The Bishops Conference of England and Wales issued the following statement yesterday regarding the Civil Partnership Bill currently going through Parliament. The value of marriage As Catholic bishops in England and Wales we are strongly committed to upholding the unique status and meaning of marriage and its importance for the well-being of society. Lifelong marriage between a man and a woman continues to represent an unchanging ideal, and a vital anchor for a rapidly changing world. Marriage is recognised to be the most stable and loving context for raising children. For these reasons, it has had and should continue to have a special position in our social and legislative frameworks. Its value to society should be promoted and never diminished. Legalising financial and property relationships We accept that significant problems are faced by people in a range of relationships, including both same sex couples (those affected by the Bill) and those in relationships that are not of a sexual nature such as devoted brothers or sisters. However, we believe these problems which are essentially associated with financial and property matters could be remedied by legal changes other than the introduction of formal civil partnerships which, in the case of same sex couples, is likely to be seen as a form of same-sex marriage with almost all the same rights as marriage itself. Whatever the intention of this proposed legislation there is a real danger that the deeply rooted understanding of marriage as a permanent and exclusive relationship between a woman and a man, and as the best context for raising children will be eroded. This is a matter of conscience This Bill addresses matters of fundamental principle which touch on deeply held moral and religious beliefs. If passed in its present form, it would have profound and long lasting moral and social consequences. Therefore, it is clearly a matter of conscience on which Members of Parliament should be given a free vote. Source: CCS
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