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By Tim Clarke 12/06 Updated: 13/06 17:49
THE BISHOP of Worcester has thrown his whole-hearted support behind the Church of England's opposition to Government plans to legalise same-sex marriages.
Bishop Dr John Inge echoed the sentiments expressed in the Church's response to a consultation by the Government on the proposals, which senior clergy say would alter the 'intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman'.
There are also fears the plans could force the Church out of its traditional role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state.
Bishop John said the Church of England had supported various legal changes in recent years to remove unjustified discrimination and create greater legal rights for same-sex couples.
But he said to change the nature of marriage for everyone would be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains beyond what had already been established through civil partnerships for homosexual couples.
He said: "We also believe it is deeply unwise to impose for essentially ideological reasons, a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage, an institution which has been in place before either State or Church existed, after so hasty a ‘consultation’."
The Church of England's response said the Government's consultation wrongly implied there were two categories of marriage - civil and religious, adding: "This is to mistake the wedding ceremony for the institution of marriage."
Bishop John accused the Government's consultation of using prejudicial terms and said from the beginning of history marriage had been the way in which societies had worked out and handled issues of sexual difference.
"To redefine marriage to include same-sex partnerships would entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage," he added.
"I hope and pray that the Government will reconsider."
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