominations to fight the British government's proposal on legalizing gay marriage. Mennini recently spoke to Catholic bishops from England and Wales and told them that 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."

A day later, Archbishop Peter Smith (the second most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales) said that there has been no "formal" contact with Jewish groups but added, "we will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to confusion."

The Telegraph points out that the Jewish community has been extremely divided when it comes to marriage equality.

"The Liberal and Reform synagogues have given their support to same-sex marriage but rabbis within the main United Synagogues have expressed opposition," the article says.

Smith went on to say that the government's plans to legalize same-sex marriage is "dangerous" and said "the Church of England is very much along the same lines as ourselves on this."

"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," Smith added.

The pope's ambassador to Britain also used the meeting in Leeds, in the north of England, to reiterate the church's position on teaching about homosexuality in Catholic schools. The church's homophobic lessons are under attack by several groups and the British is investigating claims that they violate the country's laws about teaching hatred.

The Catholic Church has been by far the most vocal large organization in Britain to speak out against the prime minister's support for same-sex marriage. The prime minister is a member of the Tories, the conservative party. The established church, the Anglican communion, which broke away from Rome in Henry VIII's time, is leaning toward the marriage proposal.