Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/1/2013 (1 year ago)
Published in Year of Faith
Keywords: family life, year of faith, father james farfaglia, sunday homilies, homily, marriage, gay marriage, catholic church teaching on marriage, us bishops conference, vatican, congregation for the doctrine of the faith
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Aside from the abortion issue, the issue of homosexual marriages is now in the forefront of the culture wars. Let us take a clear look at the issue according to the mind of the Catholic Church.
The Conference of American Bishops has already given a clear and comprehensive
Here is a brief summary.
- Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. Man and woman are equal. However, as created, they are different from but made for each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should be always open to the procreation of children.
- Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan for creation. In addition, the Church teaches that the valid marriage of baptized Christians is a sacrament-a saving reality. Jesus Christ made marriage a symbol of his love for his Church (see Eph 5:25-33). This means that a sacramental marriage lets the world see, in human terms, something of the faithful, creative, abundant, and self-emptying love of Christ. A true marriage in the Lord with his grace will bring the spouses to holiness. Their love, manifested in fidelity, passion, fertility, generosity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing, makes known God's love in their family, communities, and society.
- The natural structure of human sexuality makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife.
- For several reasons a same-sex union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and a same-sex union cannot achieve the natural purpose of sexual union. Persons in same-sex unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.
- Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other.
- The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.
- Laws play an educational role insofar as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially permissible and acceptable. In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral.
- When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened. The weakening of this basic institution at all levels and by various forces has already exacted too high a social cost.
- To uphold God's intent for marriage, in which sexual relations have their proper and exclusive place, is not to offend the dignity of homosexual persons. Christians must give witness to the whole moral truth and oppose as immoral both homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.
- The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life.
Throughout her long history, the Catholic Church has always pointed out that civil law must conform to the moral law. Public opinion does not make something right or wrong; the objective moral law does. Thus, not only Catholic politicians, but also all men and women in public life have an objective moral criterion to follow.
When a civil law is not in conformity with the moral law, it is an unjust law. Legalized slavery, for example, was an unjust law. Legalized forms of segregation were unjust laws. Legalized abortion is an unjust law. Legalized euthanasia is an unjust law. Legalized same-sex marriage is an unjust law. Slavery, segregation, abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriages are in essence contrary to the objective moral law, and therefore, no human law can claim them to be legitimate.
The teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas explains this point with great clarity when he writes that "human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes an act of violence" (Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 93, a.3, ad 2). Furthermore he goes on to say: "Every law made by man can be called a law insofar as it derives from the natural law. But if it is somehow opposed to the natural law, then it is not really a law but rather a corruption of the law" (Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 95, a.2).
Blessed Pope John Paul II in his monumental encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae wrote: "Democracy cannot be idolized to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality" (E.U. 70.4). "It is therefore urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential and innate human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority and no State can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote" (E.U. 71.1).
The Founding Fathers of our nation understood the correct relationship between civil law and moral law. James Madison, for example, once said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions...upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
George Washington, our first president, said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. And let us indulge with caution the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle. The smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself ordained."
Patrick Henry said, "Whether this new government will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader: whoever thou art, remember this, and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others."
Finally, Thomas Jefferson said, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."
In conclusion, regarding same-sex marriages, the official teaching of the Catholic Church cannot be any clearer:
"The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity man and woman 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. 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.
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as a serious depravity... (cf. Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, 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. The homosexual inclination is however objectively disordered and homosexual practices are sins gravely contrary to chastity" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003).
Many Catholics, both members of the clergy and the laity, at times are overwhelmed by the overpowering challenges that a decadent culture presents for the full living out of the Gospel. Nevertheless, Catholics must never concede to the darkness of discouragement or despair. In my judgment, there are three necessary elements to a strategy that will plant the seeds for a spiritual rebirth in America:
1. Parents must dedicate themselves to the loving and responsible education and formation of their children.
2. Priests must be provide dynamic, joyful and faithful parish communities that support family life through well prepared liturgies, homilies that address the issues of our day with clarity, and efficient faith formation programs.
3. Everyone who is of age must participate in the political life of our country by voting for candidates that are unconditionally pro-life and support traditional family values.
As we approach another Fourth of July celebration, the words of T.S. Eliot are quite appropriate as we face so many challenges: "The modern world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization and save the world from suicide."
Visit Fr. James Farfaglia on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.
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