Saturday, December 04, 2010

Pope: Europe wouldn't be Europe without marriage


The Pope received the Hungarian ambassador during the week, he had some very important things to say on marriage.

"Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples," the Pontiff affirmed.
He noted that "marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between man and woman and, at the same time, as basic cell of the state community, has also been molded by biblical faith."
"Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it," the Holy Father said.

On the other hand, the Pope added, it is "because of the different types of union which have no foundation in the history of the culture and of law in Europe."
"The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family," he stated.

"These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the natural law and, hence, to the relativization of the whole of legislation, in addition to the awareness of values in society," the Pontiff said.
Thus he affirmed that "the Holy See notes with interest of the efforts of the political authorities to elaborate a change in the constitution," which would "make reference in the preamble to the legacy of Christianity."

The Holy Father added, "Also desirable is that the new constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life."
He asserted, "Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed."
"We all know how much risk marriage and the family run today," Benedict XVI acknowledged.
He explained that on one hand, these are at risk "because of the erosion of its most profound values of stability and indissolubility, because of a growing liberalization of the right of divorce and of the custom, increasingly widespread, of man and woman living together without the juridical form and protection of marriage."
John Smeaton contrasts his words with the EngCath presentation:
•Archbishop Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, who said on BBC TV that he did not know "whether the Catholic church should one day accept the reality of gay partnerships"


•Archbishop Nichols who said on BBC TV, the day after Pope Benedict left Britain for Rome, that the Catholic Bishops of Conference of England and Wales "did NOT oppose gay civil partnerships, we recognised that in English law there might be a case for those. We persistently said that these are not the same as marriage"

•Bishop McMahon, the bishop of Nottingham, who is open to headteachers of Catholic schools being in same sex unions and who says the Church is not opposed to civil partnerships (Bishop McMahon is chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales)

•Archbishop Nichols who, questioned about his support for the provision of Masses for homosexuals who openly dissent from Catholic teaching, told those who oppose what's going on to "hold their tongue".
Ummm....

34 comments:

Left-Footer said...

I am, I know, fast becoming a bore on the subject of the dislocation of the English hierarchy from Catholic Truth, and their disloyalty to it. However it seems I have company.

Why are they like this? Are they hoping for a medal from the Queen? Are they morally bankrupt or intellectually challenged? Wicked and stupid?

But most important, what can we do about it, apart from wringing our hands and praying, witholding donations to the C.E.S., and waiting for these effete played-out relics of the sixties to go the way of all flesh?

Deep down, I wish we could make life difficult for them, constructively, of course.

But how?

Catholic Registrar said...

Hmmmm, but civil unions don’t imply a romantic or sexual relationship. The state doesn’t care what the nature of their relationship is. If two spinster sisters living together also want the convenience of common property, automatic inheritance, hospital visitation, legal decision-making, etc… A civil partnership is merely just a kind of business arrangement. I have a hard time believing Catholics are bound in conscience to oppose specific structures of tax-benefits or purely legal concessions.

Let’s be serious. The state has been far from the Christian ideal in its laws in many ways. I mean, e don't see the church campaigning about no-fault diorce. I really have trouble seeing this as another non-negotiable issue for Catholic social teaching.
I think the current approach taken by our orthodox leadership risks making it seem like Catholics oppose same-sex “marriage” out of animus towards gays rather than actual concern for the family.

Independent said...

Two spinster sisters living together cannot take advantage of the legal and financial advantages of a civil partnership.Norman Tebbit was unable to amend it to cover such a case. Legally it is a civil arrangement available only to non-related people of the same sex. It is not per se a sexual arrangement as there is no provision for it being void in the case of non-consummation. The Act carefully eschews any suggestion that it is a marriage. There is no requirement for the partnership to be sexual. Indeed some homosexuals have objected to it on precisely those grounds.

In fact it is merely a tax and property arrangment. The problem for the Bishops is that the Act is not understood in that way by the media and the general public.Perhaps their best tactic would be to campaign for the Act to cover related people , like the two spinster sisters mentioned by Catholic Registrar. That would make even clearer that the Act was about property and finance.

Brian Stevens said...

