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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley in this homily to members of the legal profession during the annual Red Mass on Oct. 8 in St. Mary's Cathedral, attacked the raft of legislative measures in Scotland and elsewhere which have recklessly jeopardized family life as intended by God's purpose for human beings created in his image and likeness. The family constituted by parents, a man and woman married to each other, and their offspring, he said has, until now, been the basic cell of society in pre-Christian, Christian and non-Christian cultures for millennia.

The bishop outlined some of these: The Family Law Act which makes divorce even quicker and gives quasi-marital status to de facto heterosexual unions. Civil Partnership legislation allows homosexual couples to register their relationships and enjoy a civil status analogous to marriage. The Gender Recognition Act allows people to choose to be male or female irrespective of their sex. The Catholic Church's view of these kinds of developments here and elsewhere is well known. Our reaction to civil partnership legislation is typical of our stance. The social teaching of the Church could not be clearer: he quoted: 'By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and family life, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties'.

Continuing, the bishop said, that the legistrators should know better what is good for society, and in some cases they do know better but ignore it in the interests of power. For instance, all reputable research shows that children do better with two parents who are husband and wife. But political correctness, very often the enemy of right thinking and freedom of speech, practically forbids this to be said because it will offend some group's sensitivities.

Bishop Philip's main objection to these laws, he said, was that the truth of marriage and of the family is not just a mystery of faith, but belongs to the natural law and is accessible by reason. Even many non-Christian societies have recognized this. Unfortunately, in our times, the minds of many have been so darkened by hubris and by the selfish pursuit of their own gratification that they have lost sight of the natural law which God has written into his creation so that even those who do not believe in him may reach out for the truth. It is the vision of marriage, which still basically unites Christians, Jews, Muslims, and adherents of other respected religions. It is the vision of marriage too, which basically inspires any man and woman who marry with true love in their hearts. They want lasting, enduring, faithful love. This vision of marriage is the hope of right reason as well the gift of faith.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Pope in his Sunday Angelus address (October 9th) based his words on the Gospel of the day, which recounts Jesus' teaching on marriage. He pointed out that in response to the question as to whether it was lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife, an established precept of the Mosaic law, Jesus responded that it was a concession of Moses because of their 'hardness of heart', while the real truth about marriage goes back 'to the beginning of creation', when, God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one', as is written in the book of Genesis. Jesus added: 'So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder'.

The Pope added, this was God's original plan, as the Second Vatican Council said in Gaudium et Spes: 'The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by his laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant...for God himself is the author of matrimony'. The Pope's thoughts were directed to all Christian spouses, he said that with them he thanked the Lord for the gift of the sacrament of marriage, and exhorted them to remain faithful to their vocation in each stage of life, 'in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness', as they promised in the sacramental rite.

He continued by wishing that Christian spouses, aware of the grace received, would build a family open to life and capable of facing together the numerous and complicated challenges of our time. 'Their testimony', he said, 'is particularly necessary today'. Adding that 'we need families that do not let themselves be drawn by modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism, and that are willing to realize their mission in the Church and in society with generous dedication'.

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II wrote that the sacrament of marriage makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ 'to the end of the earth', as authentic 'missionaries' of love and life. This mission, the Pope commented, is oriented both to the internal life of the family, especially in mutual service and in the education of children, as well as to the external: the domestic community. In fact, it is called to be the sign of God's love to all. He finished by saying that the family can only fulfil this mission if it is supported by divine grace. For this reason, it is necessary to pray tirelessly and to persevere in the daily effort to keep the commitments assumed on the wedding day.

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