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Last week, I asked Archbishop Nichols to clarify his views on civil unions: this led the CNA to ask him, too. He spoke: but did we get an answer?

This is all getting to look very similar to what we have been told about the Soho Masses

By on Monday, 5 December 2011

Archbishop Nichols: 'Same-sex partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual relationship, which marriage does'

Archbishop Nichols: 'Same-sex partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual relationship, which marriage does'

I refer you first to an article which appeared last week on the website of the Catholic News Agency, which is based in Rome, and which refers to a piece which I wrote last week – one which it seems led to the CNA telephoning Archbishop Nichols to ask him whether or not he really did support civil unions.

My initial hope that we would now get a straight answer to a straight question was of course dashed: what we actually got was a kind of sideways slither, in which he said that the bishops actually simply accepted the existence of civil unions. But what he had said before was that they were valuable: “We would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision… The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give…” If that isn’t actual approval, I would like to know what is. Here’s the relevant part of the CNA article:

Catholic commentator William Oddie wrote in the Nov 30 edition of the Catholic Herald that “Archbishop Nichols says he is in favor of gay civil unions: but that legally includes the right to adopt. So why did we lose our adoption agencies?”

“Now we are told, by the chairman of the bishops’ conference, [Archbishop Nichols] that the English Church supports civil unions between homosexual persons, unions which have been given the legal right to adopt children,” Oddie continued.

When Archbishop Nichols was asked by CNA if the bishops of England were contradicting the Vatican’s guidelines, he said that the bishops have tried “to recognize the reality of the legal provision in our country of an agreement, a partnership, with many of the same legal safeguards as in marriage.” He further explained that while the bishops recognise the existence of civil partnerships, they also “believe that that is sufficient”, and that they should not be placed on par with marriage…

“Clearly, respect must be shown to those who in the situation in England use a civil partnership to bring stability to a relationship,” the archbishop said, qualifying that while “equality is very important and there should be no unjust discrimination,” that “commitment plus equality do not equal marriage”.

Archbishop Nichols said the key distinction between civil partnerships and marriage is that the former does not “in law contain a required element of sexual relationships”.

“Same-sex partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual relationship, which marriage does,” he explained. “And that’s the distinction that I think it’s important for us to understand, that marriage is built on the sexual partnership between a man and a woman which is open to children to their nurture and education.”

So while the bishops of England and Wales “respect the existence of same-sex partnerships in law,” he said, “the point we are at now is to say that they are not the same as marriage.”

There’s one new element in that answer: the preposterous argument that “Same-sex partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual relationship, which marriage does.” In other words, they’re not like marriage at all. But of course they’re like marriage in one very important respect: that they have as a fundamental defining element that those in such unions have the legal right to adopt children. This isn’t the first time Archbishop Nichols has said he accepts and supports these unions, and has attempted to father his views on the bishops’ conference: in the immediate aftermath of the Pope’s visit, in September of 2010, he claimed that the bishops weren’t against them:

ROME, September 24, 2010 (– A day after the departure of Pope Benedict XVI from Britain, his senior archbishop, the unofficial head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, told a BBC interviewer that the English bishops had purposely refused to oppose (my emphasis) legalizing homosexual civil partnerships. (Download the audio here.)

Attempting to defend the Catholic hierarchy from accusations of being opposed to the homosexualist political agenda around the world, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster hastened to assure the BBC’s Huw Edwards, “That’s not true.”

“In this country, we were very nuanced. We did not oppose gay civil partnerships. We recognized that in English law there might be a case for those. What we persistently said is that these are not the same as marriage.”

But that simply wasn’t, and isn’t, the case. Archbishop Nichols, in a tight corner, and faced by several aggressively secularist interlocutors, was winging it. That fact is that “we” (ie the bishops) never said that “there might be a case for those”. What the bishops actually said in 2003, as I pointed out in my article last week, was that “the government’s proposals to create civil partnerships for same-sex couples would not promote the common good”, because these proposals would in the long term undermine marriage and the family, and that they were “not needed to defend fundamental human rights or remedy significant injustices for same-sex couples, as these have either already been substantially addressed or can largely be addressed by the couple entering into contractual arrangements privately.”

And now we are being told, preposterously, that gay civil unions aren’t based on a sexual relationship, so Catholics don’t have to be opposed to them. If that’s the case, one has to ask, why can’t siblings living together be given the same legal framework of protection? And I repeat, why do partners in a civil union have the right to adopt – (making these unions virtually indistinguishable in law from civil marriage) – a right which the Church everywhere else in the world including here has consistently opposed?

That claim that civil unions aren’t based on sexual relations taking place has a familiar ring to it, however: it is highly reminiscent of the persistent claim by this same Archbishop Nichols that we cannot know that those gay people who communicate at the Soho Masses are sexually active. He also says that those who aver (with very good reason, including the open and repeated avowals of those concerned) that at the Soho Masses those involved in active homosexual relationships do receive Holy Communion, in defiance of the laws of the Church, should “learn to hold their tongue”. And if you doubt that he said that, here he is on YouTube, actually saying it.

To return to civil unions, the fact is that when the bishops said in 2003 that they “would in the long term undermine marriage and the family”, they have very evidently already been proved right. It’s all very well for the archbishop to say that he supports marriage: why then does he also support the gay civil unions which by having virtually all the rights of marriage have undoubtedly weakened the distinctiveness of true marriage and will certainly weaken it further?

I hope that CNA follow up on this story. They are read in Rome; and that’s where this matter should now be taken up.

  • PJB 1954

    Archbishop Nichols has hosted a conference of Quest, an organisation which exists to undermine the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts, on diocesan property. He has allowed a church of his diocese to be used for LGBT Masses, with the same community also promoting Pride events and hosting lectures by dissenters. He has repeatedly told journalists that he doesn’t know whether the Church will retain her official teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts, on one occasion even going so far as to assert that the “old language” of mortal sin was a misguided
    attempt to motivate the faithful. Asked by the BBC whether the Church would ever bless gay unions, his response was, “who knows what’s down the road?”

    You don’t need to be a psychoanalyst to assess the extent of his commitment to the Church’s constant teaching that homosexual acts are gravely immoral.

  • Laurence England

    Well done, William Oddie, for keeping up with this. Do not let go of this bone. I’ve written a musical open letter to His Grace to be sent to him and the CDF if necessary. Anyone is free to sign it.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Dr Oddie but I’m afraid you’re on a hiding to nothing.

    They don’t care – they’ve conceded that they’ve lost the fight so there’s no point really fighting.

    They’re simply preparing the way for their future justifications for withdrawing the Church from performing Civic marriages – Once ‘same-sex marriage’ is designated as such and ‘equality’ legislation finally bullies its way into forcing Churches to perform all forms of marriage or be proscribed from performing any civic marriages.

    Ben Summerskill of Stonewall stated that was their intention years ago; Peter Tatchell repeated the same demands over the weekend.
    They will get their way – no Government wants to be accused of homophobia.

    Ultimately any Catholic who wishes to marry will have to go through both a civic and a religious ceremony.

    Irrespective of what the Anglicans say now – once the law is changed and same sex unions are legally deemed as marriage – they will either fall into line or they will withdraw from the civic aspect – and we’ll emulate places like France and Russia where a religious ceremony – even by the established church of the land – will mean nothing legally.

    +Vin’s just citing platitudes – not wanting to be seen as homophobic – not wanting to rock any boat – and just waiting for the inevitable [which of course doesn't have to be!].

    For +Vin it’s ‘let the Scots do the shouting and fighting; and after the dust has settled we’ll pretend to have always been sympathetic to the winning side’

    It’s despicable – but it’s politics! We should be used to it by now.

    With +Vin it’s simply ‘don’t rock the boat’ ‘be a man for all seasons [with as many faces]‘

    But this whole ‘gay marriage’ thing is NOTHING in comparison to what else Bishops’ Conference have done!

    Remember +Smiffy halting a backbench rebellion against the Mental Capacity Act by sending round a note to the House of Commons saying ‘The Church doesn’t have a problem with it’!!!
    or +Smiffy again when he ‘welcomed’ the relaxation on assisted suicide guidelines for prosecution…

    Do we need to go into the Machiavellian Machinations of the CESEW? Not only have abortion-mongering Connexions been given conference blessing to work in Catholic schools – we were on the verge of a nightmare scenario last year where [with Oona Stannard's conspiracy] we almost had Catholic schools being banned from saying abortion and extra-marital sex was wrong outside a religion class!

    I just don’t get why everyone seems to be so submissive, compliant and complacent – underage sex is being promoted, contraception and abortifacients are being provided, and abortion referrals are given – all under the roof of a Catholic school in the strictest confidence – even for those under the age of consent!
    Why are we letting this happen?
    Why isn’t every Catholic on the streets? Or camped outside Eccleston Square until this diabolical evil is removed from our schools?
    Surely all the Catholic teachers and governors know? Surely all our clerics?
    So why is it happening?

    But wait a minute…we also have a conference which endorses the Liverpool Care Pathway – which prescribes Euthanasia via the removal of nutrition and hydration.

    So if we have a Bishops’ Conference [under +Vin's tenure] which signs off on , and turns a blind eye to Abortion and Euthanasia – why should we be so shocked that suddenly they betray the teachings on the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church on what constitutes Marriage and Marital Lovemaking?

    …and how in the name of all sanity can we do anything about it?
    …because the CDF know EXACTLY what Conference has done – and exactly what +Vin’s like..

    …but nothing’s being done about it

    Is there not ONE Bishop who will take a stand and say ‘NO!” ?
    One with the guts to take a stand and tell Conference to shove their syncretist, relativist heterodoxies and their murder-conspiring policies where the sun doesn’t shine?

    Surely Bishop Davies will?
    Or Bishop Doyle? Or one of the others who we all know are decent good men but shamefully negligent of their Apostolic mandate?
    Surely one of them will say ‘NO!’ ?

    This is a Nightmare scenario
    …and their  turning a blind eye at four male or four female bare legs in a bed is just the tip of the iceberg

  • Lionsledbydonkeys

    Dr Oddie,
    Perhaps a better question to ask his grace next time would be “Are you Catholic?”
    Yours Faithfully
    The rest of the church.

  • Sanctus3x

    Your Clergy are Judus Priests. Archbishop Nichols must be excommunicated. He is teaching heresy and schism. The Catholic Schools need to be closed, because they are not teaching Catholicism. The Soho Masses are Black Masses! Get a whip and and clean out the Temple! They mock the 10 Commandments of God and His Holy Church. Grow up England! If you are Catholic do not fall for your Nations Lawless Laws nor buy the lies of this Errant Archbishop & those who follow him. He has set up a desecration within your own Catholic Churches. Stop them! Protest them. Rabble rouse until they stop. Send off emails to the Pope. Pray more & start a Perpetual Adoration Chapel in your homes with your Priest’s Permission or within your own Parish demand it! Fight on, Church Militant!

  • Anonymous

    Archbishop Nicholls did not say that he was “in favour of gay civil unions” but that he did not oppose them.

    It is not splitting hairs to recognise this distinction, and someone as clever as Dr Oddie should be able to understand it. I expect that Dr Oddie is not opposed to laws allowing couples to divorce, but that does not mean that it would be fair to write a headline saying, “William Oddie is in favour of divorce.”  If Dr Oddie does not think that homosexual sex should be illegal in this country it does not mean that we could write, “Oddie in favour of gay sex.”

  • Kennyinliverpool

    The church needs to provide a space for gay people in the church that acknowledges and celebrates them as children of God made in their image. Regardless of what one thinks of sexual acts, which usually dominates such discussions, the point remains that gay people within the Catholic Church feel discriminated against and hated and so leave. This is really sad! I think that groups designed for gay people need to be offered to enable the gay community to be able to remain within the Church. If this doesn’t happen people will just leave. You might dislike Quest but they are at least providing pastoral and spiritual support for gay people and their families. Maybe the Church needs to have a more conservative form of Quest? The point remains that a structure for gay people is necessary? 

  • Claire Duffy

    “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but
    underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their
    fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In
    the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad
    fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good
    fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and trown
    on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits”  -
    Matthew 7: 15 – 20.

    There is one semi-redundant seminary left in England & Wales. Same in Ireland.
    in Scotland. Priests are declining dramatically. Giant pandas entering
    the UK each year is almost equal to the annual intake to our Seminaries!
    As seen by their actions and practices, a lot of Bishops and priests do
    not believe that it is truely Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and
    divinity present in the Holy Eucharist. A lot of Bishops and priests
    clearly don’t believe that there is such a thing as Mortal Sin and the
    grave consequenses of dying in a state of Mortal Sin. And so do not
    teach the Truth, the Faith to the flock, – seen by the grave decline in
    numbers truely practicing, trying to practice, the Catholic Faith.

    212. In what does hell consist?
    Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin
    through thier own free choice. The principal suffering of hell is
    eternal separation from God in whom alone we can have the life and
    happiness for which we were created and for which we long. Christ
    proclaimed this reality with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed,
    into the eternal fire.” (Matthew 25:41)
    Compendium – Catechism of the Catholic Church. by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

    it that we need martyrs to show us again what the real faith is and is
    worth instead of Bishops and priest who are politicians, NOT  SHEPHERDS 

  • Claire Duffy

    Well I hope you send such feelings by letter to Archbishop Menini, our Papal Nuncio, to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome AND to the Pope. It is only with such feelings voiced, REPEATED and REPEATED AGAIN that the hierarchy might realise that truely as clergy read every Tuesday at their night prayer -
    “Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith.” (1 Peter 5: 8-9)

    Yes the devil is prowling round -  “CLERGY”, bishops whom they are appointing – and eating the flock!

