civil unions?


#1

I found this link on Fr Z's blog... I dont really understand though, is the Bishop supporting homosexual civil unions? does the priest in this blog agree or disagree with him? I think I'm just missing something. What is the message here? I think that homosexual civil unions are against Church teaching? thanks. marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2011/11/archbishop-backs-equality.html


#2

I agree, it's tricky. :)

I think the answer is that the archbishop is supporting them and the blogger is not, but I admit I am not answering that with any certainty.

I do admit that the idea (in the comments to the blog article) of having civil unions for non-sexual relationships is interesting. It's hard to see how it would be fair that a couple of women living together could have rights of survivorship (etc.) only if they had sex. Discrimination against people on the basis of their not having sex doesn't seem fair!

:)

--Jen


#3

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:264581"]
I found this link on Fr Z's blog... I dont really understand though, is the Bishop supporting homosexual civil unions? does the priest in this blog agree or disagree with him? I think I'm just missing something. What is the message here? I think that homosexual civil unions are against Church teaching? thanks. marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2011/11/archbishop-backs-equality.html

[/quote]

Yes. The Catholic Church in England and Wales and Archbishop Nichol has said clearly that he does not oppose gay civil partnerships, but of course does oppose homosexual marriage.


#4

I know this is probably the unpopular position, but if they ensured that Catholic adoption agencies, companies, and hospitals would not be forced to comply, I wouldn't be terribly upset with civil unions. One must respect another's religious freedom, per Vatican II.

The only reason I would probably vote against it, however, is the uncertainty of the long-term wellbeing of their adopted children and the public education system.


#5

thanks for the replies, what is the official Church teaching on this?


#6

I read this and it's a tad confusing. I would imagine that the people in the bishop's office know what he's trying to say. I wish he had said a little more so that it would be a little clearer.

I'm GUESSING that he's trying to say that a civil union brings some sense of stability to the lives of these individuals and that the Church is always in favor of stability. However, these civil unions, no matter how much stability they bring into a person's life can ever be a marriage.

I guess in a place like London where promiscuity is so high, he's probably thinking of the greater good. Do we just stay silent or do we at least acknowledge that civil unions bring some stability to a city or nation that has been destabilized by rampant promiscuity.

As I said, I'm trying to extrapolate here, based on what he has said in other interviews regarding same-sex marriage. He has made it very obvious and clear that there is no possible way that the Church will ever acknowledge same-sex marriage, either civil or religious, such as is the case in some Anglican congregations.

This is one of those instances that in order to understand him one needs to look at everything he has said in the past and at the same time assume that this statement is off the top of his head, not very well thought out and that's why it's so confusing. He's actually a very smart man and usually very well spoken. This sounds more like something said on the run between his office and the men's room. :shrug:

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :christmastree1:


#7

I wish I could find a way to explain his statement in a positive light, but unfortunately this is not the only time he made a statement that is questionable. The problem in England is that too many bishops still believe that the government is their friend and are trying to finds ways of making things work with the regime. This statement is a perfect example of that, of trying to reconcile PC rubbish and the church teaching. When this statement was made public faithful Catholics did not respond well.


#8

[quote="JReducation, post:6, topic:264581"]

I'm GUESSING that he's trying to say that a civil union brings some sense of stability to the lives of these individuals and that the Church is always in favor of stability. However, these civil unions, no matter how much stability they bring into a person's life can ever be a marriage.

I guess in a place like London where promiscuity is so high, he's probably thinking of the greater good. Do we just stay silent or do we at least acknowledge that civil unions bring some stability to a city or nation that has been destabilized by rampant promiscuity.

[/quote]

But, promiscuity is promiscuity, Br JR. Neither marriage nor civil partnership can tether promiscuous individuals. The issue on "stability" he speaks of also overlooks the resulting "instability" in other sectors of the community, Catholic or otherwise.

As I said, I'm trying to extrapolate here, based on what he has said in other interviews regarding same-sex marriage. He has made it very obvious and clear that there is no possible way that the Church will ever acknowledge same-sex marriage, either civil or religious, such as is the case in some Anglican congregations.

That’s what the Archbishop is saying. However, the BCEW and the Diocese of Westminster of which he is head, continue to sanction gay Masses in Soho. Members of the Catholic community here have drawn attention to the Bidding Prayers which celebrate civil partnerships in those Masses. Also, as many who attend those Masses admit to being in active gay relationships, what the Archbishop says presents a conflict with what is. There are other concerns as well outside of the Soho Mass issues.

This is one of those instances that in order to understand him one needs to look at everything he has said in the past and at the same time assume that this statement is off the top of his head, not very well thought out and that's why it's so confusing. He's actually a very smart man and usually very well spoken. This sounds more like something said on the run between his office and the men's room. :shrug:

Archbishop Nichols has given interviews in the matter and reiterated what he said in the past. Here's an excerpt from one of those talks conducted by the BBC the day after the Papal Visit and draw your attention to the comment by one of the members in the group at 6:00

youtube.com/watch?v=mymOTA9pJ1w

A further link from the Bishops Conference on the press conference podcast relating to current remarks of Archbishop Nichols which includes a Q&A.

catholicnews.org.uk/Home/News/Bishops-Resolutions-from-November-2011

Please keep Archbishop Nichols in your prayers as well as all of our Bishops.


#9

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:7, topic:264581"]
I wish I could find a way to explain his statement in a positive light, but unfortunately this is not the only time he made a statement that is questionable. The problem in England is that too many bishops still believe that the government is their friend and are trying to finds ways of making things work with the regime. This statement is a perfect example of that, of trying to reconcile PC rubbish and the church teaching. When this statement was made public faithful Catholics did not respond well.

[/quote]

Thing is Contra Mundum, that was initiated by Archbishop Nichols' predecessors. Not by him.


#10

[quote="Santi2, post:9, topic:264581"]
Thing is Contra Mundum, that was initiated by Archbishop Nichols' predecessors. Not by him.

[/quote]

I agree with that. It seems that he is not strong enough to change the course of the way the church in England deals with the situation. Strong leadership is needed, and if all bishops in the UK followed the example of Cardinal O'Brien who calls a spade a spade and never compromises, the church would be much better off. We must pray for the bishops because things are getting tough.


#11

I have no claim to the title of "Expert On Catholicism in the UK". I lived there for a year and was not involved in pastoral life. I was a student at Oxford. So I went in, did what I had to do and was out (did a little sight-seeing too :D).

But I would say this. It is a confusing statement. I don't think the man intends to sanction gay marriages. He has said that there is no such thing as a gay marraige. I stand by what I said before, I wish that he would say a little more so as to be better understood.

As to the strength and weaknesses of bishops, we all have to learn one thing. There is always a tendency among us to demand and expect that a person in certain positions have certain qualities and abilities. In an ideal world, that would be true. But in the real world, we work with the deck God gives us.

Bishops are human beings and most of them try very hard to do a very difficult job and get very little approval and a great deal of criticism and coaching from those of us, including me, who wouldn't know where to begin doing their job and who probably wouldn't want their job. I for one know that I would make things worse rather than better.

These are men who were called by Christ to the Order of Bishop, not because they were perfect, the most competent or even the holiest, but because they fit into Christ's plan for his Church in some way unknown to us. In othe words, they are a piece in a puzzle that God is putting together. They were free to say no. No one is ever obliged to accept the election as bishop. They respond out of obedience to the Will of God, even though they may be afraid, feel unqualified, and many times are faced with situations and conditions that they rather not deal with. It would be much easier to live a quiet life in a monastery or in some country parish. Just saying "Yes" to the call to be bishop requires great humility and trust that God will lead the way through the darkness. God does not call just those who are strong like Cardinal O'Brien. He also calls very mousy men.

Like our Holy Father Francis, I always take the position that a bishop is a person to be respected, supported, obeyed, helped and at times just tolerated with all of his faults and limitations, because at the core of all the weaknesses that we see, there is a man who just wants to serve God. As St. Francis and St. Teresa of Avila always said, none of us knows who can do a better job and all of us are worse sinners than they are. In dealing with the weaknesses of the bishops of his time, Francis always added that the key to great sanctity is to look away from the weakness of the bishop and focus on the weaknesses in my life.

