All Catholics are Obliged to Oppose the Legal Recognition of Homosexual Unions

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I put together a quick collage of teachings on marriage from Scripture, the Catechism and a couple of Apostolic letters written by Blessed John Paul II.

I want to emphasize that Blessed John Paul II was reiterating what the Church has taught for two millennia. Synods reaching back to antiquity have consistently taught these same things.

This is what the Church teaches about gay marriage. The sentence that I put in bold states the position those of us in the laity must take: All Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions. 

In another part of the same document, Blessed Pope John Paul II says that politicians who vote for gay marriage are committing a mortal sin. I think that applies also to anyone in a position of influence who supports the destruction of marriage. Jesus said, To those whom much is given, much is required. I think He meant any of us who are in positions of power and influence.

I have had the experience of leading people astray with my wrong-headed good intentions. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube to undo it later.

We are going through a season of upheaval in a society that recognizes no God except the one it sees in the mirror. Do not allow yourself to be swept up in this and contribute to leading other people astray.

I say that, not as an admonition, but as a plea from the heart of someone who has made this mistake. I can tell you from experience, you don’t want to go there.

Stop trying to pretend that you are smarter and your holiness and understanding of God’s requirements of you are somehow greater than those of His Church.

He told us that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. But He didn’t say anything like that about you and me, deciding to be our own little magisteriums. He didn’t tell us that we could stand alone against the evils of this world by colluding with those evils.

You cannot broker a deal between Christ and the devil. That is precisely what a good many Christians are trying to do with gay marriage. Stop looking for an easy way out and be faithful. Yield your will to God’s will and follow, not lead.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is the only way, to walk the Way.

Marriage has three blessings. The first is children, to be received and raised in God’s service. The second is the loyal faithfulness by which each serves the other. The third is the Sacrament of Matrimony which signifies the inseparable union of Christ with His Church. St Thomas Aquinas.

This now is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh … and for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Adam

For I hate divorce. To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty. So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife. God the Father

God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. … Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Precisely because the love of husband and wife is a unique participation in the mystery of life and of the love of God Himself, the Church knows that she has received the special mission of guarding and protecting the lofty dignity of marriage and the most serious responsibility of the transmission of human life. John Paul II

No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman … Furthermore the marital union of man and woman has been elected by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church … 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 … all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions. John Paul II

Have you read, that in the beginning, God made them male and female, and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and they two shall be one flesh? They are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Jesus Christ

Catholic Teaching on Marriage: The Good of Families is About the Good of Society

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is the of San Francisco is chairman of the US Bishops’ Subcommittee for the promotion and defense of marriage. He spoke to Catholic News Service about Catholic teachings on marriage. Here is what he had to say.

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If Church Teaching on Marriage Interests You, Here It Is

I try as much as possible to give you the chance to read original sources. This summary of Church teachings on marriage is not an original source.

However, it is from the USCCB web site. That means it is authoritative teaching, coming as it does from our bishops.

I am going to put the whole article here rather than try to excerpt it or interpret it. Have a read and think it through for yourselves. To see the original article or to find more resources, go to the USCCB website here.

Between Man And Woman:

Questions And Answers About

Marriage And Same-Sex Unions

Introduction

A growing movement today favors making those relationships commonly called same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage. This situation challenges Catholics—and all who seek the truth—to think deeply about the meaning of marriage, its purposes, and its value to individuals, families, and society. This kind of reflection, using reason and faith, is an appropriate starting point and framework for the current debate.

We, the Catholic bishops of the United States, offer here some basic truths to assist people in understanding Catholic teaching about marriage and to enable them to promote marriage and its sacredness.

1. What is marriage?

Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. They commit themselves completely to each other and to the wondrous responsibility of bringing children into the world and caring for them. The call to marriage is woven deeply into the human spirit. Man and woman are equal. However, as created, they are different from but made for each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should be always open to the procreation of children (seeCatechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1602-1605). These truths about marriageare present in the order ofnature and can be perceived by the light of human reason. They have been confirmed by divine Revelation in Sacred Scripture.

2. What does our faith tell us about marriage?

Marriage comes from the loving hand of God, who fashioned both male and female in the divine image (see Gn 1:27).  A man “leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gn 2:24). The man recognizes the woman as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2:23). God blesses the man and woman and commands them to “be fertile and multiply” (Gn 1:28). Jesus reiterates these teachings from Genesis, saying, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mk 10:6-8).

These biblical passages help us to appreciate God’s plan for marriage. It is an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. By their mutual gift of self, they cooperate with God in bringing children to life and in caring for them.

Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan for creation. In addition, the Church teaches that the valid marriage of baptized Christians is a sacrament—a saving reality. Jesus Christ made marriage a symbol of his love for his Church (see Eph 5:25-33). This means that a sacramental marriage lets the world see, in human terms, something of the faithful, creative, abundant, and self-emptying love of Christ. A true marriage in the Lord with his grace will bring the spouses to holiness. Their love, manifested in fidelity, passion, fertility, generosity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing, makes known God’s love in their family, communities, and society. This Christian meaning confirms and strengthens the human value of a marital union (see CCC, nos. 1612-1617; 1641-1642).

3. Why can marriage exist only between a man and a woman?

The natural structure of human sexuality makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife (see CCC, nos. 1639-1640).

In marriage, husband and wife give themselves totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity (see CCC, no. 1643). They are equal as human beings but different as man and woman, fulfilling each other through this natural difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage.

4. Why is a same-sex union not equivalent to a marriage?

For several reasons a same-sex union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is notbased on the natural complementarity of male and female;it cannot cooperate with Godto create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by asame-sex union. Persons in same-sex unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.

5. Why is it so important to society that marriage be preserved as the exclusive union of a man and a woman?

Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance. Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other.

The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.

Laws play an educational role insofar as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially permissible and acceptable. In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral.

When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution ofmarriage is devalued and further weakened. The weakening of this basic institution at all levels and by various forces has already exacted too high a social cost.

6. Does denying marriage to homosexual persons demonstrate unjust discrimination and a lack of respect for them as persons?

It is not unjust to deny legal status to same-sex unions because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. In fact, justice requires society to do so. To uphold God’s intent for marriage, in which sexual relations have their proper and exclusive place, is not to offend the dignity of homosexual persons. Christians must give witness to the whole moral truth and oppose as immoral both homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church urges that homosexual persons “be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (no. 2358). It also encourages chaste friendships. “Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all” (no. 2347).

7. Should persons who live in same-sex relationships be entitled to some of the same social and economic benefits given to married couples?

The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life. The legal recognition of marriage, including the benefits associated with it, is not only about personal commitment, but also about the social commitment that husband and wife make to the well-being of society. It would be wrong to redefine marriage for the sake of providing benefits to those who cannot rightfully enter into marriage. Some benefits currently sought by persons in homosexual unions can already be obtained without regard to marital status. For example, individuals can agree to own property jointly with another, and they can generally designate anyone they choose to be a beneficiary of their will or to make health care decisions in case they become incompetent.

8. In light of the Church’s teaching about the truth and beauty of marriage, what should Catholics do?

There is to be no separation between one’s faith and life in either public or private realms. All Catholics should act on their beliefs with a well-formed conscience based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition. They should be a community of conscience within society. By their voice and their vote, they should contribute to society’s welfare and test its public life by the standards of right reason and Gospel truth. Responsible citizenship is a virtue. Participation in the political process is a moral obligation. This is particularly urgent in light of the need to defend marriage and to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions as marriages. Married couples themselves, by the witness of their faithful, life-giving love, are the best advocates for marriage. By their example, they are the first teachers of the next generation about the dignity of marriage and the need to uphold it. As leaders of their family—which the Second Vatican Council called a “domestic church” (

Lumen Gentium, no. 11)—couples should bring their gifts as well as their needs to the larger Church. There, with the help of other couples and their pastors and collaborators, they can strengthen their commitment and sustain their sacrament over a lifetime.

Conclusion

Marriage is a basic human and social institution. Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage. Marriage, whose nature and purposes are established by God, can only be the union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children. The union of husband and wife becomes, over a lifetime

, a great good for themselves, their family, communities, and society. Marriage is a gift to be cherished and protected.For Further Reading

Second Vatican Council. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World(Gaudium et Spes), nos. 47-52. December 1965. Available online at www.vatican.va.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 369-373, nos. 1601-1666, and nos. 2331-2400. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops–Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.

Pope John Paul II. On the Family (Familiaris Consortio). Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1982.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. July 2003. Available online at www.vatican.va.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Follow the Way of Love: A Pastoral Message of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to Families. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003.


Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions was developed by the Committee on Marriage and Family Life of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their November 2003 General Meeting and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned.

Msgr. William P. Fay
General Secretary, USCCB

Scripture texts used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, copyright © 1991, 1986, and 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. 20017, and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C., are used with permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2003, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.


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