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The Church’s struggle against the legalisation of gay unions is now a defining feature of its teachings on marriage

‘The redefinition of marriage’ is seen as a threat to religious liberty

By on Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The US bishops' new website presents Church teaching on marriage

The US bishops' new website presents Church teaching on marriage

I have been browsing around a new website, erected (if that’s the right word) by the US Conference of Bishops, entitled “Marriage: unique for a reason”. It contains teaching at various intellectual levels, including a sentimental video entitled “Made for Each Other: Sexual difference is essential to marriage”, in which a handsome married couple with perfect teeth “talk about why men and women matter for marriage”. “Their dialogue and interactions,” claims the website, “illuminate the beauty of sexual difference and complementarity between man and woman as husband and wife.”

Well, maybe. But one thing is clear: though the website gives the Church’s immemorial teachings about marriage (and does it, it seems to me, mostly rather well) it is – as the Church’s constant restatement of its unchanging beliefs for each new generation always is – very clearly a response to the situation in which we currently find ourselves. In particular, it is a response to the threat against the family represented by secular society’s accelerating movement towards accepting what were, only a generation ago, simply demands by a small minority of activists for the legalisation of homosexual “marriage”. It was seen very clearly then as a direct attack on the uniqueness of traditional marriage.

Now, this uniqueness is no longer taken for granted: homosexual “marriage” is more and more seen as a human right which ought to be enshrined in legislation. We have gone very far indeed along that road when a Conservative leader can say, at the Tory conference itself, something as mind-bendingly foolish as “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us… So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.” This did not go down well in the Tory heartlands, but so what? Cameron knows the way things are going: and he will lose few votes by saying what he said.

That is where we now are; and that, increasingly, is where the Americans are, too; in fact, they led the way. Hence, the homepage on the USCCB’s new marriage website opens with the following introductory passage:

What is marriage? Are a man and a woman really essential to marriage? What about the child … and the role of mothers and fathers? Is it discriminatory to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman? What impact does the redefinition of marriage have on religious liberty?

That is how, increasingly, the Church now sees it: we’ve gone beyond the point at which we are simply defending traditional marriage: more and more, this is seen as a question of defending our liberty to do it. The USCCB website invites us a little coyly to “Dive in deep to the Church’s teachings”: this can be done by going to one of the site’s most valuable pages, which gives links to statements on marriage by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Here are just two passages germane to that question about the impact of the redefinition of marriage on religious liberty. The first is from a document snappily entitled “Declaration of the Pontifical Council for the Family regarding the Resolution of the European Parliament dated March 16, 2000, making de facto unions, including same sex unions, equal to the family”:

The communications media report that the European Parliament has approved a Resolution regarding human rights in the European Union which also considers de facto unions, including the registered cohabitation of persons of the same sex, and the need to recognize “legal marriages” between persons of the same sex.

This Resolution represents a grave and repeated attack on the family based on marriage, a union of love and life between a man and a woman from which life naturally springs. Every society is solidly based on this marital union because it is a necessary value. To deny this fundamental and elementary anthropological truth would lead to the destruction of the fabric of society. Doesn’t making “de facto” unions, and all the more homosexual unions, equivalent to marriage, and inviting Parliaments to adjust their laws in this sense, represent a refusal to recognize the deep aspirations of peoples in their innermost identity?

We tend to give Vatican documents issued by dicasteries like the Pontifical Council for the Family a miss, assuming that they will be written in the usual impenetrable Vaticanese: but this passage is pretty close to being a cri de coeur. Here’s another, scarcely less oratorical in character, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which almost jumps from the awful dull parchment colour of the Vatican website (when are they going to do something about that?): the title of this document is “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons”: (2003)

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.(3) 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.

“No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman”: well, you would have thought so, wouldn’t you? But we seem, all the same, destined to live through a period during which that certainty will more and more become clouded for many. In the end, it will, we may be sure, reassert itself: but only because of the many human casualties which will, I very much fear, emerge as our deeply confused society blunders around, continuing to undermine the stability of the traditional family based on marriage between a man and a woman. In the end, the tide will turn; and once more, the Church will be seen to have been right all along (as it was, for instance, over eugenics, whose assumptions were at one time almost universally believed). But it will take decades: I will not live to see it. Meanwhile, the Church is fighting back; perhaps, in the end, that is the one good thing to come from all this.

And one thing is certain: there will always be something.

  • John Lagrue

    Oh wonderful. Let’s redefine the Church that is build upon the Great Commandment of Love, as one that purposefully and deliberately tries to deny love to an appreciable proportion of society.

    Because, make no mistake, that is how it is seen. And no amount of posturing, of claims of purity, of protecting society will cut any ice. The whole approach by some parts of the Church on this is an unmitigated disaster and will do more to drive people way from Christ than almost anything else. 

  • Indignant of Chatham

    I have never understood the argument that “gay marriage undermines the institution of marriage”.  

    Why is it a threat to marriage if other’s previously excluded want to be allowed to marry, that is marry in purely “civic” marriages not religious ones (no legislation is suggesting that religions be forced to change their definition of marriage).  Does not that rather support marriage as an institution while others are ignoring it and co-habiting.

    What might be a threat is the idea that there be alternatives to marriage: civil partnerships for men and women or “common law marriage” be revived (i.e. you are deemed to be equivalent of married just by living together for X years).  Why is the church not campaigning against this?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t support the idea of homosexual ‘marriage’, as opposed to homosexual civil partnerships. But I don’t support the Church’s current efforts to imprison homosexuals for up to 10 years in Belize, either. The case against homosexual ‘marriage’ in the UK and the USA would be easier to make if the Church didn’t so often give the impression of waging war against homosexual people in other parts of the world.

  • Blackoxford

    William, what is the Church’s stand on those of us who are neither XX nor XY in chromosomal composition (not to mention those of us who are hormonally skewed within those categories)? Are we allowed no relationship of marriage? Are we inferior? Unnatural? Inherently disordered perhaps so that there is no place for us to be recognised as capable of forming such a union? I think not. Eventually, perhaps in 50 years time, the Church will look back on its uncharitable homophobia as the real aberration, similar to its former disapproval of democracy and religious freedom. We can only hope.

  • Anonymous

    Slippery slope. Already the agenda has been voiced.

    Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”

  • Hilda

    Are you registered as male or female on your birth certificate? You can marry someone who has the opposite written on theirs.

  • James

    Anyone reading this article could be forgiven for thinking that there were no divorces, no broken families, no dysfunctional families, no single parent families, no  “living in sin” as it used to be called and no husbands and wives being unfaithful to their husbands before homosexuals came out of the closet and asked to be granted the same legal and fiscal rights as married couples. There are a number of aspects of our present culture which actually are a threat to marriage: the decline in any sense of commitment, the demand for self realisation, the demand for instant and continuous satisfaction in one’s personal life, the media’s portrayal of serial marriage as the norm and material affluence itself. One could add the Church’s declining moral authority consequent upon its failing spectacularly to lead by example. I cannot see that legal and fiscal equality for homosexual partners comes into it.

  • BillyJ

    Such open, blatant bigotry is disgusting to God.  

  • Guest

    It’s really rather funny, Hilda, that you think you have any say at all in who someone you do not even know can marry.

    And by funny, of course, I mean pathetic, sweetheart.

    You’re a bigot.  Plain and simple.

  • Lazarus

    Hi Guest

    Isn’t marriage all about getting other people to have a say in your relationship? If you want people to keep their nose out of your business, then you shouldn’t go round demanding that they change the law and practice of 2000+ years. If you do, then you’re going to get a lot of scrutiny by other people, because that’s precisely what you’re asking for.

  • Lazarus

    Cries of redefinition are a trifle odd considering the attempts that are being made to redefine marriage.

    By all means love. But never has the Church said that any way of expressing that love is fine. That goes for everyone, regardless of our inclinations.

  • Anonymous

    Me neither. Straight people are doing an admirable of putting marriage through the wringer & shredding it without any help from the evil homos LOL. One thinks of that pillar of the Church Newt Gingrich – who can’t be disqualified by being called a Democrat, because his party is the GOP.

    To be consistent, the Church position would have to be:
    1. either that divorce-seekers, serial marriers & such like persons who undermine “the institution of marriage” are either gay, and bent on wrecking marriage on the sly while seeming to be totally un-gay & hetero (IOW, they would be the gay equivalent within Catholicism of the “secret Jesuits” in Protestantism some Fundamentalists love to horrify themselves with);
    2. or, Newt Gingrich & friends are Not Real Catholics(TM), but are in the Church purely to make its position look bad;
    3. or, the Church intends to deny marriage not just to gay people, but also to everyone else who does not conform to its ideas of marriage: Muslims, Jews, Presbyterians, Jains, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, everyone. But why should people who are not bothered about what the CC thinks on the subject be denied civil rights and liberties to which the CC takes a dislike ? In a society which does not profess to be Catholic, the CC has no business imposing (that being very definitely the right word) its ideas on societies as a whole. There would  be plenty of noisy complaining if – say – Muslims played the same game, and tried to impose Shariah law on Catholics. In a plural society, no one religious (or other) group gets to call the shots. If gay Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Jedi-worshippers, or Flying Spaghetti Monster-adorers wish to avail themselves of the rights and liberties the state gives them, it is not for the Church to deny them these. No one is saying the Church has to celebrate rites of which it disapproves.

    In view of the less than admirable performance of the Church’s official personnel in matters sexual, which has been aggravated by its flailing around as it tries desperately to blame anyone & anything but itself for the horrible mess it is now in, a period of silence & reflection would be both modest and wise.

    ““Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.””

    ## People’s views as to what is morally good do change – it is not difficult to imagine that the Churches will be more welcoming than they are to what at present they reject. The CC used to take a very dim view of mixed marriages, just a couple of generations ago. There were all sorts of good Biblical, theological, & doctrinal reasons for that position – just as there are for the Church’s current position on mixed marriages, which are now praised as a good thing. I don’t see any “agenda” here – a more cynical poster might be inclined to talk of some anti-gay “agenda”.

  • Anonymous

    “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.(3) 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.”

    ## Oh, dear. It is not ideology, but historical fact, that “erase[s] from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman” – King David, that paragon of wedded bliss, had a sizeable number of women. It is not the evil homo dissenters, but the Old Testament, that “credits” (if that is word) the uxorious King Solomon with 700 hundred wives & 300 concubines. 700 better halves is a bit more than one.

    That quotation has confused theology with history. The only reason for treating the utterances on marriage of an unmarried Palestinian rabbi (who came to a sticky end) as having binding force for people centuries later in wholly different societies, is that the unmarried Palestinian rabbi is believed to have more than human, and decisive & final, authority. Take away the theological belief in and about Him, and Jesus of Nazareth becomes just another first-century Jew, of no greater authority for Christians today than Caiaphas. History cannot mark Him out as an object of faith, so it cannot mark out His utterances as having the importance Christians believe they do – only faith can do that; & not everyone sees him as more than an historical person. But if he is of merely historical importance, his ideas can have no Divine authority for other men in other ages and cultures.  It is not enough to treat His words on marriage as definitive – for whether they are, and if so in what way, are two questions to which the answer is not clear.  The Teaching Church cannot take its own authority for granted as something beyond question.

  • theroadmaster

    It seems that Western societies are ideologically excising cultural or religious core values from their collective memories which have been the chief foundations for their civilized development over nearly 2 Millennia.  A growing wave of secular humanist, rights-based agendas are being used to try to radically redefine or distort the beliefs which generations of people first encountered within the family unit, church and school and took for granted.  The task facing Catholics and members of other Faith groups is daunting and is nothing less than the recovery of the very roots which have nourished the well-being of people and society for thousands of years.

    The Church is not proposing a Sharia law type scenario but is rather proposing a holistic understanding of men and women vis-a-vis their respective roles with respect to each other and society encapsulated within the sacred bond of marriage.  The arguments are not based solely on religious grounds but also on the observable and clearly defined benefits which the institution brings to the demographic,socio -economic and human aspects of society.  We must not forget the anthropological or Moral Law considerations which have anchored the commonly-held view that has survived since the Dawning of Civilization, that marriage is first and foremost a sacrosanct bond between one man and one woman and open to procreation

  • Hilda

    I don’t think I have any say it at all, its the law. As it currently stands, only a man and a woman can get married. This is also the church’s stance. The question was who is someone who is not xx or xy allowed to marry. Even if you are not xx or xy, a sex has to be decided by doctors to write on your birth certificate, and that then becomes your legal sex. So the answer is what I stated – If you are legally male you can marry someone who is female. If you are legally female you can marry someone who is male. This is not my opinion, it is the law, and an honest answer to the question.

    I am not a bigot. I have watched someone I love struggle all their life against discrimination and bigotry based on their gender identity. It’s really rather funny, that you think you have any idea at all about the character of someone you do not even know.

    And by funny, of course, I mean pathetic, sweetheart.

    You’re an idiot. Plain and simple.

  • Anonymous

    The Church was right over eugenics because the Church gave priority to love over the science of the day. But in this case love is on the side of gay marriage. The Church’s opposition is an opposition to love. 

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t really about marriage, of course, but the Roman church’s constant, incessant, and totally mindless determination to control everything.  If (when) it’s not marriage, it’s some other thing.  Of course, Roman Catholics are free to do as they like, but that is not enough:  the law must force their doctrines on everyone.  And, of course, the church and its businesses should not be hampered by the law when it comes to discrminiation in employment, housing, and services.  All human and civil rights law allows all religious organizations to discrminate in all of these areas if it is part of their religious function.  That, too, does not satisfy their enormous vanity, malice, and wilful ignorance; they must be allowed to fire, evict, and refuse service everywhere and always in anything and everything they are associated with, even if it is paid for by the taxpayer.  Better than the old days, though; modern secular governments do not permit their traditional responseto difference:  torture and mass murder. 

  • EditorCT

    You, on the other hand, are the very epitome of charity.

  • EditorCT

    nytor, I’m of that age when I can recall the discussions about decriminalising homosexuality.  Then the chat shows brought every homosexual in creation out of their closets to bleat that they “merely” wanted to be decriminalised. That’s all.

    Now the rest of us are criminalised for daring to question this totally unnatural behaviour.  Don’t know about you, but I’m keeping my mouth shut now that the paedophile and bestiality rights groups are banging the drum and demanding the same rights as “gays”.  Click on the Scottish flag at if you don’t believe me (oh and while you’re at it, sign the petition against Medjugorje, will you, please and thanks.)

  • Guest

    If real marriage is seen as something subjective or made up or worse narrow, society as we’ve known it is lost. Europe is at a tipping point. There has NEVER been even one society that has redefined what it means to be married in such a radical and illogical way and lived to tell about it. That is basic historical fact. Maybe the West is just really tired and would prefer to fall asleep instead. People in the richest places on earth don’t want children, don’t want to be married, don’t want to live too long and don’t want to live without mind altering drugs and instant sexual gratification. But out of the ashes will come new life, family, marriage and a future. Without traditional family as the pillar of society, supported by the law above all other arrangements, the future is lost and for Western Europe hopeless.

  • Oconnordamien

    Well I’m intelligent enough, despite my age, to see that you just compared bestiality and paedophilia with homosexuality. No matter what my age I am horrified, so much that I will cache this page. In a week where a christian compared gays to Nazi’s, you decide to post an untrue, disgusting, reviling comment.

    Shame on you and I hope all the bloggers and commentators alike show their distaste toward such a comparision. 

  • Oconnordamien

    And you, my dear, are very deserving of a James Joyce “Ringsend Handshake.”

  • Biba

    Doom and gloom… who are thye culprits, let’s prepare the inquisition….

  • Anonymous

    The 1917 Code of Canon Law tells us that the Catholic Church said that it was morally right for a man to marry a girl aged 12 without her parents’ permission. Before the introduction of the code there was no minimum age for marriage, and while it was rare before puberty, there was no teaching from the Church about this and there are famous cases of young children being forced into an arranged marriage and the Church willingly performing the ceremony.

    The moral teaching of the Church is always changing as it learns from experience, and one day those who opposed homosexual marriage will  be seen to be as misguided as the Popes who taught that it was right to torture and kill people for believing the wrong things.

  • Anonymous

    Note, though, that Summerskill used the word forced – the implication being not that the Church would change its view, but that an attempt might be made to force it to do so. The whole rationale for papal sovereignty is writ large here.

  • Anonymous

    Patrick_Hadley – don’t waste your time pointing out such things, as they just stick their fingers in their ears and shout “la la la”

  • ms Catholic state

    The Church is not stopping anybody from loving…..but the Church must oppose sexual sin!  Especially when the so-called secular world tries to impose and force it upon the Church.. 

    Of course….the secular agenda is a Satanic one….the destruction of Christianity.  It’s not as though the government really give a damn about gays…they are just a handy tool.  Look at the way they ignore the plight of persecuted Christians.  Hardly caring is it?!  Pfffft.  I wonder…..does our ever ‘caring’ government speak out against the harsh treatment of gays in Islamic nations for instance in Saudi Arabia?!  Hmmm….a conflict of interests close to the heart of our own dear government I would think.

  • Andrew

    Marriage is nothing more (or less) than a commitment between two persons, codified in Law.  The relentless personification of sexuality into ‘the homosexual’ and ‘the heterosexual’ and the ‘the bisexual’ and the ‘the transexual’ is illustratively reductive and obscures the fundamentals of the debate, not clarifies them.  The argument that homosexuality by its nature is wrong because it doesn’t enable the procreaction of children is an argument that has worn hopelessly thin.  The Church allows the marriage and sexual activity between older persons and between younger persons where one or both are infertile.  Here, it is love that is recognised and the use of the sexual function as a physical means of demonstrating that love is permitted.  Elevating the sexual act to a mystical status (JPII’s Theology of the Body – etc) is romanticism.  If neruonal sensational and physiological orgasm were removed from the equationk, the reward centres of the brain would dispense with the whole process.  Likewise, arguments over the need to continue the human population are fatuous even on immediate examination.  Indeed, we have now reached a population of 7 Billion people due to an exponential rise in procreation over a very short period of time.  Homosexuality, by its nature, acts to limit population growth and thus aids the sustainability of resources.  If all of the homosexual persons in the world were to procreate we would gravely exacerbate the already extant crisis in global population, the effects of which, in combination with global warming, will be felt acutely by 2050 as peoples compete violently for food and water.  This is far from an apocolyptic vision, world governments are already preparing for how they will deal with the major demographic shifts and the political instabilities they will precipitate.  Let us mention in this overall context of Moral Theology (as it currently stands) the fact that the Faithful have overwhelmingly rejected the teachings of Humanae Vitae and the use of ‘artificial’ contraception is staggeringly widespread.  Neither is the number of Catholics seeking sterilisation after a first or failed pregnancy a small number of anecdotal examples.  One could argue here that the ‘sin’, if it exists, is greater, given the God-given potential for procreation in such people that they specifically destroy.  Homosexual people do not have that gift and to say that they do contradicts the overwhelming findings of multidisciplinary scientific and clinical research on which medical theory as it pertains to human sexuality is firmly based.  I have written recently on another blog site in the Herald that there is such a thing as a moral responsibility by the Church to acquaint itself with such evidence and to update its teachings accordingly.  If it continues to fail to do so, then the talk of the compatibilty of Faith and Reason will collapse further.  The Church is not the Arbiter of Reason to be able convincingly to determine ‘right reason’ from ‘false reason’ in terms which are intellectually tenable.  It is philosophy and experience that function to arbiter in this context.  Neither does describing Theology as the Queen of Philopsophy or the Queen of the Sciences ‘cut ice’ here, - such terminology is meaningless and Theology is gradually being removed from the Academy because of incoherence of this nature.  Let us be clear that the marriage of peoples of the same gender is necessary for reasons of social justice and its use defines a progressive and civilised society.  In concluding I will note that the it has been said that the Vatican has the highest number of gay people per square metre than anywhere else on God’s earth.  Interestingly, they delight in punishing in other people what they hate or cannot cope with in themselves.  This is not moral theology, it is psychopathology and should be recognised and attended to as such.  ‘Homosexuality is an intrinsic moral evil and a grave offence against the natural order’.  Really, Your Eminences?  No, it is part of human nature and thus reflects one facet of God’s likeness.  Persistence in the employment of archaic and essentially hysterical descriptions of an entirely natural part of humanity are fruitless and the Church is well cast as King Canute in direct result.  Rather than write documents on Charity and Understanding, it is time for the Papal Academies and Councils all to practice what they preach and support legitimate human rights and not conspire against their codification by right thinking governments.

  • James H

    Sorry, 1.7% is not an appreciable portion.

    No-one is being ‘denied’ anything by the church’s teachings. There is no universal, unrestricted right to marry, ask anyone who wants to marry a sibling.

  • James H

    Go and find a copy of the Catechism. The answer’s there in black and white. You’ll probably find more understanding than you’ve been led to expect from the church, by the ‘meedja ‘.

    And I can’t say about 50 years time, but the generation of my children’s children will look back at the early 21-Cent demands that people should be allowed to marry a member of the same sex, and say, ‘What were they thinking?!’

  • James H

    ” History cannot mark Him out as an object of faith,…”

    On the truth scale, this rates just below “Twaddle”.

  • James H

    The church was right about eugenics for the same reason as it’s right about abortion, euthanasia and human cloning – because human dignity demands nothing less than respect for humans at any stage of their development. Human dignity is not served by declaring an unhealthy lifestyle to be ‘normal’.

    Homosexuality is associated with a massive range of psychological and medical problems. The average male who starts having sex with men in his teens, is unlikely to see his 50th birthday, for example. HIV, some variants of venereal disease and cancers are massively more prevalent among homosexuals than the general population, as is substance abuse, depression and suicide. Allowing some men to marry other men, and punishing those who say they shouldn’t, will not stop this.

    If the law discourages people from driving drunk, it should discourage people from living a homosexual lifestyle.

  • James H

    So, the church wanting not to be forced to bless what they see as a perversion, is a “constant, incessant, and totally mindless determination to control everything”. Projection, much?

  • James H

    “Marriage is nothing more (or less) than a commitment between two persons, codified in Law”
    No, its status as a special institution is due to the fundamental nature of marriage, which is the production of future citizens of the nation. If we tinker with that, we are tinkering with the foundations of society. This is important!

    “The Church allows the marriage and sexual activity between older
    persons and between younger persons where one or both are infertile.”
    No, it allows the marriage of a _man_and_a_woman who may be infertile. Quite apart from the fact that the infertility of the union is not deliberate, the sexual complementarity is still present.

    “Elevating the sexual act to a mystical status… is romanticism”.
    If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you really shouldn’t say anything about it.

    “If…orgasm were removed from the equationk, the reward centres of the brain would dispense with the whole process”
    And, if light was dark, we wouldn’t need eyes, either. Your point?

    “we have now reached a population of 7 Billion people due to an exponential rise in procreation over a very short period of time.”
    An increase which is levelling off, and thanks to an excess of self-seeking in developed nations, will turn into a decrease sometime this century. Source, UN Population Division (see

    “world governments are already preparing for how they will deal with the
    major demographic shifts and the political instabilities they will
    precipitate” – like AGW, a science fad that generated a hoax. There are major demographic challenges ahead, not least of which are rampant abortion in China and India, and the resultant chaos that will cause. That, and the death of contracepting cultures.

    “a moral responsibility by the Church to acquaint itself with such evidence and to update its teachings accordingly”
    And if the evidence turns out to be wrong or biased, what then?

    “It is philosophy and experience that function to arbiter in this context.”
    Philosophy as currently practiced denies the very existence of truth and beauty. What, pray tell, can such senile blithering have to teach anybody?

    “the marriage of peoples of the same gender is necessary for reasons of
    social justice and its use defines a progressive and civilised society”
    Socially accepted homosexuality is a mark of cultures in decline. Their progress is down, not up.

    “it has been said that the Vatican has the highest number of gay people per square metre than anywhere else on God’s earth”
    - by whom? Evidence, please, don’t just regurgitate what you’ve been told.

    “This is not moral theology, it is psychopathology and should be recognised and attended to as such”
    Yes, I’m sure the church needs to be corrected and purged. Gulags, anyone?

  • James H

    Not papal sovereignty, but religious freedom, freedom of association and freedom of thought.

  • Fred

    Why do you say your source for claiming population will decrease this century is the UN, yet give a link, not to the UN, but to an ‘over population is a myth’ propaganda site? Here is the UN press release for their latest population projections: You will notice it is titled “World Population to reach 10 billion by 2100″

    The idea that “contracepting cultures” (that’s not a real word, by the way) will die out is ridiculous. Contraception has been around for decades and population has continued to increase exponentially. Who are these supposed cultures that don’t use contraception anyway? In my experience, even the vast majority of Catholics use it.

  • Fred

    “The average male who starts having sex with men in his teens, is unlikely to see his 50th birthday.” Evidence, please, don’t just regurgitate what you’ve been told.

  • Anonymous

    That was always the rationale for papal sovereignty, and for the pope having his own territory – so that the Church could teach the faith freely without interference from secular powers who could put pressure on the pope to alter Church teaching to adhere to their policies, or as it has been so delightfully put, to follow the zeitgeist rather than the heilige geist.

  • ms Catholic state

    And for the protection of Catholics, and the flourishing of our families, civilisation and culture. 

  • Anonymous

    No, the church will not be “forced to bless” same-sex marriages, or anything, for that matter.  No same-sex marriage leglislation does this.  In none of the countries or the states where same-sex marriage is the law is any church “forced to bless” anything, never have, never will.  (Under all human rights legislation, all churches (not just yours) are exempt from prosecution for acting in their religious function and do, often, in every area, including employment, housing and provision of services.)  So whining that the church will be “forced to bless” marriages is a ridiculous fabrication but believing that kind of nonsense is, I guess, is the advantage of being religious

  • Anonymous

    The Church has always followed the Zeitgeist. In the Roman world it was normal for a man to beat his servant, his wife and his child and the Church saw nothing wrong with that. In the Middle Ages the Church imitated the secular potentates by giving its leaders absurd titles and expecting the faithful to treat them like princes and lords.

    When anyone speaking out against the King could be tortured and put to death the Church followed the spirit of the age and allowed the same treatment to those whom it suspected of heresy.

    Following the Enlightenment the Church first aligned itself with those who opposed democracy and moves for social justice, but eventually began to embrace those ideas (but not yet within its own government). When capital punishment was the norm the Church was an enthusiastic supporter of it and it was common in the Papal States, after liberal voices in the last century (without any support from the Church) pressed for its abolition the Church followed and now declares that it is against it.

    The Church is sometimes a little slow to realise that it is still living with the unfortunate remnants of a past copying of the spirit of the age, so when most countries no longer give extravagant titles to those in power the Church has the anachronistic Monsignori, Lords, Graces and Eminences. Anyone meeting with Pius XII used to have to genuflect before him as hundred years earlier one would have had to kneel before a monarch. Does “nytor” imagine that sort of behaviour came from an imitation of Christ?

    It is inconceivable that in a generation or so, when homosexual relationships will be considered by everyone of all faiths and none to be as moral as heterosexual relationships, that the Church will not learn from this experience and eventually revise its teaching. 

  • ms Catholic state

    Societies that consider homosexual relationships on a par with heterosexual relationships will never survive…..and never have.  Apart from anything else…..such a notion contradicts simple logic and is merely a passing fad.

    In matters external and cultural….the Church may follow the spirit of the age, but in matters of faith and morality she may never do so.  Which is why the Catholic Church alone refuses to condone contraception in its dogma.  And while the death penalty might be out of favour….it has never been completely revoked.  

  • Andrew

    Personification of sexuality, genderisation of persons, mindless regurgitation of archaic Church teachings on the simplistic dualism of male-female identity, hopelessly uninformed by and resistant to the accumulated findings of multidisciplinary scientific and clinical research, promulgated by self-hating gay clergy living in surreal isolation in marbled corridors of rapidly disappearing political and moral authority.  As Catholicism in Europe collapses in the face of intellectually unsupportable arguments such as Oddie’s current one on gay marriage, faithfully stating the official position rather offering one based on open thought and intellectual honesty, as people increasingly reject with distate such disorted reasoning, the financial base of the Church will collapse with it.  Sexual scandal after sexual scandal in the Church, abuse of minors on a horrifying scale globally, systematic concealment of criminal activities, psychological abuse of persons through the peddling of the notion of the ‘sin’ of contraception, the ‘sin’ of same sex love, the ‘sin’ of divorce even in conditions of gross incompatibility – et cetera et ad nauseam!  None of the posts here that have attempted to study my earlier reasoning (above) have produced anything like an informative or edifying response that would earn them anything more than a ‘E’ in Essay.  Many show profound anti-gay prejudice dressed up as (purile) defences of outdated moral theology. I am, however, heartened to read a large number of posts which show a genuine need to consider this issue in far more objective terms and – if the issue of gay marriage is put to opinion polls and focus groups and to the Electorate itself – we know what the result will be: a substantial and dominant percentage in favour of a civilised approach to ending baseless discrimination against gay persons.  This is the overwhelming an inexorable tide of public opinion in the Developed World.  It is unstoppable.  To those of you who appear to have some difficulties in understanding this, I use in conclusion the words of a recent gay campaign: ‘Some people are gay, get over it!”.   