  • Mary

    The UK and US governments’ obsession with gay rights is not due to issues of equality but rather population control. Planned Parenthood has released many pieces of literature that lists promotion of homosexuality, as well as gender role reversals, as good ways to discourage marriage and hence discourage procreation. Personally, I recognize overpopulation a big problem in some countries but I do not subscribe to the deceitful ways that Planned Parenthood and the government has promoted it.

  • Anonymous

    Patrick – That is simply untrue !

    Tell you what – instead of revisionism – why don’t you read what Fordham & Fairfield Jesuit universities are up to – you’ll love it !

  • Anonymous

    “There is one semi-redundant seminary left in England & Wales.”

    Really? There is plenty of life at Oscott, two others at Wonersh and Allen Hall, and then the Venerabile and the Beda in Rome and also the pre-seminary in Valladolid, and numbers are going up…

  • Anonymous

    Are Quest really?
    I sometimes wonder.

    Kenny don’t you think most gay people get a little bit fed up being identified by the a fragment of their identity [i.e. their sexual predilection]  and irked being ‘pastorally ministered’ by those who want to segregate them from the community as a tokenistic ideological ‘special case’ category? Less a human being and more a ‘pawn for a cause’

    Aren’t Warwick St Masses totally contrary to the very notion of acceptance and integration into each and every community? Let alone the counter-productivity of its anti-Catholic mantras in sermons and bidding prayers.

    Heard of Encourage?

  • Anonymous

    Oh Bishop Davies has. His sermon at the Oratory in Birmingham on the feast of Bl J.H. Newman was nothing short of combative.

  • Ttony

    The problem we have to face is that while we have become used to ++Vin trying to hunt with the hounds and run with the hares, we are also having to face up to the fact that when he is forced to face up to the contradiction, he always leans the wrong way.  If, as in the case of civil unions, you ask “What would Pope Benedict do?”, do you have the certainty that what Pope Benedict would do is what Archbishop Nichols would do?  And why not?

    This is a crisis about the catholicity of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.  Unlike Austria or Ireland or Flanders, where a bunch of dissident priests are rebelling, in this country we have the Hierarchy supporting Caesar against the Church.

  • Anonymous

    Good on him too! I just wish next time he finds value in something similar he would not campaign so vigorously to stop them being instituted in the first place!

  • W Oddie

    Sorry, he DIDN’T just say he wasn’t opposed (and of course, in any case, he should have been opposed: THE CHURCH IS). But this is what he said: “We would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision… The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give…” That is an expression of positive support and approval. There’s no other way of reading it.

  • loyalCatholic

    Why is Dr Oddie stirring up this issue.. ? I sniff mischief making ?.the original comments made by Archbishop Vincent did not express official Catholic support for civil partnerships…am I the only intelligent person to acknowledge that  they were made in a context where there was an acknowledgement that within a pluralistic secular society aka UK, many people would view civil partnerships as providing  a legal framework  and some concession to equal treatment…the church for its part cannot ignore that social attitude….that is not the same as saying  the church supports civil partnerships

    Archbishop Vincent is an excellent pastor ….a gifted communicator …a great man.

    I find this type of journalism to be hysterical, uncharitable and  divisive.

    How did the Catholic Herald come to this sorry state? A true Catholic sense is more guarded and charitable, not headline grabbing

  • Observer

    Perhaps they should attend Masses by the SSPX whom you have labelled “suppressed gay men” in an earlier post (3 months ago).

  • Bellator

    What is the difference between Nichols and a whimpy liberal Anglican? Far more important than the pseudo-debate on homosexual “equality”, “rights” and so in, is where does this concept of “homosexual marriage” come from? As far as I can see a Jewish political activist from New York City, Evan Wolfson, who heads “Freedom to Marry” is the instigating figure in this direction.

    Is the West to be Catholic-Christian or Judeo-Pagan? This is the real center of the debate. Is morality to be defined by whatever fad some weirdo dreams up in New York City and want to spread around the world like poison to degenerate nations, through the proxy of brain-rotted liberal idiots, or is it rooted in something more rooted and permanent?

  • Anonymous

    Funny that: Is loyal now a euphemism for wilfully obtuse?

    3 questions loyalCatholic [well four really] :

    a] Is the starving and dehydrating of a patient to death absolutely forbidden in Catholic moral teaching?

    b] [i] Should a teenage girl under the age of consent be given contraception, sex advice and relationship ‘counselling’ and – should the contraception fail during her statutory rape – be provided with abortifacients or a referral for a mechanical abortion ?
       [ii] would you be happy if this was occurring in a Catholic school without any parental notification yet with the permission of the CESEW ?

    c] If a Catholic complains that during a mass arranged for LGBT Catholics the Priest preaches ‘this love is not wrong’ [knowing the publicly self-declared sexually active parishioners will infer consent towards their activity] and during the bidding prayers they call for a change in Church teaching regarding the acceptance of same-sex sexual activity – should they be told by an Archbishop to ‘shut up!’?

    Is your loyalty to the Catholic Faith or to our renegade Catholic leadership who have deplorably  abrogated their apostolic mandate to the extent that they have now endorsed MURDER in the name of the Catholic Church of England and Wales? And an Archbishop who is directly defying His Holiness and the CDF in his support for Civil Partnerships?

    Archbishop Nichols has categorically stated support for civil partnerships – with justifications and long-winded reasons; irrespective of his clarification that they are never to be considered as marriage…

    [because according to +Vin marriage is about sex - which is a little bit like Austen Ivereigh [perhaps you know the gentleman loyal?] who said it’s all about having kids – while I was catechised and brought up to believe it was a complementary sacramental union of body and soul where two became one on both levels and could potentially be graced with the overflowing of their love into new life]

    …but that isn’t what he agreed to in 2003 ; nor does it conform to the CDF guidelines.

    So we are now at an impasse aren’t we?

    Will Our Archbishop back down and be willing to face an unsympathetic media calling him a homophobe? Will Bishops’ Conference dissociate themselves completely from Connexions and the Liverpool Care Pathway and be denounced by the media, politicians and medical professionals for being so cruelly medieval and prurient?

    i.e. Will Our Catholic hierarchy start acting like Catholics and teach & preach accordingly?
    Or do they wish to remain as Vichyist traitors to the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Faith?

    Whose side are you on ‘loyalCatholic’?

    Or is it a plain and simple fact that it is rather YOU who are here to cause mischief?
    [you really are going to have to learn to extend your vocabulary and not constantly keep falling back on trite buzzwords and cliches if you want to pull a stunt like this you know]

  • James

    I do wish Dr Oddie, who constantly tells us that civil partnerships are a threat to traditional marriage, would spell out in exactly what way they are. Way back in the nineteen fifties and early sixties the movement for gay rights, as it is now termed, was spearheaded in the UK by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). This was a predominantly upper middle class movement, many of its members were committed church attenders, which fully supported the traditional social structure but sought to revoke legislation which made homosexual activity a criminal offence. In the late sixties and early seventies, however, CHE was unfortunately eclipsed by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an American import, which was part of a wider revolutionary movement born out of the permissive society and dedicated to overturning conventional social norms in all respects.  Today things are quite different. OK there may still be a section of the gay community which leads a permissive life style but it is nothing compared to the huge numbers of permissive heterosexual clubbers. Generally speaking homosexuals are now supportive of traditional family values and want to be a part of them. The existance of civil partnerships and the desire amongst some homosexuals for gay marriage is surely an indication that homosexuals value the traditional concept of marriage and see this as the model to which they should aspire. In so doing, it seems to me, they are actually defending marriage against those who regard it as outdated eg heteresexuals who demand that co-habiting couples should have equal rights to married couples or even worse those who pour scorn on the very notion of commitment to another person. These, and not homosexuals, pose the threat to marriage. The homosexual world has moved on. Dr Oddie, it seems, has not.

  • Solent Rambler

    “Ultimately any Catholic who wishes to marry will have to go through both a civic and a religious ceremony.”

    Surely we do now and have done for years?

  • Anonymous

    “And now we are being told, preposterously, that gay civil unions
    aren’t based on a sexual relationship, so Catholics don’t have to be
    opposed to them.”

    ## The Archbishop’s position is very nuanced, & the above is not (AFAICS) fair to it.
    “Archbishop Nichols said the key distinction between civil partnerships and marriage is that the former does not “in law contain a required element of sexual relationships”.

    partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual
    relationship, which marriage does,” he explained. “And that’s the distinction that I think it’s important for us to understand, that marriage is built on the sexual partnership between a man and a woman which is open to children to their nurture and education.””

    SS-Ps often or usually, in actuality, have “a sexual element” – but it is perfectly conceivable that a given SS-P will not have it;  there is nothing in the nature or definition of a S-SP that requires it to be a sexual – a non-sexual one is not a contradiction in terms. It need not “in law” have one. 

    Marriage – in contrast -  as the Church defines it does of its very nature have a sexual element: non-sexual procreation by the spouses is a contradiction in terms.

    ISTM the Abp’s position is perfectly coherent, and not open to the criticism above quoted.

