MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — Gay and lesbian Catholics are opposed to the automatic conversion of civil partnerships into same-sex marriages, said the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark told the British government that many gay Catholics held the view of the church that marriage is lifelong, exclusive union between a man and a woman, and that they did not want their own partnerships to be redefined.
His comments came in response to the government’s Civil Partnership Review, launched in January to consider whether last year’s legalization of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom has rendered obsolete a law granting legal recognition to same-sex unions.
The review invited submissions on the question of whether all civil partnerships made under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 should be abolished and converted wholesale into marriages recognized by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
But Archbishop Smith, vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a submission from the bishops that such a move would strip some gay Catholics of civil rights.
“There are those lesbian and gay Catholics who have entered into civil partnerships in order to secure important and necessary legal rights, but who do not wish either to become married in the eyes of the state, or to have their civil partnership automatically ‘converted’ into a marriage,” said Archbishop Smith, chairman of the bishops’ Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship.
“To remove the legal right of these same-sex couples, who do not wish to ‘marry,’ to enter into a civil partnership would mean removing legal rights for such people in future,” he said in the written submission.
“The removal of the option for same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships could cause great harm to those Catholics and others,” he said.
Archbishop Smith said the bishops were therefore “opposed to any automatic conversion of civil partnerships into same-sex marriages.”
“The two realities were established differently in law with distinct meanings,” he continued. “Same-sex couples who entered into civil partnerships may not wish to have their relationship labelled in this way.”
The review will also consider the possibilities of retaining civil partnerships in their present state, whether to extend them to include heterosexual couples and also whether to halt them for all couples, while continuing to recognize those that already exist.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103