Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Opposition to SSM as hate speech

Apple has pulled the Manhattan Declaration app from its App Store, apparently in response to customer complaints that the declaration amounts to hate speech.  Is this part of a broader trend?  See, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center's recent report, "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," in which the National Organization for Marriage is included as one of "a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, [which] have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities."  To be clear, I do consider some of the rhetoric employed in opposition to SSM to amount to hate speech (under virtually any imaginable definition of "hate speech"), but I fear that we're approaching the point where opposition to SSM itself is considered hate speech, regardless of the rhetoric employed.


Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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Mr. Vischer,

Try this thought experiment, if you will. Imagine that around the 1960's instead of identity culture being enshrined in the academy, the long noble tradition of critical historical investigation reaching back to the Renaissance had been maintained. Do you think that the conceptual apparatus of creations like the Manhattan Declaration would have even survived scholarly scrutiny before they had a chance to make it into the public realm?? This is presuming the realistic trajectory of most matters like this: They start in embryo (no pun intended) in scholarly treatises, gather some support, and then are distilled into a political banner. In this sense I see the development of notions like "public reasonableness" as an epiphenomenon of the identity culture, by way of reaction to it. Where did such notions exist before?? It would be like insisting that those who lived in the past under a culture of courtliness, would have hypostasized "courtliness" as their goal instead of learning to be "courtly". In the same way, being "reasonable" was always the goal of intellectuals in the past, not embracing a facile reification like "public reasonableness".

If we take such reifications out of the equation then the objections to DOMA are more of a scientific than political nature. If the question had been posed with historical perspicacity as "In what ways are marriages between opposite sexes important for a society??" then the results would be different.There are some pretty obvious answers. Instead "marriage" has been posited as an objectified datum of "public reasonableness" which you have to assent to a particular identity to agree with. You just cannot enforce a particular identity on others in a society and not expect others to balk. They will find it hateful. Whether it is technically meant as hate speech, I'll agree is a less clear matter. Thus, in the view of some, the whole way this matter has been handled in public and the academy is just a flamboyant part of our much diminished intellectual realm, even if it has seized on prolix intellectual life-boats to try to float its ultimately quite insecure identity. By contrast let's add that a man and a woman living a happy marriage with happy kids is anything but insecure.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 29, 2010 2:20:59 PM

I think there may be a difference between "hate speech" and speech a company like Apple doesn't want to be associated with. Apple contributed $100,000 to the fight against Proposition 8. Apple has disallowed many apps, including those that might offend religious people. It would be one thing if Apple had an "anything goes" policy and then dropped the Manhattan Declaration app. The Apple policy is as follows: "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Some assertions are offensive -- to many people, at least -- no matter how inoffensive the rhetoric used to state them. Obviously if you are in agreement with Robert George and the other promulgators of the Manhattan Declaration, you would find nothing offensive in it. If not, you may find things in the Manhattan Declaration that make your blood boil.

I lean toward disagreeing with Apple on this, but they have disallowed other apps that were controversial, and as a company, it may be reasonable of them to do so simply on that basis.

There was a time not so long ago when no reputable publication would have dared publish a thoughtful, well reasoned article in favor of same-sex marriage. The New York Times used the word "homosexual" instead of "gay" until 1987.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 29, 2010 2:30:07 PM

David Nickol wrote:

"I lean toward disagreeing with Apple on this, but they have disallowed other apps that were controversial, and as a company, it may be reasonable of them to do so simply on that basis."

Arguing in favour of legalizing SSM is no less controversial than opposing it. So here is the relevant question to be asked under a test employing the controversy criterion: Would Apple remove an a pro-SSM legalization application in response to a similar petition?

I rather doubt it.

Posted by: Clement Ng | Nov 29, 2010 3:06:05 PM


First, Apple as a company supports same-sex marriage, so their judgment on what is controversial will no doubt be influenced by that. Second, the Manhattan Declaration app was pulled because of "public outrage." I am reasonably sure if there are enough complaints protesting the disappearance of the Manhattan Declaration app, it will reappear, but I am also reasonably sure there won't be sufficient complaints to cause Apple to change its mind again. I doubt that the majority of Apple's customers find the Manhattan Declaration "cool" or compatible with their expensive, high-tech-gadget mentality. (Although I have no doubt that many conservative Christians love their iPhones, iPods, and iPads.)

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 29, 2010 3:27:27 PM

I suppose the 1st amendment is on the chopping block? I have been subject to hate speech, but people have the right to say hateful things. That is what it means to live in a free society sometimes.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 18.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

^ Top
Article 19.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 29, 2010 4:28:35 PM

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 18.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

^ Top
Article 19.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 29, 2010 4:32:55 PM

Fr. J,

You say: "I suppose the 1st amendment is on the chopping block? I have been subject to hate speech, but people have the right to say hateful things. That is what it means to live in a free society sometimes."

The First Amendment is utterly irrelevant here. Apple is not bound by the First Amendment.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 29, 2010 4:54:36 PM

"Demonizing propaganda" is not the same as hate speech, and NOM is more than just a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 29, 2010 5:57:00 PM

"Demonizing propaganda" is not the same as hate speech, and NOM is more than just a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 29, 2010 6:00:17 PM

"Demonizing propaganda" is not the same as hate speech, and NOM is more than just a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 29, 2010 6:00:17 PM

David, Apple is giving into the forces in society that want to destroy freedom of speech. They label any speech they don't like or disagree with as "hate." They would like to see it illegal to oppose "gay marriage." This is one reason I defended family rights on the other post.

Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 29, 2010 6:17:52 PM

Fr. J, there's no evidence of that. Corporations have never been required to give their stamp of approval to speech they disagree with: in fact, that's the heart of the religious freedom claim made in the Manhattan Declaration. If you support requiring Apple to publish the Manhattan Declaration, would you support requiring churches to perform marriages for same-sex couples?

And there's no indication that Apple wants to criminalize speech like the Manhattan Declaration. All that this says is that Apple doesn't want to endorse it.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 29, 2010 6:38:41 PM

It's true that Apple has free speech rights and is not bound by the First Amendment's prohibition on government restriction of speech. The applicable concept here, however, is not the the latter prohibition but, instead, what Joseph Ratzinger (brilliantly) labeled the "dictatorship of relativism." In the name of "tolerance," opposition to SSM is not tolerated.

Posted by: Dan | Nov 29, 2010 7:33:46 PM

Well Dan is still in the mental playground where people are either for him or against him. The reason that many would like to limit the accessibility of much of this contrarian wrangling against basic rights is that it is in incredibly poor taste at this point. Anyone who tells me that these rights should be refused based on religious preference is someone that I may keep talking to for strategic reasons of my own, but not because I think them anything more than a social cur.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 29, 2010 8:21:07 PM

Do the proponents of same sex marriage actually believe in demons, as in "demonizing speech?" If not, I think they should be estopped from accusing anyone of "demonizing" anything, since strictly speaking they deny that it would be possible.

Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbonsj | Nov 29, 2010 10:24:35 PM

Do the proponents of same sex marriage actually believe in demons, as in "demonizing speech?" If not, I think they should be estopped from accusing anyone of "demonizing" anything, since strictly speaking they deny that it would be possible.

Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbonsj | Nov 29, 2010 10:27:54 PM

If you will simply read the post it notes that it is anti-rights people are involved in demonizing. Whether one thinks demons are a a useful category -- I do have met a few in the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church -- still the fact is that fundamentalists are very fond of seeing reality in this way. The estoppal should go all the way around.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 29, 2010 11:59:09 PM

We are certainly approaching that point. If I were to publicly declare that "homosexuality is wrong," that simple message alone would gather a horde of "LGBTQ" people and their "allies" with verbal stones, who would have no problem throwing them, because they would mistakenly believe me to be the one who hates them, and not the other way around.

Would it be worse to say "homosexuality is an abomination"? Or if instead I rephrase and say solely that "SSM should not be recognized by law"? How about if I announce that "homosexuality is a psychological disorder and should be placed back on the DSM"? Or that "homosexuality propaganda on television should be removed because it equates sexual liberties with race rights and furthers the false scientific conclusions that homosexuality is innate and thus should be encouraged to flourish openly"? In every instance, the root idea is still that "homosexuality is wrong", no matter how the words are painted.

Either homosexuality truly is "inherently disordered" and an "abomination," or else preaching those Christian religious viewpoints is presumptively hate speech. The legal confrontation of those two ideas is inevitable, as is a probability that Christians will again have to face martyrdom and imprisonment for preaching their faith.

Posted by: Colin | Nov 30, 2010 12:35:46 AM


It does seem to me that reserving the word "abomination" for homosexuality is a kind of hate speech. After all, we do have such verses as Deuteronomy 22:5: "A woman shall not wear an article proper to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's dress; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God." Various foods are "abominations," and sex with a menstruating woman will cause you to be exiled. One gets the impression from some Christians (including Catholics) that homosexual acts are not merely sinful, but the most sinful acts a person can possibly commit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says homosexual acts are acts of "grave depravity." I searched the entire Vatican web site, and in no other documents can the words "grave depravity" be found.

You say that homosexuality is either "inherently disordered" and an "abomination" or preaching so is hate speech. What if homosexuality *isn't* inherently disordered?

You say: "The legal confrontation of those two ideas is inevitable, as is a probability that Christians will again have to face martyrdom and imprisonment for preaching their faith."

Let's keep this incident in perspective. Apple first approved the Manhattan Declaration app. Then a significant number of people objected, and Apple quietly removed it from the app store. Nobody was martyred or imprisoned. Nobody was even looked at cross eyed. In fact, we're not even sure yet whether the Supreme Court is going to rule against shouting "God Hates Fags" at military funerals.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 30, 2010 7:47:55 AM


Do you think it was right that Jan Hus and Giordano Bruno faced martyrdom?? If you look on the internet there are quite few Catholics who obliquely seem to think --yes. The whole fantasy you spin about facing persecution comes ironically from the same place. Namely, thinking everything must be resolved by extreme measures. May I suggest that you fundamentally misunderstand the genius of this country, and by contrast are exhibiting some of the worst tendencies historically of your own faith community. For starters, you might try meditating on the underlying issue in the tenth Federalist paper again.

No one will be coming for you. You can sit in your house or in your church and believe that two men loving each other is the worst thing in the world. But I bet if you spent your times reading Church history you would not think so.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 30, 2010 9:01:37 AM

So repackage it as an e-book and upload it to all the usual e-book locations. Standards differ between apps and e-books.

Interesting SSM fact. As far as I know SSM has never been outlawed anywhere on earth. In those 18th Century US Colonies/States where sodomy carried the death penalty, no statute outlawed SSM. There was obviously no governmental recognition (or even conception) of such marriages and it would have been a challenge to find an officiant but under our legal and religious codes the couple marries themselves in any case.

Consider plural marriage. It is illegal in the US but those who contract a plural marriage in other countries do not become unmarried by crossing the border. A bigamy prosecution would fail since the act occurred outside of the jurisdiction. State recognition is not reality.

Posted by: losantiville | Nov 30, 2010 10:03:38 AM

Now that my work-load has moderated, and I have a little more time to browse the blogs and offer occasional comments, I’d like to offer my two-cent’s worth on the “Manhattan Declaration” (Or MD).

First, it’s not hate speech. Personally I’d like the Supreme Court to grant cert. to a case just so it can declare the very concept of “prohibited ‘hate speech’ ” unconstitutional because of the First Amendment. The MD is a valid expression of the views of its drafters and it’s signatories.

Regarding Apple’s decision to drop the MD app, this is a classic conflict of rights and interests situation. Apple has some rights to regulate content on its app store; a right few would dispute. Apple also has an interest in not offending customers. Apple’s rights and interests are legitimate and in conflict with those of the MD (as an organization). Probably Apple will prevail here. A BETTER approach would have been for Apple to argue against the MD, but such political activism may not be what Apple wants to engage in. So they made a legitimate business decision about which action would offend the fewest of its customers, and acted accordingly. That’s the Free Market in action. MD has a right to free speech, but no right to force Apple to supply the soap-box.

For myself, my conscience would not allow me to sign the MD; I’ve read it. Its positions on SSM and religious liberty are either hypocritical or incoherent; take your pick. Prohibitions on same-sex marriage violate the religious liberties and human dignity of same-sex couples. As is typical, the MD alludes to harms from same-sex marriage, but fails to specify any actual harm.

Certainly the proponents of the MD have the right to advocate their positions; but their high prose in defense of religious liberty condemns their position on same-sex marriage. If it wasn’t such a serious topic; it would be laughable.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Nov 30, 2010 2:07:06 PM

Andrew, I seem to remember a corporation that was subject to harassment because they gave money to a pro-family organization. When I survey the society there are intense battles being fought to criminalize certain beliefs. You do remember the concept of "thought crime?"

Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 30, 2010 5:08:35 PM

Fr. J,

Do you object to boycotting companies who donate to Planned Parenthood?

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 30, 2010 6:08:32 PM

Fr. J,

You really must try to keep thoughts in order. No one will bother you if you want to think and preach that gay unions are not the ideal in your view, or in the Church's. But can't you see it is just a different category of statement to say that society should act to deprive others of rights on that basis. I know certain denizens of this blog would like to give a moral figleaf for such violations, but they are prima facie misguided in a free society. What is needed to show that is more rigorous thought, not less. Again, I have faith that the many intellectuals in the Roman Catholic church can find an acceptable way to do it, if their convictions persist in that direction. But what they are doing now is just a sort of moral theft, and trying to claim it is generosity.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 30, 2010 7:14:04 PM

If homosexuality were not inherently disordered, it would be appropriate to have gay and straight as separate categories as if they were black or white, or old and young.

Yet mankind can know that it is inherently disordered because of basic human biology, because it is not the same thing as skin color or age, but it is in fact a fundamental error in the procedure for procreation of the human race. It's disordered because there is a proper order, and that is not it. Plain and simple.

To oppose that view requires some sort of twisted logic that demonstrates how being psychologically hardwired (again never fully proven) towards being essentially asexual (meaning expressing only a behavior against reproduction by sexual activity) is part of the experience of continued existence of every mammal on this planet.

I am speaking directly to that truth when I say "homosexuality is disordered," no matter what my religion might say or do, no matter what the clergy do or don't do, no matter what sins I myself may commit. Is that merely my personal opinion and thus easily dismissed? Or is that a scientific truth that has been twisted by propaganda and politics into being a mere hypothesis?

The problem with asserting it as a hypothesis implies that it has not been fully observed, and yet, ONE GENERATION is enough to observe the evolutionary success of homosexuality that has been given full and uninhibited expression within a human being's life.

Is my science wrong? In my understanding quantum physics is highly theoretical, multiple universes approaches mythology, but homosexuality is quite clearly and technically a malfunction of either the body, the mind, or the will, and it cannot be declared as the normal function of a human organism which requires reproduction to continue to exist.

Going back to the subject, the legal right to assert this scientific fact may or may not be a question of religious liberty, the sad part is that this seems to be the only venue in which it arises, which reveals how thin that protection really might be.

So much for the "marketplace of ideas".

Posted by: Colin | Nov 30, 2010 7:59:16 PM


Regarding “Is my science wrong? ... homosexuality is quite clearly and technically a malfunction of either the body, the mind, or the will, and it cannot be declared as the normal function of a human organism which requires reproduction to continue to exist.”

Your science is wrong; no organism needs reproduction to continue to exist, a species does but not an organism. A similar argument could be made against celibacy: an “asexual behavior against reproduction” to borrow your words.

More importantly, if this supposed “malfunction” is the basis of your claim that homosexuality is “inherently disordered” then your reason is not significant. Many people have “malfunctions” and yet we do not limit their rights under the law. Infertile couples are allowed to marry, why shouldn’t homosexuals likewise? Even if we all agreed that homosexuality was a “malfunction” that does not provide a justification for denying homosexuals their equal rights under the law.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Nov 30, 2010 8:26:20 PM


Your understanding of the complexities of philosophy on the matter seems pretty thin, so let's switch to aesthetics and see if we can get somewhere. Are you aware that for centuries certain uses of the human voice were considered very disordered and tantamount to the work of the devil?? In other words, the very biological nature of the voice was considered a negation of certain uses of the singing voice for instance. Well, that all changed, as things do. And later the Church itself, which had forcibly condemned certain uses of the voice as unnatural, became one of the biggest users and employers of these vocal technicians who could do fantastic coloratura, and even countenanced castrating males for the purpose to sing for their services. Thus your historical naivete is considerable. Mores evolve, styles evolve, morals evolve. What is interesting is that there is a sort of ineluctable core of an ethic of non-harm that does not evolve, that seems to remain across history. People you spend their energy investigating that in my view.

By the way, to show the quixotic nature of Catholic views, the Church, which had been a great proponent of elaborate Church music, later again got around to condemning it in the Pope Pius' Motu Proprio at the beginning the Twentieth Century.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 30, 2010 8:43:11 PM

Sean S: Your distinction between organism and species is correct, my mistake. However "homosexuality is wrong" has nothing to do with equal rights under the law. It is merely a fundamental statement that is not merely opinion but a fact. Whatever proceeds from that is not a topic I am discussing, because my only point was that opposition to SSM is seen as hate speech only because of the underlying debate about homosexuality in general that fuels the SSM debate.

It is through that truth that I can turn to Peter Paul to say: your understanding of the "philosophy on the matter" as somehow complex is misguided. You have asserted my "historical naivete is considerable," and yet what part of history did I even bring up? You have set up a strawman in a fictional debate over the castrati (whom I did not mention in any way), only to point out no strong principle that helps your argument.

FACT: "Mores evolve, styles evolve, morals evolve," yes, but some such truths are non-negotiable, and some aspects of the universe do not evolve, such as the way human organisms procreate, and as Sean S was correct to point out, species continue to BE.

Finally, MUSIC/VOICE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY/PROCREATION and thus historical considerations do not even apply. I am talking about the very physical schematic itself, not some Durkheim-drawn theory, or whatever subject it is you are actually talking about.

Posted by: Colin | Nov 30, 2010 9:01:38 PM

Look, Colin, if you are going to make statements that something is fundamental you have to a give some reasons for it in light of contemporary understandings of rationality. Just because you did not mention history does not mean you can escape it -- you and your ideas are part of it. You seem to inhabit the world of blithe tautology. if you are going to make arguments from the supposed self-evidence of notions of what is natural, then past conundrums on the very same point are most apposite. If you want to believe that your views are apodicticly just right, without bothering to support them, that is your privilege I suppose, but don't expect anyone but other nuts to take you seriously. Read Ezra Pound, you will find a kindred spirit.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Nov 30, 2010 11:00:12 PM


First, how do you account for the fact that homosexual behavior is widespread in the animal kingdom? It is difficult for me to understand how homosexuality can be "unnatural" in the sense you are describing and yet be so common in nature. (Masturbation, too.)

Also, if it is genetic but not adaptive in humans, why has it not been bred out of the race? There are quite plausible theories as to how homosexuality could be genetic and adaptive for the human race. Since evolution selects populations, not individuals, if a certain number of homosexual men in the population serve a useful purpose to the population, their genes will be perpetuated even if they do not reproduce themselves.

You speak as if it is necessary for every individual to procreate, and yet there are very interesting examples in nature where this is not so. A whole hive of bees, for example, generally comes from one female (queen) bee that mates with up to 15 male bees and stores their sperm for years. It is so complex that I have trouble keeping it in my head, but in any case, the vast majority of bees either cannot or do not reproduce. Only a very very tiny fraction of the bee population ever mates.

Also, you speak as if every anomaly or "mistake" in nature were a bad thing. But of course for those of us who believe in evolution, "mistakes" (mutations) are the reason we exists. A genetic error may either be helpful or harmful, but often that cannot be known until it moves into a population and is either selected for or against. And of course traits that are neither good nor bad in themselves may be made one or the other by the environment. Animals very well adapted to a cooler climate may be at a distinct disadvantage when the climate warms. Being incredibly tall might be a disadvantage in some cultures, but if you are in the United States and play basketball, the genetic quirk that made you very tall is not a curse but a blessing. On the other hand, if you come from a long line of jockeys and horses are the family business, you are lucky if you are "too short."

Also, you seem to assume that the one really important thing a person must do in his or her life is reproduce. But what are humans for? Just to make more humans? If not having an inclination to reproduce is a bad thing, why does the Church value celibacy so highly?

There are many other things you don't take into account, such as the fact that sexual orientation is not a matter of homosexual and heterosexual, but rather a spectrum with those being the opposite end. It seems to me none of the objections you raise to homosexuality could be raised against people who are truly bisexual. Also, I think you are basically making a "tab A fits into slot B" kind of argument, but who is to say penile-vaginal intercourse wasn't "intended" for pleasure plus procreation, while oral and anal sex were "intended" just for pleasure and social bonding (or whatever)? A very large number of men and women do not believe their bodies to be unsuited for anal and oral sex. If the only purpose of sex were procreation, why wouldn't women go into estrus and men be interested in them only when they were fertile?

Finally, assume for the sake of argument that homosexuality is "disordered." This is life, and you do the best with what you have. You play the hand you're dealt. I just saw a clip from a Chinese television show recently in which a young man who lost both arms as a boy played the piano with his toes -- and quite well, too. Everyone in the audience was in tears. Now, the piano was definitely designed to be played with the fingers. So is it WRONG for this guy to play it with his toes? Suppose for some reason yet undiscovered, certain people can't bond with the opposite sex. Why would it be immoral of them to bond with a member of their own sex?

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 30, 2010 11:29:14 PM

There is no place in Scripture that affirms SEXUAL behavior in a relationship/friendship between persons of the same sex.

Just because we feel attracted to persons of the same sex, that does not mean it is healthy or holy or will lead to happiness. All sexual response is conditioned behavior. Sexual/emotional feelings toward persons of the same sex are conditioned responses created by dynamics and experiences in these persons' family and thoughts about self/world/others. Experiences of parental absence, abandonment, abuse and problems with peers, molestation by trusted adults all tend to interrupt emotional development and achievement of a healthy self-identity. Instead of a healthy identity, because of longing for love, respect, understanding, and anger, even rage, because their emotional needs have not been met in legitimate ways, the young person lives with an assumed identity, stolen identity, and/or false identity and has misdirected sexualized feelings and same sex attraction. The person with same sex attraction will feel that this is his or her true identity, but that is not the case.

There is a spiritual side to this as well. When we disregard and disobey God, we detach from God and attach ourselves to the enemy of God. The first commandment is to Love God with ALL our hearts. Scripture and the Ten Commandments reveal that we are to honor God's design and authority over us, even in our sexual behavior. That is apparent from Genesis (fig leaves covered sexual parts, not the hands, mouth or head that were implicated in disobedience, in touching or eating the fruit) to the Gospels (Jesus called attention to God's design for the family) to Romans 1 (disregarding God and nature, the consequence is sexual sin) to Revelation. Jesus said, if you love Him you will (want to) obey His Commandments. (John 14:15-21)

Science research, Scripture, clinical medicine, mental health, Police and CDC statistics show that this is an unhealthy, unholy and unhappy way of life.

What Scripture calls sin is behavior that harms us and those with whom we relate. Sin always harms individuals, couples, families, churches and nations. Sin does not bless, or result in love, truth or life, but in separation from God and others.

Repentance, confession (return to agreement and congruity with God) and whole-hearted worship are the cure for sin. God is able to heal us to the uttermost. I Corinthians 6:9-20, Hebrews 7:25

Posted by: Sibyl | Dec 1, 2010 5:01:25 AM

The short version of the above:
When we have feelings of affection for someone, that does not mean it is healthy, good or necessary to have sex with them. We need same-sex healthy holy friendships, but God forbids sexual behavior between persons of the same sex for two reasons, it is disobedience and disregard for His design and harms society and it harms humans spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically and collectively, both churches and nations.

Approval of sin is the same thing as doing the sin ourselves. (Romans 1:32)

Posted by: Sibyl | Dec 1, 2010 5:11:43 AM


"All sexual response is conditioned behavior."

Might I suggest that you are not the best opologist for your point of view. This low hanging fruit is a bit too low, and one can just leave the fair-minded to draw the conclusion from your statement.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Dec 1, 2010 9:43:52 AM


Your response above that begins with my name comments on things I never wrote so I will take it that you merged comments to several people and just started with me. I will respond to you on that assumption.

Your comment that “ ‘homosexuality is wrong’ has nothing to do with equal rights under the law.” Perhaps, but equal rights have everything to do with legal recognition or prohibition of same-sex marriage.

You continue, “It is merely a fundamental statement that is not merely opinion but a fact.” To the extent that any religious beliefs are facts rather than opinions, you are correct. But since there are homosexuals who’s religious belief is that their sexual orientation and practices are not sinful, their statements that homosexuality is not wrong are no less factual than yours. This is the dilemma of religious liberty: everyone believes their beliefs are facts, even when those beliefs are factually incompatible. Hindu belief in a multiplicity of deities is as factual as Judeo-Christian belief in One True God. Protestant and Catholic disagreements about whatever are about things each considers “factual”.

Let me be clear: opposition to homosexuality or same-sex marriage is not hate speech in my humble opinion. The very concept of “prohibited hate speech” is inconsistent with the concept of freedom of speech. But prohibitions on same-sex marriage are violations of equal protection; and to the extent those prohibitions are based on religious beliefs, they also violate religious liberty.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 1:00:15 PM


I disagree with almost everything you say, but I really like the long and short versions! Many times I begin a message by saying, "I can only comment briefly, but . . . " Then after writing five or ten paragraphs, I have to go back and delete the part about being brief. Maybe the brief message should be an "abstract" at the beginning of the long message, similar to the scheme used in scientific papers.

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 1, 2010 2:13:31 PM


I have no comment on your religious beliefs. Regarding "Approval of sin is the same thing as doing the sin ourselves. (Romans 1:32)" I don't disagree, but ACKNOWLEDGING or PERMITTING is not the same as APPROVING. I know some demand approval, but every homosexual I know, when asked, tells me they don't care about approval; they also point out the many different-sex marriages that are legally recognized but not generally approved of: such as any gold-digger or any transient Hollywood marriage. Mere disapproval is not a license to prohibit; not so long as we have Religious Liberty.

If someone demands approval, in a Christian way tell them you are not so obligated. If you don't approve of a particular marriage, then don't express approval. Prohibitions go beyond mere disapproval, and unfairly so.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 2:25:01 PM


You say: "Let me be clear: opposition to homosexuality or same-sex marriage is not hate speech in my humble opinion." I suppose I agree (sort of). But what happens when a once-vilified group gains acceptance is that speech formerly used against them comes to be seen as objectionable. We don't outlaw it as "hate speech" in the United States, but there are consequences when a person uses language that has come to be seen as reflecting a viewpoint that the majority of people of good will have rejected. This is why we say "the N word" when we mean ________. This is why people get fired for anti-Semitic, racist, or blatantly sexist remarks.

I certainly don't think Catholics need fear martyrdom or imprisonment for speaking out against homosexuality or same-sex marriage. But what they do have to fear is being thought of as oddballs, Neanderthals, bigots, religious fanatics. and so on. It does seem to me that whining about this possibility doesn't speak well for people who want to be "strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ," or who take seriously the words, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Maybe to be a truly faithful Catholic, you need to seem like an oddball to those who disagree with you. Why do Catholics feel they have to "fit in" perfectly in a secular democracy?

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 1, 2010 2:36:13 PM

David, most boycotts seem to be in the other direction. That doesn't concern you?

Peter, I disagree. Already in Canada there was an attempt to prosecute a bishop for hate speech simple for affirming Catholic teaching. You know even better then I how some homosexuals consider the Church and long to put an end to her. Do you think that they will restrain themselves if given the opportunity to hurt those who disagree with them?

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 1, 2010 2:36:19 PM


Clearly you are correct that when a “once-vilified group gains acceptance” formerly acceptable speech is viewed as no-longer acceptable. That, however, is not a reason to persist in not accepting persons belonging to whatever group; and perhaps that’s the punishment for vilifying people at all. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”; that’s the very old saying. Vilifying people, even sinners, is a sin unto itself. We’ve all done it, but it’s still a sin. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

Regarding whether a “truly faithful Catholic [needs] to seem like an oddball to those who disagree” I recollect something from Paul about being a “fool for Christ” ...

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 3:11:53 PM

Fr. J

Perhaps if the Church worried about the homosexuals who long to be accepted back into the Church, they’d not need to worry about the rest. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” That’s coming in handy today!

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 3:12:21 PM

Sean, we worry about everyone. The Church is a mother. Tell me, does prohibiting polygamy violate the equal protection clause? How about those who want a "marriage" of 5 partners of the same or various sexes? What about those who want to "marry" themselves? How about those who want "mariage" without committment which would allow adultery? What about those who love their car, pet, teddy bear...and want to "marry" it? Once you rob marriage of any definable characteristic and make it whatever anyone wants it to be then it is open season. You will be unable to argue that some arbitrary definition, even a basic one, is tenable. I mean you would be imposing your views on someone else or, God forbid, postulating some objective standard. My father always told me, don't be so open minded your brains fall out.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 1, 2010 4:29:52 PM

Fr. J,

I do not know about that case, but will guess, based on past prosecutions, that it was connected in some way with encouraging violent action in some way. That is a different matter, Fomenting action against anyone is a very different matter. That goes both ways, for sure.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Dec 1, 2010 4:52:01 PM

Fr. J

You say you “worry about everyone” but if no one can tell, then your concerns are empty. Love, or charity, or worry without works is dead. Many homosexuals have found the Church to be a bad mother.

You ask a lot of hypotheticals; shall we deny marriage to one group because we don’t know how to oppose it to another? Same-sex marriage is not the doorway to polygamy, polygamy has been around a long time. Morman’s have had polygamy (unofficially) for many years, and yet monogamous marriage survives.

