Pope Francis speaks at a time when decisions must be made

In an expanded “Frankly Spoken”, parish priest of Nelson Bay, Fr Kevin Corrigan, offers an overview of the words of Pope Francis as the deadline for the same-sex marriage plebiscite approaches. 

For your consideration, I offer Pope Francis’ teachings in response to contemporary questions which critique, or aim to revise, a society’s understandings of marriage, parenthood, gender and family life.

... “No-one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values, and the moral progress of cities and countries...” (52)

“... (We) need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same sex unions, may not simply be equated with marriage...” (52)

“...In various countries, legislation facilitates a growing variety of alternatives to marriage, with the result that marriage, with its characteristics of exclusivity, indissolubility and openness to life, comes to appear as an old fashioned and outdated option. Many countries are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family, tending to adopt models based almost exclusively on the autonomy of the individual will...” (53)

“...Yet another challenge is posed by various forms of an ideology of gender that denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can change over time. It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised...” (56)

“...It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting and respecting it as it is created...” (56)

“...Each child has a right to receive love from a mother and a father....Husband and wife, father and mother, both….show their children the maternal and paternal face of the Lord. Together they teach the value of reciprocity, of respect for differences and of being able to give and take...” (172)

“...at the same time, we cannot ignore the need the children have for a mother’s presence, especially in the first months of life. Indeed, “the woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new human life that is conceived and develops in her and from her is born into the world. The weakening of this maternal presence with its feminine qualities poses a grave risk to our world... (173)

“...mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism...It is they who testify to the beauty of life...” ( 174)

“...In western culture, the father figure is said to be symbolically absent, missing, or vanished. Manhood itself seems to be called into question...” (176)

“... God sets the father in the family so that by the gift of his masculinity, he can be ‘close to his wife and share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And to be close to his children as they grow...” (177)

“Marriage is a historical word. Always in humanity and not only within the Church, it’s between a man and a woman... we cannot change that. That is the nature of things. This is how we are. Let’s call them ‘civil unions’. Let’s not play with the truth. It’s true that behind all this we find gender ideology. In books also children are learning they can choose their own sex... But let’s say these things as they are; marriage is between a man and a woman. This is the precise term. Let’s call the same sex union a civil union...”

September 2017 from “Politics and Society’

These quotations are drawn largely from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family (2016). Please click here.

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Kevin Corrigan

Fr Kevin Corrigan is parish priest at St Michael's Nelson Bay.

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