Editor’s note – The Associated Press contacted the Archdiocese of Agana last February for comments on a story on same-sex marriage in the U.S. territories. Here is a segment of the questions by AP and the responses of Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap., D.D.
The Associated Press: What if the government of Guam grants marriage licenses to same-sex couples, would the church do anything? For example, file a lawsuit to vacate the license?
Archbishop: The state (Guam) has the right to regulate the civil effect of the marriage contract. It does not have the right to define the marriage contract itself. Why? Because marriage and family are the basis of any society, is pre-political. Marriage existed before the state. For the state to claim the right to acknowledge same-sex relationships as marriage is the first step in collapsing the vital distinction between the state and society. This is the road to a totalitarian system. Why? Because the state will then require the Church to accept its re-definition of marriage by way of antidiscrimination laws; this is evident in Europe. Countries within the European Union, which have approved same-sex marriage, have seen a massive and unanticipated effect in the process of adoption.
Because same-sex couples were granted the right to adopt children, any adoption agency who refused this “right,” were threatened with loss of its charitable status and potential shut down of their operations. This consequence is being experienced in the UK, where all Catholic, and many other adoption agencies, have been or are being closed down by the Government for refusing to grant adoption to same-sex couples.
This aggressive attack on marriage is not exclusive to the European Union; the Catholic Charities of Washington D.C. (2010) and the Catholic Charities of Boston (2006) were similarly forced to shut down their public adoption program due to the change in same-sex marriage laws. To put same sex union at the same level and with the same rights of the natural family, is unlawful and unjust. Who suffers the most in this injustice? The children.
The foundation of all family laws has always been for the good of the children. In this regard, society is now passing a moment of crisis, because the question of “what is in the best interests for the children?” is no longer the primary question. The State by accepting same-sex unions, cannot refuse same-sex couples the right of adoption. As a consequence, the state is no longer interested in the good of children, but in the perspective of same-sex couple ideology. Hence, based on this erroneous principle, the right to be in a same-sex union is superior to the interests of children.
We pray and hope our government will not grant licenses.
The Associated Press: What do you say to the critics who say the legality of same-sex marriage is of no consequence to your Catholic faith?
Archbishop: They are trying to shift the problem only to the religious sphere but that is not the case here. Same-sex marriage is not only against the faith, but goes against Right Reason that pursues the common good of society, and is an anthropological reduction.
Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of Doctrine of Faith, said that laws in favor of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race.
The Associated Press: What are your thoughts about same-sex marriage?
Archbishop: Fifty years ago no journalist would have ever asked this question to a bishop, neither to parents or grandparents. But before entering in the question, it is important to reflect what gave birth to this question? Ideas, are like children, they are not born from nothingness; they have parents. Who gave birth to this mentality?
These ideas were conceived a long time ago, but acquired a body in the 1960’s with the sexual revolution — where sex and fecundity were separated. Now, it is possible to have sexual pleasure without worrying about the possibility of children. As (a) consequence: sex was separated from love. Sex became an object to consume. Sexuality lost its intrinsic meaning and was reduced to genitalia. The sexual revolution of the 60’s opened the way to the theory of gender that appeared 20 years later, in the 80’s. The main idea of this theory is that, biological sexual identity is irrelevant, what is important is the psycho-social sexual identity.
In another terms: no one is born man or woman, but can become man or woman. In this view, every person can build her own sexual identity; and society, culture, and politics must help to protect these choices. If we do not understand same-sex marriage within the context of this fallacious theory, it generates confusion.
Now, returning to the question of my thoughts, keeping in mind the origination of these ideas, same-sex marriage goes against nature, and as consequence is objectively contrary to God’s Law. Scripture is very clear when it says: God created male and female. There are anthropological, physical, and psychological differences that allows a complimentary unity. The sexual differences have a meaning; sexuality is not only biological but personal; it carries a language. The body has a language, has grammar, has a synthesis, a truth. Man and woman are called to communion to complement each other, what St. John Paul II called: Communion of Persons. Same-sex unions, completely and totally breaks these meanings, destroys the language, and only generates anthropological, juridical and ethical confusion.
The Associated Press: How is the church dealing with same-sex couples who have married off-island and returned to living on Guam?
Archbishop: The Church will accept them as members of the church, but because of their own choices if they are Catholic they cannot receive Holy Communion, neither can they be god-parents. The Church is a mother; a mother that loves all her children, but there is no love without truth about love.
I want to finish this interview by making a fundamental clarification and to avoid further confusion in the mind of the faithful. “Homosexual tendency” and “homosexual acts” are two different things. Homosexual act: is a disorder that goes against the finality of the sexual act. Homosexual tendency: one is not the fruit of a negative choice; it is not a personal fault; therefore, morally speaking, he or she is not responsible for his or her tendency.
But homosexual condition or tendency is a disorder. Many hate the Church for saying that, but if the act is intrinsically a moral evil, we cannot say the tendency is neutral or good. If then, we don’t call it a disorder, it implies neutrality: or good-ness, or evil-ness. With eyes of faith: this struggle calls an occasion for holiness, solidarity with Adam, participating in the cross of Christ and in the mystery of redemption.
St. John Paul II, in one of his encyclical says: “keeping God’s law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is never impossible” (VS 102). Even if the homosexual inclination was not a particular choice of the person, it is possible to choose the way he or she lives this inclination.