In the United States in addition to pending cases in the courts, battles continue in the legislatures.
The early days of January saw an attempt in the state parliament of Illinois to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage.” While the initial proposal has stalled, proponents have promised they will continue their efforts.
“Civil laws that establish ‘same-sex marriage’ create a legal fiction. The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible,” stated a pastoral letter signed by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and his auxiliary bishops.
The letter, read out at masses on the Dec 30 feast of the Holy Family, explained that neither the state nor the Church can change the natural meaning of marriage as a complementary union between a man and a woman.
It was not just the Catholic Church that objected to the proposal. Representatives of the Catholic Church, Muslims, Mormons, Missouri Synod Lutherans and Anglicans signed a letter sent to Illinois legislators, urging them to reject any legislation that would extend marriage to same-sex couples, the Chicago Tribune reported Jan. 2.
“The ongoing attempts to alter the definition of marriage in civil law are full of serious danger, primarily by degrading the cultural understanding of marriage to an emotional bond between any two adults,” the letter said.
The nature of marriage is not a religious question, Cardinal George explained in his column for the Jan. 6-19 issue of the diocesan newspaper, Catholic New World.
While Christ sanctified marriage through a sacrament, it predates both Church and state.
“Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners,” Cardinal George stated. “This truth is part of the common sense of the human race.”
Bishops in England also dealt with the issue of same-sex “marriage” in their messages for the feast of the Holy Family, spurred on by the imminent introduction of legislation for same-sex “marriage” in the British parliament.
In a pastoral letter Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster declared he was praying for the country to maintain the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman. He also urged people to contact their members of parliament, asking them not to change the definition of marriage.
Previously, in an interview with the BBC, Archbishop Nichols called the proposal to legalize same-sex “marriage” a “shambles” as it had not been present in any party manifesto prior to the last elections, the Times newspaper reported, Dec. 25.
He also raised the issue in his homily on Christmas Eve, saying that "the love of husband and wife, which is creative of new human life, is a marvellously personal sharing in the creative love of God who brings into being the eternal soul that comes to every human being with the gift of human life.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham also published a pastoral letter on the issue.
“The complementary love of father and mother is a precious gift that we should wish for every child,” he said
“Government policy cannot foresee the full consequences, for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father’s influence or by two fathers without a mother’s influence,” the archbishop added.
Waste of time
The government’s proposal also came under fire from a judge of the High Court, Paul Coleridge, who has set up an organization to defend marriage: the Marriage Foundation.
"So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1% of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown," he told the Times newspaper in an article published Dec. 26.
He also warned that if same-sex “marriage” is legalized it is very likely that clergy will face pressure to celebrate weddings of such couples.
Prior to Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the issue of same-sex marriage in his end of year speech on Dec. 21 to members of the Roman curia.
He cited comments made by the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, that the attack on the concept of a family as being made up of a father, mother and child is based on a false understanding of human nature.
According to this alternative vision, sex is a social construct and not a fact of nature. The human person is now seen as just spirit and will and children become mere objects that people have a right to obtain.
The conflict between the competing visions of human nature is set to continue in the coming year, with decisive decisions pending in courts and parliaments.