LONDON -- The spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has praised traditional marriage as a "public good."
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said it was "vitally important" for the "whole of society" to support marriage at a time when more British couples than ever were choosing to live together outside of marriage and to have children out of wedlock.
He said the British had acknowledged the importance of marriage by rejoicing over the April 29 marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London's Westminster Abbey.
The "mighty public cheer" that rang out after the couple exchanged vows showed an "instinctive and profound public understanding of the nature and consequences of marriage itself," said Archbishop Nichols, who was a guest at the royal wedding.
"Marriage, as a permanent, exclusive commitment between this man and this woman was welcomed, applauded," the archbishop said in a homily at a Mass for married couples in Westminster Cathedral.
"There was rejoicing in what the newlyweds had just done," he said. "Marriage, then, is a public good.