A million anti-gay marriage postcards were handed out at Catholic masses over the weekend as the Catholic Church began last-ditch efforts to mobilise opposition to the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

The postcards, designed to be filled in and sent to local MPs, ask them to vote against the bill.

The Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith urged Catholics that the “time to act is now”.

In a letter, the Archbishop Smith said it was important that MPs “be made aware of the strength of feeling on this issue”.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, who is the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has issued advice warning that openly gay senior teachers at Catholic schools could face demotion or the sack if they fail to live according to the gospel of the Roman Catholic Church.