The nineteenth century Popes prohibited railways and gas lamps in the papal states - also based on natural law arguments. Obviously they were wrong and had a too defensive mindest anbout progess and develpments in society and science.

The culture wars, of which civil unions are one symptom, are also a reflection of the church's higher authorities getting it wrong and placing itself in a tight corner which will take a long time to wriggle out of.

Europe wouldn't be Europe without marraiage - well, that means nothing. Europe will still be Europe with or without civil unions.

Fr Ray Blake said...

B.S.
I hadn't heard gaslight was a problem.
The objection to railways was based more on the necessity to confiscate property and the movement of people at a time of national unrest, than the Natural Law.
I'd like to see your evidence for connecting NL and gaslight.

Supertradmum said...

I am under a very strong impression that the Church does have a stand on civil unions, especially in the press here. cf. Father Z's conversation on this at http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/12/catholic-gov-of-illinois-suppoters-unnatural-unions-bill-bp-of-springfield-warns-him/

So, is the English hierarchy out of touch with the rest of the Catholic world on this point? Weakening the Church is the opposite of what our bishops are supposed to be doing...

Dilly said...

I am quite happy to render unto Caesar etc, but Peter Tatchell was sliming all over my TV last night whining that civil partnerships should be called marriages, because partnerships do not have parity of esteem.

Perhaps someone with time on their hands could use the FOI to get the relative statistics of heterosexual divorces compared to homosexual divorces.

Brian Stevens said...

Left-Footer: ''I am, I know, fast becoming a bore on the subject of the dislocation of the English hierarchy from Catholic Truth, and their disloyalty to it. However it seems I have company.''

Agreed, you are becoming a bore on this topic!

Secondly, our bishops are not dislocated from Catholic Truth, just your particular interpretation of Catholic Truth. The same people who claim the bishops are estranged from catholic teaching are the same ones saying the Pope had erred when making his comments about condoms. The bishops share in the teaching magesterium of the church and so collectively they cannot err.

It is entirely possible to support Civil Unions from the point of view of catholic teaching since they do not pre-suppose a sexual relationship. In fact, it is possible to argue that opposing caivil unions is a non-catholic stance afterall Ratzinger's CDF document states that gays and lesbians should not be subjected to unjust discrimination.

Brian Stevens said...

Supertdamum: ''So, is the English hierarchy out of touch with the rest of the Catholic world on this point? Weakening the Church is the opposite of what our bishops are supposed to be doing...''

NO, NO, NO!!! I would say our bishops are much more in step with catholics on the ground and across the western world on this topic. It is perfectly acceptable as a catholic to support civil partnerships. Civil unions are not based on sexual relationships (like marriage which must be consumated) and are there to provide legal proyection. The church has tolerated many different things in civil society down the ages and there's no reason why it can't live alongside civil unions.

The bishops doing damage to the church (and undermining the ''truth'') are those (mostly American) bishops who are highly politicising this issue (esp, Ninestadt in Minnesota) in an attempt to indirectly bolster the Republican party. Arguing that civil unions undermine marriage is just plain daft and there is no scientific data to support such nonsense. Using money from the Knights of St Columba and private donations from Republican politicians to send out DVDs at the time of an important election is a highly dubious tactic and one that will backfire and cause huge damage to the church. These organisations and there funds are meant to help the poor so it just show the priorities of these bishops. Catholic church attendance has taken a significant fall around Minnesota since the Archbishop sent out his poorly argued DVD. It will be interesting to see if the fall in attendance figures is sustained long-term. I suspect it will - the church's attitude to gay people is often cited as a cause of catholic disengaging from their church already. It's not just me that things this guy and other bully-boy bishops are undermining catholic teaching and the church.

Cecil Longbridge said...

Dilly - civil marriage is not equitable with the concept of civil(or in catholic terms, sacramental) marriage. So should we making a stand against civil marriage?

Left-Footer said...

Cecil Longbridge - Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the Church did recognise civil marriages when both parties are non-Catholic.

georgem said...

The Office of National Statistics is what you are looking for, Dilly.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/cpuk0810.pdf

You'll probably have to copy and paste into your browser.

In fact it also shows that the numbers of civil partnerships are steadily decreasing.

georgem said...

That is correct, Left-Footer

canon lawyer said...

