In New Zealand, a gay Member of Parliament has publicly chastised the members of his nation’s Catholic hierarchy because of their opposition to a proposed law to enact marriage equality.
Criticism of the bishops came from Kevin Hague, a Green Party MP, who was responding to a recent letter that the prelates wrote to members of Generation Y (people in their 20s), urging them to oppose marriage equality.
“It’s not a surprise that the NZ Catholic Bishops have chosen to oppose Louisa Wall’s Bill for marriage equality. After all, they opposed Homosexual Law Reform, they opposed human rights protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and they opposed Civil Unions. I’m beginning to sense a theme.
“The Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter is addressed to “Kiwis of Generation Y” and is entitled ‘From the Beginning of Creation’. I won’t take apart the whole letter but believe it could charitably be described as confused. Essentially the Bishops assert that the Church should not be able to define marriage, but then proceed, as the Church, to tell not only Church-going Catholics but also (explicitly) the entirety of Generation Y what they should think about the issue and the Bill. They also assert that it is not for legislators to define marriage, saying instead that ‘civil law reflects and protects human nature’.
“I respond by saying that there is overwhelming evidence that ‘human nature’ is, in fact, a very broad spectrum, which includes homosexual and bisexual orientation. “
Hague points out that the bishops’ message to New Zealand’s young adults is likely to be falling on deaf ears:
“Overall, twice as many New Zealanders support this change as oppose it. But for Generation Y, to whom the Bishops’ letter was addressed, four times as many support as oppose it.”
Hague offers an alternative message that he wishes the bishops would have said:
“Even though the Church also apparently believes that:
‘Every sign of unjust discrimination in their [homosexual persons] regard should be avoided,’ (2258 in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church)
the New Zealand Bishops have nonetheless opposed every initiative proposed to reduce or eliminate discrimination. How refreshing it would have been if the Bishops had, instead, said ‘marriage is both a civil contract and, in the eyes of the church, a sacrament. It is our constant belief that the latter has to be between a man and a woman since the validity of sacramental marriage has to be established by consummation. However, over the years the idea of marriage as a civil contract has developed in many ways (the easy availability of divorce for example). Any opposition to gay marriage, therefore, should be debated on its civil merits without regard to the Church’s religious position which will not be directly affected: is it necessary for justice to all? Is it in any way damaging to the civil contract? We have in the past made clear that while the church disapproves of homosexuality, the individual homosexual must not be discriminated against in any way.’ ”
Hague’s final message to the bishops is a simple sentence:
“Love is love.”
Hague closes his blog post with a video of an Australian commercial which went viral earlier this year. I’ll let the video speak for itself:
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry