The marriage of Joseph and Mary

Super Flumina

under the patronage of St Joseph and St Dominic

By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion;
on the poplars that grew there we hung up our harps. . . Ps 136

St Dominic


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Professor Solomon's Introduction to Philosophy

11th September 2001


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Evangelium Vitae 73



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The Australian people are likely to be invited, shortly, to vote on the issue of whether homosexuals should be able to marry. This is a mindless exercise. If we had bishops with a basic grasp of philosophical principle the reasons why it is mindless would by now have been placed before us.

Men and women marry from natural inclination. They exercise their wills in embracing matrimony but the state itself is not within their will to determine. No man or woman chooses human nature : it is given them. (The word nature means 'given'.) And just as no one can alter what he is, neither can he alter what marriage is for marriage, a corollary of our human nature, is also something given.

The folly of thinking otherwise began (for our own age) some 500 years ago with Henry Tudor and his decision to abandon his wife, Catherine of Aragon, in favour of his mistress. It was not the abandonment that caused the problem—any number of kings have had mistresses—but Henry's desire that things appear to be licit. What God had ordained, his lawful marriage to Queen Catherine, Henry rejected in favour of his own tyrannical will which he then enforced by Act of parliament. He compounded the felony by compelling his subjects under pain of punishment to swear that what was false was true. Here, hand in glove with the atheistic spirit which Protestantism precipitated and which dominates our lives as Australian citizens, is the source of our problems.

The Australian Constitution gives power (under section 51, placitum xxi) for the Federal Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to marriage. There is ample scope here for a rightly ordered exercise of the secular power with respect to marriage's natural institution, the passage of laws regulating and recording its celebration. The constitutional head of power does not demand that the Commonwealth assume to itself powers it does not have, a power to allow a breach of the marriage bond through a facility of divorce. Divorce, the Tudor aberration, involves inevitably the error of men thinking they may determine what is, and what is not, marriage. It is the embrace of this error that grounds the current push for a vote to determine whether homosexuals should be allowed 'to marry'. One act of folly leads to another.

It matters not how many laws a state may pass, or its citizens accept, it is beyond human power to determine what is, and what is not, marriage. One might as well agree to pass a law that the Sun will not rise or the tides will not run tomorrow. Like the rotation of the earth round its axis marriage is of nature, not of human will.

The Catholic Church is the Church of God. She reflects the truths of reality in her teachings. She exists for the good of all men, not just of Catholics, and rightly laments their ignorance in any matter. This is the truth about marriage.

But when will we hear a Catholic bishop—just one bishop—utter it ?

Michael Baker

3rd September, 2016—St Gregory the Great