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The Vatican says “no” to same-sex mariages

Written by Alain Pilote on Friday, 01 August 2003. Posted in Same-sex marriage

Homosexual acts are a serious depravity
Under no circumstances can they be approved


On July 31, 2003, the Vatican released a 12-page document condemning the legalization of same-sex marriages, and calling Catholic politicians to vote against it. This document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and approved by Pope John Paul II, is dated June 3, feast of St. St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, martyrs of Ouganda (They were martyred in 1886 for having refused the homosexual proposals of the King.) Upon its release, this document, called “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons”, caused an uproar all over the world in circles favouring the recognition of homosexual unions, and especially in Canada, where the Federal Government wants to legally recognize homosexual unions, and call them “marriage”. Here are excerpts from this important document:

“Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children.

The nature of marriage

“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.

“God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words `Be fruitful and multiply' (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Intrinsically disordered

“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.

“Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’. They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is however ‘objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are `sins gravely contrary to chastity’.

“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.

Arguments from reason

“To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration.

From the order of right reason: The scope of the civil law is certainly more limited than that of the moral law, but 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.

“From the biological and anthropological order: 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.

“As experience has shown, 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.

“From the social order: The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.

Positions of Catholics politicians

“If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

“When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker 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.

“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.” (End of document.)

On August 1, Toronto Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic sent a letter to all 233 Toronto parishes, stating it is “imperative” that priests speak out from the pulpit against same-sex marriage legislation. With his letter, the Cardinal also included the recent Vatican document on homosexual unions and two strong homilies on the subject.

Bishop Fred Henry, of Calgary, warned that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien risks burning in hell if he makes same-sex marriage legal in Canada. “He doesn't understand what it means to be a good Catholic,” Bishop Henry said in an interview. “He's putting at risk his eternal salvation. I pray for the Prime Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy. He is making a morally grave error and he's not being accountable to God.”

Mr. Chretien replied: “I'm a Catholic and I'm praying. But I am the Prime Minister of Canada. When I'm Prime Minister of Canada, I'm acting as a person responsible for the nation. And the problem of my religion, I deal with it in other circumstances.”

Mr. Chretien suffers from the same “split personality” problem as many other Catholic politicians: they claim to be devout Catholic in their private lives, but they also anti-Catholic views in public, like abortion and the legalization of same-sex marriages. This is wrong, as Archbishop Gervais put it: “You cannot have it both ways. Either you are Catholic, accept and support the Church's teachings, or you are not.” With his public statements, it is clear Mr. Chretien is not a Catholic. And whether he likes it or not, he will have to account to God for his acts on Judgment Day.

Like a professional politician, Chretien is quick to flip-flop and change his tune: To the Bishops, he says a prime minister is responsible to the people, not to the Pope. To the people, he says forget about a referendum, because MPs must assume their responsibilities. To his MPs, he says judges will decide, because good Liberals must defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, except for its notwithstanding clause.

The truth is that even if courts say homosexual unions must be called “marriages”, the Government has the legal power to refuse to do it, by using the notwithstanding clause provided in the Charter, because in the last resort, it is up to our elected representatives to make the laws, not up to judges.

There are some people who say that homosexuality is condemned only in the Old Testament, and that these condemnations do not apply to us anymore, that Jesus would not condemn homosexuals, but “accept them as they are.” Well, if it is true that God loves sinners, he also hates sin, and he wants sinners to abandon their sinful ways. change their ways.

St. Paul said it very plainly in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (Homosexuality was rampant in Greece at that time, and especially in Corinth.) God's laws never change, homosexual acts are as strongly condemned today as they were in Moses' time.

A close vote

Concerned Canadians are making their voices heard, and thanks to that, is that it far from certain that this bill will obtain a majority of the votes in Parliament and become a law. Despite the stubbornness of the Chretien Government to call “marriage” same-sex unions, the goods news is that reason and common sense still seem to prevail among many Members of Parliament, including a lot of Liberals who, despite the pressure of their party, will stick to their conscience and vote against this bill.

We had an idea of this trend with a vote in the House of Commons taken on September 16, 2003, on a motion of the Alliance Party in support of the traditional definition of marriage. It read: "That in the opinion of this House, it is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to reaffirm that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition."

Four years ago, this motion, with the same wordings, passed by a vote of 216-55, with a majority of Liberals supporting it, including Prime Minister Chretien and Justice Minister martin Cauchon. In 2003, this same motion was rejected by a vote of 137-132, with Liberals ministers spending the entire debate eating their previous words. All 63 Alliance MPs voted to keep marriage the way it is. They were joined by 53 of the 150 Liberals who turned up to vote, 10 of 14 Tories, three of 23 Bloc Québécois MPs and three of four independents. Twenty-nine MPs did not vote, many of them opposing same-sex marriages, but fearing breaking ranks with their party line.

Moments before, MPs had reached a stunning 134-134 tie vote (the first time in 40 years) on an amended version of the Alliance motion — one that dropped the call to take “all necessary steps” to preserving traditional marriage. When the tie vote was announced to a hushed chamber, Speaker Peter Milliken cast a deciding vote that ultimately defeated the motion. Had this motion been adopted, there is no doubt that the second motion would have been passed too, and represent a major setback for the Liberal Government.

The next day, another vote was taken on New Democrat Svend Robinson's private member's bill C-250 to add protections against hate crimes for groups defined by their "sexual orientation." Several MPs complained the proposed protection for gays in the 1970 hate crimes law would brand the Bible as hate literature, and criminalize the views of those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds. Unfortunately, the bill passed by a vote of 140-110.

“Christians will be thrown to the judges instead of the lions”

At this year's Toronto Red Mass and Red Mass Dinner for Catholic lawyers, judges and legislators, held on September 23, featured guest speaker, the Honourable Norm Cafik, P.C., former MP and Cabinet Minister under former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

Mr. Cafik compared modern Christians in Canada with their spiritual ancestors in the Roman persecutions. Mr. Cafik said that the time will shortly come when Christians who dare to speak out will be thrown to the judges and lawyers instead of the lions. Mentioning the recent same-sex "marriage" and hate crimes legislation changes by name, he pointed out that John the Baptist lost his head over the definition of marriage and that St. Thomas More also lost his head over the definition of marriage. Cafik said that Catholic lawyers were now being compelled by law to accept what these saints would not accept. (As reported by

Let us stand with the Pope, the Church and common sense, and continue to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions. Like St. John the Baptist, let us say to the Government: “You do not have the right to do it!” With God's grace, justice will prevail, and God's laws be respected!

About the Author

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote has been the editor of the English edition of MICHAEL for several years. Twice a year we organize a week of study of the social doctrine of the Church and its application and Mr. Pilote is the instructor during these sessions.


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