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Bishops to send out a million postcards on marriage

By on Thursday, 17 January 2013

Archbishop Smith has urged priests to do all they can to oppose the marriage Bill (Photo: Mazur/

Archbishop Smith has urged priests to do all they can to oppose the marriage Bill (Photo: Mazur/

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is sending out a million postcards calling on MPs to oppose the Government’s redefinition of marriage.

The postcards will be sent to parishes next week. Each card will have a space for people to sign their name so they can post it to their MP.

The text says that marriage is the “foundation of the family” and upholds the common good. It does not say anything about same-sex relationships.

Accompanying the cards will be a letter to all parish priests signed by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, chairman of the bishops’ Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship.

In it, the archbishop says: “My purpose in writing is to ask you to urge the members of your congregation to make their own views known to their MP.

“To assist them in doing that we have printed postcards ‘speak out for marriage’ and a bundle of these are with this letter.

“Parishioners simply need to add the name of their own local MP to the address on the front of the card, and their own name and address below the text on the back. Please can you put up the enclosed posters, let your parishioners know the name(s) of your local MP, and strongly encourage your parishioners to send the cards and to give them to their friends to send in as well.”

Archbishop Smith added: “The first key vote is likely to take place in early February so the time to act is now. We need to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. Please do all you can.”

The postcard campaign follows a letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by more than 1,000 priests arguing that the Government Bill, expected to be published this month, will restrict the freedom of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage.

The text on the postcards

Dear member of Parliament
As a concerned constituent I urge you to vote against the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill.
· Marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of the family and provides the best circumstances in which to raise the next generation.

· This is why society has recognised marriage as having an identity distinct form any other relationship, however much love or commitment may be involved; marriage is about the common good.

· No mainstream political party promised such a radical change in its last election manifesto. There is therefore no mandate for it.

Please vote against it and let me know your views.

  • liquafruta

    And hopefully parishioners will follow Archbishop Smith’s advice and make their OWN views known to their MPs  with or without the postcards.

  • Observatory

    There are children starving in this country. People are hungry and going without food and bigoted postcards are what you’re spending money on? You disgrace yourselves.

    Women are being beaten black and blue and being murdered by abusive men, and Bigoted, backwards postcards are what you’re wasting money on?

    Children are being targeted for their vulnerability and being abused by men, and bigoted, backwards, hateful postcards are what you are spending time and money on? You are hypocritical and repugnant, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • MarkZuid

    Pity he didn’t send out millions of postcards opposing the rape of children in catholic care home!!

  • scary goat

    Good plan.  Can’t see that going down very well in our constituency though….the local MP is a lesbian.

  • Peter

    “There are children starving in this country”

    Do you mean Britain?  If so, where?

    Do you have any sources or links?

    This is a very serious claim, especially when the country throws away millions of tonnes of food every year.

  • Peter

    If the traditional family breaks down completely, the number of women and children being harmed and abused will escalate beyond recognition.

  • Jonathan

    Hard to believe that so much effort is being put into asserting one’s own beliefs onto the lives of others.  Catholics are being awarded a big exemption from the proposed legislation.  We should allow others, with different beliefs, to order their lives as they best see fit.

    This postcard campaign is an embarrassment. It’s 1950s in form as well as substance. 

  • danmoon00

    Mark, unfortunately child abuse is very much the issue at hand.

    Marriage is legally given as the right to “Marry and to found a family”. In the case of the relationship between one man and one woman, that right is a legal protection of the procreative potential inherent in the relationship. Whether or not that potential is ever fulfilled is of no concern to the State, but relationship of marriage is the only relationship within which it can ever be fulfilled. That is why a marriage is the only relationship with the right to found a family.

    In the case of any other relationship, the right to found a family is not protecting any procreative potential inherent in that relationship, as there is none. The right to found a family has to be facilitated by the State. The right becomes the right to acquire a child by separating child from parent. Thus the right robs EVERY CHILD of the right to have their relationship with their biological parents recognised (protected) in law.

    Nothing justifies the legal denial of a human right.

  • kerbal

    If marriage is the foundation of a family and “provided the best circumstances to raise the next generation” surely the bill should go ahead. Why should children in the care of same sex-couples be denied the “best circumstances” under which to be raised? There are many children in the UK who are fostered/adopted by same-sex couples and could benefit from this.