    That the CC opposes gay adoption does not mean the Church is right to oppose it – maybe it is, but mere opposition proves nothing except that there is opposition.

  • Anonymous

    James the problem was injustice to homosexuals in regard to joint property/legacies/visitation rights/power of attorney etc  and archaic laws/institutional regulations which prohibited these rights towards same sex partners.

    The Church fully recognised these injustices and wished them resolved – but the problem was how to resolve them?

    Do you introduce multiple laws? Or just create an overriding civil partnership act which encompasses everything?

    The Church argued the former – as the latter would be deemed an almost state recognised version of marriage in all but name – and marriage for same sex couples is impossible – for a start the marriage couldn’t be consummated – and the presumptive ‘sexual intimacy’ was mutually masturbatory and treating the partners as a means for lifeless sexual gratification – and intrinsically morally disordered. BUT For the Church Marriage is not merely a physical earthly phenomena – it’s a spiritual sacramental union of souls – where God gets involved in that mysterious bond – and in that process and ineffable sacred union it is the grounds for the love to overflow into conceiving and rearing children. It’s not merely a question of love and commitment and promises – it’s about so much more – the otherworldly – that we simply don’t understand. Where God’s involved we don’t transgress on His commands. So the Church – by its very essence – HAD to be against the very notion of two men or two women being united the same way a man and a woman can be…it’s not merely the biological incompatibility – it’s the spiritual!

    The Church is categorically NOT against chaste celibate same-sex partnerships where the disaffected friendship helps promote and sustain and formulate love – and they are entitled to rights which affect their relationship and security and if denied woud be contrary to justice – but this NEVER needed to be a registered state civic union – nor did it ever need to ever impinge on other areas e.g. the joint adoption of children.

    But the gay community [well at least their vociferous activists] demanded civic partnerships in the name of equality – and who can blame either them or the government for making things more easy and expedient with a single overriding civil partnership?

    To the Church it was an affront in its emulation of marriage – but nevertheless amidst the scandal against sacramental matrimony there was some restorative justice – but we had government reassurance that it WAS NOT marriage – and we also had high-profile gay activists declaring that they would never want it to be like marriage as the whole nuclear family paradigm was anachronistic and offensive to the LGBT community as well as derogatory to those who live in a post-nuclear family paradigm [their words - not ours].

    Then came the demands for adoption to same-sex couples – something Catholic adoption agencies simply couldn’t do – so in the recalcitrant equality situation the adoption agencies were forced to close.

    Now there are demands for same-sex partnerships to be designated as marriages of equal validity as state marriages [ in other words for the law to be rewritten - for us to abandon not only the religious recognition of marriage but also the EU and UN understanding of marriage as solely a male-female phenomena]

    ..and here’s the crunch – why do they want this?
    Ben Summerskill and Peter Tatchell have made this clear – it has nothing to do with gaining the name of marriage – those in civic partnerships call themselves married anyway – it’s the legal designation of marriage allows them legal ‘equality’ clout  to force Churches to either perform same-sex ceremonies or be banned from performing state-registered and recognised religious ceremonies.

    Religions should not be allowed to treat them as different and still remain part of the civic nature of the state.

    So what next?
    Already we have a court ruling which states that a priest is an employee of a diocese – so will a priest claim unfair dismissal if he breaks his celibacy vows and shacks up with a man or woman and is summarily suspended?
    How long till a woman claims sex discrimination for being prevented from joining an all-male priesthood ?
    Or priests demand the right to be married in the name of equality – to either sex?

    What takes precedence? The demands for equality in everything – ot the right to religious freedom?
    Will it get to the stage where Church members are prosecuted and imprisoned for saying gay sexual acts are sinful?

    Who knows how far it will go – but from the way our Archbishop is acting it’s as if he’s already given up the ghost in fighting this gay marriage thing and seems resigned that it’s going to happen – his only ‘differentiation argument’ regarding marriage is so far on grounds of ‘procreative sex’…there’s little spiritual dimension expressed whatsoever…

    Maybe he thinks we shouldn’t bring religion into ‘Religion’ and its defence?
    I don’t know….

    Nobody’s suggesting that homosexuals might not be extremely conservative and traditionalist in their emulation of commitment and ‘family values’…

    But I think you have to realise that homosexual activists and Church-hating secularists/humanists are using this proposed ‘equality legislation’ to punish , isolate and expel religion from any civic involvement…

  • Anonymous

    Parasum : A hypothetical
    A British subject enters a civil partnership with a foreign national.

    Investigators suspect that the partnership is merely to ensure that the non-Briton can stay in this country.
    What would happen if the authorities discovered that the civic partners were not in a sexual relationship?