It is not good enough to salve one's Catholic conscience by saying the civil union is merely a financial and legal arrangement. It is one thing to tolerate de facto sex unions as part of a fallen world, it is quite another to give them the support of the law. The consequence of legal civil unions is that of the legalisation of alternative family structures that are opposed to natural law and therefore the common good. To extend civil unions to two spinster sisters is no solution. What if they are not, in fact, spinsters, but young women, in love and wanting to be "married"? How would the law allow the former and prevent the latter? Moreover, if two persons can have such an arrangement why not three? There are, of course, many de facto plural marriages in this country, on what grounds will the state refuse a plural civil union? If one's family arrangement becomes a lifestyle choice, anything becomes possible. Thus the legalisation of civil unions will lead, in time,to the legalisation of same sex marriage, which will lead, in time, to the legalisation of plural marriage. If you think I'm exaggerating look at Canada whose provinces began to allow same sex marriage in 2003 and now look like becoming the first Western democracy to decriminalise plural marriage, as the result of a legal challenge in British Columbia. The lawyers arguing for plural marriage are, surprise surprise, using precisely the same arguments that were used to legalise same sex marriage. In short, civil unions are bad for marriage. The pope is right.

Sharon said...

The nineteenth century Popes prohibited railways and gas lamps in the papal states - also based on natural law arguments.

Source for this comment please Brian.

casuist said...

The problem with civil partnerships is that they are backed by the state's coercive power. Were it simply a matter of sexual deviants wishing to enter into a pseudo-marriage, with no implications for the rest of us but the possible sight of the distasteful spectacle, I doubt most Catholics would care; intrinsically barren "unions" would attract the respect they deserve.

As it is, however, the state's decision to endorse such relations means the rest of us are compelled to choose between collaboration, withdrawal from parts of society, or imprisonment. A Catholic employer has to afford "partner benefits" to those in such relationships; Catholic charitable agencies providing services have to treat them as if they were married couples; and, perhaps most obnoxiously, all Catholics who pay taxes find themselves forced under pain of imprisonment to provide them with the subsidies attendant on their civil status.

This is not a question of "live and let live". The advance of their agenda means the marginalisation, exploitation and/or imprisonment of faithful Catholics.

Cecil Longbridge said...

Left-footer - ''Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the Church did recognise civil marriages when both parties are non-Catholic.''

Yes, that's exactly my point. The church does recognise and tolerate civil marriage even though civil marriage is not equitable with sacramental marriage. So why shouldn't it recognise (or at least tolerate) civil unions, for the same reasons?

Sorry, my previous post repeated 'civil' instead of 'religious' mariage which was probably confusing.

Brian Stevens said...

Casuist - ''The problem with civil partnerships is that they are backed by the state's coercive power. Were it simply a matter of sexual deviants wishing to enter into a pseudo-marriage, with no implications for the rest of us but the possible sight of the distasteful spectacle, I doubt most Catholics would care; intrinsically barren "unions" would attract the respect they deserve.''

1. The state does not coherse anyone into a civil union, it simply provides an avenue to recognise the reality of some people's situation. The church teaches that unjust discrimination should be avoided, therefore the state has a duty to ensure that same-sex couples have proper inheretance, housing and health rights which is what civil unions broadly cover.
2. Civil unions don't have any implication for the 'rest of us' but that fact that you use that term suggests that you don't consider people in unions to be part of society - they are ''them''. Actually gay people are part of our families and extended family. How does your language show respect and compasson to gay peoples which the church teaches should be the case?
3.On your reasoning, should we also show disrespect to heterosexual couples who are not able to concieve, and also deprive them of any social, civil and human rights?
4. You're right, most catholics aren't bothered about civil unions and actually support them. They can see that the church's stance is based on prejudice, misunderstanding and self-interest.

santoeusebio said...

Brian Stevens: I know left-footer rather asked for it but I do not think it helps rational discussion to say that someone is a bore.

When you say our bishops I take it you mean those in England & Wales. I am not an expert on the doctrine of infallibility but when you say that collectively they cannot err I am a bit puzzled.
Would I be right in thinking that they cannot err only when "they" are the bishops throughout the world united with the Bishop of Rome in council and pronouncing on a matter of faith and morals? If I am right then surely it does not follow that a subset like the Bishops of England & Wales cannot err. If you look at the history of the Arian heresy it seems that rather a lot of bishops erred and it took a Council to put them right. Perhaps someone with a better grasp of Church history can confirm or deny that.

Further I think it is not correct to say that "the same people who claim the bishops are estranged from catholic teaching are the same ones saying that the Pope had erred when making his comments about condoms". If by the "same people" you mean those critical of the Bishops' Conference I think you find that they do NOT say the Pope erred but rather that his comments were at worse ambiguous and likely to give rise to misunderstanding about the use of condoms. Indeed Damian Thompson, one of the leading critcs of the CCBE&W seems to believe that the Pope has given the go-ahead for the use of condoms in certain circumstances.

I think Supertdamum when referring to the "rest of the Catholic world" was referring to other Bishops rather than Catholics in the pews. The problem is that dues to abysmal catechesis over the last 40 years or so many Catholics do hold similar erroneous views to those of our Bishops.

You say that civil unions are therefore to provide legal protection. Protection from what?

Nicolas Bellord

Left-Footer said...

Cecil Longbridge - I understood, perhaps wrongly, that the Church did regarda a first civil marriage between two non-Catholics as sacramental or quasi sacramentsl, insofar as it regarded subsequent 'marriages', while the first spouse was still living, as invalid.

I remember reading of a 'Spanish question', regarding a Muslim with the three permitted wives, who converted to Catholicism. Later, the first wife, accepted as such by the Church, died. The question was, was he now, according to the Church, married to the second one? I think the answer was 'no'. He would have had to marry her in Church, as he was now a baptised Catholic. Only the first marriage, an Islamic one, was considered valid.

Maybe not helpful, but interesting.

Left-Footer said...

Brian Stevens - if repeating the same necessary truth is boring (and it is) so be it. Perhaps that is my vocation.

What a bore anyone is who repeatedly says what we don't want to hear!

I won't answer your other points as that has been very well done aleady.

God bless!

Dilly said...

Cecil et al

Civil marriages, under some conditions, are considered natural marriages, by the Church.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_marriage
Same-sex partnerships are considered un-natural marriages. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=409

What Tatch is arguing is that the status of a civil partnership should be raised to that of marriage which would give the couple the RIGHT (in some circumstances) to celebrate it in an Anglican Church. (All first-timers whether Anglican or not have the right to use the local CofE Church).

Inevitably this will lead to cases for discrimination and damages claims for hurt feelings being launched against vicars, and eventually priests (think B&B case law), because they are refusing to conduct church ceremonies. We must protect the Cof E from being railroaded into this, because once they are down - we'll be next. (I would like to see them try it on the evangelicals, though).

Cecil Longbridge said...

Dilly - please stop spreading falsehoods and trying to scaremonger. The state will never be able to compel any church to officiate at same sex marriages or civil unions - the independance of church goernance is a right enshrined in the human rights act. Neither is it the government's explicitly stated intention to make them. However, a number of religious demonations (i.e liberal jews, quakers and other christian sects) have REQUESTED that the exsisting civil partnership legislation is ammended to allow (but not compel) them to hold civil partnership ceremonies (but not marriages). The government have agreed to these proposals. There are NO plans to introduce same-sex marriage in this country and so Anglican churches will NOT be forced to marry any gay couples. If at a future date this situation changes then I am sure it will be possible to ammend the law so that there is no legal right to a marriage in an Anglican church.

If you don't agree with civil unions then argue on the FACTS not FANTASY.

Brian Stevens said...

Left-Footer - my apologies I just couldn't resist it but it was meant tongue in cheek!

My point was that civil marriages are not equitable with the church's understanding of christian marriage which is sacramental in nature. Yet, the church is able to tolerate and accept the exsistence of non-christian, non sacramental marriages. It was not always this way though, in the past the church refused to accept the state's right to confer marriage and claimed that right as exclusively their own. If the church has accepted that the state has the right to regulate a parallel system of civil marriage which is fundamentally different to christian marriage then it can tolerate the exsistence of same-sex civil unions or even changes to the parameters of civil marriage. Neither of these alters the concept of sacramental marriage, or undermine it. They are different.

