|Archbishop Peter Smith, who put his name to|
the Catholic response to the Government's
consultation on 'equal marriage'
Published under a creative commons licence.
(Source: Flickr Catholic England & Wales)
Hardly any support for 'gay marriage'
It is becoming obvious that the vast majority of those who have responded to the consultation on same-sex marriage have, so far, been strongly opposed to it. It's now well known that over 550,000 people have signed the Coalition for Marriage’s petition in support of the real and natural definition of marriage, whilst only about a tenth of that figure have bothered to sign the opposing Coalition for Equal Marriage’s petition – despite active support from various pro-homosexual campaigning groups. Of course, the Government, and therefore the apparatus of the state, is also backing the 'gay marriage' crusade - a revolution, it could be argued, that was primarily instigated by the Prime Minister and some of his new found Liberal Democrat friends. It's interesting to note that several well-known (and bravely objective) homosexuals have actually come out in favour of traditional and natural marriage - see this Daily Mail column, entitled "I am a gay man who opposes gay marriage. Does that make ME a bigot, Mr Cameron?".
A few days ago, the Government minister who is enthusiastically in charge of promoting the notion of ‘gay marriage’, Lynne Featherstone, even wrote what appears to be a begging letter pleading for support on the pro-homosexual news site, Pink News. In her column for the website, the divorced Ms Featherstone wrote of the Government consultation: "With just under a week to go before it closes, it’s more important than ever you tell us what you think". She added, rather bizarrely, seeing the problems and pain this proposal is causing: "This [gay marriage legislation] is actually a logical, gentle step, with momentous meaning. I think Britain is ready for this change. If you believe it, tell us by 14 June." (It appears that the online facility to respond to the consultation was closed sometime yesterday evening - well before the 14 June deadline! Though, if I'm wrong about this, and you would still like to air your views, I'm sure the minister would love to hear from you - write to: The Home Office, Marsham Street, London SW1P)
This seeming act of desperation by the Equalities Minister (begging gay readers of a gay newspaper to support 'gay marriage') probably reflects the fact that the powers-that-be have finally realised not many people, even within the ‘gay community’, agree with this mad drive for ‘same-sex marriage’, which seems to consume every waking moment of our farcically accident prone coalition Government.
Excellent points raised by the Catholic Church
In her response to the consultation, the Catholic Church in England & Wales, in a paper submitted by Archbishop Peter Smith (see link above), highlighted the apparent injustice involved in having a consultation that, as the Government itself has said, seeks only to consider the points made concerning 'how' same-sex marriage will be implemented, and ‘not the number of responses received’ for or against the proposal. A coalition Government with “no electoral mandate for this policy, and [which] at no time has set out in full the arguments in favour of such a significant social change”, should, according to Archbishop Smith, “reflect very carefully not only on the points made by those who object, but also on the number of individuals who make them.”
With no Royal Commission and no manifesto pledge, and also considering that the Home Office has already said it will discount the number of objections to its proposal, this whole ‘gay marriage’ policy appears to have become the most anti-democratic planned piece of legislation that the modern British state has ever been exposed to.
The Church of England in its consultation response pointed out that, despite reckless promises to the contrary by the Government, it would surely, as the state religion, be forced – at some point or other – to facilitate same-sex 'weddings' (or at least face legal challenges to do so). It also highlighted the differences that exist between the institution of marriage (which is universal) and the way one enters into it (which may sometimes be particular), as well as a fundamental aspect of marriage – procreation; which proves without doubt that it is something that can only be entered into by a man and a woman.
The Catholic response, also pointed out the unique nature of marriage, compared to other forms of loving commitments – such as the commitment made by a child to care for one’s elderly parent, or the commitment of friends who live together, and so on. (As the Australian Prime Minister recently said, one does not need a marriage certificate to be in a committed relationship.) The uniqueness of the institution of marriage, according to Archbishop Smith, “is based on the fact that the human person exists as both male and female and that their union for the purpose of procreation, mutual support, and love has, over the centuries of human history, formed a stable unit which we call the family.” He went on to say, “Marriage has long been recognised as a positive building block of human society and has therefore been rightly recognised by societies and cultures as worthy of legal protection.”
