This is such a wonderful example of bishopspeak.


In a statement, the Archbishop of Southwark, Dr Peter Smith, said the prime minister and deputy prime minister had made it clear that they were now considering “a fundamental change to the status of marriage”.

Dr Smith said, “Marriage does not belong to the state any more than it belongs to the church. It is a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself. It is a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman to each other, publicly entered into, for their mutual well-being and for the procreation and upbringing of children.

“No authority – civil or religious – has the power to modify the fundamental nature of marriage. We will be opposing such a change in the strongest terms.

COMMENT: So, marriage does not belong to the Church and nobody has the power to modify the nature of marriage. But the Church, which has no authority to define marriage is going to oppose any changes . . .  that can't be made anyway.

Erm... I'm lost. Does not compute.


I’M CONFUSED, BISHOP — 12 Comments

  1. The funny thing about the whole argument is that but for the evolution of our understanding of marriage, we would still pay dowry to add to the collection of wives we stabled as slaves to our indulgences. Of COURSE we have the right to redefine marriage. We have always redefined marriage, and we always will. The church’s fundamental problem is that its parishioners now relate to God in 3rd person (He)rather than 2nd person (you) and in so doing, the catholics were wrong to assume the Pope served as God’s mouthpiece and Luther was wrong to assume that the Bible was the word of God, for an almighty and ever present god needs nether scripture nor pontiff. he is capable of acting as his own word.

  2. Is he talking about relationships – which are pretty fundamental human institutions – or marriage, which is a relationship defined and recognised by what? He says ‘a man and a woman’; where does that leave polygamy or a gay relationship? If they’re not marriage, who says? Would the good bishop recognise an African customary marriage, carried out without either civil or religious ceremony, yet perfectly legal?

  3. Considering there are about 50 million Chinese men for whom there are no women, he’s blowin’ smoke. The Chinese will have to come up with all sorts of creative ways to match these lonely guys with gals…. Can we say polyandry?

  4. A leading Catholic Church aide, Peter Kornichi, went further, saying Quakers, liberal Jews and Unitarians had been the only religious denominations to push for the change. “These are not mainstream religious groups.”

    For the most part, on this side of The Pond, it’s only been Fundies who’ve done this Animal Farm-type “Some of us are More Religious than others” thang.

    I wonder if our Popoids will adopt this line, too.

  5. It is a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself…

    This is where the good bishop makes a lot of sense and in doing so he puts huuuuge hole in his ship.

    “Ooops! Man the life boats!”

  6. There were wonderful Christians who said that slavery was a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself, and they were right, weren’t they?

  7. And of course this is the same argument the RC church has re: ordaining women> They insist that they don’t have the “power” to ordain women. Ecchhh! I’m feeling ill…..

  8. Nij scripsit: They insist that they don’t have the “power” to ordain women.

    Aye, but they also don’t have the “power” to ordain men. That would be what God does and if He wants to call a woman to orders, then that’s Her business. Ordination is one of a list of things which the Church (not just RC, but many of them) have attempted to usurp from the Almighty.

    Archbishop Smith scripsit: Marriage does not belong to the state any more than it belongs to the church.

    If this is true, then why is the church (or, for that matter, the state) in the business of marriage? Because it’s a BUSINESS, perhaps? hmm…the love of money, your grace, the love of money.

  9. I think the archbishop makes complete sense inside his paradigm. You are all forgetting that he thinks God speaks uniquely to the RC church in general and the bishop of Rome in particular.


  10. Marriage does not belong to the state any more than it belongs to the church.

    Perhaps he would like to try squealing that in the majority of nations on this planet where no matter how many church ceremonies you have, you are not married in the eyes of the state.

    There is not an RC priest in all of Mexico who would provide a church wedding to a couple who were not already married by the state.