A response to an assertion that ACP consistently proposes altering Catholic moral teaching.
To address errors in “Letter of the Week”, Letters to the editor, Irish Catholic, April 9th, I wish to raise a number of points:
1. It is categorically false to assert that “the ACP consistently proposes altering Catholic moral teaching”. The accusation is based on the “jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights” ruling that “Article 12 on marriage does not compel a state to legislate for same sex marriage”. Cast that argument back to the 1830’s. Could any Court of Human Rights at that time compel any state to abolish slavery? The answer is an unequivocal NO. Vatican Two (1965) condemned slavery, it was abolished in Britain in 1833 and in the U.S. in 1865, yet in 1866 the Holy Office in Rome declared that “slavery itself…is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law”. This alteration was not the work of the ACP.
2. A relevant document directly related to the current issue, but which curiously lacks any mention in the current debate on same sex marriage is Vatican Two’s document on Religious Liberty (1965). It describes religious freedom as a human right and goes on to assert that “all people shall be immune from coercion…..so that nobody is forced to act against his or her convictions, nor is anybody to be restrained from acting in accord with his or her convictions in religious matter in private and in public”. (Ch.1, No 2) This is official Catholic teaching! But it is a fact that at least some Catholics and non-Catholics genuinely believe that gay people should be free to enter into a relationship. If they wish to refer to their relationship as “marriage” is the central question in the upcoming referendum. The bishops are clearly opposed to calling it “marriage” and are entitled to say so openly, but the question goes further. If the referendum is removing the legal barrier to gays calling their union “marriage”, how does opposition to the removal square with the official Church teaching on the rights of the individual? It is probably this dilemma that accounts for the ACP’s refusal to take sides following member consultation.
3. When Pope Francis was questioned on the issue of gays, his response was to the effect that if someone were gay and seeking God, who was he to judge them. His compassionate response caught the attention of the World’s media. It is slightly comic and also saddening to note how many are clambering to sit in the judgement seat that he left vacant.
Fr. P. John Mannion
Retired priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio TX.