He made it a habit of imposing great penances on the religious and laity when they complained about their bishops, because he said that it was far more productive to do penance than to complain. There is a rather interesting story of a town where the people were in an uproar over the bishohp. Francis and Dominic were so upset with the people, that they closed the churches and pulled their friars. They refused to come back until the people started to do penance. Apparently, the bishop was a rather interesting person. The two great fathers were not interested in that. The message was loud and clear, do penance and things will begin to change.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :christmastree1:


#12

[quote="JReducation, post:11, topic:264581"]

As to the strength and weaknesses of bishops, we all have to learn one thing. There is always a tendency among us to demand and expect that a person in certain positions have certain qualities and abilities. In an ideal world, that would be true. But in the real world, we work with the deck God gives us.

[/quote]

I guess we see things from very different perspectives. I expect more from our leaders. Statements such as these scandalise and confuse the faithful. Things are not good here in the UK, the moral fibre of society has been falling apart for decades and the Catholic church is the only source of sane, moral teaching left.

This is the man who, when asked if homosexual marriages would ever be celebrated in Catholic churches said: "Who knows what's down the road." That is truly shocking and I believe people have every right to criticise him for that.


#13

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:12, topic:264581"]
I guess we see things from very different perspectives. I expect more from our leaders. Statements such as these scandalise and confuse the faithful. Things are not good here in the UK, the moral fibre of society has been falling apart for decades and the Catholic church is the only source of sane, moral teaching left.

This is the man who, when asked if homosexual marriages would ever be celebrated in Catholic churches said: "Who knows what's down the road." That is truly shocking and I believe people have every right to criticise him for that.

[/quote]

St. Francis would say that it's not a question of whether one has the right to criticize, but whether it's a useful endeavor. That's why I always refer to Francis, Dominic, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola when I run into these situations and I ask myself, "What did they say and do when they ran into such situations?"

The answer: they kept going at what they had to do. They stormed heaven with prayers and penance, but avoided all public conflicts and comments. They're really my models, because they changed the Church and they never said, "Bishop X is a rotten tomato." Only God knows how many bishops they converted through their penance and their example.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#14

[quote="JReducation, post:13, topic:264581"]

They're really my models, because they changed the Church and they never said, "Bishop X is a rotten tomato." Only God knows how many bishops they converted through their penance and their example.

[/quote]

I'm not calling the archbishop a rotten tomato and would never dare question the state of his soul. But since such statements are made public and recorded, I am free to judge the words that are said. I'm sure we can agree this is a different matter altogether.


#15

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:14, topic:264581"]
I'm not calling the archbishop a rotten tomato and would never dare question the state of his soul. But since such statements are made public and recorded, I am free to judge the words that are said. I'm sure we can agree this is a different matter altogether.

[/quote]

I'm not saying that you did call him a rotten tomato. I was sharing how I approach these situations. I look to my friends: Francis, Teresa, Ignatius, Dominic and even Mother Teresa. The way I figure it is that they made it to heaven and I'm still on the way. I need to learn their secret so that I can get to where they arrived. Specifically, I want to learn their secret in dealing with and responding to situations like this. Their attitude and manner was very discrete, regardless of how public the bishop was.

There are stories of Francis and Dominic becoming furious with the faithful of certain places who were vocally protesting what a bishop had said or done. At times the bishop had actually misbehaved. Francis went as far as pulling his friars from such towns unless the faithful agreed to quiet down and do penance instead of protesting. These spiritual masters had an incredible sense of discretion and charity when it came to the clergy.

Anyone can use whatever models work for them. These are the models in my life and on my journey. From them, I have learned to deal with and react to these kinds of situations. So far, it has helped me a great deal.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :christmastree1:


#16

[quote="JReducation, post:11, topic:264581"]
I have no claim to the title of "Expert On Catholicism in the UK". I lived there for a year and was not involved in pastoral life. I was a student at Oxford. So I went in, did what I had to do and was out (did a little sight-seeing too :D).

