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Decriminalization of homosexuality – what it means for the Catholic Church in Dominica

by: - May 21, 2013
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Bishop_Malzaire2_vibes-300x233In response to the claim of the advocacy group, Minority Rights Dominica (MiriDom) that the Catholic Church in Dominica is not reflecting the Vatican’s position on unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons, I wish to make it clear that the Catholic Church in Dominica adheres to the call of the Holy See in its statement to the 63rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the Declaration of Human Rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, “to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as to urge all States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them.”

The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities. The Vatican specifically objected to the declaration’s use of the term sexual orientation and gender identity, which it said had no established meaning in international law. According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, these terms imply that sexual identity is defined only by culture, and their use in the declaration is part of an attempt to equate same-sex unions with marriage and to give homosexual couples the chance to adopt or procreate children.”

This is where I think it is necessary to bring into focus the moral question. It is very important to note that the role of the Church in any society is primarily a moral one. She is not at liberty to change the divine mandate at will or according to human expediency. She has no authority to make a wrong into a right. She only serves as a guide to direct the faithful to what is morally correct and to discourage them from spiritually perilous decisions that can hinder their salvation. Homosexual “activity,” according to Holy Scriptures, is among many wrongs which, if not controlled, can lead to spiritual death. Among these are adultery, fornication, orgies, calumny, deep seated hatred, and the like (cf. Rom 13:13; Gal 5:16-21). These, along with homosexual “activity” will never be right, whether they are decriminalized by the State or not.

Part of the problem we face in this post- modern world is what both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, refer to as a dictatorship of relativism. What it means is that there is no longer an objective truth that should guide human decisions; what is important for many persons is what “I” perceive to be good for “me”. We seem to recognize neither the natural law nor the divine law. This attitude no doubt directly influences our sense of morality.

The Church in its role as moral guide does not exist to condemn human persons but rather to condemn lifestyles and behaviours that are not in keeping with the divine law. Therefore, just as the Church has a responsibility to bring an adulterer to repentance she has the same responsibility towards those who indulge in homosexual “activity.”

Let me take this opportunity to share with you the Church’s position on same-sex unions. In the Christian order of things, it has everything to do with our understanding of the divinely established structure for perpetuation of the human species; a structure which is unchangeable. In the book of Genesis we read that God created human beings; in his image and likeness he created them male and female (Cf. Gen 2:37). Human beings therefore reflect the image of God when they are united in love, a love which comes out of their complementarity. God made man male and female to complement each other and together be an image of God.

In the Catholic understanding, there is a sacramental dimension of marriage. It simply means that the human participation in the union of a man and his wife reveals in some way the nature of God. Part of the vocation of married couples is to generate their own species, a direct fruit of the union. As Pope John Paul II puts it, “when a couple, man and woman, are joined in the sexual embrace, they are filled with sanctifying grace.” A couple united in marital embrace which is open to creativity, is the image of God the Creator. Therefore, for us who believe, same-sex unions can never be a sacrament and therefore can never be accepted by the Church as valid marriages. They may be licit, according to the State in which they are permitted by the civil law, but they can never be valid in the face of the divine law, as we understand it.

There is an attempt today to redefine marriage to say that it is a union between two persons. Marriage is between a man and a woman, not between just two persons. This is the only definition in the Christian order.

In conclusion, I wish to affirm that there is such a thing as an objective law, no matter which philosophy some people may hold. Some things are right and some things are wrong whether we like it or not. What is according to God’s law is right and what is contrary to God’s law is wrong; and all of us are called to live by God’s law if salvation is part of our agenda. Therefore, whether it regards fornication, adultery, homosexual activity, the whole gamut, we have to live by God’s law.

We live in an age in which people say, it is my body and I can do whatever I want with it. St. Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of God’s Spirit and therefore deserve our utmost respect. They must not be treated just in any other way.

By Bishop Gabriel Malzaire