STATEMENT OF FRANCIS CARDINAL GEORGE, O.M.I.
Re: Protests of those supporting gay marriage
February 14, 2004
Today’s demonstration attempts to take the Catholic Church’s support for marriage as a lifelong union between a man and woman for the sake of family and falsely characterize it as an attack on gay people. That is inflammatory and untrue.
Marriage is a natural institution. It is the invention of neither the Church nor of the State, and neither has the authority to change its nature. In pointing out this rather obvious truth, the Church concludes that there is no legal parity between marriage and homosexual unions, because there is no biological or moral parity between them.
The Church’s resolute opposition to State institution of a completely new sense of marriage unfortunately causes tension between the Church and some of the gay community. Some actually find opposition to so-called “gay marriage” as a species of attack against homosexuals themselves.
The Catholic Church opposes anyone who would punish, demean or attack any person because of his or her homosexual orientation. However, it is a very great leap to move from respect for and acceptance of homosexual individuals to a demand that sexual relations between persons of the same sex be treated as the equivalent of marriage, morally and legally. The nature of life itself, of marriage and of faith cannot be simply subsumed into the language of individual rights.
What the Church sees at issue here and in other legal matters is her own right to exist as a community of faith, free to teach and live as she believes Christ demands, and do so without harassment and hostility. As the gay community demands the same, I would hope that the Church’s stance on marriage is no longer misrepresented as a hostile attack on gays and that the Church and the gay community could find a language other than that of individual rights to address adequately their differences.
Finally, since the Catholic Church is only one of many groups and communities that stand in defense of marriage, the protest seems as motivated by anti-Catholic bigotry as by any concern for rights.
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