  • Tiddles the Cat

    I am a regular reader of Catholic News Agency (CNA). It keeps me informed about the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.

    I sincerely hope that Rome will see this as a matter of great urgency and take Archbishop Nicholls to task about this and many other issues - and meter out some uncompromising ‘tough love’ to +Nicholls in the process!

  • Apostolic

    Also on YouTube, when interviewed by the BBC, ++Nichols was asked whether the Catholic Church will follow the Anglican Communion in being “flexible” on such questions as women priests, homosexual partnerships etc, his response was “Who knows what is down the road?” What kind of “Catholic” archbishop is he? I don’t see that red hat coming now. Neither should it. Indeed, like ++Keith O’Brien, he should be forced by Rome to make a public declaration on these matters.

  • Frpeter

    The Italian press see Nichols as a champion against gay marriage, that is presumably how the Vatican sees him. Scratching the itch of our indisposition here is fine but we must write to Rome, to every dicfastery.

  • Peter

    In fact civil marriage, in Britain and most other countries, like a civil partnership, is certainly not based on a sexual relationship.  It’s purely a legal formula very similar to an ante nuptial contract in this country.  Sex is not the signature, unlike a religious marriage.  (Incidentally it was here that the Abp got it wrong!)

    How the state regulates relationships is its own business unless it conflicts with religious interests.  When it comes to Civil Partnerships or Civil Marriages there is no conflict.

  • Kathy

    Archbishop Vincent is a good man.  He has a great generosity and empathy for all people, which I know from first hand experience. The ferocity and venom being expressed  on this forum by some fellow Catholics leaves me very sad.

  • Mater mari

    There is a splendid truly-Catholic organisation – Encourage – which really does offer pastoral and spiritual support to people with same-sex attraction. Let us never forget in our prayers those enormously courageous people who face this difficulty every day of their lives while our hierarchy, as far as one can tell, let them down by endorsing lifestyles which are contrary to Catholic teaching.

  • Pepin the Short

    Allow me to put your fears to rest; judging by the way you are interpreting this whole thing, I can assure you that you are NOT intelligent.  You may rest easy now…

  • Pepin the Short

    As far as I know, the Church does have such an institution whose main function is to guide and help People who recognize that they are gay but who do not want to live an immoral life.  This institution helps them in this regard.  I came across it once in my meanderings but I cannot remember its official name.  Maybe somebody could enlighten us…

  • Mr Grumpy

    So why can’t siblings have a civil partnership?

  • Terence Weldon

    When Pope Benedict was asked about clerical celibacy in the book length interview published as  “Light of the World”, he observed that celibacy is difficult, but “becomes possible” when lived in a supportive community. He was referring specifically to clergy, but the same principle applies to lay men and women – for them, living and working in the secular world, absolute celibacy is possibly even more difficult than it is for priests. For them, what is the alternative to a lonely and solitary life?

    One would think that one solution, in keeping with the Pope’s observation, could be to live in partnership with another of like mind. For such a couple, the legal recognition and protection offered by a civil partnership brings obvious benefits. Are you seriously suggesting that these benefits should be denied to celibate gay men and women should be forced to live entirely alone, or if they form a relationship with another for companionship and support, should be denied these benefits, simply because the majority of couples in these partnerships are in fact sexual? 

  • Michael

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that homosexuals should be compelled to live alone. However, unmarried *couples* should live separately. Or do you suggest that unmarried heterosexual couples should live together to provide mutual support to remain chaste prior to marriage?! This has not proven to be a successful formula for chastity. 

  • ms Catholic state

    Not only do they want population control….but it looks like they want to abolish the native populations of their nations!!  That’s how demonic our secular governments are.  Why isn’t this brought up in Parliament?!

  • Peter

    My own parish church…we are an inner city parish….has a gay & lesbian support group as well as a support group for women who have had abortions.  There was a complaint to the Archbishop when both groups were started on the premise that we were encouraging women to have abortions and condoning same-sex sex!  Some people have the ability to read something salacious into anything!

  • Mike

    A few years ago the Italian bishops campaigned very strongly (and successfully) to prevent civil unions legislation passing. If they were so strongly against it, and the threats it poses to marriage and the family, why are England’s bishops any different? They need our prayers.

  • Deesis

    1/ Of course civil unions involve sex! The reason acivil unions exist is homosexual sexual behaviour. The Church teaches homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. The moral law is not a Catholic thing but applies to all humanity. How then can the good Archbishop condone behaviour that is sinful? He needs to look at homosexuality for what it is. It is promiscuous because it is based upon an emotional problem expressed and inflamed by the deep frustration and emptiness of the sexual act.
    A life long homosexual relationship involves sex. A life long non sexual relationship is called friendship. Generally friends do not enter these civil unions and use other means to leave property and share assets as they wish.

