The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has warned of ‘damaging consequences’ to society, and of severing the bonds which bring it together, if equal marriage were introduced.

Rev Nichols, who is the Archbishop of Westminster, has also reiterated his belief that having children must be central to the meaning of marriage, which he thinks same-sex relationships cannot sustain, and emphasised that this, the teaching of the Catholic Church was similar to that of other major world religions.

The comments were made during the annual mass at Westminster Cathedral to ‘celebrate marriage,’ where more than 500 heterosexual couples gathered to renew their commitment.

Archbishop Nichols is a vocal opponent of equal marriage, and of adoption of children by same-sex couples. He penned, along with the Archbishop of Southwark, a strongly worded letter to British Catholics, which urged them to oppose marriage equality.

Today, while singling out his praise for people who adopt, he reserved sharp criticisms for same-sex relationships, hinting that somehow, they exclude considerations of children.

He said, according to the Daily Telegraph: “Today marriage is sometimes thought of, and presented, without any reference to children at all.”

He added: “Today sexual activity is often approved and even promoted separated entirely from marriage. Today marriage is proposed by some without any reference to the sexual complementarity of the genders.”

“When separated from the bonds of this interconnectedness,” he continued, “these three powerful aspects of human living are driven further apart from each other, with damaging consequences.”

The most senior Catholic in British Government, Iain Duncan Smith, has, however, affirmed his support for equal marriage, despite the apparent teachings of his faith.