1,000 priests issue warning over legalising same-sex marriage14 January 2013
More than 1,000 priests and bishops have signed a letter warning that Catholics could face religious persecution if the Government legalises gay marriage.
The letter, which is one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, was published in the Telegraph on Saturday. The 1,067 signatories included the Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan; the Bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon; the leader of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Abbots of Downside and Prinkash.
In the letter they said that the Government's proposals to introduce gay marriage would restrict Catholics' religious freedom and could limit what the Church could teach in schools. They predicted that Catholics, who had only recently been able to participate fully and legally in some professions in this country, could be persecuted for their beliefs.
"Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions and places of worship," they wrote in the letter.
The priests and bishops argued that marriage was only possible between a man and a woman because of their natural complementary. They said that marriage and family life was the foundation of society and urged MPs, who will vote on legislation this month, to reject the bill.
The letter is the latest expression of the Church's opposition to gay marriage. Two bishops have written to Prime Minister David Cameron expressing their concerns and in an interview with the BBC broadcast over Christmas the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, attacked the government's plans to introduce gay marriage legislation and said that consultation process had been "a shambles".
Last month the Government announced plans to bring forward same-sex marriage legislation, with the bill planned to be tabled later this month.
For the full text of the letter and signatories see the Telegraph website
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