  • Anonymous

    Kathy don’t you think it’s killing us too to be compelled to talk like this in public? Don’t you think His Grace hasn’t been inundated with complaints and desperate pleas for him to do something before it’s too late? But the letters and e-mails go unanswered, the speeches and sermons continue with nonchalant oblivious tedium meanwhile the Christ’s Church in Our Lady’s dowry is being decimated!

    Have you actually read and understood what’s happening?
    If you know His Grace why not ask him [as we have all repeatedly begged and implored him] to do something about the ongoing abortifacient prescription and abortion referrals occurring at the St John & St Elizabeth?

    Why don’t you ask him as Head of Conference to hold an emergency meeting where Our Bishops can immeditely dissociate themselves from the Liverpool Care Pathway and KICK CONNEXIONS OUT of Catholic schools?

    Why don’t you ask him to PLEASE get this farcical situation over gay marriage sorted out by telling the media – and his flock – what the Church truly teaches.

    …and I’m sorry but a few apologies might not go amiss either!

    Doesn’t he realise that it’s his job to Preach the Gospel?

    We’re in trouble – and if he can’t help – or won’t help – could he at least please stop being part of the problem?

    Most of us just want to live out our Catholic lives being reassured that we’re being led by a safe pair of hands who will not hesitate to do as the Church does and say what the Church says…then we won’t feel totally alone as the wolves bay around us and the  vultures begin to circle; and we’ll know we’ll at least have a fighting chance….

    It’s not enough for our Bishops to be personally ‘lovely men’ who Love God and His Church dearly – it’s about time that the Catholics of this country KNEW they were loved – and had it proven to them…because at present it’s being made blatantly obvious that Our leaders simply don’t care…

    If His Grace is as good a man as you say Kathy – and I have no hesitation believing you – then for God’s sake please beg him to stop being so scared and anxious and simply do his job!
    We’re all desperate to support him…but he’s not giving us any choice when he won’t do or say what he’s supposed to.

  • EditorCT

    Please name the planet upon which you reside.  The alleged Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales are more likely to believe in Santa Claus than in God.  Their total contribution to supporting Catholicism is their version of Catholic Social Teaching – ie. lecturing the increasingly faithless about the importance of contributing to CAFOD.

  • EditorCT

    Depends what you mean by a “good man”.  He may be kind enough to you or others in private conversation but so what?  “Even the pagans do as much do they not?”

    His job is to defend and promote the Catholic Faith – not succumb to the demands of a minority group who want to have their sins blessed.  That’s what he is doing.  And that makes him NOT a good bishop – which is all we’re concerned about.

    If you complained to your child’s school that his English teacher couldn’t spell and was making an awful job of teaching your child, I doubt if your worries would be eased by assurances from the head teacher than said English teacher was “a good person”.


  • EditorCT

    Archbishop Keith O’Brien has since spoken out to defend homosexual couples (said he didn’t see a problem with “gays” with partners teaching in Catholic schools) which rather suggests he thought nothing of putting his hand on the Bible and swearing that oath to defend the Faith including all those teachings from which he had previously dissented.

    Of course Cardinal Ratzinger should not have made such a demand. He should simply have said there had been a technical error and O’Brien should not have been on the list of new Cardinals.  THAT is what a non-diplomat, faith-full holder of his office would have done before the days when diplomacy, not dogma, took centre stage.

  • Cybernerd

    The Archbishop would make a good Anglican!

  • Chris Morley

    The Catholic News Agency is NOT based in Rome.
    It’s a USA journal based just outside Denver, Colorado.

    Can’t journalist William Oddie check his facts? Is he trying to mislead Catholic Herald readers into thinking that the Catholic News Agency has high-level Vatican connections?

    Why doesn’t William do what proper journalists do and himself ask Archbishop Vincent Nichols questions? Instead William rides on the coat tails of other journalists and publications.

  • W Oddie

    According to the CNA, they are based in Rome. Maybe thgey’re also based where you say they are.

  • EditorCT

    Why not a support group for paedophiles? Or convicted robbers or whatever.  If we’re going to be providing support for various sins, why not these particular groups? 

  • Lee Der Heerskinderen Lovelock

    FINALLY someone has pronounced the ‘elephant in the room’. This has nothing to do with rights but the transportation of ‘civil society’ into the hand of ‘corps’ and totalitarian governments so they become our ‘everything’ from when we are born to when we die. In doing so, we become ‘their’ tool and as Mary said, population control is one of their methods of controlling and shall surely be used.