Monday, 5 March 2012

Here Comes the Cavalry...

Deo gratias. Thank you, Your Grace.

Courtesy of The Telegraph

'Redefining marriage to include homosexuals would be a “profoundly radical step” stripping it of its “distinctive nature”, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, will say.

The warning, the most significant intervention yet into the debate on gay marriage, is in a letter to be read from the pulpit in 2,500 churches during Mass this Sunday. It has been seen by The Daily Telegraph as the Government prepares to announce the terms of a national consultation on a proposed change to the law on marriage.

The last time the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church intervened on a political issue, during the threat to impose quotas on faith schools in 2007, ministers climbed down within days.

Significantly, the letter, co-signed by the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, adopts a strikingly moderate tone, in contrast with that of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, who accused the Coalition of a “grotesque subversion” at the weekend.

As well as setting out Church teaching, it appeals to wider society, arguing that marriage is a “natural institution” with a meaning understood far beyond the confines of the religion. It says that extending it to same-sex couples would reduce marriage to a vague commitment between two people. The archbishops argue that marriage between a man and a woman is “at the foundation of our society”, but also praise the “remarkable example of courage and fidelity” displayed by many who have suffered marital breakdown.

While quoting the Catechism, which defines marriage as a sacrament, they say that their “instinctive understanding” of marriage as a setting both for secure relationships and bringing up children will be shared by wider society. “Neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself,” they write. “Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion.”
Crucially, they argue against changing the meaning of civil, as well as religious, marriage. The Government had hoped to neutralise opposition from a coalition led by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, by offering reassurances that churches would not be forced to marry gay couples.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph last week the equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, insisted that the Government was not “trampling over tradition” but “allowing a space” for homosexual rights to be respected alongside religious belief.

The archbishops’ letter has been sent to bishops across England and Wales and is being circulated to parishes this week. It is accompanied by a cover note asking priests to encourage their parishioners to sign a petition set up by Lord Carey’s Coalition for Marriage, opposing the redefinition of marriage.'

For full article, click here. How is this for a comment on The Telegraph article from one reader: 'I am thinking of going to mass - and I'm an atheist!'


Lynda said...

Better late than never; better weak than nothing. The Bishops ought to have adopted this stance and condemned the legalising of adoption by homosexual "couples" and the CPA, and granting of similar status, rights and privileges to "civil partnerships". It is as if all of what went before, the substantive undermining of marriage was insignificant, and that only the final nail in the coffin - the changing of the ancient term to describe the ever-existing, natural institution of marriage, has woken them up from their stupor. God, send us holy, fearless, prophetic Bishops!

georgem said...

Forgive my deep unenthusiasm over this letter. Not that it's a bad one, but it ain't that great either. Why do I always get the feeling that when it comes to upholding Catholic teaching in the public square that the Archbishop's heart is not really in it?
I'm not inclined to be so charitable as to say better late than never. He should have made his position clear as soon as the policy of gay "marriage" was mooted, even if he was already conducting discussions with the Government behind closed doors. With his contacts in Parliament he must have known this was coming and prepared his strategy accordingly.
Instead, it looks as though he has had to be nudged out of his torpor and finally conceded: "Oh well, better say something."
He's waited for Cardinal O'Brien to take the flak. And, note that he isn't leading the charge. But, like a general safe at staff HQ in the First World War, he's sending a letter to be read to the PBI in parishes.
I'm sorry to say it, but it seems to me that he is a moral coward.
While he says he is supporting traditional marriage and relationships he continues to "affirm" the gay Masses in Soho.

Lynda said...

That's what the Bishops seem to be sorely lacking in - enthusiasm, passion, vigour for, and dedication to, the moral truth that applies to ALL of humanity not just members of the Church. Rahner spoke of (and the idea was used rather disingenuously by theologians, I think) "practical Christians" but, shamefully, our Church, including the clergy (priests and Bishops) and religious, is full of practical atheists. It's slowly improving, in that it's mainly the generation of those from their 50s to 80s that are so irrationally opposed to faith and an objective morality. But Bishops and priests need to be appointed based on their adherance to Church teaching, and love of God and His Church, not on extraneous criteria such as seniority, politics, etc.

The Only Safe Space in the World

Virus normalcy, the so-called 'new normal', is for Christians almost certainly more abhorrent than it is for people of other reli...