Friday, June 28, 2013
MY BULLETIN LETTER FOR JULY 7TH
The judicial branch of our secular government the Supreme Court has decided to redefine the nature of legal marriage. This is yet one more legal decision motivated purely by a secular agenda antipathetic toward religion and/or natural law and is a sad day for the supporters of true marriage of all creeds and no creeds in our country and throughout the world. Monarchy in our judicial system has seen fit to place itself above God.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has reiterated that “marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. Cohabitation, divorce, and contraception all erode marriage’s meaning as a public, total, lifelong, and fruitful communion of persons between husband and wife. The latest challenge to marriage, the proposal that sexual difference doesn’t matter, removes the very basis of marriage’s meaning as a one-flesh communion, open to children, making the definition of marriage in law (and thereby culture) open to limitless variation and ultimately meaningless.”
What does this mean for believing, practicing Catholics? All of us are still under the laws of the Church as it concerns the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony which must be understood as higher than secular or civil law. It also means that we have to teach our children the true meaning of marriage when they see same sex partners acting as married couples.
For the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to be valid in the Catholic Church, it must be entered into for a lifetime with full consent of the will and with no reservations between one man and one woman who are opened to the propagating of new human life; they are open to forming a Christian family with children. There are two aspects to this sacrament, its legal standing before God and man and its sacramental standing as a covenant relationship with God. The image of husband and wife is the image of the intimate relationship God has with us through His Son, Jesus, who is the Bridegroom of the Church, which is His Holy Bride. Through His bride, the Church, Jesus begets children through water and the Holy Spirit through Baptism. Jesus will not forsake the Church; He won’t divorce her.
Thus for a valid Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, it must be recognized by the state for secular standing in civil law and the benefits of the state but it must also be recognized by the Church through the Church’s blessing of these legal unions. A valid Catholic marriage must have broad recognition even beyond the Church.
The Catholic Church cannot recognize as marriage something that isn’t. We have no competency in terms of secular laws governing legal unions between people, two men, two women or a number of individuals claiming marital status. If secular governments want to give these civil unions recognition and legal status, that is unfortunate, but there is nothing the Church can do about it except through moral persuasion and our part in the political and judicial process that lead to secular, political decisions.
We can only declare to Catholics and others of good will that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and its legal counterpart the Bond of Marriage is only between one man and one woman who have no legal or religious impediments and is for a lifetime. There is no such thing in the eyes of the Church of marriage between same sex partners. These are rightly called “civil unions” with legal benefits. These are not marriages. We need not get into a debate about natural verses unnatural sex, for some of these legal unions are precisely that, legal unions without sex, people living chaste lives but who want government legal and monetary benefits. For them, this is a legal partnership with benefits.
We must also make clear that Catholics who were in valid Catholic marriages and then divorced and married civilly or outside of the Catholic Church and without the Church’s blessing are in civil unions also and these unions are not recognized as the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony or the Bond of Marriage. I urge Catholics who are in civil unions due to previous marriage to seek the possibility of a Catholic annulment so that their current civil union, what the state calls marriage, can be solemnized in the Church and thus be validated as an actual religious marriage that the Church recognizes.
At the same time we should not demonize same sex partners, especially those who strive to live a celibate life. Often there is sincere love and care for one another. This doesn't mean that from the pulpit or in our catechesis we are not allowed to called fornication, or adultery or sodomy which heterosexuals often engage in as well, for what these are, mortal sin and reprehensible to God, but we don't need to go after individuals in a personal way. Conversion is the road for everyone.
Brothers and sisters, we live in an age where godless secularism is the new state religion and its laws are being foisted upon the land. There is no separation of this “church” and state whatsoever.
We must now be a leaven in society striving to follow Jesus through the Church and her laws especially when civil law is immoral or corrupt. May God give us the grace and strength to be committed Catholics and to witness to our faith before others and before the state regardless of the repercussions of doing so. God bless you with courage!
Fr. Allan J. McDonald