  • theroadmaster

    How many !st century Jewish Rabbis rose from the dead on the third day after suffering the very agonizing death of being nailed to a cross which is then placed bolt upright?  Eye witnesses to those events and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, recorded their experiences in the N.T  Synoptic gospels and after the awakening of Pentecost were prepared to lay down their lives for the truths that their Master  gave them.  Jesus is either the Son of God or not as He claimed?  There are no half-way house answers here.  If the former is true, which we as Christians so believe, then we cannot get away with slippery answers in relation to His word not being “definitive” on matters like marriage.  If the words of Christ on marriage are the last word, then the Church which is the universal purveyor of His teachings, cannot in conscience deviate from bringing then to the attention of the world. Some people may dispute Jesus’ claims in relation to His Divinity, but the persistence of 2000 years of the very profound influence of Christianity across the world should make them think again.

  • Anonymous

    The danger here is not so much that the state might give gay couples the title of marriage – after all, the state also allows divorced people civil marriages in registry offices, and the Church doesn’t recognise those either.

    What worries me is the potential for future attempts to compel the Church to perform these ceremonies – either by legislation or by litigation.

  • Terence Weldon

    Providing legal recognition for same-sex civil marriage is NOT an assault on religious liberty. If you don’t want same-sex marriage, or as clergy  you don’t want to solemnize them, the remedy is simple: don’t marry the same-sex, and decline requests to solemnize gay weddings. There is nothing in any legislation anywhere, in force or proposed, that will force you to do so.

    What the bishops’ opposition is doing, is in fact not defending religious liberty, but restricting the religious liberty of others – of the increasing number of people of other denominations who support marriage equality, and want to conduct their own church weddings on a basis free of discrimination.( See Gay Marriage: Catholic Bishops Assault on Religious Freedom.).

    It is also ridiculous to refer, as you do, to “the Church’s constant restatement of its unchanging beliefs ” in the context of marriage. History shows that in fact, the Church’s teaching on the subject has constantly changed over two millenia of history: for much of the first thousand years, church weddings were not even required for most Catholics – but only for priests. It took even longer for marriage to be accepted as a sacrament, and (in marked contrast to today), for a long time, the wedding did not mark the beginning of marital cohabitation, but was the culmination of a betrothal period, following a period of living together – and often took place only with the onset of pregnancy. For substantiation, see “The Sexual Person” by Catholic theologians Salzmann & Lawler, or   A Catholic history of marriage  by Stephen Schoessler, a Jesuit history professor at Boston College, a Catholic university,

    Get a grip: as I have written elsewhere, there could be real value in rational discussion of same-sex marriage and the church, and especially around the possibility of liturgical recognition, either as marriages or as some other form of same-sex union ( as was done for centuries by the Christian Church during the first millenium). But that rational debate is impossible, when Catholic opponents of marriage equality trot our simply falsehoods or self-contradictory arguments to support their opposition. That simply makes the Catholic Church into a laughing stock, inviting ridicule.

  • ms Catholic state

    Of course the Church will be forced to bless same sex marriage.  It is all leading up to this.  And then the demonic forces of secularism will try to shut down the Churches when they refuse to do so. 

    But we will never ever bless same sex marriages.  Your malignant society will fall (it is falling and failing at this very moment….thank God) before the Church will.

  • ms Catholic state

    Sounds like secularists to me…the constant, incessant and mindless determination to control even the laws of nature themselves.  But sadly for you… secularists didn’t create the universe and the norms and laws by which it operates… you have no power to change it.

    Mother Nature will smite secular society.

  • Anonymous

    The myth that the Church has unchanging beliefs about moral issues is very strange. It is a complete denial of history. Anyone who understands the history of the Church knows that the forces of conservatism always resist change, but that thanks to the Holy Spirit, they are always defeated in the end.

  • Hayley

    Never going to happen. Freedom of religion is enshrined in law.