The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has said he is very disappointed by the decision of the British government in the controversy over adoption by same sex couples. 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said faith-based agencies will not be exempt from new legislation which could require them to place children with such couples.

The Catholic Church has opposed the measures, saying its adoption and fostering agencies would be at risk of closure if the plan went ahead.

However, Downing Street has said the new rules will not come fully into force in Britain until the end of next year.

The legislation is already in force in Northern Ireland.

In a BBC radio interview, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said the British government was redefining marriage.