A suggestion that there might be a more formal and concerted effort by all faith communities in Britain to defend marriage has been made by the representative of the Pope to England, Scotland an Wales. The Daily Telegraph reports today that 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, the Telegraph reported.
His comments, the report said, 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”. 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.”