Same-sex attraction doesn’t justify redefining marriage

Here is a CNA story that cuts to the chase.

My emphases and comments:

Same-sex attraction doesn’t justify redefining marriage, Minnesota bishops explain

St. Paul, Minn., Oct 10, 2010 / 07:44 am (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Minnesota have issued a brief statement on marriage, saying that having same-sex attractions does not deprive anyone of basic human rights but also does not create the right to “marry” someone of the same sex.

The bishops’ catechetical statement, published in The Catholic Spirit on Thursday, urged the state government, all Catholics and those of good will in Minnesota to support marriage.

A constitutional amendment clearly defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman would be one practical measure, but redefining marriage and legitimizing same-sex unions would work against the “socially vital goal” to support marriage between one man and one woman, the bishops said.  [A redefinition of marriage would tear at the most fundamental bonds of society.]

Their catechesis also countered the claim that maintaining the definition of marriage as a man-woman union is discriminatory against homosexuals.

“Persons with same-sex attractions are our sisters and brothers, [NB:] and their same-sex attraction does not define them as persons nor deprive them of their authentic human rights, including the most fundamental rights of all — the right to life and the right to love,” the bishops said. “Consequently, we oppose any discrimination against persons based on their having a same-sex attraction.” [A key word there is “authentic”.  It cannot be argued that a homosexual civil union is a “human right”.  Something contrary to the will of God can be a “human right”.  Humans by their free will have the “right” so to speak, to chose to go against God’s will or to act against nature.  But free will pure and simple isn’t the ground for establishing a human right.]

However, meeting “authentic human needs” does not require changing the legal definition of marriage or creating a marriage-like status for those with same-sex attractions.  [Not just “marriage”, but also other sorts of homosexual “unions”.]

“As pastoral leaders within the state of Minnesota, we believe that efforts to bestow legal recognition on same-sex unions are mistaken,” they continued, saying it is “erroneous” to think that a “committed homosexual relationship” is a human right and can be legitimately defined as a marriage. [Ditto.]

“The specific privileges granted to married persons by the state are not granted for the personal advantage of spouses [Ditto:…] but to advance the common good,” they wrote. While protecting people from discrimination advances the common good, not recognizing a same-sex union as a marriage is not discrimination “because it does not deny a basic human right.”

The “natural right to love another and to marry” is limited significantly by the nature of the human person and the nature of the institution of marriage, the prelates explained.

In their catechesis Minnesota’s Catholic bishops also discussed Catholic teaching on marriage.

Based on God’s Word given in divine revelation, we believe that marriage creates a sacred bond between spouses. We hold this to be true not only for ourselves, but for all humanity,” they stated. [One should make an argument from nature as well, no?]

The bishops said that God willed marriage to mirror his love for the human family, underlining that Jesus raised marriage to “the dignity of a sacrament” and made it a sign of his sacrificial love revealed on the cross.

“(M)arriage is a constant reminder of God’s love for the human race, as well as a reflection of the permanent, faithful, and fruitful bond of love between Christ and the church,” their statement continued, citing the Manhattan Declaration as an indication that this perspective is shared by non-Catholic Christians and others.

Noting the “universally recognized” importance of stable marriages for the education and formation of children and the “obvious and intimate connection between the conjugal act and conception,” the bishops said that marriage is a public matter that is part of the common good. [Closer to the argument from nature.]

“Both faith and reason agree, then, that marriage is an institution central to the life of human society,” they continued. “The committed relationship between one man and one woman calls forth the best of the spouses, not only for their own sake, but also for the well-being of their children and for the advancement of the common good. It is neither possible for us to change the definition of marriage nor wise to attempt to do so.”

For further reading, the bishops recommended the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. TJerome says:

    This is an excellent statement. As a matter of fact what the bishops have been saying in the last few years on moral issues have all been great. The only concern I have is unless they back it up with the ultimate ecclesiastical penalties for “Catholic” legislators who vote contrary to Church teaching, it leaves faithful Catholics dangling in the wind, demoralized, and with a sense of being betrayed by their shepherds. If Cardinal Medeiros of Boston (post Roe v Wade) had publicly condemned and excommunicated Ted Kennedy for any one of his votes supporting abortion “rights” , the moral landscape might be very different today.

  2. Randii says:

    There is a split on this topic among Catholic bishops.

    CWR has a sobering and discouraging piece on the Pope’s visit to England and the future of the church there. The piece noted how the Pope has a totally different understanding of Catholicism than the British hierarchy and how the Catholic church in Britain possibly set to turn into a sterile desert.

    On gay marrriage the “conservative” Benedict appointed Archbishop Nichols has a diffferent view on this from the Pope – he stated when asked if the church will embrace gay marriage that “none of us can know what is down the road”.

    That feeling is present I suspect among more than just the English bishops.

  3. bittergeek says:

    Strangely, progressives don’t extend their so called “principles” on matters like homosexual unions and abortions beyond their few favored causes. Lots of people have a disordered desire to steal, but there is no demand to “redefine” property rights to make this OK. Thousands of people die every year attempting to kill other adults, but there is no drive to make such murder “safe, legal, and rare”. Why is homosexuality so favored that marriage itself must be rewritten to accommodate it? Worse, advocates demand that their unions be not merely tolerated but esteemed, by absolutely everyone with no exceptions. Sounds like a psychological issue, not a theological one. Seek to change yourself, not change all the rest of the world to suit you.

    One wonders is there is a carryover from Protestantism at work here. There seems to be a thin line between “private revelation” and “I believe it, therefore it must be true” without a true authority such as the Pope to guard the authentic faith.

  4. Jacob says:

    bittergeek says:
    10 October 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Strangely, progressives don’t extend their so called “principles” on matters like homosexual unions and abortions beyond their few favored causes. Lots of people have a disordered desire to steal, but there is no demand to “redefine” property rights to make this OK.

    Taxes, fees, general income redistribution enforced through the state’s monopoly of force…

    First: Income taxes, to the point where we don’t even think anymore that the government is stealing from us (this is made even easier by payroll taxes; would America be so bamboozled if every month John Q. Citizen had to write a check to Uncle Sam?).

    Now: Gay ‘marriage’.

    Soon: Rape, murder, all the things you’ve said (just look at instances like Roman Polanski…).

  5. Elly says:

    So do homosexuals have the right to marry someone of the opposite gender?

  6. Mark01 says:

    that was my thought exactly. They aren’t being deprived of any rights anyone else has. They are free to marry members of the opposite sex just like everyone else.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Pray that the voters of Iowa have a chance this fall to change the rule here. This allowing of same-sex “unions” is confusing many Catholics, who do not always get good advice from their priests. I applaud the Minnesota bishops and their priests. Minneapolis, since the 1970s, when I lived there, has been another “San Francisco North”, like Omaha.

  8. frjim4321 says:

    Hmmm, a line has been crossed here. This is the first time I’ve heard or read of any official statements from the church utilizing the problematic and demeaning “S.S.A.” (sic) lanuage. I’ve heard it from some self-described “experts” on EWTN but never from anyone with real teaching authority. It will be interesting to watch for the fallout on this. I think there are plenty of arguments in support of traditional marriage without buying into psychobable as the Minnesota bishops have. They could have issued a meaningful statement without using such needlessly incendiary language, and by so doing would not have undermined themselves quite as dramatically.

  9. UncleBlobb says:

    I doubt from personal experience that anyone could have avoid some “incendiary language” on this topic. Why though do you think “Same-Sex Attraction” to be problematic, and also demeaning? Assume I/we have only just heard this term coined in the document.

  10. girasol says:

    There has been much opposition against the Bishops of Minnesota for their stand in defense of the Church’s teachings on marriage. Many Catholics have even returned the DVDs they got in the mail unopened as a sign of protest. Several parishes have also collected the DVDs the parishioners received and returned them in bulk to the chancery. The result of many years of bad cathequesis in the Church and good cathequesis from the social media. Please pray for our Church and our Bishops!

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I hope that all who are well attentive thereto will variously have enjoyed a good Feast of St. Abraham and St. Lot (9 Oct. among the Orthodox, and so still to come for the Julian-calendarists) and/or of St. Lot (10 Oct. according to the latest Roman Martyrology reference of which I am aware: corrections welcome)!

    Ought we to consider the terms popularized by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’ (1886), ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ (and related word-forms), as ‘-babble’ of one sort or another?

    For better or worse, I have not yet read K-E (in extenso) in the original or translation, but if he plumps (as I have heard) for a “biological theory”, ought we to call his use ‘biobabble’? Or should that only be the case if it is clear that he is unscientifically dogmatically insistent on his (hypo)thesis?

    He seems to have considered ‘homosexuality’ some sense objectively disordered/ly: may we expect (renewed?) criticisms of/ attacks on him (from certain quarters) for being “incendiary”, ‘moralistic’, ‘-phobic’, “demeaning”, ‘guilty of hate speech’, etc., etc.?

    Is it not so that any and all (semi-) technical coinages – and the uses their coiners and others put them to – should be subject to honest critical examination?

    I join UncleBlobb in asking what in or about “Same-Sex Attraction” (or its uses or applications) might be deemed “incendiary” or “demeaning”. Is “attraction” ever outside the subject matter under consideration? Is “Same-Sex” (in terms of apparent primary and/or secondary sexual characteristics)?

  12. TJerome says:

    fr4321, “incendiary language?” Surely you jest. If you want incendiary language I could give you a long list that would really get the gay lobby’s hackles up. It seems you have a problem with any statement issued by competent Church authority, and that’s not “pscho-babble.”

  13. Paul Jackson says:

    There is an interesting blog from a Catholic author who has suffered from same sex attraction in her youth, but discovered the authentic purpose through JPII’s Theology of the Body and is now married with 5 children. She published a book called “Sexual Authenticity”, the blog is
    I think she is really interesting in finding a real way of entering into the debate with people who suffer from same sex attraction and finding a way to help them live authentic lives of love.

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