Marriage without commitment? Welcome to the 21st century, Fr! Where have you been? Good or bad, it’s real, and yet marital fidelity survives.

Since marriage is at least a knowing, voluntary relationship (and much more), marriage to objects or animals is foreclosed. If someone actually proposes legalizing such things, deal with it then.

Neither I nor others who support same-sex marriage want to “rob marriage of any definable characteristic” — we wouldn’t “rob” it of anything — we just don’t think it can be fairly denied to two persons of the same gender; especially when no harm to others is shown, nor harm to each other, and when opposition is based only on religious beliefs.

Extending the rights of citizenship to blacks, to women and to native Americans did not “rob it of any definable characteristic”; neither will extending the right to marry to same-sex couples. We can take care of the other stuff later.

Your father’s advice was sound, but you still have to open your mind up to the world or it will suffocate.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 5:01:01 PM

I just want to point out that this is a really simple logic. You can object to any of these singular points, and I think if you object to the statement "homosexuality is wrong", you should be able to object to the link in the logic. Yet the logic itself remains correct, no matter how few of you understand why it is not negotiable (like gravity or thermodynamics).

1 - we got here after 100,000 - 2.5 million (depending on when exactly homo sapiens began) years by procreation.

2 - Homosexuality defies procreation.

3 - Therefore it is wrong, that is, incorrect, dysfunctional, illogical, irrational, etc. It is as wrong as using the lungs to drink, using the womb to ingest food, the anus to deposit spermatozoa. When the person has developed an unhealthy fetish or severe psychological fixation on the same-sex, that is not just dysfunctional, but malfunction, that is the brain is broken in a way that causes the human to think the same sex is a mate, when it CAN NEVER BE ONE.

4 - Homosexuality is just as wrong in animals as in humans, by this logic. The only distinction is that animals don't go around seeking same-sex marriage or some sort of justification for a disorder that makes them have only same-sex attraction. They just find a mate which is not a mate and futilely attempt to mate with their non-mate until they die, never procreating. Their seed dies out. THE END.

5 - if we say "because animals do it" it is justified, we would have to justify a whole range of non-procreative sexual misbehavior: public masturbation, bestiality, pedophilia. I could argue that the pornography industry is in fact making this case all over the Internet.

6 - My conclusion has nothing at all to do with gay marriage or religious perspectives, but relies only on a simple calculation of biology and genetic transmission aka SCIENCE. Homosexuality fails at the most fundamental point in the genetic transmission chain and thus is a faulty design. We do not encourage people with other sexual disorders to act on those urges, and thus it would be wrong to exempt homosexuality.

7 - Dear Peter Paul please read DARWIN and MENDEL as these authors are much more on-topic than anything you have thus far referenced.

Posted by: Colin | Dec 1, 2010 10:03:40 PM


1 – agreed.
2 – disagree. Homosexuality does not “defy” procreation. It is merely non-procreative, as is responding to a blog, or tying your shoes.
3 – does not follow.

The remainder either does not follow or is irrelevant.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 1, 2010 10:23:49 PM


You overestimate yourself wildly.

1. The human species would not exist if there were not cooperation, as well as procreation, and gay types have always facilitated cooperation. Consult your hairdresser.

2. Homosexuality may defy procreation per se, but there are a lot of people anyways nowadays. And women get tired of talking with their husbands and would rather talk to gay friends anyways.

3. Imagine the first person to use the human hand not as a fist, but as a tool for cooperation. Anatomy is diverse.

4. Animals often seem smarter than humans,

5. Glad you have followed the cases in detail that pornography is making all over the internet.

6. Glad you worship SCIENCE. is that why you are blogging on a Catholic site??

7. I don't want to read anymore Darwin or Mendel. I am a follower of the theory of fabulously Incompetent Design in the Universe. It just looks incompetent, but holds beautiful mysteries for all of us if we just don't fight it too very much.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Dec 1, 2010 11:05:30 PM

That's silly. We all know that St. Thomas was a ladies man, though a chaste one:

"This period was well spent by Thomas in study and meditation. Here he was constantly urged to forsake his vocation, and on one occasion he was tempted by a woman who had been thrust into his chamber by his own brothers. Thomas arose and grasping a burning brand from the fire, forced the temptress from his room. Then with characteristic vigour he burned deep in the door the potent sign of the cross. In 7 later years he confided to his secretary and companion, Reginald of Piperno, that immediately after this event he as granted his urgent prayer for the gift of perpetual chastity, and thereafter had complete freedom from the motions of concupiscence. : seems probable that this gave first basis for his title of Angelic Doctor."

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Dec 2, 2010 12:31:21 AM


You say: "Therefore it is wrong, that is, incorrect, dysfunctional, illogical, irrational, etc. It is as wrong as using the lungs to drink, using the womb to ingest food, the anus to deposit spermatozoa."

I remember in college my roommate went to the emergency room because he was having an asthma attack, and when he came back, he colorfully described (in a way I can't do here) how they had hurriedly administered medication by means of a rectal suppository. I think we can all agree that such a thing is incorrect, dysfunctional, illogical, irrational, etc. Also, see my example above of the young Chinese man who plays the piano with his toes. It's just wrong! It is apparently not true that when anesthesia for childbirth first became available, some opposed it on the grounds that God said, "I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children." But it sounds like the kind of argument you could make.

How does the practice of celibacy fit into your scheme of things? "Their seed dies out. THE END."

You seem really angry, by the way.

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 2, 2010 12:57:40 AM

Peter, not at all. He simply stated what is in the catechism and was accused of hate speech. He is, I believe, the first Canadian to beat the rap. Apparently he dared them to imprison him for his beliefs and they blinked. I don't count on them blinking forever.

Sean, like a good mother the Church tells them the truth. They just don't want to hear it. Polygamists are watching and waiting as we speak. Once marriage no longer had a definition then they will act. Your point about modern adultery proves my point. As we move towards making marriage whatever you want it becomes meaningless. Why does marriage have to be knowing and voluntary? Are you seeking to impose your values on the rest of us? Why should it be 2 persons in a marriage? What is the harm of someone marrying their Ford F-150? Open my mind to the world? Also to the flesh and the devil? How about opening our minds to God?

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 2, 2010 10:05:33 AM

Fr. J.,

Don't bear false witness. I studied the Bishop Fred Henry case and quickly found information that you have utterly misrepresented this case. It might be time for you to think about moving to Uganda, Father, because if you are in support of Bishop Henry's views that the "coercive power of the state" should be used against gay people, and that the privacy of their own homes can therefore be violated, you might have a teensy problem with a free country. This call for "coercion" naturally can seen as a de facto encouragement of vigilanteism. If he wanted to avoid that possibility, he would have articulated this notion more carefully. Therefore, if you are going to defend this guy, you don't have the same ethos as a free society like ours. Since you seem tickled by the prospects of renewed monarchy (see post on monarchy) , perhaps you go and find a Christian Kingdom somewhere, maybe with a new Emperor Bokassa, or the like. May I suggest that the first Bishop there be Bishop Martin Holley. He would certainly fit in an environment where tolerance for lack basic bathing facilities due perhaps to lamentable poverty might well be patiently tolerated for pastoral reasons, or based on personal habits, anyways. At any rate, that would be my guess having experienced the man "up close".

Let's keep talking, Padre, you are a gift. Bishop Henry's decision, as valiant anti-gay activist to hire a convicted child-molester is really helpful for making a variety of points. But the fascinating thing about you is that you will no doubt continue in your creative defenses.

