Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, has said David Cameron’s push for same-sex marriage puts into question whether he is “someone whose steadiness of purpose can be relied on”.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the cardinal pointed out that same-sex marriage was not an election commitment, unlike the Conservatives’ promise to introduce tax incentives for married couples, which has so far been dropped.
He wrote: “In the run-up to the last election, the Prime Minister led us to believe that the strengthening of marriage as an institution was one of his important objectives.
“The Conservative Party’s manifesto, which made no mention of ‘gay marriage’, included a proposed tax break for married couples.
“Nothing has subsequently been heard of the latter proposal, and instead of action to strengthen marriage, we have the proposal to abandon the traditional understanding of marriage on the basis of a ‘consultation’ which explicitly excluded the possibility of a negative result.
“Protestations that this is all fundamentally ‘conservative’ ring a bit hollow.
“It is difficult not to wonder how far the Prime Minister is someone whose steadiness of purpose can be relied on,” he wrote.
The cardinal also argued that marriage was important to society as a whole, “believers and unbelievers alike”.
He said: “Redefining it as simply a contract between individuals irrespective of their sex, without regard either to its procreative function or to the complementarity of the relationship between man and woman, would be an abuse of language.
“More important, it would weaken marriage by diminishing its implications and therefore its significance.
“It has long been accepted that the State has the right to oversee the administration and legal aspects of marriage but it has never been accepted that the State can dictate to individuals and society itself what marriage should mean to us.”