  • Me

    Deny a union of love? By your own actions, you will alienate those who understand what love love truly means. These people are gaining in numbers generation by generation. You are sending out postcards that will facilitate in your own demise. 

  • AndyHarley

     The squeeze on tax credits and benefits will push a further 200,000 children into poverty,
    the government has admitted for the first time. It suggests a total of a
    million extra children will be in poverty as a result of government welfare measures. -Guardian, today.

  • PaulineG

     How very disingenuous.

    Recommended reading:

  • Me

    Utter rhetoric. 

  • Peter

    The British definition of poverty is not starvation

  • respectall

    Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience is crucial to any country which calls itself civilised. What will happen if the understanding of marriage is not safeguarded? Churches will be sued for discrimination if they do not go along with marriage of same-sex couples, teachers could be arrested if they teach natural moral law which is an understanding of philosophy and philosophers. No-one from the Church is saying that people haven’t got  the right to their own views, but Government is constantly saying that Christians and Other Faith groups do not have a right to freedom of conscience. This is just plain wrong.  Catholic fostering agencies should not be forced to close down by Government. A Christian counsellor should not be sacked because he will not give sexual advice to homosexual people because it goes against his conscience. Equally as an Anglican bishop said the other day an atheist counsellor shouldn’t be sacked if he feels he cannot help a couple with their faith problems. This is a matter of freedom of conscience and religion.  It is also about where did the mandate come from? It wasn’t in the manifesto and it wasn’t in the Queen’s speech and no-one was calling for it. Many gay people have said they don’t want it, as they feel civil partnerships are enough. These are big issues which cannot be swept under the carpet.

  • danmoon00

    Not so much a challenge as a compliment. Rhetoric is the effective use of language. If you feel i have used language to effectively show the madness of trying to legally redefine nature, then i thank you.

    If your reply was meant in another sense, you do owe yourself (and, arguably everybody else on this thread – including me) a fuller explanation of your own point of view. 

  • Gc_burns

     check out your inner city residents and also the isolated rural homes if you want to find young families struggling to keep their heads above water

  • Conorcrrll

    If love is the only pre-requisite for marriage why not allow a man marry his dog, or a harem of women or a child? Marriage has always been defined as permanent (therefore divorce is also a problem) pro-creative and unitive relationship between a man and a woman. two people of the same sex cannot fulfill all of those, therefore they cannot get married.

    Equally the state is involved in marriage because they have a duty to safegaurd the future of the population, i.e. the future generation. A relationship of two men/women is not the concern of the state whatsoever, and there is no reason for them to create any legislation for them. (civil partnerships deal with any legal problems like inheritance etc)

    Finally you may think this will cause the demise of the Catholic Church, although I would have to disagree, I think some may leave, but those that do leave do not hold to the teachings of the Catholic Church so were not really a full part of it anyway. Those that stay will be even stronger beleivers, who have stayed against public persecution, and will ensure the faith is stronger than ever.

  • spudbynight

    Funnily enough there are several homosexual MPs in support of the current definition of marriage.

  • Kevin

    I hope there is a plan for when the Government – either Conservative or Labour or SNP – eventually does legalise calling same-gender sex “marriage”.

    We cannot let each liberal legislative target affect our way of life. Not only do we need to do what is right collectively, whether it is raising our children or looking after the elderly and infirm, we need to be able to exercise charity to those non-Catholics who will inevitably look to us for help when they realise, one at a time, the horrible nature of the world that liberals have created.

  • Max


  • Kudos

    The Catholic hierarchy are wrong on this issue, as they are on so many others. Stop insulting the intelligence of lay people Archbishop!  The government’s proposal does not affect the R.C. Church in any way.  You know that and yet you contunue with your ridiculous campaign.   Most people have better things to do with their time…and it’s a pity you don’t Archbishop!   Come on, lets have parishes flooded with postcards about world poverty, hunan rights abuses, climate change etc etc things that are much more important than gay marriage.  Unless of course you love encouraging homophobia in the church, because that’s what this is all about isn’t it Archbishop?

  • Mike

    ‘Marriage is legally given as the right to “Marry and to found a
    family”. ‘

    – Where in British law is that cited? I haven’t been able to find it.

    “In the case of the relationship between one man and one woman,
    that right is a legal protection of the procreative potential inherent
    in the relationship.”