Posted by: Peter Paul Fuchs | Dec 2, 2010 10:53:03 AM

Fr J;

You misread. I never wrote that marriage “should be” knowing and voluntary, I said it is. Why? That’s the current state of the law. Description is not Prescription. As I wrote, If someone actually proposes legalizing marriage with objects or animals, we can deal with that then. In any event, this hypothetical does not justify prohibiting same-sex marriage any more than it justifies banning interracial marriage.

You say that the Church, “like a good mother ... tells them the truth.” If that were the extent of it we’d not be having this debate. The Church tells us ITS OPINION. This is something the Church has a right to do. However, whether its opinion is truth or not is something we all have the Religious Liberty to decide for ourselves. When the Church attempts to limit human rights on the basis of ITS OPINIONS, then our Religious Liberty is lost. The Church should feel free to tell us what it believes is true. The rest of us are free to disagree, and disobey.

You write about polygamists, “Once marriage no longer had a definition then they will act.” Since same-sex marriage does not make marriage “undefined”, this is not a worry. Moreover, since polygamy has been a part of marriage since prehistory, polygamy does not need marriage to become “undefined”.

Similarly, same-sex marriage does not “move towards making marriage whatever you want it becomes meaningless. [sic.]” I admit I am only guessing at what that mangled sentence means.

Advocating same-sex marriage does not require or encourage closing one’s mind to God. Homosexuals are His Children too; and their marriages to one-another will not harm others of God’s Children.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 2, 2010 11:23:15 AM

Fr. J;

Another point I want to address: you seem to regard the desire to get married as no more significant than a childish desire to marry a puppy would be; or a foolish desire to marry your pick-up truck. I truly don’t know you, Fr. J but if you know anything about marriage, then you know the desire to marry, to find and publicly proclaim your relationship with a life-partner is far more than some adolescent “want”. Putting aside the legal and financial advantages to marriage, the social, psychological, and even quality-of-life advantages put marriage in a much different category than mere “wants”. You belittle the desire of same-sex couples to marry, but the same human urges that push different-sex couples to marriage operate in same-sex couples too. And because they are as worthy of respect and compassion as any other persons, their desire to marry is as laudable and worthy as any other too.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 2, 2010 12:49:33 PM

Just today. I am a prophet:

Daily Mail Reporter

And they called it puppy love.

Joseph Guiso bends down to kiss his new 'bride' in a wedding ceremony with a difference - one of the parties has four legs and a tail.

An Australian man staged a 'marriage' to his beloved his yellow labrador in an outdoor ceremony and promptly sealed the union with a kiss.

Joseph Guiso and Honey were 'joined in matrimony' at Toowoomba's Laurel Bank Park - and the real surprise is that 30 friends and family members turned up to witness the event.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1334993/Joseph-Guiso-marries-dog-Honey-sunset-ceremony.html#ixzz16zuijuE2

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 2, 2010 5:53:23 PM

Peter, you prove my point. You have no problem with coercive measures against those who oppose the homosexual agenda.

CALGARY, March 30, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A supporter of same-sex marriage is using the human rights process to take away Bishop Frederick Henry’s right to freedom of religion and free speech. Despite the Catholic Church’s established role in preparing men and women for marriage and conducting religious marriage ceremonies between men and women, it appears that supporters of same-sex marriage do not want religious leaders to be part of the debate on this issue.Â

Bishop Frederick Henry wrote a letter to the Catholics in his Diocese in January, 2005 outlining the opposition of the Catholic Church to same-sex marriages (see coverage http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jan/050113.html ). Bishop Henry called on Catholics to talk to their political representatives and express their opposition to legislation to change the definition of marriage to allow persons of same-sex to marry. A Complaint filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission alleges that Bishop Henry’s letter discriminates against homosexuals.Â

Bishop Henry filed a response to the Complaint on March 29, 2005 saying in part:

“My rights to freedom of religion and free speech have been violated. Those that support same-sex marriage want to shut the churches out of this important debate. Those who favour same-sex marriage have been given full opportunity to state their views on this issue. But now they are saying that anyone who speaks out against same-sex marriage is discriminating against homosexuals.”

Bishop Henry points out that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are important rights too. They are fundamental to Canadian democracy. Bishop Henry feels compelled to stand up for these fundamental rights on behalf of all religions in Canada.Â

In comments to LifeSiteNews.com Bishop Henry noted, “If the Human Rights Complaint is successful, it will prevent me from expressing my views and the position of the Roman Catholic Church. It prevents me and other Church leaders from speaking out freely in opposition to same-sex marriage. It also prevents me from outlining the position of the Roman Catholic Church to those who attend church in my Diocese.”

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 2, 2010 5:56:18 PM

Sean, you seem to want to limit marriage rights for those who want to marry more then one person or marry something other then a human. What gives you the right to interfere and impose your personal views on others? You are acting as if there are some defining limits to marriage. Marriage is NOT the flavor of the week. Two people of the same gender cannot be married. They can pretend, but it isn't a marriage. The difference between us is that I believe that objective truth exists.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 2, 2010 5:59:42 PM

Fr. J,

You say to Sean: "The difference between us is that I believe that objective truth exists."

One can believe that objective truth exists and still disagree with you. I don't know why anyone would debate an issue like this if he or she didn't believe there was a real truth to be gotten at. Believing in objective truth doesn't always guarantee that a person knows what the truth is in any given situation.

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 2, 2010 8:17:31 PM

Fr. J.

I know this is hard for you to grasp, but I am not imposing my personal views on people who want polygamy, or to marry non-humans. That’s your shtick. I’ll leave a defense of polygamy to the polygamists. If you want to marry your pick-up truck, I’m fine as long as you can demonstrate that your truck actually and freely wants to marry you and can recite its vows. How it will exercise its other marital privileges I don’t even want to think. Polygamy and marriage to pick-up trucks is IRRELEVANT to the matter of same-sex marriage.

Two people of the same gender CAN be married. Now it is YOU imposing your personal views on others! You may want to regard same-sex marriages as shams; that’s fine as long as these marriages are accorded the same legal status as different-sex marriages. You don’t get to impose your personal views on others.

This is not about “objective truth”. All Truth Is Objective, and it is true that there is no truth forbidding same-sex marriage. There are unjust laws forbidding it, but no Truths forbid it.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 2, 2010 8:22:52 PM

David, okay you believe in objective truth. So who decides what the objective truth is?

Sean, once again you place personal limits on marriage. You demand that the truck wants to marry and can recite vows. Who said there need to be vows in marriage? If 2 people of the same gender can "marry" then there is no such thing as a definition of marriage. It is whatever I or you or anyone else wants it to be. I am simply showing you where your logic leads. There is a truth that forbids same-sex "marriage." You are the one denying natural law. Once you take that route then anything goes. I posted the story from just yesterday of the man who married his dog. I didn't make it up. Fortunately the dog was a female, so he got it partly right lol.

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is underlining the importance of defending marriage, asserting that without this basic cell of society, Europe has much to lose.

The Pope stated this today upon receiving in audience Gabor Gyorivanyi, the new Hungarian ambassador to the Holy See.

"Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples," the Pontiff affirmed.

He noted that "marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between man and woman and, at the same time, as basic cell of the state community, has also been molded by biblical faith."

"Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it," the Holy Father said.

He asserted, "Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed."

"We all know how much risk marriage and the family run today," Benedict XVI acknowledged.

He explained that on one hand, these are at risk "because of the erosion of its most profound values of stability and indissolubility, because of a growing liberalization of the right of divorce and of the custom, increasingly widespread, of man and woman living together without the juridical form and protection of marriage."

