Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fr. Walter Cuenin and "gay rights."

Carol M. McKinley over at Magisterial fidelity: just posted this:

"Fr. Walter Cuenin is pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in the Archdiocese of Boston and one of the most visible priests in the archdiocese. At a public hearing for the Defense of Marriage Amendment, he testified that the amendment seemed to violate the Catechism of the Catholic Church.Why? Because homosexual marriage was a human rights issue, Fr. Cuenin argued. Fr. Cuenin quoted the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, testifying that all forms of social or cultural discrimination of personal rights must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design. "

But would the Defense of Marriage Amendment really "violate" the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? In a word, no. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that: "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided..." (2358).

The qualifier in this passage from the Catechism is the word "unjust." Not every from of discrimination with regard to homosexual persons is "unjust." It must be remembered that, strictly speaking, human beings only possess contingent rights. That is to say, rights which have been accorded to us by God. As a consequence, we only have a right to do that which is pleasing to God. God has given us the free will to choose that which is good or evil. If we choose to do a certain evil, we cannot say that we have a "right" to do that thing. Only God has rights which belong to Him of His very nature. Only He possesses intrinsic rights.

The teaching of the Catechism is clear regarding marriage: "The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed with its own proper laws. God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution.." (CCC, 1603). And again, "Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: 'It is not good that the man should be alone.' The woman, 'flesh of his flesh,' his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a 'helpmate'; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. 'Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.' The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been 'in the beginning': 'So they are no longer two, but one flesh.'" (CCC, 1605).

Since marriage is an institution which has God as its Author, we are not free to "forget its common and permanent characteristics" (CCC, 1603). Marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. Such is God's Will. Such is God's plan.

And what of Fr. Cuenin's attempt to use Gaudium et Spes, No. 29 to promote the idea of sodomite marriage? Let's read what this passage says:

"True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent. For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are still not being universally honored. Such is the case of a woman who is denied the right to choose a husband freely, to embrace a state of life or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men."

This passage is actually quite clear. Unless you're a liberal cleric with the cognotive functioning of a snail. This passage is dealing with "fundamental rights." But no one has a "right" to engage in homosexual acts any more than they possess a right to rob banks or commit adultery. And marriage implies sexual activity. Dr. Germain Grisez explains that:

"Different people have different weaknesses and experience different temptations. Whether caused by natural factors or by culture, morally burdensome characteristics for which individuals are not responsible should not be used as an excuse for discriminating against them, and doing so would be similar to discriminating on the basis of race, religion, and so on. In this sense, sexual orientation should be included in the list of bases of unjust discrimination. However, in speaking of sexual orientation, many people actually mean readiness to engage in homosexual activity, and in this sense sexual orientation should not be listed among the bases of unjust discrimination. For homosexual activity is gravely wrong and so, like any other kind of grave wrong, provides a reasonable basis for DEALING DIFFERENTLY with those who voluntarily engage in it, both for their own good, the protection of other individuals, and the well-being of society as a whole."

Bottom line: Father Walter Cuenin doesn't understand the Church's teaching on marriage, her teaching as to what constitutes a right and, consequently, her interpretation of Gaudium et Spes, No. 29.

One has to hope (and pray) that Archbishop Sean O' Malley will address these issues with him...and soon.

Paul Anthony Melanson

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