Archbishop Blames Government for Erosion of Marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the government for failing to prevent "the long process of erosion" of marriage in Britain.

|TOP|The spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has criticised the failure of the government for failing to counter what he called the “long process of erosion” he said is destroying marriage.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Dr Rowan Williams said that government plans to give legal rights to couples who are not married but who live together would only serve to strengthen the existence of “a prevailing social muddle” about marriage and its role in society.

“The concept of cohabitation is an utterly vague one that covers a huge variety of arrangements," he told the newspaper. |QUOTE|

"As soon as you define anything, you are creating a kind of status that is potentially a competition with marriage or a reinvention of marriage."

Under the new government proposals unmarried cohabiting couples could be entitled to a host of rights in areas such as property, child benefits and inheritance.

Suggested changes have been laid down by the Law Commission, the statutory law reform body, which is seeking public opinion before the proposals are put to parliament.

|AD|The Commission wants to see a more simplified law for cohabitees although it said that cohabiting couples would not receive the same rights held by married couples who divorce.

Williams said the proposals demonstrated the government's "very proper concern for vulnerable people who are left stranded at the end of a partnership breaking up".

He added, however, that it was already possible for concerned cohabiting partners to make wills and legal contracts.

"Marriage is something that law and society and religion have for centuries affirmed on the basis of experience as well as belief," he said.

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