Guest Columnists

Marriage Is Between A Man and a Woman

by Father John Catoir

WHEN I ATTEMPTED to explain to my gay nephew, whom I love as a son, that the right to marry was not an absolute right for anyone, not even heterosexual Catholics in good standing, he was not impressed.

I told him that heterosexual men and women are not permitted to marry in the Catholic Church unless they intend a permanent, exclusive union. Couples who come to us do not get to set the terms of the marriage contract.

If they decide that they want to “marry,” but not for life, only for as long as the good feelings last, we send them away. If they want a union that is open to other partners, we do the same thing. Catholic marriages are meant to be exclusive unions between one man and one woman.

If Catholics of the same gender come to us to marry, we respect them, but we cannot marry them.

Under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, gay and lesbian men and women can claim equal rights under the law, but they cannot rewrite the law or the legal presumptions behind it.

Two things are in play: the rights of others, and the separation of church and state.

It must be understood that as soon as a person’s legal rights come into conflict with the legal rights of another or others, the matter must be adjudicated in a court of law and it could be up to the Supreme Court to decide, if necessary.

One example of something similar is the Occupy Wall Street protesters. They have the constitutional right of free speech and assembly, but it is not an absolute right.  If they disturb the peace or misuse public property, which exists exclusively for the common good, they lose their license to assemble.

The marriage laws are equally complex. What is a gay marriage? Gays and lesbians differ in their beliefs. Some believe in the right to be polygamous; some demand the right to be promiscuous; some are committed to a lifelong relationship; some are not.

Marriage laws must be applied equally. All parties must accept the same definition of the marriage contract.

The U.S. is a democracy, and we the people have the right to oppose any law deemed to be unjust. In the U.S., majority rules, and the homosexual community will not advance its chances of gaining a majority vote to change the law by strident political tactics, which often alienate sympathetic observers.

Even if they won a majority vote, creating an amendment to allow gay marriage, there is still the issue of the separation between church and state.

A U.S. law can never be used to command religious institutions to change their laws, which they deem to be a divine precept: namely, the concept that marriage is a contract between one man and one woman.

As a practical matter, all I can do for my nephew and his long-standing partner, both of whom are good and decent human beings, is bless them and wish them good health, long life and much happiness.

4 thoughts on “Marriage Is Between A Man and a Woman

  1. Fr. Catoir, is your career sending souls to hell? I remember the article you wrote for St. Anthony Messenger in which you promoted the internal forum for divorce and remarriage. Now you are wishing your gay nephew and his partner much happiness and a long life.

    They won’t have long lives because their lifestyle is unhealthy, which should tell anyone that it is against God’s (natural) law.

    You tell them that they cannot marry, but big whoop. You did not tell them that their lifestyle is one long mortal sin.

  2. To Rev Catoir,

    Why would you consider yourself to be so narcissistic, superior or qualified to give unsolicited patronizing “advice” to your nephew? Your nephew will have to plough a tough and lonely furrow thanks to people like you. Remember, Jesus reached out to all …. he did not discriminate nor prejudice one group over another. Its called unconditional love…. remember?

    Yet, your language is full of judgement even for straight people…who might not want to marry for life….(anyway who are these people you are referring to….everyone presumably (and we have to trust their good intentions) wants to marry for life.. either way… you or “we” as you say in the article … I don’t know on whose behalf you are speaking… you say.. “we would send them away”. Wow, so now you are in the business of judging others and sending them away?

    You quote the law and the 14th Amendment. So, too did the Sadduccees and Pharisees and you know what Jesus thought of them!

    Great progress has been made in this country regarding legislature to protect all citizens. The rights of black people has thankfully come a long way and now it seems that society is finally realizing how unhealthy it is to prejudice against gays or any particular group or consider then less than “normal”. When you make comments like yours your are almost inciting to hatred…are you not? Even the American Psychological Association in the 70’s decided to no longer consider homosexuality a psychological disorder.

    Yes, no one living a Christian life should be promiscuous… whether they are gay or straight…. clergy or lay. There is also a certain hypocrisy about your comments in that it is a well known fact that many clergy are gay. These men are stuck in an organization that dislikes them and discriminates against them. They have to live a sort of “don’t ask … don’t tell” mentality. Is not each individual entitled to individuate and be their own true selves? Are you asking gay people to be someone else? If so, this would be a terrible arrogance.

    If all the Tablet can do is drag on some guest columnist ( who does not declare his expertize in this field) to have another bash at the gays hot on the hells of Bishop DiMartio’s “hells fire lecture” in last weeks issue then Catholicism is no longer what its founder wanted it to be …. a community of love and acceptance.
    “Gays and lesbians differ in their beliefs” …. what is this ridiculous generalization all about…so now you are an expert on gay and lesbian beliefs?
    God knows gay people experience enough bashing and discrimination as it is….all these writings give legitimacy to those who would like to harm gay people… and gay bashing is still a frequent experience. People get hurt and injured on a weekly basis all over the country… not to mention those who can take it no more and take their own lives.

    So, Rev. Catoir… I will not shut up as you ask in the article.. gay folk will not advance their cause “by strident political tactics” and we might risk alienating sympathetic observers… like who… If these sympathetic observers do not accept gay people for who they are… maybe who needs these ” sympathetic observers”?

    So, my advice to your nephew is:

    Believe that you are God’s creation, beautiful and part of God’s amazing diversity. God has a great plan for you and your partner… Hold on to your self worth… hang out with people who TOTALLY and unconditionally accept you for who and what you are… and avoid and keep away your uncles patronizing and toxic dribbling!

  3. You are overly defensive. If you don’t like the Catholic Church, you are free to go elsewhere.

    It’s a bit hypocritical of the gay community trying to change the Catholic religion, when they fight to not have society change them, or try to conform them to different ideals. People are supposed to change for the religion, not the religion change for the people. There is nothing to update or become more modern, because human nature is the same as it’s always been, and thankfully God’s love and mercy are eternal.

    Not believing in/promoting homosexuality is not gay bashing, by the way, so don’t get hysterical.