Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Archbishop Nichols of Westminster said the following concerning same sex civil unions:

'We would want to emphasize 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,
'As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life. The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give. Stability in society depends upon the reliability of commitments that people give. That might be in offering to do a job but especially in their relationships with one another. Equality and commitment are both very important and we fully support them.'

My Comments: I am all in favor of the good fight to preserve the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman in civil law. However, I don't know of too many Catholics who would want civil law to outlaw civil divorce although the Catholic Church does not recognize civil divorce as it pertains to our understanding of a marriage that is a Sacrament. Nor do we fight the government in providing benefits for those who are in a second, third or more marriage after a civil divorce.

I think we have to recognize that many same sex people have powerfully loving partnerships. As they grow older, this friendship/partnership is very healthy and supportive. I would have to endorse that there should be a way for them to have rights under the law and various benefits. This should all be a part of civil law. At the same time, religious liberty must be respected and Churches and other religious groups should not be forced to act against their teachings. For example, the Church should not have to provide insurance for people who work for the Church who want birth control or abortions to be a part of their coverage.

Many same sex partnerships provide stability for those involved in them and are a path to a higher form of sexual morality that avoids promiscuity.

The Church can still call all couples to chastity. But we don't have to police what is going on behind closed doors, whether it is illicit forms of sex, the use of birth control and the like.


Gene said...

Same sex relationships, that is, homosexual ones, should be tolerated as long as they are not normalized as a viable life style or actively supported by the government (as they are now). Tolerated is the key word here...we put up with them because our Constitution suggests that we should.
My problem with what you say, Fr., is that any sympathy, any concession to these people is used as a foot in the door to demand more, and more, and more. The PC mentality makes the abnormal normal, the abhominable appealing, the evil good. Plus, the whole homosexual movement is another weapon used against the Church. I personally believe they should be shunned and marginalized in every way (without being persecuted), but that isn't very nice, now, is it?

Anonymous said...

What if the laws of this nation refused to admit the marriage of a man and a woman in a Catholic Church? I could, with a clear conscience, marry in a Catholic Church and never have a marriage license from the state. For that matter, I don't have one now from the Federal Government. The Feds, or the State for that matter, have no business determining who I marry. Yet they have establish requirements for economic benefits restricted to spouses. These are some of the bricks in the Road to Hell we hear about.

If the purpose of marriage is to advertise that I am having sex on a frequent basis with a particular person that would not seem to be need protection, per se, from the Government but should draw condemnation from the Church. Similarly, while the Church demands that one purpose of the marriage is to at least attempt to produce children, it also does not demand that sex be a requirement to a loving marriage.

I can easily conceive of a situation where two people of the same sex would want a committed relationship, but not one committed to sex, since that can only be for self-gratification. The Archbishop seems to have been suckered into confusing these things during an effort to support, justifiably, committed relationships. But what he describes could exist between siblings and have no sex requirements.

We already have laws against violence that can be applied to homosexuals, we should fix the laws that prevent a person from directing his benefits to whomever he choses, and we should not allow people obsessed with sex to control the agenda of our Government or Church.


Jody Peterman said...

I flip flop on this one because I have represented many wonderful gay people through the years. But I do think your statement borders on winking and nodding to our homosexuals friends that being gay is "ok." I fear that we are putting both our gay friends and our own soul in peril when give them legal rights with civil unions. It's a close to me and one that I struggle with often.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Sometimes the Church simply has to be pastoral and tolerate certain things. There simply are some people for whom celibacy is not their calling or in the realm of possibility for them. How can we get them to the "lesser of two evils" by having a monogamous relationship that is supportive and healthy. We all know of marriages that are far from healthy or supportive, but we tolerate them don't we. How many of us know Catholics who married in the Church are divorced and remarried outside the Church but their marriage seems healthy, their are good parents and productive members of the community. Technically these Catholics are living in sin, but do we demand that they separate even when they have young children that need both parents in the house? Sometimes we have to tolerate certain things and look to what is good rather than what is purely sinful or evil. It is not always that clear cut. I've known many homosexual Catholics who have struggled with their homosexual inclinations and have experienced conversion that has led them to leave a promiscuous, sinful lifestyle and to settle down in a healthy same sex partnership. I think we have to tolerate that and give thanks to God for how far they have come and pray that God in God's time will complete the work of redemption in them.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Just as divorce has become so common place in our culture and in our law, I don't think we can turn the clock back on that in civil law. I would love to see it made more difficult to obtain a divorce, but then people go to countries where they can get it.
But in terms of civil recognition of Marriage I am more and more inclined to not want to sign any civil certificate to validate marriage as civil society understands it. Of course, legally a priest cannot do that. But I could see a day coming when we as a Church in the United States or at least in those states that allow for same sex "marriage" could simply require a couple who desire to be married in the Church to have their civil ceremony first and allow the probate judge to sign the civil license and then bring the civil license to the priest for the pre-nuptial file and convaldidate the civil agreement into a Sacrament. We certainly wouldn't want to have to sign a civil certificate for any other sacrament of the Church, like Baptism, Holy Communion or Holy Orders which would be a better parallel.

