Bishop Philip Tartaglia; "same sex ‘marriage’ is neither warranted nor needed"

Monday 12 September 2011

Bishop Philip Tartaglia; "same sex ‘marriage’ is neither warranted nor needed"

In a strongly worded submission to the Scottish Government on the Consultation on Same Sex ‘Marriage’, Bishop Philip Tartaglia, Bishop of Paisley argues that; "Marriage is an institution which does not owe its existence or rationale to governments or legislatures" the Bishop adds; "governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry"

Bishop Tartaglia argues that ignoring objections to same sex marriage because they are "based on religious values" is spurious since objections from the Catholic Church are primarily based on reason and logic, adding that dismissing objections because they come from a religious body is "tantamount to an incitement to religious intolerance"

The full text of the Bishops' submission is shown below.

ENDS

Peter Kearney
Director
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
Glasgow
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168
07968 122291
pk@scmo.org
www.scmo.org


Submission to the Scottish Government Consultation on Same Sex ‘Marriage’ 2011
In response to the Scottish Government Consultation on the introduction of Same Sex ‘Marriage’, I submit the following observations.

1. Marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father.

2. For that reason, same sex unions cannot fulfil the nature and purpose of marriage. Marriage, therefore, should not be treated as
an equality issue. Article 161 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights operates on the clear principle that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. To dismantle this understanding is to undermine the framework of existing human rights legislation.

3. Marriage is an institution which does not owe its existence or rationale to governments or legislatures. Marriage is a human reality which is prior to politics and positive law. The duty of government is to recognise marriage and to protect it for the common good. But governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry.

4. A Government which favours and allows for same sex ‘marriage’ does wrong. It fails in its duty to society. It undermines the common good. It commits an act of cultural vandalism. Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it.

5. The Government’s intention to permit religious bodies to register same-sex unions and celebrate same sex ‘marriages’, however disingenuously framed, constitutes pressure to initiate these practices, and, as such, is already beginning to infringe legitimate religious freedom. As I wrote before in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Government should know with absolute certainty that the Catholic Church will never register civil partnerships nor celebrate same-sex ‘marriage’, “not now, not in the future, not ever”.

6. Government should not be persuaded by voices which declare that any opposition to same sex ‘marriage’ is the result of homophobic bigotry. This is not only false, but is itself an illiberal and undemocratic intolerance which only seeks to close down rational argument and to intimidate people into acquiescence.

7. Similarly, the Government should not be impressed by arguments which claim that opposition to same sex ‘marriage’ is based on religious values which do not come from reason and therefore relate only to the private good of persons. Such arguments are tantamount to an incitement to religious intolerance. In point of fact, faith and reason cannot be set against each other so readily. In his acclaimed address at Westminster Hall last September, Pope Benedict XVI gave voice to the intuition of the Catholic tradition “that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation.” In line with this insight, it is possible to affirm that the truth that marriage is a union between man and woman comes both from reason enlightened by faith, and from faith understood by reason, and is therefore a truth which is intrinsically able to be articulated in public discourse about the common good. In fact, in all the great religions marriage between a man and a woman has from time immemorial been considered to be part of the natural order and intrinsic to the public good.

8. Moreover, with the introduction a few years ago of civil partnerships for same sex unions, people of the same sex do not need marriage to live as civilly recognised couples who enjoy the same legal protections as married couples. This conclusion comes into even clearer focus when note is taken of the fact that the number of civil partnerships has actually been in decline in Scotland. The Office for National Statistics records that in 2006 there were 1047 civil partnerships, in 2007 there were 688, in 2008 there were 525, in 2009 there were 498 and in 2010 there were 465. While it is true that the number of marriages is inclined to fluctuate year on year around the 28,000-30,000 mark, these statistics for civil partnerships suggest that the case for disturbing the settled nature of marriage is at best unconvincing even from the point of view of bare statistics about the likely numbers of same sex people in Scotland who wish to be legally committed couples.

9. In conclusion, I contend that same sex ‘marriage’ is neither warranted nor needed, and I urge the Scottish Government not to proceed with legislation for same sex ‘marriage’.

Philip Tartaglia, Bishop of Paisley

1 Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:
    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,    nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are    entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the    intending spouses.
    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is    entitled to protection by society and the State.


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