Read the decision here. It is a “Response to a Doubt” with an explanatory note. It is an excellent statement of Church teaching. The decision at this point in time may have been chosen as a way to help rebuke the German Bishops in their Synodal Way, which is looking for a way to bless same-sex unions.
Some news stories on this document have noted that Pope Francis favored civil laws legalizing civil unions for gay couples. However, what the Church is willing to permit in secular society is different from what She is willing to do Herself. We Catholics must admit that we are a minority in the world and in many nations, and that most Catholics do not accept Church teaching. So we cannot impose our faith on others.
In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church should acknowledge that non-Catholics have the right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. This includes their right to err by sincere but mistaken conscience, and to live by what they believe to be truth and goodness. If a democratic society approves of same-sex civil unions or same-sex marriages, it is their right to live as they see fit.
Those who say there is “no right to error” do not accept the dogma of the Church on the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, nor do they accept Church teaching on human fraternity and the plurality of religions. People do have a right and duty to follow their own conscience. However, Catholics also have a duty to form their conscience according to Church teaching. There is a right to follow even a mistaken conscience, in sincerity, and it is only for God to judge who is sincere. And while there is no right to sin, the Church acknowledges that not all sins should be against the law.
In a holy society, in which most persons understood the moral law well, there would not be same-sex unions or marriages. However, that is not the case today. Even within the Catholic Church, the “faithful” have a poor understanding of Church teaching — and that includes members of the Church who have chosen to make themselves judges over Popes and Councils. So it is unfortunate that secular society is so far from what the Faith understands as a holy and just fraternity of human persons. But nevertheless, people have a right to freedom of religion and conscience, and this many include, in some places and times, a legal right to same-sex unions or marriages.
The Church cannot bless same-sex couples, unions, or marriages. However, She does admit that these couples have the right to lives according to their own conscience. And the Church should admit that non-Catholic same-sex couples have a legal right (or should have) to civil unions and marriages, according to their freedom of religion and conscience.
The problem arises when same-sex couples claim to be Catholic, but refuse to live by Catholic teaching. They cannot have it both ways. If you reject fundamental Catholic teachings, repent or depart from the Church. Those who are outside the Church have a duty to continually seek moral and religious truth and to live by conscience. But those within the Church must live by Church teaching.
The decision of the CDF is very helpful in clarifying the place that gay persons have in the Church. They cannot live as if they are not Catholic. The decision of the Pope to support same-sex civil unions (some years ago) is important because it will be a long time before the whole world becomes Catholic Christian. The Church must treat persons formally outside the Church with respect for their free will and consciences, given to them by God. For same-sex couples who are legally married may well be in the state of grace. And if the Holy Spirit deigns to live within their souls, the Church cannot reject them.
In the United States, Catholics are a minority, believing a practicing Catholics are a minority among Catholics. We cannot expect that our views should control the lives of the majority of persons who disagree with us. It would be wrong for conservative Catholics to impose their views on the whole nation. And even persons who represent a minority opinion have the right to live according to their free will and conscience.
I support the right of gay persons to live according to their understanding of religion and life, and to follow their consciences. Therefore, I also support their right to legalized same-sex marriage.
However, in nations where Catholics are a vast majority of the population, I still rebuke those Catholics for rejecting Church teaching in their lives and in the formation of their own consciences. Non-Catholics must not be forced to live by Catholic teaching. But Catholics are morally required to live by the teaching of their own Church.
Non-Catholic teachers at a Catholic school, must not be prohibited from same-sex marriage, which is a legal right. And no employment contract has the right to deprive them of such a fundamental choice in their personal lives. Catholic schools do not have the right to force non-Catholic teachers to live by the Catholic religion. That is gravely immoral and contrary to Catholic dogma on freedom of religion.
Ronald L Conte Jr
Your best column yet, Ron.
Martin is NOT happy
I cannot understand about your conscience.
One time you said, same sex is wrong. Also said, that’s ok and church has to accept it.
Two minds? Or 2 consciences? You also like pope Francis. NO clear idea. Confused.
That’s what this is the time of faithfulness testing according to many messages , I have seen from seers or prophets from 2008.