The Church faces inevitable legal challenges
Whilst, on the face of it, not exposed to the same risks as the state religion, the Catholic Church is nonetheless aware of the legal challenges that may harass faith communities if marriage is redefined in such a way that it becomes possible for two people of the same sex to ‘get married’. Under the heading “Religious Freedom”, the Catholic response to the Government’s consultation raised these interesting legal points: -
Recent case law has confirmed that there is no legal right to same-sex marriage under the European Convention on Human Rights, and that a state is free to make differing arrangements for marriage and alternative legal provisions for same-sex unions (Gas & Dubois v. France 15 March 201214; Schalk & Kopf v. Austria 24 June 201015). However, what has not been tested is whether a state could lawfully open the same institution of marriage to same-sex as well as to opposite-sex couples, while insisting that only opposite-sex couples could marry on religious premises. Prima facie, this would be a clear exercise of discrimination.
By creating new legislation the government would move the whole framework of marriage in such a way that issues which could not come before a court today could be contested at any point in the future. No assurances the government could offer about religious freedom for religious bodies would be able to negate the permanent risk they had created. (emphases mine)The same section also highlighted that there already exist religious homosexual groups and people who want the ‘right’ to get married, whilst the Labour Party has recently signalled its intent to allow religious buildings to be used for such possible marriage ceremonies. In other words, any current promises by government ministers concerning the protection of religious groups from having to perform ‘gay marriages’ is worthless – for no parliament can bind any future parliaments, and once the law has been fundamentally changed, we cannot rely on current case law (then outdated) as a basis for predicting the outcome of any (future) legal challenges.
Bizarrely, one of the Government’s own Justice ministers, the openly homosexual Crispin Blunt, reportedly conceded yesterday that it is indeed the fact that assurances of protection of conscience by the Government to faith communities and others concerning 'gay marriage' are nonsensical - see Daily Mail, "Cameron CANNOT protect Church against gay marriage laws (says his own Justice minister)".
David Cameron's pledge is worthless
It seems that (34-U-Turns-and-counting) David Cameron's pledge that no Church or religious body would be forced to perform or accept same-sex marriages is worthless. Personally, I don't think that the Catholic Church can be forced into a situation where her clergy will have to perform gay weddings (just like they don't have to / can't preside over the marriages of divorcees), but the Anglican Church very probably will have to facilitate same-sex marriage - it is inevitable. Even if the Catholic Church faces challenges from gay rights groups, all she should do is remove herself completely from providing a service for the state (which she currently does by registering Catholic marriages on behalf of the local registrar). The Church of England, though, has much more to lose - disestablishment is now a matter of time.
Having said that, the time will soon come when even the Catholic community will be adversely affected by 'gay marriage' - if, that is, the Government goes ahead with its plans. Of course, one of the main reasons that the Church has been vocal in opposing the nonsense that is 'same-sex marriage' is not primarily because she wants to protect her own interests, or because she is inherently 'homophobic' (as her detractors claim), but because Christians have a God-given duty to preach the truth, for the good of all, in and out of season.
The Church defends reason and objective truth - even if this same objective truth sometimes hurts our feelings or makes us want to respond in an egocentric or angry way. Prophets usually get on people's nerves, which is why most end up being harassed, persecuted, imprisoned, beheaded, stoned, or crucified! Yet, as I have already mentioned, the Catholic Church will have to pay her own high price for the madness that is 'gay marriage'. So-called 'marriage equality' (now, there's Orwellian for you!) won't so much affect the sacramental life of the Church, but will inevitably crush the conscience of her schools.
Teachers will be forced to promote 'gay marriage'
Tuesday's response by the Catholic Church in England & Wales did not dwell to any great extent on anxieties surrounding the impact any redefinition of marriage would have on education. But a barrister working on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland pointed out earlier this week that it is inevitable that schools would have to "teach" and "promote" any "new vision of marriage" (i.e. the truncated form of wedlock devoid of marriage's procreative aspect). In an article headed "Teachers could be forced to promote gay marriage in classrooms", Monday's Telegraph reported that Aidan O'Neill QC "has provided the Catholic Church with a legal opinion stating that equality laws mean teachers will be forced to emphasise the validity of same-sex marriages."
It seems obvious to me that if marriage is redefined and truncated by the Government, to such an extent that it simply means 'wedding day' and 'two people in love' with no reference to the complementarity that exists between male and female or to the biological reality that a man and a woman are needed to create new life, then British schools will have to teach what the civil law proposes.
I am sure that many teachers working in modern-day, dumbed-down, touchy-feely Britain will have no qualms promoting a misconceived and abridged, if not down right insane, version of marriage. But what of those teachers whose consciences are highly developed, or who hold onto a plenary vision of marriage? What of those teachers in Catholic schools (within the state sector) who believe what the Church teaches? Will they soon be forced to teach that marriage is something that exists only when a man and a man or a woman and a woman or a man and a woman decide to have a wedding day - with no mention of the full and wonderful truth concerning real marriage?
How the Ontario government bullied Catholic schools
Last week, Catholic schools in Ontario, Canada, were forced to accept the state's insistence that they provide facilities for so-called 'Gay-Straight Alliance groups' - which are intended to promote the 'gay culture', amongst other things (such as, apparently, ending 'homophobic bullying'). It is probable that these schools will now comply with the new laws that force them to go against Church teaching and Catholicism's call to holiness - even if the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, vehemently opposed this law prior to the bill being passed. (He rightly argued that the Church does not classify people as 'gay' or 'straight', and that such 'GSA' groups would lead to a form of unnecessary disunity, as well as to the promotion of a false view of humanity which Catholicism neither endorses nor accepts.)
Wouldn't it be better, though, if the Church stood by the courage of her convictions and actually did something meaningful when bullied by the state? When particular territorial governments force Catholic bodies to stop being faithful to Christ, then those religious organisations - schools, charities, etc - must either renounce the Christian faith or the secularist state. In those situations, one would hope that institutions such as Catholic schools would elect the latter option. They could sell up, and close down - thereby forcing the state to take on the burden that the Church has helped shoulder for so many centuries.
Sell our schools and reform Catholic education
If Catholic schools in the UK will soon be forced to teach the validity of 'gay marriage', those schools, under the directorship of the Catholic Education Service, should, in my view, immediately choose to close rather than comply with the law - just like Catholic adoption agencies did a few years ago. If every Catholic school was put on the market and sold, the Church - comprising of various dioceses and religious orders - would collectively raise billions of pounds. There are over 2,000 Catholic schools in England & Wales, and I am sure that most of the buildings owned by those individual establishments are each worth millions of pounds.
With the wholesale closure of so many state schools, the Government would face both an educational and financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions. On the other hand, the Church could, in effect, use the money made through the sale of land and property to fund a newer, smaller, and reformed Catholic school system - cutting the number of schools to around 200 - 500, so as be be able to afford the provision of free or subsidised independent education for Catholic children (only), with the possible exception of those who are sympathetically inclined to the teachings of the Church.
Catholics must not collude
In talking about same-sex marriage, it seems to me that nearly all those who are for it don’t actually have a clue what marriage actually is, or why the Church takes such an interest in defending this institution. As far as they are concerned, marriage is just the name given to any loving relationship between two people – its basis in nature and its fundamental function in providing a safe and secure environment for the procreation of children seems to be viewed as either irrelevant or as an irritation. It also seems to me that modern Britain has become ignorant not only of its Christian heritage and past, but also of the simplest realities inherent within natural law. We appear to live in a culture of infantile, irrational, and rather clueless people, all of whom proudly seem to hold first class degrees! It is an age of insanity, and a time of arrogance which beggars belief.
As society moves further away from the light of Christ and from the reasoned truths of the gospel and the natural law, what are we Christians meant to do? We cannot and ought not collude with a state that is becoming totalitarian, nor should we willingly collaborate with sin and reckless insanity. We should at all times preserve our independence from undue political interference - otherwise, how can we ever claim to be really counter-cultural? If the Catholic Church wishes to present the truth in its entirety, especially when it comes to the fullness of beauty and joy that the institution of marriage represents, then she might soon end up having to completely disentangle herself from the awful tentacles of what is fast becoming an anti-Christian state.