Brian Stevens said...

Canon Lawyer - one would probably expect a canon lawyer to be dogmatic but there are plenty of moral theologians and bishops who take a more pastoral approach and who would disagree with your interpretation of catholic teaching.

Civil unions do not presuppose a sexual relationship, the legisalation was specifically framed this way. Unlike marriages which must be sexually consumated and if not is valid ground for divorce; whereas a sexual relationship is not required for civil partnership. Consequently, there are no grounds needed whatsoever for deregistration of a civil union.

There are already alternative family structures in society not reliant on marriage, and there always have been. For example, people living together and/or raising children outside marriage. There are also people in second marriages with children from their first plus half-siblings etc. There are children who cannot get along with their parents or have been kicked out or abused who live with their grandparents or aunts etc. Family structures come in an infinate number of shapes and sizes. I should know, I do not come from a tradtional family structure. My father died before I was born and I was brought up my my mother and her older sister. We lived with another couple (long-time friends of my mothers) who I considered to be my uncle and aunt although not related. Together we were far from a traditional family unit by nevertheless we were joined together in kinship.

Gay people are also from families and are an integral part of most families (although often invisible). Gay people already make bonds and live their lives alongside others - these ''alternative'' family structures already exsist and have always done so and haven't undermined marriage or society so far. It can also equally be argued that not recognising these other forms of family undermines marriage and society and childen.

Is it not fundamentally just that a couple who have lived together and cared/supported each other all their lives should not have inheritance rights so they are not made homeless when their partner dies? Is it not right that the person should be able to visit their partner dying in hospital and respected as next-of-kin? Is it right that the family of one partner can refuse to let the other attend the funeral of their most loved ones? Should same-sex partners not be entitled to health and private pension benefits which their partners have paid into - just like the non-married partners within heterosexual couples? These are the basic legal rights and benefits which are accorded by registration of a civil partnership. Human compassion and natural justice surely demands that we acknowledge the fairness of civil unions, especially when the state considers the couples' joint assets when assessing social security or pension benefits.

Civil partnership does not necessitate a sexual relationship and perhaps neither should we presuppose people's private lives. Indeed, many of the older couples in civil unions that I have met are long past any sexual aspect in their contact together although they are affectionate to each other - in many ways, they are simply companions not entirely disimilar to Newman and Ambrose.

The arguments about civil unions leading to legal pologamy are spurious and plain silly. There has already been legal pologamy in many american states in the past and there wasn't a civil union in sight back then. These states are hardly likely to reinstate something which they have already legislated against. You may as well argue that civil unions will lead to legal beastiality marriages.

Marriage or family life is not threatened by civil unions. To think so is to consider marriage fundamentally flawed and weak. Marriage will survive alongside civil unions. We do not need to suppress the rights of longstanding non-heterosexual couples in order to support marriage.

Brian Stevens said...

Canon Lawyer - one would probably expect a canon lawyer to be dogmatic but there are plenty of moral theologians and bishops who take a more pastoral approach and who would disagree with your interpretation of catholic teaching.

Civil unions do not presuppose a sexual relationship, the legisalation was specifically framed this way. Unlike marriages which must be sexually consumated and if not is valid ground for divorce; whereas a sexual relationship is not required for civil partnership. Consequently, there are no grounds needed whatsoever for deregistration of a civil union.

There are already alternative family structures in society not reliant on marriage, and there always have been. For example, people living together and/or raising children outside marriage. There are also people in second marriages with children from their first plus half-siblings etc. There are children who cannot get along with their parents or have been kicked out or abused who live with their grandparents or aunts etc. Family structures come in an infinate number of shapes and sizes. I should know, I do not come from a tradtional family structure. My father died before I was born and I was brought up my my mother and her older sister. We lived with another couple (long-time friends of my mothers) who I considered to be my uncle and aunt although not related. Together we were far from a traditional family unit by nevertheless we were joined together in kinship.

Gay people are also from families and are an integral part of most families (although often invisible). Gay people already make bonds and live their lives alongside others - these ''alternative'' family structures already exsist and have always done so and haven't undermined marriage or society so far. It can also equally be argued that not recognising these other forms of family undermines marriage and society and childen.