[/quote]

You spent a year here? I hope you managed to visit many of our Churches and Cathedrals.

I always take the position that a bishop is a person to be respected, supported, obeyed, helped and at times just tolerated with all of his faults and limitations

Many thanks for your posts and take on board all you say with regards to due courtesy towards our bishops. However, where does one draw the line though? Do we keep mum and fully acquiesce to bishops when they publicly express an opposing position to Rome and its decree? Where or when should it tilt if it teeters between the bishops’ Holy Office and what one has been taught?

The problem we have over here is not simply a matter of disagreement with bishops. On Monday, 5th December, the government will allow religious civil partnerships in churches, synagogues etc where the governing bodies of those permit celebration of the unions. As I have mentioned previously, blessings of civil partnerships already take place in a Catholic Church in Soho. So, bearing the Soho business in mind, together with our country’s very contentious equality laws, Archbishop Nichols’ recent statement giving assent to civil partnership has now placed our parish priests in a precarious situation as they are now seemingly obliged to participate and bless civil partnerships.


#17

[quote="Santi2, post:16, topic:264581"]
You spent a year here? I hope you managed to visit many of our Churches and Cathedrals.

Many thanks for your posts and take on board all you say with regards to due courtesy towards our bishops. However, where does one draw the line though? Do we keep mum and fully acquiesce to bishops when they publicly express an opposing position to Rome and its decree? Where or when should it tilt if it teeters between the bishops’ Holy Office and what one has been taught?

The problem we have over here is not simply a matter of disagreement with bishops. On Monday, 5th December, the government will allow religious civil partnerships in churches, synagogues etc where the governing bodies of those permit celebration of the unions. As I have mentioned previously, blessings of civil partnerships already take place in a Catholic Church in Soho. So, bearing the Soho business in mind, together with our country’s very contentious equality laws, Archbishop Nichols’ recent statement giving assent to civil partnership has now placed our parish priests in a precarious situation as they are now seemingly obliged to participate and bless civil partnerships.

[/quote]

On the latter point though, the government has said that no religious denomination will be forced to bless Civil partnerships. My understanding is that legally the Church has to opt-in, rather than just allowing them to happen on a parish-by-parish basis. The Church of England has already said it does not intend to bless Civil partnerships. If these are already happening in the Catholic Church, then this is not being driven by a legislative requirement.

I would be interested to know what the experience is of those countries where gay marriage is actually allowed: Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, the Netherlands, Sweden.


#18

[quote="liturgyluver, post:17, topic:264581"]
On the latter point though, the government has said that no religious denomination will be forced to bless Civil partnerships. My understanding is that legally the Church has to opt-in, rather than just allowing them to happen on a parish-by-parish basis.

[/quote]

I understand what you are saying. Now the query is: did Archbishop Nichols' recent statement give effect to an opt-in?

The Church of England has already said it does not intend to bless Civil partnerships.

Archbishop Peter Smith stressed the same. I wonder, however, whether he was speaking in terms of bishopric jurisdiction for Southwark.

If these are already happening in the Catholic Church, then this is not being driven by a legislative requirement.

Not "the" but "a" Catholic Church in the Diocese of Westminster. :)


#19

Does 'civil partnership' mean sodomitic marriage? If so, a bishop should denounce it thunderously.

Does 'civil partnership' mean a normal marriage outside the Church? Then a bishop should say "you must convert and be wed inside the Church".

Notice, dear reader, how we Catholics, and the wider society, are calmly discussing abomination like it was a purely intellectual matter?

The fix is in and I think the Devil is the fixer.


#20

[quote="Santi2, post:16, topic:264581"]

Many thanks for your posts and take on board all you say with regards to due courtesy towards our bishops. However, where does one draw the line though? Do we keep mum and fully acquiesce to bishops when they publicly express an opposing position to Rome and its decree? Where or when should it tilt if it teeters between the bishops’ Holy Office and what one has been taught?

[/quote]

I think this raises an interesting question and certainly we must stand up for what is right. We can disagree with a particular point while still respecting the office and position. Many saints changed history while remaining subordinate to their superiors and to the Church. That, I believe, is where the difference lies.


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