A reader sent me a message via Facebook to draw my attention to the editorial in the latest edition of The Southern Cross. The editorial has served, yet again, to confirm to me that this publication should most definitely not be sold from within our Catholic churches.
The contents of The Southern Cross does not actually promote and educate the reader about the Church’s teaching, let alone the reasoning behind her teaching. If anything it often does exactly the opposite. There is most certainly no guarantee that the contents of this newspaper is always free of doctrinal error.
“Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.”
I would like to meet the person who is prepared to personally sign off in advance that every publication is completely free of doctrinal error, without first physically checking the contents of each weeks publication, before they get to the Catholics in the pews.
There is in my opinion absolutely nothing whatsoever that justifies this newspaper being sold inside of our churches, except of course pure economics. Effectively we are allowing financial considerations to determine what is appropriate behaviour in our churches.
On the other hand this recent editorial, as well as numerous other articles and editorials in this newspaper, more than adequately highlight the need to be more cautious about giving this newspaper access to Catholics in the pews.
I truly do admire those Catholic priests in South Africa who have showed the courage of their convictions and stopped the sale of this newspaper in their parishes churches. We need more priests to follow this example!
I do not have the energy or the desire to address the specific content of the recent editorial in The Southern Cross entitled The Revolution Of Family. I do hope that someone does. (I am more than willing to publish it on my Blog on behalf of anyone who does so. Just write to me at my email address on the left of the Blog.)
What I will be doing instead is to draw attention, over the next few days, to various documents that I believe will help to deepen our understanding of the Church’s teaching on the subject of the family and why it is important to defend the traditional meaning of marriage.
I will begin in this post by referring you to a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons, which was approved by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
I will, in my next few posts, include portions of this document or a condensed version of some portions of it. I hope that these will wet your appetite and encourage the reading of the entire document, leading to an understanding and an acceptance, if acceptance was lacking, of the Church's teaching.
THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE AND ITS INALIENABLE CHARACTERISTICS
The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.
The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator's plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.
In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.
Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.
Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”. They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered” and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.
 The revolution of family, The Southern Cross, May 1, 2013, http://www.scross.co.za/2013/05/the-revolution-of-family/ accessed 2 May 2013