Anonymous said...

As a Courage member, hearing churchmen speak thusly makes me nervous. I believe this sort of thinking is naive. Endorsing same sex unions is the equivalent of the Church's saying that same sex activity is OK. That is the whole point of having government registered same sex unions -- to put the government's imprimatur on activity that many believe to be immoral as well as sinful. People are perfectly free to live with whomever they want, but I don't think it and the homosexual activity it implies should have the government's positive blessing, and it certainly shouldn't have the Church's blessing. I believe you are being naive, playing into the hands of the homosexual activists and watering down the message of chastity.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Courage, you have a credible voice in all of this so I'd love for you to write about how Courage has helped you and how you would council Catholics with same sex attractions to live chastely! And how we as Catholics should fight the good fight of the culture wars in this regard!

Anonymous said...

Was away making money, so just caught up. Courage is exactly right. People are constantly in a negotiation mode when they want something they know they can't or should not have. In other words, people don't want tolerance, they want approval.


Carol H. said...

I am completely against legalizing same-sex unions. This is a question of where do you draw the line.

I understand that homosexuals complain that they don't have the same rights as married couples, but I can't sympathize. My heterosexual uncle had a "common-law" marriage with my "aunt". She was unable to get insurance through his employer, and when he died she had no rights for planning his funeral- another aunt (his sister) had to take care of his final needs.

God has already drawn an indellible line on this issue- marriage is between one man and one woman. We have no right to try to change what the Creator Himself has already established. If homosexuals want to share legal rights with one another, they are as free to get a power-of-attorney as anyone else. We should not hate them, we should love them enough to pray for their souls; but we should not be drawn in to become co-dependants of their sins either. We should love them enough to tell them the Truth.

Vianney1100 said...

Father, I understand your desire to be pastoral but semi-accepting a disordered behavior is not being truly pastoral. I could see telling someone with same sex attraction in a one on one situation that you are happy they are in a committed relationship rather than multiple-partners, while continuing to call them to chastity. However, calling for this in a general and public way does not benefit that same person, it only confirms them in their behavior. this is not what the Church does. she calls the sinner to repent not commit fewer instances of the same sin. should John the Baptist have been content that Herod was married to his brother's wife because their relationship was "committed? should the Church call for legalizing prostitution because it would help prostitutes to have safer liaisons? No, the effect would be more prostitutes. In a similar way the effect of what you propose would be to affirm more of those with same sex attraction in their disordered lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

First, I'd like to acknowledge that I do appreciate the difficulty that gays face in their struggle to be chaste. With that in mind . . .

Let's say I'm a man who is sexually attracted to boys under the age of 18. Why shouldn't your rule of tolerance extend to that situation as well as to that of adult gay couples?

Surely the right pastoral approach in that circumstance is to be as sympathetic as possible in helping me deal with this perversion of sexual desire (perversion: from Latin perversio, from the verb pervertere 'turn about', i.e., desire turned in the wrong direction), _but in no way to condone acting upon it_. To condone acting on it would be false charity, wouldn't it?

The likely response is that in my case, this isn't a relationship between consenting adults, and that when you have consenting adults it's different. But that argument is based on a lot of weaknesses and false assumptions.

First, contrary to what most people think about the term "consenting adults," our society continues to ban many behaviors between consenting adults. Dueling; physician-assisted suicide; adultery; sales of kidneys; heck, under Obamacare, direct cash transactions without government involvement between a doctor and his patient, for all I know. In light of that, you can't logically just say "consenting adults" to legitimize gay relationships even at the purely state level unless you're prepared to legitimize a whole lot of other stuff that you probably don't want to.

Second, why "consenting adults?" Why NOT allow a minor consent? We let boys do other dangerous things, like camp in rattlesnake-infested woods, play football, drive cars three years before their majority (thus endangering others as well as themselves).

My point being: if you're going to justify adult same-sex relationships, you either have to a) use a simple, clear argument--Holy Mother Church teaches that anything other than celibacy outside of marriage is sinful, and thus destructive to the souls of those who engage in it as well as a scandal to the faith and so injurious to others--or else b) engage in very difficult if not impossible distinctions, rooted in things alien to Catholic morality, to say that it's OK.

Why should an orthodox Catholic entertain even the possibility of the latter?

And let's not forget that tolerance implicitly states that the behavior tolerated is wrong. In other words, to be tolerant is NOT to say "It's OK"; rather, to be tolerant is to say "It's wrong, but I'll put up with it." We need to be wary of the modern tendency of the world to equate "tolerance" with "OK."