    – Nonsense. This is a Catholic definition only and the UK is not a Catholic country. There is not special protection for the “procreative potential” of a married couple. A person’s right to procreate in the UK is not tied to marriage in any way, and hasn’t been for a long time.

    “Whether or not that potential is ever fulfilled is
    of no concern to the State, but relationship of marriage is the only
    relationship within which it can ever be fulfilled.
    That is why a
    marriage is the only relationship with the right to found a family.”

    – This is quite clearly untrue. Unmarried women have children all the time. Do you really want to go back to a time when such children were considered to be illegitimate and bastards? So much for “family values.”

    “In the case of any other relationship, the right to found a family is
    not protecting any procreative potential inherent in that relationship,
    as there is none.”

    – Nonsense. Such couples can adopt, and they can and do father/mother biological children all the time. Like it or not, they have the right to do this, legally, almost everywhere in the Western world.

    “The right to found a family has to be facilitated by
    the State. The right becomes the right to acquire a child by separating
    child from parent. Thus the right robs EVERY CHILD of the right to have
    their relationship with their biological parents recognised (protected)
    in law. Nothing justifies the legal denial of a human right.”

    – Wow, that is some tortured logic there. Are you really saying that the state should never be allowed to remove a child from its parent? What about the right of children not to be neglected, or physically, mentally, and sexually abused by their parents? I’m sorry, but the state always has the right to save a child from an abusive situation, even if that means breaking up a family. Indeed, it is their duty to do so. Like it or not, the state will always have a part to play in the families of its citizens. The only question is when and where it should be allowed to intervene.

  • Max

     Archbishop Smith  what are you doing about The Liverpool Care Pathway  or The Liverpool Death Pathway as most people call it. . Elderly people are being Murdered in hospital. When are you going to DO SOMETHING . How long will you and Archbishop Nichols turn a blind eye . The ten commandments are being broken in hospitals every day the elderly people die an agonizing death by starvation and dehydration . Must I remind you of what His Holiness Pope John Paul 11 said Death by starvation or dehydration carried out “consciously or deliberately is truly euthanasia by omission.”  You know this is happening. And you do nothing.

  • Mike

    So elderly couples and infertile couples getting married is a problem, too? As for divorce, well, once the Catholic Church stops issuing annulments to anyone who asks for one (c.f. Newt Gingrich) then perhaps I’ll begin to believe that they are serious about that subject.

  • Mike

    This brings King Canute to mind, though in this case, they don’t seem to realize that they are attempting to face down the inevitable.

  • Alan

    Can we nail this lie that those who oppose “gay marriage” have anything to do with homophobia?  That word means, literally, fear of one’s own gender, though it is usually misused to mean hatred of homosexuals.  No true Catholic hates homosexuals.  For the record, I actively supported the Homosexual Reform Act of the 1960s, while opposing “gay marriage” which is a contradiction in terms. 

  • Pmcoke35

    Fact: The vast majority of male sexual predators who assault men or boys are heterosexual. In fact, homosexual men are far less likely than heterosexual men to engage in sexual assault. Sexual assault has far more to do with power and control than sexuality. Over 50% of predators choose victims of either gender.

  • ninoinoz

    And where does Peter say homosexuals are doing the assaulting? In fact he specifically mentions women – not a group normally at risk of assault from homosexual men.

    In fact, your ‘fact’ is worthless as heterosexuals vastly outnumber homosexuals you’d expect their assaults to outnumber theirs.

    No, what Peter is referring to is family breakdown, where the men in the household are not the fathers of the children. This is what undermining marriage does contribute to.

  • Ken from Boston

    I see they’re sending postcards now.  Did they run out of money trying to convince voters of the same thing and not winning?  Should be using the money to pay for the child abuse cases’ therapy.
    They’re fighting a useless battle.  No one cares about what the Church teaches on morality since they
    squandered their moral authority by lying about all the corruption right under their noses.  

