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Comment on reaction to 'Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons', a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

4th August 2003--St John Vianney

Download this document as aword document.

Parliamentarians Laurie Brereton and Christopher Pyne are reported (The Australian 4.8.2003) to have responded to the Church's document setting forth principles against proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons by asserting that Church and State should be separate.

They fail to understand that all civil authority, even in democracies, comes from God (Romans 13: 1-5).  The view to the contrary, that authority comes from the people, is a hangover of the French Revolution.

The State has a duty to recognise, protect and promote the authentic nature of marriage and the family.  It has a duty to uphold the natural law.  Any legislative attempt to accord the legitimacy which properly belongs to marriage to unions founded on a perversion of the natural order has two effects: 1) it asserts to be lawful what can never be lawful; 2) it attacks the institution founded by God which is the very foundation on which society is built.

It is the duty of every parliamentarian to resist both these evils--including Mr Brereton and Mr Pyne.

Mr Pyne is said to be 'a prominent Catholic MP'.  He asserts: 'the Catholic Church is entitled to its opinion', as if that opinion did not bind him as a Catholic.  How is it that he does not know the nature of the institution of which he is a member?  Or the duty he has as a Catholic of submitting his mind and will to its teachings?

Mr Brereton says: 'MPs should decide issues strictly on their merits', as if this excluded any of the powerful considerations set forth in the Vatican document.

The position they hold would exclude the Church from any input on this matter whatsoever.  While the argument does not depend on numbers, one would have thought either parliamentarian would have been alive to the fact that Catholics make up more than a quarter of the Australian population.

The newspaper's reporters assert that the two parliamentarians have responded to the document 'by reminding the Vatican to stay out of government matters'.  The answer to this is: 1) It is not simply a government matter but a matter affecting the very foundations of society; and, 2) the Catholic Church was founded and established by God (from whom Messrs Brereton and Pyne get whatever authority they may have as parliamentarians) and the Church is bound to resist any attempt to destroy civil society, and to uphold whatever will redound to its good.

The two seem ignorant of the fact that if the parliament issues a law which is in contravention of the moral order it is against the will of God and cannot be binding on the consciences of the country's citizens, as Pope John XXIII taught (Pacem in Terris, 11.4.1963).  In the same encyclical the Pope went to say: '. if [a] government does not acknowledge human rights, or violates them, not only does it fail in its duty, but its orders are wholly lacking in binding force.'  In other words, insofar as it departs from moral principle, the parliament loses moral authority.

It is clearly time for Messrs Brereton and Pyne to put aside their parliamentary papers and to pick up and study the teachings of that Church of which they claim to be members.

Needless to say, the responses of these Catholic parliamentarians to this important document deserve the attention and comment of the Catholic episcopacy.

Michael Baker