The cardinal said Catholics still stand for the traditional definition of marriage

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales, has said the Church will continue to be “obstinate” about gay marriage and other questions of sexual morality.

Answering questions after a talk at St Ethelburga’s Centre, London, Cardinal Nichols was asked about the Church’s response to homophobia. The cardinal said that society had become more empathetic and compassionate towards gay people, and that he “rejoiced” in the change.

However, he went on to say that Catholics “still stand for” a definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” which is open to new life.

Cardinal Nichols went on: “There has never been a time when Christian sexual morality has been totally accepted in any society.” But, he said, Christians would “persist” in being “awkward” on such matters.

The cardinal was also asked about the future of the Church. He said: “To me, it’s important that the impetus and sense of direction of Pope Francis is continued.” In particular, the cardinal said, he welcomed Pope’s emphasis on Catholics being “missionary disciples”.

In his talk, the cardinal said that religious communities had a role to play in building community. He said: “So often it is the churches that bring together Remain voters and Brexit voters, those at the top of the economic pyramid sitting next to those who struggle, those with learning disabilities and those who pioneer breakthroughs in knowledge, entrepreneurs and trade unionists, to say nothing of the huge diversity of students in our schools and colleges, hospital and university chaplaincies, all human life indeed.”