Thinking Anglicans

RC bishops respond to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has issued, via this page, a Briefing to Members of Parliament on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. (PDF)

Another copy is available from the Catholic Herald as a normal web page over here.

Catholic Voices has its own summary of their arguments at Bishops to MPs: this Bill will radically alter meaning of marriage.

34
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
34 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
Father Ron SmithDavid ShepherdCynthiabadmanTobias Haller Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
David Shepherd
Guest

What an amazing document! While it may be de rigeur for liberals to deride it, the scope and thoroughness of its reasoning is impressive and panoramic. As the Catholic paper establishes, the bill creates two separate species of marriage. By comparison, other institutions, like the monarchy and British Citizenship (and even though they have evolved), retain their importance to the whole society by maintaining and enforcing a shared, consistent and universally applicable social meaning. The practical argument is not over which aspects of marriage law are indispensible to its meaning, since we are now beyond this. The issue now is… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Nothing new here. They have already shot their bolt. Saying and writing the same stuff over and over fails to impress. Their dismal record on child prptection to which they pay but meagre lip service has rendered them without moral authority. Ratzinger’s role covering up child abuse while at the CDF is of public record. Mr Speaker has spoken of the “moral strength’ of lesbian and gay campaigners down the decades, to the Gay Olympics bid meeting, today. in London. VERY moving words to those who have been a part of this however small, or have made great personal sacrifice.… Read more »

badman
Guest
badman

There is only one ground for divorce: namely (in the words of the modern divorce petition) “that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.” This will continue to apply equally when same sex couples are allowed to marry. The various manifestations of irretrievable breakdown include adultery in the case of opposite sex couples but not in the case of same sex couples. This is to avoid silly arguments about what “adultery” means. A same sex spouse whose partner is sexually unfaithful will, of course, be able to cite that as evidence that “The Respondent has behaved in such a way that… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

No one is really married in their eyes anyway, unless according to the rites and ceremonies of the Roman church.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 4:38pm GMT, you have that right.
Spot on.
No one is married in their official eyes, unless they are Roman Catholics married to other Roman Catholics by the proper religious rites.
No one is ever divorced, although, under the right circumstances, the existing marriage can be made to simply — poof! — disappear.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Badman,
I think that is true only if both agree to divorce and have been legally separated for 2 years. If you want to divorce earlier than that you can still cite either adultery or unreasonable behaviour. And a sexual relationship with a same sex partner comes under unreasonable behaviour.

robert Ian Wiliams
Guest
robert Ian Wiliams

Richard, the Catholic Church recognises marriages between two Christians of outside the Church as long as there are no impediments.

A Catholic has to, by Canon law be married with the permission of the Church. This is a sine qua non.

All Catholic children are warned that they must never marry without the permission of the Church…as such marraiges are null and void. Indeed a marriage before a Society of St Pius X clergyman is invalid for a baptized Catholic!

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

“No one is really married in their eyes anyway, unless according to the rites and ceremonies of the Roman church.” – Richard Ashby.

Untrue. The Roman Church recognises civil marriage. In may also allow a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic outside the RC Church.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Why is the Roman Catholic Church so fearful – of a legal ceremony which will protect two people who love one another, and who wish to share their lives in fidelity and solidarity with society’s need for permanence in relationships? Do they prefer the other option – such as the heterosexual tendency, outside of marriage, towards promiscuity? It all seems so contradictory to the ethos of the Gospel: “Love one another”.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I somewhat agree with David Shepherd that this is (given its inherent limitations – that is the people who wrote it and the views it espouses) a magisterial exposition of Roman Catholic thinking. One must always look for the gem however. Like this sentiment here: “We also recognise that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes.” Wow. Is that the first time such a concession is made by the Roman Catholic Church any where in the world or have I missed all such similar utterences? There must be many countries (where there is as yet no… Read more »

Jonathan Redvers Harris
Guest
Jonathan Redvers Harris

Sorry, Richard, wrong.

The marriage of two non-baptised people in a register office is a valid natural marriage in the eyes of the Catholic Church, and the marriage of two baptised non-Catholics, in a register office or in a non-Catholic church, is a valid sacramental marriage. “Rites and ceremonies of the Roman Church,” as you call it, are only relevant to Catholics.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, badman. The situation remains the same concerning same-sex extramarital activity. That is, under current law, a woman whose husband has an affair with a man cannot obtain a divorce on the grounds of adultery. So the same situation will apply to the marriage of two men. The grounds of “breakdown” or “unreasonable conduct” will remain available to all equally. Far from being a disparity, it is a rather elegant and equal solution to an unequal situation, much like granting maternity leave to women, but parental leave to men. That doesn’t make men mothers, but it provides a reasonable… Read more »

Mark Wharton
Guest
Mark Wharton

Richard Ashby, This is not quite correct; the Church recognises the validity of Catholics to Catholics, Non-Catholics to Non-Catholics. Non-Christians to Non-Christians. Catholics – non Catholics (With permission) and Catholics to non Christians (with permission).