  • AndreaGregorio

    What a waste of money given the price of stamps these days!  Has Smith no learned anything from the similar exercise by O’Brien in Scotland?  Only a small fraction of the postcards sent out were returned to the Executive.  The Church has every right to make Her Voice known among the other voices in our Society.  This, however, is a direct interference in British politics and it is being done because the bishops have been instructed to do it by a terrifued Vatican.  Such exercises will not stop the success of this Bill which has the support of the majority of Parliament and of the British people.  The Church’s failure will do nothing more than damage Her Authority and standing.  All across the civilised world equal marriage is being implemented, State by State in the USA (let’s wait for the Supreme Court decision which will represent another victory against prejudice), with the project complete in Spain and Portugal, in all of the Nordic Countries, in South Africa, in Argentina and soon in Uruguay and all of Brazil.  Franch will legislate in a matter of months and we will have equal marriage here in the UK very soon via, if necessary, the exercise of the Parliament Act.  The response to the Government consultation reportedly resulted in 600,000 objections of one for or another – this is less than one per cent of the population of this country.  Likewise, the anti-gay march in Paris,. which resulted in some 350,000 people (these are the police statistics – accurate as estimated via aerial survey) – approximately 0.25% of the French population.  Smith is a not a statistician, but surely he is able to interpret such numbers and what they indicate about societal attitudes and how these have changed in accordance with the times.  Moral theology cannot be set in aspic even though it may be comofrtable to think so – false certainty is not certainty at all.  Noral theologians have a responsibility – intellectual and ethical – to take advances in science into account.  They have not done so in the case of same sex attarction and relationships.  The Vatican contains more gay men per square metre than anywhere else on God’s Earth, but they time and time again punish in other people what they hate in themselves: self-harm by proxy.  This is not moral theology but rather psychopathology.  

  • danmoon00

    Hello Mike. I will take your five points one at a time.

    1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 16, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) article 12, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 23 all give marriage as the right to marry and to found a family. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated ECHR into UK law.

    2. I am not a Catholic, but Catholic teaching on marriage is very accurate. Nobody has the right to procreate, as nobody has the ability to will a child into the world. We can only ever have the right to perform the procreative act ie form the only relationship that can ever bring a child into the world.

    3. Here you are actually proving my point. Marriage itself is a relationship, but we use the same name for that relationship as we do for the legal institution within which we can register that relationship. If Government abolished legal marriage, people would still marry because they would still form the relationship. We can have children outside of the legal institution, because procreation existed before man-made law – just as we can put out a fire without being a member of the fire brigade: fire existed before the fire brigade. Children born outside of a legal/official marriage were referred to as “illegitimate” precisely because there was no legitimate paternal claim to them.
    The mother had no way of proving who the father was. Legal marriage gives presumption of paternity.

    4. All sorts of relationships are capable of rearing a child, but only one is capable of bringing a child into the world and binding that child to that child’s parents. That physically unique ability flows from our body, not State permission. It is therefore a case of legally recognising (protecting) the fact that man, woman and child are physically related. Marriage does not pretend that other relationships do not exist. To legally redefine marriage is to legally pretend that the natural family unit does not exist.

    5. I am not suggesting the State should never intervene in cases of abuse. I am showing that, because the bond between parent and child is physically real, the State has to respect it. Redefining legal marriage literally erases all legal trace of the natural family unit. Hence France ceasing to legally use not only the words “Husband” and “Wife”, but also “Father” and “Mother”.

    Redefining marriage redefines parenthood – for everybody. It gives the State permission to ignore the fact that your child is biologically yours. That is tyranny.

  • Marcie

    Speaking frankly, I am confused by this whole debate. I don’t have enough knowledge, nor do I think I could acquire enough knowledge, to actually decide for myself for or against ‘gay marriage’. Anecdotes abound, and are used as evidence for either side. These are meaningless. Statistics and research on the subject is there, but I get the impression this is a relatively ‘new’ topic for sociologists, and there isn’t much to go on. I don’t hate gays. Personally I have no view on the subject. I don’t even feel qualified to condemn or support the postcard campaign. The Church is full of people who are as stupid and as ill-informed as me. We need help.

    The only thing of which I am certain is that the pope, and our bishops, are not stupid. Neither are they wicked or malicious. Neither do they speak on any subject without thinking carefully first. The other thing of which I am certain is that I am a Catholic, and that I believe the Catholic Church has been founded by Christ. So I trust. That’s all I can do.

  • AndreaGregorio

    Readers may find the fololowing useful in refining their arguments for or against……

  • AndreaGregorio
  • John McCarthy

    Well done to all concerned! The time to act is now.

  • Joe Zammit

    It was God, and no one else,
    who has created human beings men and women. It was also God who has made the
    institution of marriage as a union between one man and one woman for ever, with
    the inherent dual purpose of mutual love and procreation.


