- 6 updates
The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales has urged the faithful to write to their MPs to oppose the Government's plans for gay marriage.
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, called on Roman Catholics to express their views "clearly, calmly and forcefully".
He said one of his concerns about the plans was how children would be taught about the "true nature of marriage" in schools if the law is changed to allow same-sex marriage.
"Of course there are many different circumstances to family life. Events reshape the family lives of many people," he wrote in a pastoral letter read out in parishes in the Diocese of Westminster over the weekend.
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has described the Government's plans for gay marriage as undemocratic and a "shambles".
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said there was no mandate to enforce same-sex marriage laws in an interview with the BBC.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury will use his Christmas message to take a swipe at the coalition Government, addressing its intentions to redefine the institution of marriage.
During midnight Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral the Rt Rev Mark Davies will say: "This Christmas we are also conscious of new shadows cast by a Government pledged at its election to support the institution of marriage.
"This vital foundation of society, the 2011 census indicates, now stands at perhaps is lowest ebb.
"At such a moment the Prime Minister has decided without mandate, without any serious consultation to redefine the identity of marriage itself, the foundation of the family for all generations to come.
"This is again done in the name of progress... The British people have reason to ask on this night, 'where is such progress leading?"'
The letter, written to the Daily Telegraph, accuses the Government of “ploughing on regardless” of “overwhelming" opposition, and suggest that the consultation process lacks legitimacy.
According to the Daily Telegraph, around 137 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against the changes based on letters written to their constituents.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has said that it would be "inappropriate" to discuss the fine print of its plans on gay marriage before telling Parliament, after the Church of England attacked the government over the plans.
"As part of our consultation process, and as we finalised our proposals, Government officials met with a number of stakeholders, including the CoE," a spokesman said.
"Clearly, it would have been inappropriate to discuss the fine detail of our proposals prior to them being announced in Parliament.
"But the church made clear to us its wish to see legal provisions which would ensure that their position on not conducting same-sex marriages would continue."
The Church of England has attacked the government's lack of consultation over its gay marriage plans, saying senior ecclesiastical figures learned of them only when Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced them to Parliament.
Mrs Miller told the House of Commons on Tuesday she was putting in place a "quadruple lock" of measures to guarantee religious organisations would not have to marry same-sex couples against their wishes.
The Guardian has reported that the Right Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and the Church of England's lead spokesman in the Lords, told a private meeting that there had been a lack of consultation, with the Government not consulting the church on the proposal.
A church spokesman said: