Archbishop Vincent Nichols "Clarifies" Statements on Civil Partnerships

Courtesy of CNA

My emphases in yellow, bold...

'Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster is being accused of defying Vatican guidelines on homosexual civil partnerships. In response, he says he is simply trying to defend the “profound human good” of traditional marriage.

“We’ve got to find the ways of speaking to people about the positive values of marriage as it’s always been understood, while not getting boxed off by somehow being accused of being homophobic,” Archbishop Nichols told CNA on Dec. 1 in Rome. [In other words, we have to preach the Gospel without causing anyone any offense.]

“The convictions about marriage mean that this is not something that the Church has invented nor the State has invented. And therefore it is not, as it were, at the disposal of the Church nor the State, if you like, to change,” he said.

The Church believes that marriage is “part of what is best in human nature,” he added.

Archbishop Nichols recently came under fire from some Catholics for the way he explained his position of same-sex civil partnerships at a Nov. 26 press conference that followed a meeting of the English and Welsh bishops.

According to the English religious journal The Tablet, the archbishop remarked that “(w)e would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship (and) a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.”

Same-sex civil partnerships become law in the United Kingdom in 2004. In 2003, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued guidelines that stated, “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.” It also stressed that “all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions.” [Sounds pretty clear to me.]

Well-known Catholic commentator William Oddie wrote in the Nov. 30 edition of the Catholic Herald that “Archbishop Nichols says he is in favor of gay civil unions: but that legally includes the right to adopt. So why did we lose our adoption agencies?” [A very good point!]

“Now we are told, by the chairman of the bishops’ conference, that the English Church supports civil unions between homosexual persons, unions which have been given the legal right to adopt children,” Oddie continued.

When Archbishop Nichols was asked by CNA if the bishops of England were contradicting the Vatican’s guidelines, he said that the bishops have tried “to recognize the reality of the legal provision in our country of an agreement, a partnership, with many of the same legal safeguards as in marriage.” He further explained that while the bishops recognize the existence of civil partnerships, they also “believe that that is sufficient,” and that they should not be placed on par with marriage.

The issue of same-sex marriage has come to the fore in the United Kingdom in recent months. The Scottish government is currently wrapping up a public consultation on whether to legally permit such unions. A similar consultation in England & Wales will take place next spring.

“Clearly, respect must be shown to those who in the situation in England use a civil partnership to bring stability to a relationship,” the archbishop said, qualifying that while “equality is very important and there should be no unjust discrimination,” that “commitment plus equality do not equal marriage.” [Headline: Catholic Archbishop Says 'Stable' Homosexual Relationships are Fine]

Archbishop Nichols said the key distinction between civil partnerships and marriage is that the former does not “in law contain a required element of sexual relationships.” [Perhaps not, but what is the percentage of Civil Partnerships so far undertaken, wherein the happy couple have taken vows of perpertual chastity?]

“Same-sex partnerships are not marriage because they have no root in a sexual relationship, which marriage does,” he explained. “And that’s the distinction that I think it’s important for us to understand, that marriage is built on the sexual partnership between a man and a woman which is open to children to their nurture and education.” 

[One point to raise here. If you apply for housing benefit and you put your 'partner' down as your 'partner', then, for some strange reason, the local authority believes this person is your 'partner' on the basis that you have a sexual relationship. I know this because I have worked in a housing benefits office and I know that when some people are assessed for benefit, they are sometimes even asked about the nature of their 'relationship' with the other person living with them, such as 'How regularly do you have sex?' The reality is that the Archbishop is either chronically naive or deliberately misleading the Faithful about the true nature of the majority of civil partnerships. I would say that for a great many who enter into these partnerships in law, as well as legal issues being resolved, their 'love' is what is being celebrated and publicly declared.]

So while the bishops of England and Wales “respect the existence of same-sex partnerships in law, [in direct disobedience and contradiction to the instruction from the CDF]” he said, “the point we are at now is to say that they are not the same as marriage.”

Archbishop Nichols praised the launch earlier this week of a high-profile campaign in Scotland to protect traditional marriage, entitled Scotland for Marriage. “That’s a very positive message in that title and I’m quite sure that’s what we’ve got to do, too.” [Great! When's the rally?]

The Westminster archbishop also wants to “explain and expound as clearly as we can,” the “particular qualities of marriage,” which, he believes, are “widely understood,” in the United Kingdom.

He recalled that while attending the recent Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton the cheering of the crowds in the London streets could be heard inside Westminster Abbey on two occasions: when Catherine said “I do,” and when they were pronounced “man and wife.”

“So there was a wide public, instinctive recognition of what makes a marriage, and I think that is the public understanding that we want to bring to the surface,” Archbishop Nichols said.'

Thank you, your Grace for the 'clarification'. So, in what way has His Grace's position changed?  It's still not too late to sign the musical open letter to His Grace. Or maybe we should send it straight to the CDF...


Mummymayhem said…
More faux squirty cream on that waffle,your Grace?
Left-footer said…
Huh! Old Uncle Vince Wobbly and all!
Times like this we have to run to the cross dude - Only He can sort this one out.
Why the determination to misunderstand the Archbishop's statement? He is upholding Christian Marriage, denying the posibility of same sex marriage and doing so by positively promoting the nature of Christian marriage rather than making snide remarks about homosexuals. Your tendentious use of quotation marks and failure to treat the Archbishop with common courtesy does suggest that homophobia is a more powerful driver than Christian charity. This is a difficult issue and one which only the Scribes and the Pharisees would have had an easy answer.
The Bones said…

The CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) issued the Church's line on civil unions (aka partnerships). It was stressed that in no way could gay unions be approved or accepted by the Church, for many reasons, none of which had anything to do with homophobia. The document upheld traditional Christian marriage and made it categorically clear that all other unions could in no way receive approval from the Church.

What we have now here is a national Church that takes very little guidance from the Vatican and, given that the CDF author of the document was Cardinal Ratzinger, seemingly little understanding of the theology or authority of the now Pope.
The Bones said…
The Church has an answer to this issue, the problem is that the Bishops seemingly don't have the nerve to give the answer because they fear loss of human respect and some are clearly worried that stating the truth on this issue might label them too 'Catholic' or too 'Christian' for 21st century man.
Left-footer said…
The Bones - you have it in a nutshell. Thank you and God bless!
Lynda said…
Send it straight to the CDF.
Well prejudice will out. The Archbisop upholds the Church's teaching and also shows Christian love. Because he doesn't speak ill of homosexuals the Scribes and Pharisees accuse him of being disloyal to the law. It's happened before. What about some obedience and charity to your own Archbishop instead of interpreting the CDF document in your own way. Sounds a bit Protestant to me.
The Bones said…
His Grace doesn't speak ill of them, but neither does he have the love for them to give them the truth, to tell them the truth, so that, by knowing the truth, they may save their immortal souls.
Kevin said…
If their souls are immortal why do they need to be saved? That which cannot perish need not be preserved
The Bones said…
Because we can live forever in Heaven or die forever in Hell.