Since my last post on gay marriage (5th March - http://talkingdonkeyre.blogspot.com/2012/03/catholics-called-to-oppose-gay-marraige.html), the Catholic Church and discussion around this topic have been constantly in the news.
The full pastoral letter read out in Catholic churches across England and Wales can be read here: http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/content/download/28460/194403/file/abps-letter-marriage-march-2012.pdf
A petition website has also been started here: http://c4m.org.uk/
Many Catholics and non-Catholics alike have struggled with this campaign and are unclear why it is such an issue for the Church and why they should be involved.
The Church is very clear on its teaching on homosexuality, that it is not a sin to be homosexual, but that such feelings should not be acted upon and the celibate life must be followed. It's also very clear on its teaching on marriage that it is a sacramental act that brings together in union, man and woman, in a relationship that is open to procreation.
The government's proposal is one of law change, to define legally that same-sex couples can enjoy the same title of marriage as a heterosexual couple. It is not saying that these marriages would have to happen in Catholic Churches, nor challenging the Church's teaching on the issue.
Therefore for many, it seems that the Catholic Church is involving itself in a secular issue and trying to impose its definition of marriage on to society. Many of those who get married in a registry office are already challenging the Church's view on marriage, as are Catholic couples who are married but using contraception. Many would argue that 'marriage' was redefined a long time ago.
The news reporting has enabled opposition to the Catholic Church to label them further out of date and out of touch. However organisations such as Catholic Voices (http://www.catholicvoices.org.uk) have been very outspoken in their defence of the Church's position. Their website includes links to several media appearances including this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2iOxPW6N3M
This open letter has been written by a friend of mine (and old Campion boy) Simon Darvill (@simondarvill) and published yesterday. Already it has been widely circulated via Facebook and Twitter: http://simondarvill.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/an-open-letter-to-rev-vincent-nichols-archbishop-of-westminster/
The conclusion is particularly strong:
"As stated, I am proud to be a young Catholic and proud that my Church stands up to governments when it disagrees. I may not always agree with the Church’s’ leadership on some issues but I am still, and always will be a loyal follower of the Catholic Church and respectful of its leadership.
At a time when the poor are at risk I am asking you to stand up against the Governments attacks on the poor and vulnerable in our society and support a more equal society, including supporting a change in the legal definition of marriage to support same-sex partners."
Another friend of mine, Alex Higgins, has written a blog post explaining how actually it was Catholics who first suggested same-sex marriage in the 1980's: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/03/12/a-catholic-writes-gay-marriage-was-our-idea-bishops-should-embrace-it/
Andrew Sullivan a conservative, Catholic writer said that gay marriage would ensure:
“lower rates of promiscuity among gay men, more stable homes for the children of gay parents, less trauma in families with gay offspring, lower rates of disease transmission, [and] more independent and self-reliant members of society”.
A gay Buddhist friend of mine concluded his views on this issue by saying: "How many gays does God have to keep making before people realise He wants them around...?"
What do you feel? Were you in support of the letter read out last Sunday? Was it something you have struggled with? What would Jesus of Nazareth do?
NB - any opinions expressed here, or in links, are personal ones.