Is it not fundamentally just that a couple who have lived together and cared/supported each other all their lives should not have inheritance rights so they are not made homeless when their partner dies? Is it not right that the person should be able to visit their partner dying in hospital and respected as next-of-kin? Is it right that the family of one partner can refuse to let the other attend the funeral of their most loved ones? Should same-sex partners not be entitled to health and private pension benefits which their partners have paid into - just like the non-married partners within heterosexual couples? These are the basic legal rights and benefits which are accorded by registration of a civil partnership. Human compassion and natural justice surely demands that we acknowledge the fairness of civil unions, especially when the state considers the couples' joint assets when assessing social security or pension benefits.

Civil partnership does not necessitate a sexual relationship and perhaps neither should we presuppose people's private lives. Indeed, many of the older couples in civil unions that I have met are long past any sexual aspect in their contact together although they are affectionate to each other - in many ways, they are simply companions not entirely disimilar to Newman and Ambrose.

The arguments about civil unions leading to legal pologamy are spurious and plain silly. There has already been legal pologamy in many american states in the past and there wasn't a civil union in sight back then. These states are hardly likely to reinstate something which they have already legislated against. You may as well argue that civil unions will lead to legal beastiality marriages.

Marriage or family life is not threatened by civil unions. To think so is to consider marriage fundamentally flawed and weak. Marriage will survive alongside civil unions. We do not need to suppress the rights of longstanding non-heterosexual couples in order to support marriage.

Brian Stevens 1/2 said...

Canon Lawyer - one would probably expect a canon lawyer to be dogmatic but there are plenty of moral theologians and bishops who take a more pastoral approach and who would disagree with your interpretation of catholic teaching.

Civil unions do not presuppose a sexual relationship, the legisalation was specifically framed this way. Unlike marriages which must be sexually consumated and if not is valid ground for divorce; whereas a sexual relationship is not required for civil partnership. Consequently, there are no grounds needed whatsoever for deregistration of a civil union.

There are already alternative family structures in society not reliant on marriage, and there always have been. For example, people living together and/or raising children outside marriage. There are also people in second marriages with children from their first plus half-siblings etc. There are children who cannot get along with their parents or have been kicked out or abused who live with their grandparents or aunts etc. Family structures come in an infinate number of shapes and sizes. I should know, I do not come from a tradtional family structure. My father died before I was born and I was brought up my my mother and her older sister. We lived with another couple (long-time friends of my mothers) who I considered to be my uncle and aunt although not related. Together we were far from a traditional family unit by nevertheless we were joined together in kinship.

Gay people are also from families and are an integral part of most families (although often invisible). Gay people already make bonds and live their lives alongside others - these ''alternative'' family structures already exsist and have always done so and haven't undermined marriage or society so far. It can also equally be argued that not recognising these other forms of family undermines marriage and society and childen.

Brian Stevens 2/2 said...

Is it not fundamentally just that a couple who have lived together and cared/supported each other all their lives should not have inheritance rights so they are not made homeless when their partner dies? Is it not right that the person should be able to visit their partner dying in hospital and respected as next-of-kin? Is it right that the family of one partner can refuse to let the other attend the funeral of their most loved ones? Should same-sex partners not be entitled to health and private pension benefits which their partners have paid into - just like the non-married partners within heterosexual couples? These are the basic legal rights and benefits which are accorded by registration of a civil partnership. Human compassion and natural justice surely demands that we acknowledge the fairness of civil unions, especially when the state considers the couples' joint assets when assessing social security or pension benefits.

Civil partnership does not necessitate a sexual relationship and perhaps neither should we presuppose people's private lives. Indeed, many of the older couples in civil unions that I have met are long past any sexual aspect in their contact together although they are affectionate to each other - in many ways, they are simply companions not entirely disimilar to Newman and Ambrose.

The arguments about civil unions leading to legal pologamy are spurious and plain silly. There has already been legal pologamy in many american states in the past and there wasn't a civil union in sight back then. These states are hardly likely to reinstate something which they have already legislated against. You may as well argue that civil unions will lead to legal beastiality marriages.

