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Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles

I welcome and offer my full support to the document released July 31, 2003 by the Holy See with respect to granting legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons. This new declaration brings together in one place the consistent teaching of the Church over the centuries regarding marriage, the union of a man and a woman, as the foundational basis for the human society.

This teaching document will be followed in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, especially when legislative proposals are being discussed and debated which might grant legal recognition to such homosexual unions.

While the Church once again reaffirms its respect for homosexual persons, it makes it clear that this respect “cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

In four sections the document sets forth (1) the very nature of marriage and the inalienable characteristics of marriage as known through God’s revelation, (2) how civil governments deal with the problem of homosexual unions, (3) arguments from reason against the legal recognition of homosexual unions, and (4) the required positions of Catholic politicians with regard to legislation in favor of homosexual unions.

Here in California the voters have already adopted a statute in June of 2000 that provides “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” [California Family Code Section 308.5]

The central point of the Church’s reaffirmation of marriage is stated anew in this latest teaching document:

The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself. [no. 11]

While stating forcefully that marriage between a man and a woman is the only union which derives from God’s plan for the human family, the Church once again cautions against discrimination towards homosexual persons: “…men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’ They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. [no. 4]

I urge all Catholics and people of good will within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to continue all efforts to extend understanding, respect, compassion and sensitivity to all homosexual persons. Every form of discrimination must be avoided. The Archdiocese will continue its pastoral care and concern for all peoples, including homosexual persons.

The document also speaks to the reason often given for granting legal recognition to homosexual unions:

Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual persons is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the autonomy—to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society. [no. 9]

The final section of the document speaks directly to Catholic politicians and their responsibilities to oppose first-time legislation granting legal recognition to homosexual unions, and to work to diminish the effectiveness of any existing legislation: “… it is his/her duty to witness to the truth.” [no. 10]. I urge all Catholics serving in public office in and from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to reflect carefully upon this teaching.

It is my prayerful hope that this new teaching document will afford us all the opportunity to reflect more deeply upon God’s plan for the human family, and to take those steps necessary to protect the foundational elements of that plan for the good of marriage and family life.

July 31, 2003


Archdioceses of Los Angeles  CA, US
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony - Archbishop of Los Angeles, 213 637-7215



Marriage, Homosexual, Gay, Catholic, Life, Family

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