The Government's proposals to legalise gay marriage would undermine the Christian view of the family, a leading Roman Catholic archbishop has said.
In a pastoral letter to churches and chapels throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley claimed the Government could not predict the impact of its legislation on children.
In his letter, being read to worshippers on Sunday to mark the Feast of the Holy Family, the Archbishop of Birmingham said: "Government policy cannot foresee the full consequences, for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father's influence or by two fathers without a mother's influence.
"We first learn about diversity and acquire a respect for difference through the complementarity of our parents."
Archbishop Longley went on: "The complementary love of father and mother is a precious gift that we should wish for every child.
"We know that many single parents courageously and generously look after their children and often struggle to give them a fine up-bringing.
"If it had not been for the understanding of St Joseph, our Lady herself might have had to face the difficulties of being a single parent.
"Even so, the experience of growing up with our father and mother to teach and guide, to console and love us unconditionally is an invaluable blessing in life."