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"Rejoice in their wedding and wish them the best" urges Archbishop as the Royal Wedding of William and Kate approaches

Wednesday 27th April 2011

The Archbishop of York has spoken to ITN and BBC about the forthcoming Royal Wedding, the benefits of marriage and the role of marriage in society.

In his interviews, Dr John Sentamu said that he hoped that the wedding would inject a bit of hope into the country, and also about how well suited he thought the couple were.

The Archbishop who will be a guest at the wedding said that he was looking to a "very glorious service which will have a lot of hope, a lot of fun".

In a more detailed discussion on marriage, the Archbishop said that it is important to raise children in a home where they know that the father and mother have committed themselves to one another "till death us do part" because that stability is very important.

The Archbishop highlighted recent research which showed that people who are committed to one another for life and have children, the chances of raising that family, growing up and creating the habits of tenderness, of loving, of forgiveness, of mutual support is much higher than when they are simply cohabitating.

With regards to marriage and society, Dr Sentamu commented that marriage is a commitment to the wellbeing of society and the wellbeing of community. He added "when people are married, society should rejoice; society should be around supporting that particular couple; and the families and the friends should also be standing behind supporting one another".

The transcript of this edited film follows:

The Archbishop of York talks to BBC and ITN about the forthcoming Royal Wedding.

Interviewers: Paul Davies (ITN) and Chris Buckler (BBC)

The Royal Wedding

Paul Davies: Is this event what the country needs?

Archbishop of York: I think the whole question of people getting married; particularly of royalty getting married, somehow can eject into society, a sense of hope. Saying to them, look we are going through a tough time but not all of it is bad.

Certainly some people are having it rough, in terms of employment; in terms of debt; in terms of housing and many other questions.

But that's not all there is about the United Kingdom. There is a lot of stuff that's very, very good indeed so a wedding like this injects in a bit of hope.

They seem to be very well suited to one another. So there is a sense in which you feel that this is not a marriage that has been arranged by somebody else but a couple that have decided that they are going to get married.

When you see William working in South Africa and helping poor people; when you see him with the Army and the RAF, he is just like another bloke.

So I want to suggest that that combination of a commoner and royalty in terms of their attitudes actually bodes well for the future.

Paul Davies: Are you personally looking forward to it?

Archbishop of York: Oh I'm looking forward to a very glorious, glorious service, which will have lot of hope, a lot of fun because both are fun loving young people.

And this event I hope will give a lot of hope to a lot of people particularly young people and it is possible to create happiness for yourselves and for other people; so I think that's good.

Chris Buckler: You mention young people there – is that partly because we are seeing almost a new generation of royals coming [through]. Is this a chance for the royals almost to reach out to people that they haven't connected with in the past?

Archbishop of York: I think Her Majesty the Queen has been exceptional. She really has connected and I've been preaching at Sandringham where there are a lot of young people and when she comes out, they go for her in great numbers. She has been a great connector and kept this sense of a mother who cares for the nation.

The Benefits of Marriage

Chris Buckler: What this marriage does do, is that it puts the focus on marriage itself. Do you think it needs that focus? Do you think that in modern day Britain that marriage isn't as important as it once was?

Archbishop of York: I think that the statistics have shown that 4 out of 5 people getting married are more likely to stay married and 3 out of 5 that cohabit – actually the relationships seem to end.

But there's been wonderful research that in marriage, people suffer less from mental health [problems], people are much happier, people live much longer but I think it is important to raise children in a home where they know that the father and mother have committed themselves to one another "till death us do part". That stability is very important because it is in the home that the habits of the heart are created.

So I just hope that the research we have done with the marriage project [www.yourchurchwedding.org] with the Church of England actually reveals that most people still think - 56% of them say; marriage in church is a good thing to be done. I think that is a very, very high figure.

Chris Buckler: To some extent they didn't have to get married; they could have, I suppose, lived together and continued to live together. What do you think marriage does bring to a relationship?

Archbishop of York: Two things; first of all for me as a Christian – it is a gift of God in creation. So you are accepting that there is a given ness about marriage.

Secondly, it is a public commitment because marriage is no longer just the two people in love with each other and leading their private lives – it is a commitment to the wellbeing of society, the wellbeing of community. So because they are publicly are saying "we are going to commit ourselves and we wish the rest of society to wish us well", it is a public act of commitment and whenever you make a public act of commitment you are actually saying to yourself "it is important, it is important" and I just sincerely hope that they will have such a fantastic marriage and that many other people will learn from them and they say:

"Cohabitation – yes maybe we could but let's get married, let's just make it very public." And say to one another, that our love has the society and the community at its heart because that's important.

What actually is critical is that people can come to faith to a living relationship with God any time any day. I wish they did it earlier! The trouble is some people leave it a bit late, a bit late, a bit late. I'd rather they committed no matter how late it is!

When you take promises "for better, for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; till death us do part" you are actually committing yourself that: I am going to be your guardian, you are going to be my guardian; I'm going to be your protector, you're going to be my protector; together we are going to try and grow in greater love. Then that it is a big, big commitment and it is worth celebrating and it's worth supporting and worth encouraging.

Marriage and Society

Archbishop of York: I actually think that when people are married, society should rejoice; society should be around supporting that particular couple; and the families and the friends should also be standing behind supporting one another.

Chris Buckler: You in the past have been very clear on what you believe marriage does bring to society. That's something I know you feel very strongly about – that actually a marriage, a stable family unit is something that does benefit society...

Archbishop of York: The research that has been done now bears that out so it's no longer me crying in the wilderness and nobody is hearing. The research itself actually shows that people who are committed to one another for life and they have children, the chances of raising that family, growing up and creating the habits of tenderness, of loving, of forgiveness, of mutual support is much much higher than when, yes people may be madly in love, but the trouble is if you are simply cohabitating you can as easily walk out.

Please could the cynics for a change – give this couple a chance of hope and support them by not always just looking for the negative but also the positive because marriage is a positive statement of commitment and celebration.

The Future

Chris Buckler: It is likely that William will be head of the Church at some stage. What do you think he could bring, what qualities do you think are important that he could bring to that position?

Archbishop of York: If he grows into the role of his grandmother, the chances are that he would be a very great King but he has got to learn how the Queen has done an amazing job. Not only in this country, she is the head of the Commonwealth and she is still revered and loved greatly. Why? Because she puts God first, puts neighbour second, puts her duty third and puts herself last.

This is an occasion for us to rejoice in their wedding and wish them the best that there is really.

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