I’ve been rereading the statement issued last week by the Vatican, and, every time, I am more impressed with their stance and how well they outlined their argument against homosexual marriage. I could not be prouder, even if I were Catholic.
A particularly noteworthy portion of the statement that has not made nearly as much news as it should is the section titled “Positions of Catholic Politicians with Regard to Legislation in Favour of Homosexual Unions.” In it the Vatican reminds all Catholic politicians that they have a responsibility to oppose any legislation or law “in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions.” The entire section reads:
If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.
There are some who consider this a bigoted statement and an improper attempt by the Vatican to influence sovereign governments, crossing the line, in American government, which separates church and state. For example, the Providence Journal reported that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D.-R.I.), a Catholic, said, “I see the policy of opposing same-sex marriages or unions, whatever you call it, as bigotry or discrimination.” Kennedy also stated, “We are talking about the law here and whether the law is going to treat people equally here. I don’t see where the church or anyone else dictates what the policy is going to be with respect to treating people equally.” Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.), also a Catholic, said, “It is important not to have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in this country.”
But it is not inappropriate. Rather, it is simply a reminder to all Catholics, particularly Catholic politicians, that they are Catholics first — and as such, they have certain responsibilities. It seems like a perfectly logical statement for the Church to make.