Joe
Guest
Joe

Re: No one is really married in their eyes anyway, unless according to the rites and ceremonies of the Roman church.

Not to defend the briefing, but the RC Church does recognise Christian marriages as sacramental marriages. It does not recognise marriages of RCs when they are not conducted according to RC rites unless there is a dispensation.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Tobias “That is, under current law, a woman whose husband has an affair with a man cannot obtain a divorce on the grounds of adultery.” That is not true. In order to divorce before a legal separation period of 2 years is over, one spouse can divorce the other on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. After the 2 year separation period and if both partners agree, they can divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown. If one partner does not agree, and if that partner is not guilty of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour, the marriage can be… Read more »

sjh
Guest
sjh

Their demand that religious conscience be respected contrasts starkly with their recent declaration that teachers and governors at their schools who are in civil partnerships or divorced will be sacked. To demand the right to conscience demands equally that they respect the consciences of others.

badman
Guest
badman

Erika, your understanding of English divorce law is not far off, but it is not correct. There is only one ground for divorce and that is irretrievable breakdown of marriage. See section 1(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: “Subject to section 3 below, a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.” Section 1(2) then provides that “The court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner satisfies the court of one… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The RCC recognizes natural marriages and nonCatholic marriages as valid (though not as sacramental, as far as I know); but such marriages are not indissoluble; divorces can be accorded under the Pauline and Petrine privileges. Only Catholic sacramental marriages are indissoluble. See John A Noonan, The Church that can and cannot change.

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

SJH – I doubt anyone could be sacked for being divorced – divorced and remarried, maybe. The strictures you mention apply only to senior people (heads, RE teachers, governors etc) who are RCs.

Personally I would dispute that there can unlimited freedom of conscience where the exercise of such would be incompatible with the ethos of the school.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Badman, thank you for that. So the new law changes nothing. An extramarital affair with a person of the opposite sex can be cited as adultery in evidence for the irretrievable breakdown, whereas an affair with a person of the same sex can be cited as unreasonable behaviour in evidence for that same breakdown. In any case, David’s statement “When a court allows a petitioner to seek divorce on the basis of adultery, a well-heeled respondent might well mount a legal challenge, asking: ‘why can I be divorced on the basis of adultery, when if I was gay that wouldn’t… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Very interesting discussion on RC marriage law. But anyone reading this might reasonably say that the division between a secular view of marriage and that of the RC church is already well established and not something created by this new legislation as this paper argues. And while one may have huge sympathy for anyone coerced to act in a way contrary to their conscience, one does wonder then how the Roman Catholic hierarchy views RC marriage registrars marrying divorced people. The liberalising of the law on divorce was not a subtle change in marriage it was a dramatic and hugely… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘SJH – I doubt anyone could be sacked for being divorced – divorced and remarried, maybe. The strictures you mention apply only to senior people (heads, RE teachers, governors etc) who are RCs.’ This is disturbing rather than reassuring -if it was intended to reassure. The appalling mistreatment of ordinary people, workers, citizens, and their harrassment and hounding is immoral, by any normal measure of decency. But we know the RCC in these islands holds little store on decency and indiviual religious and personal freedom, and moral agency. The treatment of the Revd Brian Darcy SJ and a priest (name… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

So it seems, badman, that all the stuff flying around about consummation and non-consummation is largely irrelevant? It used to be the case, and probably still is under canon law, that non-consummation was a get-out-of-gaol-free card (it still is in the RCC if you are looking for an annulment). And that other useful product for a divorce, adultery (though that won’t produce an annulment for Catholics – they still have to suck on it), is also subsumed under irretrievable breakdown. The days when husbands used to do the gentlemanly thing and take the rap for the wife’s adultery by taking… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Erika, my original note made that distinction between adultery (heterosexual only) and “unreasonable conduct” — current grounds for a heterosexual couple in which one party engages in homosexual conduct. As you observe the situation remains unchanged: a same-sex couple one of whom engaged in a heterosexual affair could be divorced on grounds of adultery (and breakdown); if the affair was with a person of the same sex “unreasonable conduct” could be the ground.

sjh
Guest
sjh

Original Observer –

The point is that they are wanting it both ways – they want Catholics to be able to live according to their conscience in state schools and institutions but will not allow others to live by theirs in Catholic schools (paid for, as Laurence rightly says by the state anyway). So what they don’t want is mutual respect, they want special privileges for themselves. this cannot be right.

