Despite the debates of recent months, there is still much confusion in our culture, and even our churches, with regard to the moral status of homosexual activity and the use of the word “marriage” with reference to some homosexual unions.
A classic instance of this confusion was evidenced by Mr. Joe Comartin, MP for Tecumseh-Windsor during the parliamentary debate on Bill C-38. He not only spoke in favour of Bill C -38's passage but also mentioned that he teaches in the marriage preparation program at his parish.
He stated: “One of my visions is that some day my church will allow these couples (in marriage preparation) to not only be heterosexual but also to be homosexual. My vision says to me that some day this will happen ... this is about love; we will guarantee within our religious services that all couples will be treated equally.”
Regrettably, Mr. Comartin doesn’t have an appreciative understanding of his church’s teachings.
By virtue of nature itself, marriage is a union of a man and a woman with an inherent capacity of bringing children into the world.
Legislation which redefines marriage cannot achieve the impossible. It cannot alter the simple reality that there is a fundamental difference between a relationship that, by its nature, has the potential to create a child and a relationship, that by its nature, absolutely does not.
It is not unjust, or a limitation of anyone’s legitimate rights and freedoms, to insist that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. If one were refused such positions because of race, or religion, or ethnic background, or something not related to the nature of the reality at issue, then that would indeed be an injustice and a denial of individual rights.
If, however, one were refused because one excludes basic elements of the role itself, that is not in any way an injustice.
A person who does not accept catholic teaching on fundamental matters is disqualified from acting on behalf of the Church in a public capacity. Marriage is a fundamental matter.
Accordingly, Bishop Fabbro removed Mr. Comartin from his involvement in marriage preparation and liturgical ministries.
At the same time, it must be acknowledged that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard to others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. There is more to a person than one’s sexual attractions.
Furthermore, a distinction must be made between homosexual orientation and homosexual genital acts. In general, sexual orientation is not freely chosen and is, therefore, not sinful. The expression of sexual orientation in specific acts, however, does involve moral issues.
Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ""homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."" They are contrary to the natural law. They 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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2357)
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition (#2358).
Although the Catechism does say that a homosexual orientation is “intrinsically disordered,” it is homosexual genital acts that are immoral. Sexual genital expression is reserved for married couples so that children which may result from this union of minds, hearts and bodies can be nurtured in a stable loving relationship. Any sexual genital expression outside the context of marriage is morally wrong. The church teaches that extra-marital, pre-marital and homosexual acts are morally wrong.
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (#2359).
All of us are called to give witness to chastity, and with God’s grace, to the avoidance of behaviours which are contrary to God’s loving purpose in our lives.
☩ Frederick Henry