No foundation

On the other hand, the Pope added, it is "because of the different types of union which have no foundation in the history of the culture and of law in Europe."

"The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family," he stated.

"These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the natural law and, hence, to the relativization of the whole of legislation, in addition to the awareness of values in society," the Pontiff said.

Thus he affirmed that "the Holy See notes with interest of the efforts of the political authorities to elaborate a change in the constitution," which would "make reference in the preamble to the legacy of Christianity."

The Holy Father added, "Also desirable is that the new constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life."

He affirmed that Hungary "has had an important place in the community of nations."

As a member of the European Union, Benedict XVI continued, the country "makes an important contribution to the chorus of more voices of the states of Europe."

He noted in particular that next year, "for the first time, it will be Hungary's turn to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union."

The Pope also mentioned that "after the renewal if diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Hungary in 1990, it has been possible to develop new trust for an active and constructive dialogue with the Catholic Church."

He expressed the hope "that the profound wounds of that materialistic vision of man, which took hold of the hearts and of the community of citizens of your country for almost 45 years, can continue to be healed in a climate of peace, liberty and respect for the dignity of man."

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 3, 2010 9:45:30 AM

Fr. J,

Objective truth should be arrived at through study, discussion, and debate. As with scientific truth, I don't think it should ever be assumed that what is known and believed now is the final word. And being human, we can always be wrong. I would not look to the Catholic Church or any other institution to be the authority on what is objective truth or not. If it is objective, it is there for everyone to discover.

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 3, 2010 12:33:51 PM

Fr. J

Let me chime in here too on this narrow point. None of us “decides” what the objective truth is. Your question is like asking “who decided that 1+1=2?” Who decided that? Nature, or its creator decided. Not us. Knowing that objective truth exists (which it does.) is very different from knowing which propositions are true, which can be very difficult.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 3, 2010 1:11:12 PM

"Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it," the Holy Father said.

It seems to me the "nuclear family" (mother, father, children) as the basic unit of society is a rather modern development, and one that does not exist all over the world. If I may stoop so low as to quote Wikipedia on MOJ: "Historical records indicate that it was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that the nuclear family became prevalent in Western Europe. With the emergence of Proto-industrialisation and early capitalism, the nuclear family became a financially viable social unit." I think everyone would be better off if we could somehow get back to the extended family as the basic unit of society. Of course, marriage is extremely important for extended families. The view of marriage as between one man and one woman is too narrow even if marriage must always be heterosexual.

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 3, 2010 2:49:20 PM

David, we Catholics believe there is an objective truth and it can be known. When it comes to matters of faith and morals we can trust the magisterium and at times it can act infallibly. If you claim to be Catholic and do not believe that then you are in error and quite possible heresy. That is what we believe. I am willing to bet that you do believe in eternal objective truth. If I asked you to assert that it is always wrong to torture a baby to death for fun you would immediately say yes it is always wrong.

Sean, you are correct that it is God who gives us objective truth. But if he does and then fixes it so that we cannot know it he is rather arbitrary. But in natural law and in the deposit of faith we have been given knowledge of the truth. I agree that as new situations arise it is difficult to discover the moral course of action, but that doesn't mean it is impossible. We have been doing it for 2000 years.

I can cite examples of the nuclear family from various cultures. If you mean extended as a conglomeration of marriages of one man and one women and their offspring that does not preclude the nuclear family. Marriage as one man and one women is not narrow, it is what marriage is. I will quote the relevant canons:

Can. 1055 §1 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptised, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

§2 Consequently, a valid marriage contract cannot exist between baptised persons without its being by that very fact a sacrament.

Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility; in christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Can. 1057 §1 A marriage is brought into being by the lawfully manifested consent of persons who are legally capable. This consent cannot be supplied by any human power.

§2 Matrimonial consent is an act of will by which a man and a woman by an irrevocable covenant mutually give and accept one another for the purpose of establishing a marriage.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 3, 2010 5:04:17 PM

Fr. J;

I have to admit I got a chuckle out of “we can trust the magisterium and AT TIMES IT CAN ACT INFALLIBLY.” (my emphasis.) At times my 13 year-old can act infallibly, and at other times not so much! ANYONE can act infallibly SOMETIMES.

You acknowledge that God gives us objective truth but then write that if “he does and then fixes it so that we cannot know it he is rather arbitrary.” Perhaps so; but uncertainty remains, and that is one objective truth that we DO KNOW. Our disagreements about what is true is self-evident proof of our collective uncertainty. You may be certain of your correctness, the Church may be certain of its also, but so are all those who disagree with you or the Church. Wisdom is a deep appreciation of our limitations. We need to seek wisdom rather than correctness.

Faith gives one a sense of certainty about certain things, but it is self-evident that faith gives different people certainty about different things. Clearly someone is in error, and everyone is sure it’s not them.

Natural Law, built upon faith, gives no more collective certainty than faith does.

You wrote that “as new situations arise it is difficult to discover the moral course of action, but that doesn't mean it is impossible. We have been doing it for 2000 years.” Unfortunately the last 2000 years of Christian and human history are pock-marked with moral blunders. We have sought the right moral course, but we know that we have erred, probably still are in error, and will err in the future. It’s not impossible to discover SOME moral course, but it’s impossible to be sure we found the RIGHT course. This is why we must be cautious about imposing our decisions on others; we might be right, but we might also be wrong. THAT IS AN OBJECTIVE TRUTH.

The only comment I will make on the Canons you list is that imposition of them on people who believe differently is OBJECTIVELY trampling on their religious liberties.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 4, 2010 4:54:03 PM

Sean, I didn't want to bore you with the requirements for infallibility. At times members of the Church have erred morally. However, one cannot find a Pope teaching error on faith or morals as an infallible dogma. Often it does take time to come up with the correct answer. Rome often moves slowly. Yet we have been proven right over the course of time.

Yet others OBJECTIVELY trample on my liberty and the good of others by going against natural law. Someones views are going to prevail, I see no reason why it should be the wrong side. Destroying marriage harms everyone and that is what is happening. It opens the door to guys marrying their dogs, as I posted above. I didn't make it up, it happened. Marriage and family need to be protected. All law imposes something on someone. In this case it imposes the truth on those who would deny it and thereby harm society.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 5, 2010 7:46:01 PM

Fr. J;

The laws of nature are indifferent to homosexual conduct, and are totally independent of what "Natural Law" (Aquinas, et al.) opines. Imposing the religious concept of “Natural Law” on people who either don’t share that faith or believe differently about it is an OBJECTIVE violation of their Religious Liberty.

Therefore, “going against Natural Law” does not objectively trample on your liberty; you have lost nothing.

If you think I am mistaken, please tell us what right you have lost. To be precise, exactly what liberty do you lose if a same-sex marriage is recognized? If you cannot name some specific loss suffered, your claim of “trampled rights” is empty. You cannot “objectively” lose a right that you cannot name or do not possess.

Legalized same-sex marriage will not “destroy” marriage. It does not open the doors to marrying dogs. A ceremony with a dog is not a marriage, it’s just a ceremony. A same-sex marriage is an actual marriage, whole and true.

Marriage and the family need to be protected, but they are threatened by financial and social pressures, not same-sex marriage.

Banning same-sex marriage does not impose a “truth”, it imposes an opinion, it is like racial codes which likewise imposed ideas that racists claimed were “true”.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 6, 2010 10:25:34 AM

Sean, I am not talking about laws of nature, but indeed of Natural Law. As I noted, someones views are going to be imposed. Why should it be those who oppose natural law? That is a violation of my rights and the rights of others. For example children have the natural right to grow up in a normal family. And if marriage and family life are destroyed all of society, including me, is injured. We can see what happens when families break down, I am sure you have seen it. By undermining the foundation of society you precipitate collapse.