David Shepherd
Guest

There is one ground of divorce, which is irretrievable breakdown. There are five facts of divorce, one of which is adultery. While adultery may be casually defined as extra-marital sex, it has been legally defined as intercourse from which spurious offspring may arise. Clearly, this only applies to heterosexual intercourse. Although, in earlier times, some casuits would resort to claiming erroneously that infertility provides an invincible defence. When compared to commercial agreements, free-will domestic agreements are unenforceable. Yet, whatever a couple may agree their vows mean between themselves, marriage is enforceable because it maintains and legally upholds a shared social… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

There is one ground of divorce, which is irretrievable breakdown. There are five facts of divorce, one of which is adultery. While adultery may be casually defined as extra-marital sex, it has been legally defined as intercourse from which spurious offspring may arise. Clearly, this only applies to heterosexual intercourse. When compared to commercial agreements, free-will domestic agreements are unenforceable. Yet, whatever a couple may agree their vows mean between themselves, marriage is enforceable because it maintains and legally upholds a shared social meaning and understanding of minimal expectations of behaviour. That is the meaning of an institution. Disparity in… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Tom:
Executory agreements have the same characteristics. Completion is relevant to estate agreements. It occurs after the exchange of contracts. Perhaps, you can imagine such an agreement without it. Show me one.

Similarly, consummation is relevant to the marital agreement. It occurs after the exchange of vows.

Neither adultery, nor any other fact of divorce is subsumed. There are five separate facts of divorce that can each demonstrate irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Oh, sorry…now four are proposed in the case of gay couples.

Tobias Haller
Guest

The new language of the Bill does not state that only “four [facts of divorce] are proposed in the case of gay couples.” What the new clause (6) says is, “Only conduct between the respondent and a person of the opposite sex may constitute adultery for the purposes of this section.” This simply elucidates current practice, which does not recognize same-sex conduct as a “fact” constituting adultery in the case of a mixed-sex couple. (It has been classified as ‘unreasonable behavior’ — currently clause I.1.2.b. of MC1973) Under the new law, a gay couple will thus be treated exactly as… Read more »

badman
Guest
badman

It is not true that “until relatively recently, adultery was the sole ground of divorce”. Even in medieval courts, divorce was granted on grounds of either adultery, or cruelty, or heresy. According to the Oxford History of the Laws of England vol 1 (The Canon Law and Ecclesastical Jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s) at p 554, medieval court records not infrequently record divorces granted on the basis of consent between the parties, although the court would always try to dissuade them. In modern divorce cases, more than 8 out of 10 are granted on the basis of unreasonable behaviour… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

The question of why such a fundamental and historically recognised breach of fidelity in marriage called adultery cannot apply in current practice to proposed marriage law for gay couples must remain shrouded in mystery.

Yet, Euclid would say: ‘Things which equal the same thing also equal one another’. Conversely, for two things that are not equal to another thing, no amount of law will make them equal to each other. It’s a mere demand with no basis in equivalence.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Why do we care what the RC’s think? Didn’t we go to a lot of trouble to separate from the pope and all that?

Nobody is listening to them on birth control or the use of condoms to avoid STD’s. The position on that in the 21st century is simply bizarre and destructive. And the Bible supports these positions how? They can’t possibly have any cred when it comes to children.

Why would the opinions of the RC hierarchy on women’s ordination and marriage equality be taken seriously or considered relevant?

David Shepherd
Guest

Badman: ‘The proposition that “Adultery undermines the central public purpose for which marriage was established, since the validity of parental responsibility becomes questionable” is wrong on every level.’ You counter my proposition with a 2012 quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury. His position may carry weight, but even if he was covertly in favour of same-sex marriage, his words cannot be interpreted in a manner that nullifies Canon B30. The kind of pairing that, in every instance, repudiates congruence with the wider system of beneficial natural kinship is void ab initio. Close family marriages are also rejected on this basis.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

As Cynthia rightly says: how can one take seriously the R.C. opposition to Same-Sex Marriage? Their grounds, for instance, of the implied lack of openness to procreation, when it continues to marry heterosexual people who may have no intention of procreating – even though the Church has forbidden them the facility of artificial contraception – do seem pretty facile?

A more honest approach to the real necessity of birth control might help the Vatican to understand the need for LESS, not MORE contenders for the limited resources of the planet.