MANILA, September 2, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - The government must not legalize same-sex unions, and individuals must oppose any such proposals.
That's the word from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) responding to recent pushes for special privileges for homosexuals in the majority-Catholic country. On Sunday, the bishops released their "Question and Answer Catechism on the Dignity and Vocation of Homosexual Persons," which was written as "a pastoral response to the acceptance of homosexual lifestyle and legalization of homosexual unions."
The document begins with an explication of what marriage is and how it fits into God's plan for mankind. The Philippines' bishops emphasize the complementarity of the sexes, as "observed and affirmed at the biological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels." They further point out how this complementarity expresses the nobility of marriage.
Marriage, affirm the Philippines' bishops, "is the institution established by God for the foundation of the family." As for its purpose, they point out that the matrimonial covenant is "by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring."
The document proceeds to discuss the Catholic position with regard to people who deal with same-sex attraction. The bishops make clear that such an attraction is not by itself sinful; however, they don't hesitate to add that "it is, in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered — in the sense that it is not ordered towards the union of male and female in a relationship of natural complementarity."
The CBCP asserts that "those who struggle with homosexuality are called to witness to the life-giving nature of virtue-based friendships not ordered to sexual acts."
The document then moves to the hot topic of homosexual unions in society, concluding, word-for-word with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and the family."
"A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called," say the Filipino prelates.
What, according to the Philippines' Catholic leaders, are the pastoral ways to care for homosexuals?
- Unmasking the way in which such tolerance of homosexual unions might be exploited or used in the service of ideology;
- Stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions;
- Reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defenses and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon.
The CBCP publication stresses that Catholics are called to clearly oppose any proposed or actual legalization of so-called gay marriage. And while it maintains this must be done in a spirit of love, it clarifies: "This love, however, must be a love in truth that avoids praising, consenting to or defending the so-called 'homosexual lifestyle.'"
The bishops then offer a brief argument against legalizing same-sex unions.
Homosexual unions do not have the basic biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family. They are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race, and thus it would be an injustice to grant them legal recognition along with the same benefits and privileges accorded to marriage.
Neither can this injustice be mitigated by allowing homosexual couples to either adopt children or use artificial reproductive technologies to engender them. Such actions would intentionally deprive these children of the experience of fatherhood or of motherhood that they would need to develop and flourish, not only as human persons, but as persons living in a gendered society where socialization involves the learning of gendered social norms.
In addition, the CBCP's document responds to various points frequently heard from proponents of state-sanctioned sodomy. Among these is the charge of "discrimination."
Distinguishing between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits to specific individuals or groups of individuals is immoral only when it is contrary to justice. Marriage is more than just the mutual affirmation one's love and commitment to a beloved. This is why the state regulates and licenses marriage in a way that it does not regulate other types of friendship, which to some degree, all involve the mutual affirmation of love and commitment between and among friends — because only marriage can naturally and directly contribute children and a stable environment for the raising of those children, to the common good.
Another argument in favor of "gay marriage" is that allowing people of the same sex to be legally joined maximizes "freedom" without causing anyone harm. The Filipino bishops answer that "it is one thing for individual persons to freely engage in their private activities, and another very different thing for them to demand that the state sanction these activities, especially when they would harm the common good."
The bishops of the Philippines, contrary to many proponents of traditional marriage who insist the matter is religious, maintain that "[t]he truth about marriage ... is attainable by human reason."
"However," they explain, "given fallen human nature, especially given the interior disarray of our carnal desires that obscures our intellect, it is a truth that is often hard to grasp, and only after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors."
But in spite of the fact there have been and will likely continue to be misunderstandings about the true nature of the marital bond, as the bishops in the Philippines remind us, "error is not a reason to abandon truth."