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No. 6457

Archbishop challenges coalition on marriage


ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols has criticised David Cameron’s coalition Government for failing to support the institution of marriage.

The Archbishop of Westminster took issue with the omission of the word “marriage” in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government’s policy document published last week.

He said the document “contains a number of welcome initiatives in support of the family” but that “it lacks any specific reference to marriage”.

“Yet marriage brings considerable and measurable benefits to individuals, children, family life and society,” he told a congregation of 600 married couples at a Mass in Westminster Cathedral, London.

“It deserves a greater measure of public support,” he said. “The vocation to marriage is written in our very nature and comes from the hand of the Creator.

“Marriage is not a purely human institution, for its common and permanent characteristics go deeper than any human institutions.

“When we look at our society today we know that its wellbeing passes by way of the family. Families, for better or worse, are the first school of life and love, where the capacity to relate to others, to grow, is founded.

“Despite family breakdown, many parents provide a loving and stable home for their children. This is, of course, to be applauded and we must always be on the look-out for ways in which families can be more clearly and consistently supported.”

Although Mr Cameron is keen to honour his pre-election pledge to support marriage through tax breaks for married couples, the policies agreed with his deputy Nick Clegg fail to mention the institution.

Instead, under the section “Families and Children”, the document speaks of support for “strong and stable families of all kinds”.

The coalition says it wants society to be “more family friendly” and that it will aim to protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation and to end child poverty within a decade.

The partners have agreed to create more free nursery places with more male staff to act as role models for children of single mothers.

“We will put funding for relationship support on a stable, long-term footing and make sure that couples are given greater encouragement to use existing relationship support,” the document says.

Ahead of the election Archbishop Nichols encouraged politicians to specifically support marriage if they were serious about creating a stable society.

He told them that marriage was by far the “strongest foundation for stable family life and the best environment for the growth of children”.

Although he did not refer to any party at the time, his comments were taken as a tacit measure of support for the Conservatives, who viewed marriage more favourably than Labour, who believed the institution should not be supported above any other form of stable relationship.

In Choosing the Common Good, their pre-election statement issued in March, the bishops also collectively said that May 28 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

Marriage is ‘a great gift’ of the Holy Spirit


Archbishop Vincent Nichols says marriage deserves greater public support Mazur/

“families have a right to a life of their own, and governments do well when they interfere as little as possible while supporting parents in the exercise of their responsibilities”.

They added: “But at the heart of necessary policy initiatives to support the stability of couple relationships, it is essential to support marriage.”

Their intervention came as official figures showed that the number of couples marrying in Britain had hit a historic new low. Women were now three times less likely to get married than their mothers’ generation and fewer than one in 50 women in England and Wales went through a wedding in 2008.

The Office for National Statistics recorded 232,990 weddings in 2008, the lowest number in a year since 1895, when the population was just 30 million compared to 51 million today, and the lowest marriage rate in a non-war year since records began in 1862.

The latest intervention from

Archbishop Nichols came at a Mass of thanksgiving for marriage attended by couples with a combined total of 20,000 years of married life among them.

By personal invitation, couples celebrating their 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th or 60th wedding anniversaries during 2010 gathered to give thanks, renew their vows and pray for their families and all marriages.

As part of the Mass, after the homily, the couples faced each other and stated their intentions to continue to love one another,

and were solemnly blessed by Archbishop Nichols.

Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs for the Archdiocese of Westminster and organiser of the Mass, said: “Every Christian marriage marked by a significant anniversary tells a unique story to a world hungry for true love. We are particularly privileged this year to be honouring so many couples of 10 years as the primary educators of their children.”

Editorial Comment: Page 13

OUR MASS this afternoon is in thanksgiving for the Sacrament of Marriage. How fitting that we celebrate this gift of marriage on the Vigil of Pentecost, for it is from the Holy Spirit that this, and all the gifts of God in our lives, truly come.

You know that marriage as a sacrament is a great gift. I congratulate you all on this day as you gather to thank God for the gift of love in marriage in your lives and celebrate significant anniversaries of the day you first made your public commitment to each other.

Let’s look again at how the Church understands marriage. This is our teaching.

Marriage is a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life. It is by its nature ordered toward the good of husband and wife and the procreation and education of children. This covenant between baptised persons is raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.

That is a very comprehensive statement, a vision of God’s plan, a vision of the hope and reality in your hearts.

First, your marriage is the bond you have established between yourselves. It is witnessed to by the Church, on your wedding day and again today.

Secondly, it is intended to be life-long and you know better than anyone else how demanding this can be and why we all look with love on those who have not been able to sustain the joyful and intended commitment they gave.

Thirdly, marriage of its nature is bound up not only with the profound personal support you give to each other, through thick and thin, but also with your calling as parents. Not every marriage bears fruit in children. But the intention is there in every Christian marriage and most often a married couple are also parents. But, as you well know, the birth of a child is only just the beginning. Being a parent, which is of the very nature of marriage, is a lifelong task bringing with it an intense experience of all the joys and sorrows which mark our pilgrimage through life. Full text at

Composer’s setting will be used at Newman beatification Mass


SCOTTISH composer James MacMillan’s new setting of the Mass will be sung in both Coventry and Glasgow when Pope Benedict visits Britain in September, it has emerged.

Originally it was though that his new setting for the new English translation of the Mass would only be performed at the huge open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow on September 16.

Some 150,000 people are expected to attend the all-ticket event, half the number who saw Pope John Paul II in the same park in 1982 due to tighter health and safety regulations.

At the beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman at Coventry Airport on September 19 it had previously been suggested that the music would be by a variety of modern composers.

Reports originally said that the music for the Coventry Mass would be predominantly by composers from the Birmingham archdiocese. The Eucharistic acclamations would be by Fr Peter Jones, who wrote the music for the Coventry Gloria, used at Pope John Paul II’s 1982 visit.

Other composers and compositions for the papal Mass included “Christ be our Light” by Bernadette Farrell and the “Salisbury Alleluia” by Christopher Walker. The

Gloria was to be composed by Alan Smith and the psalm set to music by Paul Wellicome.

Mr MacMillan’s Mass setting will now be used at both Masses, and the composer is also said to be working on a setting for the three Eucharistic acclamations.

A spokesman for the bishops said that no final decisions had been made yet, and that the music at the two Masses “will not be confirmed for a month or two”.

Cannes honours film about martyr monks

‘I would play for the Pope,’ says Gaga


A FRENCH film about Cistercian monks has won an award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

The film, Of Gods And Men, about a Cistercian monastery caught in the crossfire between government forces and Islamist militants in the Algerian civil war in the 1990s, won the Festival’s Grand Prix, as well as the ecumenical jury prize for works fostering religious understanding. Its tense plot centres on the monks’ painful moral dilemma of whether to flee or stay with the local people whom they have spent years caring for.

“The deep humanity of the monks, their respect for Islam and their generosity towards their village neighbours make the reason for our choice,” the six-member jury said of the film.

Editorial Comment: Page 13 Review: Page 14


POP sensation Lady Gaga would play for the Pope if he asked her, she has said.

In an interview with the Times, the 24-year-old singer, who was born Stefani Germanotta and brought up in a wealthy New York Catholic family, also revealed that her next album will draw on a

“miracle-like experience, where I feel much more connected to God”.

Religion, she said, “is very confusing for everyone, and particularly me, because there’s really no religion that doesn’t hate or condemn a certain kind of people, and I totally believe in all love and forgiveness, and excluding no one”.