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Archbishop Nichols: marriage is a public good

By on Monday, 13 June 2011

Archbishop Nichols with a couple celebrating an anniversary at a thanksgiving Mass for marriage (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Nichols with a couple celebrating an anniversary at a thanksgiving Mass for marriage (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has praised traditional marriage as a “public good”.

Archbishop Nichols said it was “vitally important” for the “whole of society” to support marriage at a time when more British couples than ever were choosing to live together outside of marriage and to have children out of wedlock.

He said the country had acknowledged the importance of marriage by rejoicing over the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April.

The “mighty public cheer” that rang out after the couple exchanged vows showed an “instinctive and profound public understanding of the nature and consequences of marriage itself”, said Archbishop Nichols, who was a guest at the royal wedding.

“Marriage, as a permanent, exclusive commitment between this man and this woman was welcomed, applauded,” the archbishop said in a homily at a Mass for married couples in Westminster Cathedral.

“There was rejoicing in what the newlyweds had just done,” he said. “Marriage, then, is a public good.

“Marriage is not simply something done in church by a few. Marriage is not a private arrangement,” he said.

“Rather marriage expresses our deepest longings and expectations for ourselves, for our children and for our society,” he continued.

“Marriage is of our nature. It is not created by the Church, but blessed by her. Christian marriage is a sacrament,” he added. “In celebrating marriage, in defending marriage, the Church seeks to promote that which is good for us human beings, for our human nature and for our society.”

The archbishop’s words were directed primarily at a personally invited congregation of 543 married couples from his diocese who had a combined total of 18,048 years of marriage.

They gathered on Saturday to celebrate the milestone 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th or 60th or more anniversaries, to renew their vows and to receive a solemn blessing.

But by releasing a transcript to the media the day before it was clear that Archbishop Nichols intended his message to be heard by a national and not exclusively Catholic audience.

His comments came just months after official figures revealed that the marriage rate in Britain was at its lowest since 1895, with just 21.3 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried adult men and 19.9 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women.

About 57 per cent of children in Britain are now born to parents who are not married, according to figures revealed in February from the Office for National Statistics.

In his homily Archbishop Nichols explained that marriage was nevertheless the key to a successful family life and the happiness and security of children because it was the most successful framework “for the relationship of love of a man and a woman to become faithful, fruitful and permanent”.

He said that in contrast cohabiting relationships were inherently unstable because they were effectively negotiable.

Such arrangements were largely dependent on the fulfilment of high expectations for their success and not rooted in the mutual “acceptance of the other for who they are”, he said.

“When relationships are provisional, with an understanding that each can walk away, there is a sense in which each of the partners is always on probation,” Archbishop Nichols said. “They are never fully accepted.”

  • Chjklnps

    And since civil partnerships are in opposition to marriage and family, they undermine the public good, and their cynical endorsement by vote-starved politicians presents them with only a spurious and illusory facade of transient legitimacy devoid of any moral sense.

  • Tim from Wales

    Bigot!

  • Disappointed

    The Catholic Church in England and Wales “did not oppose gay
    civil partnerships… [and] recognised that in English law there might
    be a case for those
    “. (Cf. CDF document on recognition of gay unions.)

    It’s not just politicians who can be devoid of moral sense.

  • Disappointed
  • Chjklnps

    The statement was that “…civil partnerships (not politicians) are…. …devoid of moral sense.”

  • Chjklnps

    The statement was that “…civil partnerships (not politicians) are…. …devoid of any moral sense.”

  • Chjklnps

    Feb 2011 position: “We do not believe it is either necessary or desirable to allow the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises. These will not take place in Catholic churches.” Translation – you cannot be a practising homosexual and a practicing Catholic.

  • Disappointed

    Agreed, but Archbishop Nichols sees that as a possibly temporary situation. As for whether the bishops of England and Wales might bless gay unions in the future… who knows what’s down the road?

  • Anonymous

    A SOCIETY HAVING A LOT OF BASTARD CHILDREN IS DESTINED TO DISINTEGRATE AND THEN TO DECAY.

    NORMAL MARRIAGE INVOLVES COMMITMENT  OF MAN AND WOMAN TO EACH OTHER, AND IS ATTUNED TO THE PLAN OF GOD AS REVEALED IN HIS ONLY SON JESUS CHRIST.

    IT ALSO INVOLVES  READINESS TO SACRIFICE FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR THEIR CHILDREN  IN ALL ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THUS AN ELEMENT OF THE SACRIFICE OF THE SON OF GOD,   WHICH BROUGHT SALVATION TO  ALL PEOPLE  OF GOOD WILL,  ENTERS INTO THEIR RELATIONSHIP.

    WHAT BETTER ARRANGEMENT CAN WE EXPECT?

    COMING TOGETHER FOR SEXING AND PRODUCING CHILDREN, AND EXPECTING GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN  FROM BOTH THE SIDES INVOLVED BY FORCED TECHNICALITY IS INDEED LAUGHABLE AND WILL ONLY DESTROY THE ONLY ONE CHANCE IN LIFE.

    Thomas Poovathinkal

  • Guest

    When has +Nichols ever helped married or engage couples to avoid contraception?

    If he has, it seems he likes to keep it a secret.

  • Chjklnps

    Heaven is down one road, Hell is down the others. We stand at the cross roads, and we know the way to the place we should be going. If anyone would follow Jesus, they must deny themselves. The opposite of self-denial is self-indulgence, and St Paul said that self-indulgence is the opposite of the Holy Spirit. Nothing goes up to Heaven except that which comes down from Heaven, and again, St Paul says that the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God, so consumerism, which teaches us that we can have whatever we want, and have it now is the road to hell. Nobody needs a commandment “Thou shalt not commit xyz” unless they want to commit xyz. Laws that encourage people top indulge their sinful natures do not sit well with God’s commandments. God doesn’t command the people to sin.

  • Anonymous

    HUMANITY
    IN ENGLAND,
    IT LOOKS, IS LOST TO  THE ANIMAL KINGDOM: DOGS, DONKEYS AND PIGS AND THE REST! 
    NO GOD REVEALED MORALITY IN THE LIVES OF PEOPLE!.LOOK AT HE CIVIL PARTNERSHP PROVISIONS!

    ALL
    CREDIT AND GLORY GO TO THE BIG CHRISTIAN CHURCH-NETAS, OF ANGLICAN CHURCH AND
    THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ESPECIALLY, WHO ARE
    THEMSELES NOT APOSTLES BUT
    EVERYTHING ELSE FOR THE SAKE OF RUNNING THE WORLD  AND OWNING THE SAME; FOR THEY THEMSELVES ARE THE
    WORLD OPPOSED TO CHRIST THE LORD!

    WOULD
    ANYONE BE DRAWN TO CHRIST, IF HE (SHE) COMES TO KNOW ANY OF THESE NETAS IN
    PERSON!