    This type of marriage can
    never be substituted by a pseudo-one.


    Two men or two women can
    never make a marriage because between them there can never be love but only
    lust. Love and lust are not the same. Love comes from God, unites the couple
    and draws them to him; lust comes from the devil, separates the couple from God
    and draws them to hell.


    Besides, a homosexual union can
    never bring about offspring because such a union is precisely unnatural. Nature
    is what it is and it will stay mum with those who abuse of it.


    So, a homosexual union lacks
    all the necessary ingredients that make a marriage, thus failing the marriage test



    It would be very
    unreasonable and foolish were a legislator to put a homosexual union on a par
    with marriage.

  • Joe Zammit

    Same-sex union (surely NOT marriage) is a grotesque
    subversion of marriage as properly understood. It is an aberration and could
    clear the way for multi-partner marriages and would cause further degeneration
    of society into immorality.


    Incidentally, a multi-partner civil union has
    already taken place in Brazil.

  • Joe Zammit

    The concept of marriage as a union between man
    and woman is an acknowledgement of the fundamental biological difference
    between man and woman, and nature’s purpose for this. No claim for equality can
    justly eliminate difference and husband/wife/father/mother from marriage.

  • Joe Zammit

    Facts on
    marriage cannot be changed. If marriage is a union between one man and one
    woman, no

    state is going to change that. The state can deceive itself by
    calling a cat a dog, but the cat will remain

    a cat and will never be a dog.

  • Joe Zammit

    Whatever preserves nature is natural.
    Killing does not preserve nature.

    Therefore, killing is unnatural.

    Whatever preserves nature is natural.

    Heterosexual unions preserve nature.

    Therefore, heterosexual unions are natural.


    Whatever preserves nature is natural.

    Homosexual unions do not preserve nature.

    Therefore, homosexual unions are unnatural.

  • ambita80

    I really like this approach – why don’t we hear more of this in the media?  Where can I read more?

  • 4045

    Ask your MP what they think should be done to protect ordinary people (not just churches) who believe in traditional marriage.Ask them whether a teacher should be sacked for refusing to endorse gay marriage in the classroom.Ask them whether parents who disagree with redefining marriage should be banned from withdrawing children from school lessons which endorse gay marriage.Ask them whether an NHS/university/armed forces chaplain should lose their job for supporting traditional marriage.Ask them whether couples should be banned from fostering children if they disagree with gay marriage.Say the European Court recently ruled that public sector workers can be forced to act against their sincere beliefs about marriage.Ask them whether churches should be thrown out of council-run village halls if they refuse to conduct gay weddings.

  • Inquisator

    Looking at the list of those speaking against the motion, no wonder they lost.

  • Bert Pooler

    What a load of rubbish Jonathan!!  Why should childern bought up by  same sex couples be denied having a real mother or real dad. Pity the child asked in the play ground  “Why have you two dads” or “Why have you got two mothers? The mind boggles!!!

  • Conorcrrll

    infertile couples have the right natural form to create children, even if nature does not allow them. If they could tgey would be open to children therefore the comparison does not exist. just look up rate of annulments against divorce. There are very strict rules about annulments, although clearly individuals may choose to ignore these, but the church cannot be tarred for individual members mistakes, rather her laws is what She will be judged. N.b. annulment means no marriage ever took place not that one is disolved.

  • Jonathan

    Bert, I don’t believe that the playground is the best place for thought-experiments in morality.  You display the kind of thing I was referring to: a hectoring application of your standards onto others.  It’s also called bullying.

    Jesus wasn’t much into the purity game, nor into shunning the “other”.

  • H Pooler

    Soumds like the coment I made applys to you!!

  • Teresa

    I really don’t think Bert was exhorting bullying! 

    The rights of children should always be protected – but the real truth of what is going on is that the DESIRES of adults are trumping the RIGHTS of children. The law is actively denying the rights of children, and the proposal to redefine marriage will further strangle children’s rights and deny them protection.
    Certainly Jesus shunned nobody – but as to the purity game, I think you are making a major misinterpretation. He forgave – and He exhorted us to forgive, but at the same time He commanded conversion – and he most definitely did not accept same sex marriage.Marriage between one man and one woman, orientated towards the good of each other and towards generation and education of children is God’s design and God’s design is for the common good of all humanity.

  • Teresa

    PS – the government/law is actively experimenting with children’s lives – that is truly shocking!