A ceremony with two men is just a ceremony, it is not and can never be a marriage. It will, and already has, led to other aberrant ceremonies. There is no such thing as same-sex marriage. It doesn't exist even if some law is passed saying it does. It has nothing to do with race or racism, although Christophobia is can be involved. Because we firmly believe in this we Christians will, and already have, suffered persecution for our faith.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 6, 2010 1:05:30 PM

Fr. J;

I am quite clear that you are referring to “Natural Law”, not the laws of nature.

You also wrote that “someones views are going to be imposed.” Well No. If same-sex marriage is legalized, NOTHING IS IMPOSED ON **YOU**. YOU WILL LOSE NOTHING. Religious Liberty is already the Law of the Land; nothing new there. Those who believe in “Natural Law” will suffer no imposition by the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Let me be clear: no one has the right (“liberty”) to require others to live according to “Natural Law” because “Natural Law” codifies nothing more than religious rules. Disagreements about religious rules are protected by Religious Liberty. As long as one’s behavior causes no tangible harm to others, Religious Liberty protects the equal rights of religious dissenters. Enduring the equality of religious dissenters is not a tangible harm. If it were, it would gut Religious Liberty.

Desperate to find a harm you would suffer, you write that “if marriage and family life are destroyed all of society, including me, is injured.” True, but legalized same-sex marriage will NOT destroy marriage or family life. This is an exaggeration that does not endure scrutiny.

You write that “A ceremony with two men is just a ceremony, it is not and can never be a marriage.” True. But that is also true of a ceremony that unites a different-sex couple. Both ceremonies are just the first step to a marriage. A marriage is much more; the ceremony is only the beginning. Two persons united in marriage create something a man and a puppy can never have. If you are married, you know what I mean.

You write that opposition to same-sex marriage “has nothing to do with race or racism”. Actually, it has one thing in common with racism, “Christophobia”, and every other bigotry: it is the imposition of beliefs on one group by another group.

You repeat a theme you are fond of: the persecution of Christians who agree with you. What you elide over is that the “persecution” you face is the onerous burden of not being allowed persecute others; you face the horrors of having to leave others alone. Hardly like being fed to the lions!

Legalized same-sex marriage will take nothing you are entitled to from you, impose nothing new on you, require nothing new of you, limit your current choices in no way; and take away no right you have now. If you disapprove of a same-sex marriage, don’t send a gift. It’s easy, and painless.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Dec 6, 2010 2:02:46 PM

Fr. J,

You say: "Because we firmly believe in this we Christians will, and already have, suffered persecution for our faith."

A lot of other people can, and probably will, suffer persecution because of the Christian faith. And a great many certain DID suffer persecution in the past. Jews suffered for two thousand years. As Thomas Aquinas said, "[T]he Jews by reason of their fault are sentenced to perpetual servitude and thus the lords of the lands in which they dwell may take things from them as though they were their own."

The existence of "natural law" is not self-evident, and even for those who believe in natural law, their are many interpretation of it besides that of the Catholic Church. What is the meaning of religious freedom of Catholics claim their version of natural law is "objective truth" and then try to impose it in the name of "objective truth" and not religious faith?

Posted by: David Nickol | Dec 6, 2010 2:10:40 PM

Sean, that is not how it has worked. As I have pointed out in other places where it has happened religious speech about homosexuality is deemed hate speech. Christians have been prosecuted. In California Christians were assaulted and there was arson. Also, as I pointed out, when you undermine the things that hold society together everyone is injured.

If natural law is violated bad things happen. Look at abortion. It is murder, legal, but still murder. By devaluing human life we find that society becomes violent. Death is seen as the solution for the elderly, witness Oregon. What is voluntary can easily become mandatory. In Holland Christians carry a card begging that they not be euthanized.

2 people of the same gender cannot marry. It is impossible. You can try to call it marriage, but it isn't. It becomes a legal fiction, like calling abortion choice when the child being murdered has no choice. You argue that it isn't the same as a man and his dog. Who says? You are imposing your view. They have the right to marry if 2 men can.

Not permitting 2 men to marry is not denying them a right. You don't have a right to something that doesn't exist. They can't marry any more then you can marry your puppy. The law already says that some cannot marry, for example a father can't marry his daughter. How can you argue against that if marriage is whatever anyone wants it to be? They would argue you are discriminating against them and who does it hurt if they want to do it?

Natural law is self-evident. It had to be used during the Nuremberg trials as the defendants all argued that they followed the civil law of their society. Our Declaration of Independence references natural law. An example is theft. It is objectively true that stealing is wrong and we outlaw it. If someone argues that it is not wrong do we let them go? It is not just wrong because it is illegal, it is wrong whether the law says so or not. Otherwise there are not rights at all and what I have said about persecution will come true. They will, and have, argued that Christians have no right to oppose so called gay marriage.

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 6, 2010 8:24:23 PM

Dear Friends,

Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.

As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensible place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.

Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Sincerely yours,

Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals

Dr. Thomas E. Armiger
Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
Dr. Jerry G. Pence
The Board of General Superintendents
The Wesleyan Church

Dr. Gary M. Benedict
The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Glenn C. Burris Jr.
The Foursquare Church

Bishop H. David Burton
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. Ronald W. Carpenter, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church Ministries

Nathan Diament
Director, Institute for Public Affairs
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Jim Eschenbrenner
Executive Pastor
Christian Union

Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Gammon
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Conference

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

John Hopler
Great Commission Churches

Dr. Clyde M. Hughes
International Pentecostal Church of Christ

Ken Hunn
Executive Director
The Brethren Church

Bishop Harry Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Richard Land
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Rev. Frederick J. Moury Jr.
National Conference Chair
Evangelical Congregational Church

Dr. James Murray
Interim Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Manmohan Singh
Secretary General
World Sikh Council – America Region

The Rev. Paull E. Spring
North American Lutheran Church

Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International

Rev. Phil Whipple
Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

Posted by: Fr. J | Dec 6, 2010 9:32:53 PM

I am not Catholic, first of all, but I consider many who are my friends. My church has often worked closely with Catholic Charities as well as the Muslim Red Crescent. I appreciate the Roman Catholic Church for standing up for their beliefs. I have never seen a group like the LGBT create such fear and panic in America in such a long time. Proposition 8 in California was not about h8 but about love between a man and a women. Yet the voice of those who voted for it was squashed by the very individuals who were elected to defend their rights to vote. For once my vote did not count. We are forced to accept a propaganda by a small minority who want everyone to accept them the way they are and for the rest of us to call black, white and white, black. Whether they were born that way or not does not mean that the acts of homosexuality are right just because they say so. Nor does what I just said imply that I hate homosexuals just because they say so.

Posted by: Stephen Todd | Dec 28, 2010 2:09:47 PM

Father J clearly states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

But why are you spending this much time and effort on thwarting my rights to my own religion and practice? Mine has no restrictions on same-sex marriage.
Why is it that you are the one claiming we all have a right to our own religion but you want to impose your religious standards on us?

Nobody from any catholic organization has ever answered this question for me.

By the way, if I was to go on an on about how I thought others were evil and immoral, doing something abhorrently unnatural and should no right to do form a family because they were of your particular faith, it would be interpreted as hate speech.

To want equal rights because one is not evil is not hate. To speak out against hate is not hate. Calling someone evil because of his/her inherent feelings sounds pretty hateful to me.

Posted by: joseph r yung | Jan 23, 2011 3:33:59 PM