People may say that as a Church leader you are perfectly entitled to have your views on gay marriage, but this sort of language is simply inflamatory.

I don’t think it’s inflammatory at all. I think I’m just handing on the teaching of the Christian Church almost 2,000 years, for over 2,000 years, since Christ was on Earth, handing on his same teaching and doing my best to hand it on in a way that many people can hear it.

Grotesque? Shaming the country?

Indeed.

How shaming the country?

I think if the United Kingdom does go for and supports same sex marriage, it is indeed shaming our country. We’re taking standards which are not just our own, but standards from the declaration on human rights of the United Nations where marriage is defined as a relationship between man and woman and turning that on its head, and saying that marriage is no longer marriage.  We’re trying to redefine something that has been known and revered for centuries and making it something different.

But when you use language like “shaming the country” it rather sounds as though you want to turn the clock right back and maybe we should lock up people who have gay relationships.

Certainly not. We already have same sex unions recognized, and I acknowledge them. And if they help people who are of the same sex who are living together in various ways well obviously I don’t agree with that but I accept that as the law of the land. But I do not accept the fact that one can redefine the term marriage to mean something which it has never meant before.

Well let me read you a part of what you wrote in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday. “Imagine for a moment that the government had decided to legalize slavery, but assured us that no one would be forced to keep a slave. Would such worthless assurances calm our fury?” The idea of introducing the notion of something as grotesque as slavery—and I use the word there advisedly—the ultimate denial of a person’s human rights—in this context will (inaudible) many people to think this is grotesque, your notion of it is grotesque.

I’m not saying it’s grotesque. Perhaps to some people it might appear grotesque, but

But you’re a Cardinal, should you be using that kind of language? Equating, even as remotely as this, the notion of gay relationships with slavery?

I think it’s a very very good example as to what might happen in our own country at this present time, and I feel I have a duty, I have a responsibility, to preach, and to teach, and this is one of the ways in which I do it.

Sorry you lost me a little here. What might happen? I mean legalizing slavery, and the equivalent of homosexual marriage?

It is a perfectly good example of what could happen in our own country, if we go this way. And as I say I am only handing on the teaching of the Christian Church down through the years.

So those countries where it is already legal, those states where it is already legal, um you would say they are grotesque and they are violating human rights.

I would say that those countries where this is legal are indeed violating human rights. We know that ,we know what the United Nations declaration states, and we know what follows on from something like this.  It seems to me to be the thin edge of the wedge, and its changing the whole notion of what marriage and what a family is. And obviously too I think it affects children who are born. Children have a right to have a mother and a father.

There are a vast number of relationships in this country in which children have only one parent as you know, single parent families.

Oh yes of course we acknowledge that. There’s nothing wrong in that at all that’s just something which has happened…

But that is better than a child having two loving parents who love the child?

But we’re trying to legalize same-sex unions and simply call it “marriage” and its not marriage no matter what we say about it, it is not marriage.

So countries like Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal South Africa, Spain, Sweden, I could go on, those countries are shaming themselves.

In certain ways they are shaming themselves in calling same-sex unions marriages, they’re not marriages, and you can’t redefine the word.

The Church doesn’t own marriage, does it?

The Church doesn’t own marriages, and the natural state, and as we know, natural law teaching of what marriage is as well. In the natural law, it is quite simply natural for a man and a woman to be together for the procreation and education of children, and for their own mutual love.

Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to cement in the minds of many people the idea that the Church is way behind the society? The society is moving ahead, the Church is holding back. Most people now, many people anyway, refer to civil partnerships as marriages anyway.

I don’t…I think that it’s time now to call a halt for what you might call progress in society. I don’t call progress the things that are happening nowadays. And when we talk about the thin edge of the wedge, we remember that abortion act in 1967 when we were told you know that there would be clearly defined ways and when abortions might take place. And now we know, there’s seven million abortions since that happened. And further abberations are hinted at at this present time. I’m just saying what would happen if same sex unions were defined as marriages. Further aberrations would be taking place and society would be degenerating even further than it has already degenerated into immorality.