Marriage or family life is not threatened by civil unions. To think so is to consider marriage fundamentally flawed and weak. Marriage will survive alongside civil unions. We do not need to suppress the rights of longstanding non-heterosexual couples in order to support marriage.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Brian,

If you can't be brief start your own blog!!!

Brian Stevens said...

Sorry Rev, but complex issues sometimes require complex answers. I was responding to can lawyer et al's comments and questions to me.

Having said tat, my latter comment has been duplicated (the website said 'error' when I pressed submit). You can delete if you like.

Anonymous said...

BS (Ha! Ha!)

That's just the point.

Homosexuals don't, and never have had, the "right" to live together in "a marriage-like relationship" (as relevant Aussie legislation put it). Therefore, there's no injustice in "suppressing" this alleged right. One might as well talk about the right to bestiality, or murder, or fraud.

By the way, are you, by any chance, homosexual??

santoeusebio said...

Cecil Longbridge: You accuse Dilly of spreading falsehoods and trying to scaremonger. I think she was expressing an opinion and was concerned what the future might hold. Accusing her of falsehoods does not help.

You say that the independence of church governance is a right enshrined in the Human Rights Act. The relevant reference I have found is:

Article 9
2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

To my mind that is not very encouraging. The problem is that currently the rights of homosexuals are seen as trumping all other rights as we are still seeing in respect of our adoption agencies. It therefore seems to me not unlikely that the rights of homosexuals will be seen as trumping the rights of others including rights to religious freedom. For instance if a Church offers to marry people and are seen as providing a service by the law what is to stop a claim for discrimination if the Church is asked to marry two people of the same sex and refuses?

Perhaps though you had in mind some other passage in the Human Rights legislation?

I think saying there are no plans for something at the moment probably means that some people have not publicly announced those plans but it does not mean that such plans do not exist. David Cameron has got very close to saying that civil partnerships and marriage are of equal value:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4Q8iAC91rQ

I think it is right to be concerned about where all this is leading. It strikes me as naive to think that the homosexual lobby is not aiming at homosexual marriage. Maybe there were some technical legal issues that needed remedying for friendly arrangements - such as inheritance - but why not deal with those problems specifically? Making a will overcomes any inheritance problem - just as easy as registering a civil partnership. Other problems might have required legislation but inventing the idea of a civil partnership has led to a concept where all the trappings of a heterosexual wedding are used and are obviously intended to convey the idea of homosexual marriage.

Nicolas Bellord

santoeusebio said...

Brian Stevens:

You seem to suggest that a Canon Lawyer can say that some act is wrong but that someone else can take a pastoral approach and say that it is okay. Whether or not you think that I believe such has been a major problem in the Church. For example as children we were taught that fornication was a sin and yet later on a situation arose when in the case of some couple living together without benefit of clergy a priest would appear to condone such behaviour claiming a pastoral approach. At least that is how it often appeared to many Catholics and as a result they began to wonder whether it was worth the bother of trying to adhere to traditional sexual ethics when such “pastoral” solutions were available. Once they stopped bothering they began to slip away from the Church – what did it matter if you missed Sunday Mass etc etc.

Surely a pastoral approach should never condone a sin or say that its wrongness is just a matter of conscience however much the priest shows understanding and kindness to the sinner in trying to get him back on the straight and narrow.

Yes there are many arrangements as to how people live. People get into situations – not always by their own faults – where such arrangements are less than ideal and many will wish things had been different.

One might not take pre-marital fornication as all that serious but when two people openly live together are they not saying “Fornication is not a sin”? Likewise two men who enter in a civil partership are they not saying “Sodomy is not a sin?” unless they make it very clear that there is no sexual element to their living together (how many do?). Scandal is being caused at the very least.

I am sorry that someone should have asked whether you are a homosexual. Such personal questions are not on. However I would ask whether you accept the Church’s teaching that sodomy is an intrinsically evil act. You seem to imply that it is just another version of “the family” and that the family is not based exclusively on heterosexual marriage.

Nicolas Bellord

Anonymous said...

The sexual orientation of B.S. is highly germane, given the striving of that group to have their activities recognised as equal to intercourse between a married man and woman. It's known as "special pleading".

+ Thos. Wolsey

Archieps. Ebor.