Friday, 14 June 2013

Tenth anniversary of landmark Catholic document on homosexual unions

St Charles Lwanga and Companions
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the promulgation of Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document was published on the Feast of St Charles Lwanga and Companions who were martyred in 1886 at the command of King Mwanga II of Uganda. Mwanga had launched a brutal persecution of Catholics and Anglicans which was provoked in part by the refusal of Christians to engage in homosexual acts with him. The CDF clearly chose this date in order to emphasise the threat of intolerance and persecution faced by those who conscientiously object to such unjust actions of the state as the legalisation of civil partnerships and so-called 'same-sex marriage.'

The freedom of the pro-life movement, as well as that of ordinary men and women up and down the country, to express normative opinions about marriage and the family is being severely threatened by the intolerance of the ‘LGBT lobby.’ It is increasingly considered ‘homophobic’ simply to express beliefs that were accepted everywhere just a few years ago. This new totalitarianism is a threat to all of us but no group is more at risk than the unborn child. The family founded on the marriage of one man and one woman is the ‘natural habitat’ in which children are conceived and brought up. In the United Kingdom infants conceived outside of marriage are four to five times more likely to be aborted than those conceived within marriage. It is clear therefore that anything that undermines the traditional understanding of marriage will put unborn children at risk. This is because when the link between marriage and procreation is broken the child is more likely to be seen not as the natural and expected result of the sexual act but as a ‘problem’ to be resolved through abortion.

Since this document was published by the CDF we have seen ever increasing attacks on the traditional understanding of marriage, which, let it be said clearly and unambiguously, is the only understanding of marriage which accords with both right reason and the experience of men and women down the centuries. It will be helpful to remind ourselves of the insights contained in this document, which “since this question relates to the natural moral law…. [is] addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.” A selection of quotes from the document, under our own headings, are included below.

Marriage is only between one man and one woman

The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.”

Homosexual unions are in no way comparable to marriage

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition”

Homesexual unions must be opposed

“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

Civil laws must conform to right reason or they do not bind in conscience

“…civil law cannot contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience. Every humanly-created law is legitimate insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person. Laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.

Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”. Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the
institution of marriage.”

Homosexual unions lack the biological complementary present in marriage

“Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity, does nothing to alter this inadequacy.

Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.”

Adoption of children by homosexual couples is gravely immoral

“…the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.”

Politicians who vote for homosexual unions commit grave sin

“When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth.”


“The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
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