Likewise , you can approve abortion and say non practicing Catholics can do it.or you can say ,who I am I to judge?
This is the proof for the end times. Confused.
Sometimes I May be wrong. Sorry, if I hurt you. Please forgive me.
I realize my position is complex. For non-Catholics, we cannot expect them to live by Church teaching, until and unless they convert. But until then, we have to accept that they might have different understandings of right and wrong. Secular society can have same-sex marriage, but the Church must teach the truth about that subject.
There was a time in USA when fornication, sodomy, oral sex, contraception, living together unmarried, adultery, abortion, divorce, and even masturbation, were considered illegal and one can be convicted and jailed. However, one was never forced to go to Church. Once our elected officials and judges (many Catholics), struck down these laws these past 60 years, in the name of separation of Church and State, our society has degenerated and our nation is now an abomination to God. These particular grave sins are not some mistaken conscience but are still widely known to be sinful and wrong. People just don’t care and keep it calling it freedom to do what they want to do. It is our duty as Catholics to tell authorities and citizens that these acts are gravely immoral and will lead to destruction of society, either internally or by God, as history as repeatedly shown.
Some Muslim nations go too far with strict religious laws (women must cover body, must pray, must go to Mosque), or severe punishments, such as stoning to death for gravely immoral sins. In USA, we had these aforementioned laws I wrote but police did not whip, hang or stone offenders. Punishments were mild but society was morally normal. There were large families, marriage rates were 90% and mostly done in early 20’s, Church attendance was high, virginity was taken very seriously (a person was considered damages goods if not a virgin and difficult to get married), divorce rates were practically non existent, Not anymore. We have become so evil now due to all this loosening of morality, and now with including pornography, rampant drug use (due to broken hearts), and Church attendance is way down.
We need God’s intervention very soon to save many souls from the fire of Hell!
True and VERY good idea. Thanks.
–“Non-Catholic teachers at a Catholic school, must not be prohibited from same-sex marriage, which is a legal right. And no employment contract has the right to deprive them of such a fundamental choice in their personal lives. Catholic schools do not have the right to force non-Catholic teachers to live by the Catholic religion. That is gravely immoral and contrary to Catholic dogma on freedom of religion.”–
I don’t think it follows from Church teaching that there’s a general human right to employment at a specifically Catholic institution. The idea that we must staff Catholic schools with notorious public sinners is completely contrary to the purpose and spirit of having a Catholic school. If the teachers at your Catholic school are going to flaunt their disobedience to the Sixth Commandment (or their atheism, etc), why even bother sending your impressionable kids there? Might as well just save the money and send them to public schools.
We must remember that children have the right to a good education, not only in terms of knowledge and skills but faith and morals as well. This right isn’t automatically trumped by the rights of others to religious freedom.
Sure, Catholic schools should employ Catholic teachers. But most Catholics don’t follow Catholic teaching. And if they decide to hire non-Catholics, they can’t force them to obey Catholic teaching on the grounds that a math teacher who is non-Catholic is somehow a minister of the Catholic faith.
Have you pondered the possibility that there are same-sex couples that goes through a faith process and decide to live according to Church teaching? Believe it or not these couples exists. Which is not really so difficult to believe, if you grant that people with another attraction than yourselves, also can have religious experiences and be honest and earnest in their relationship with the Lord. I agree with the Vatican document, I don’t think sexual active same-sex couples should receive a blessing – for several reasons. And as a man with same sex attraction myself, I never thought of it as a possibility or something I wish for. However, I do find it disturbing that you seem to suggest that a « gay couple » or a gay catholic person who is in a couple, is somewhat excluded from the church, cannot call themselves catholic, because they fail to live up to the chaste sexuality that the Church asks of them. ( as I am of the fact that you don’t seem to differentiate between couples who have a sexual relation, and those that don’t.) There are catholics of all sorts that either don’t agree with church teaching and nor follow them, or agree with church teaching but can’t follow them. I have never seen these categories of persons being asked to leave the Church, nor receive even 1 % of the slander and hate that the “gay problem” gets.
Good points. Thank you.