VATICAN CITY, AUGUST 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Why has the Holy See published a document, clearly articulating its negative ethical judgment on those laws that give legal recognition to homosexual unions?
Salesian Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and, together with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, signatory of the document, answered the question in this interview with Vatican Radio.
The document “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons,” of a “doctrinal character,” was published by the Holy See on Thursday.
Q: What are the essential points of the document?
Archbishop Amato: There are three. First of all, there is a reaffirmation of the essential characteristics of matrimony, which is founded on the complementarity of the sexes. This is a natural truth, confirmed by revelation, so that man and woman can have that communion of persons, through which they participate in a special way in God’s creative work, receiving and educating new lives. There is no principle whatsoever to assimilate or establish analogies between homosexual unions and God’s plan for matrimony and the family. Matrimony is holy, while homosexual relations are in contrast to the natural law and are intrinsically disordered.
Q: But, with this document, isn’t there a risk of discriminating against homosexual persons?
Archbishop Amato: The Church respects men and women with homosexual tendencies, and invites them to live according the law of the Lord, in chastity. It must be kept in mind, however, that the homosexual inclination in itself is objectively disordered and that homosexual practices are grave sins against chastity.
Q: What were the other two points mentioned?
Archbishop Amato: The second point affects the attitudes that must be assumed given these homosexual unions. The civil authorities adopt three attitudes: of tolerance, of legal recognition, or of genuine comparison with matrimony as such, including the possibility of adoption. In face of a policy of tolerance, the Catholic faithful is called to affirm the immoral character of this phenomenon, requesting that the State circumscribe it with limits which will not endanger the fabric of society and will not expose youth to an erroneous conception of sexuality and matrimony. However, in face of the legal recognition or comparison with heterosexual matrimony, there is a duty to oppose in a clear and motivated manner, even claiming the right to objection of conscience.
Q: How is this clear rejection justified?
Archbishop Amato: This is the third point of the document, which offers the arguments of rational order, biological and anthropological order, social order, and juridical order which justify the Catholics’ rejection.
Right reason cannot justify a law that is not in keeping with the natural moral law: if it does so, the State no longer fulfills its duty to defend matrimony, an essential institution for the common good.
One thing is a homosexual union as a private phenomenon, and quite another its legal recognition, as a model of social life, which would devalue the matrimonial institution and cloud the perception of some fundamental moral values. Moreover, in homosexual unions, the biological and anthropological conditions of matrimony and the family are missing.
As regards the hypothesis of the integration of children in homosexual unions, such an adoption would be violent for the children, as it would deprive them of a proper environment for their full human development. From the social point of view, it would change the concept of matrimony, with its task of procreation and education and would cause great harm to the common good, especially if its incidence in the social fabric increases. Lastly, speaking juridically, married couples guarantee the order of generations and, therefore, are of eminent public interest. This is not so in the case of homosexual couples.
Q: What should be, concretely, the attitude of Catholic politicians in this respect?
Archbishop Amato: Faced with a first draft law favorable to this recognition, the Catholic parliamentarian has the moral duty to express his disagreement clearly and publicly, voting against it. A vote in favor would be a gravely immoral act.
In face of a law that is already in force, he must make known his opposition. If it is not possible to abrogate the law, he could mobilize and support proposals directed to limiting the harm of such a law and decrease the negative effects at the level of public culture and morality, on the condition that his opposition to laws of this type is clear and avoids the danger of scandal.
This is a principle expressed in the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (1995).The leading cultures of the world have always given great institutional recognition not so much to friendship between persons as to matrimony and the family, a condition of stable life favorable to the common good: procreation, survival of society, education, and socialization of children.