A letter from two senior archbishops will be read in 2,500 parish churches during mass, arguing that the change would reduce the significance of marriage.
The archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, and Peter Smith, the archbishop of Southwark, will tell Catholics they have a “duty to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations”.
Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a “profoundly radical step”, they warn, and would strip the union of its “distinctive nature.”
It would reduce it to just the commitment of the two people involved, without recognising the intention of procreation and the education of children, the letter says.
“Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step,” the archbishops say. “Its consequences should be taken seriously now.
“The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage.
“It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.
“We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.”
The letter argues that the roots of marriage lie in human nature and the pattern of “complementarity and fertility” in the union are affirmed by many other religious traditions. [More]