A Canon Law Primer on Church Teaching Regarding “Same-sex Marriage”

by Steve Ray on January 4, 2019

A primer on Church teaching regarding ‘same-sex marriage’

by Dr. Edward Peters

STEVE RAY’S INTRODUCTORY COMMENT: This article was written by Canon Lawyer Ed Peters around the time the US Supreme Court foolishingly and arrogantly decided that homosexuals could marry and it was a valid and legal marriage. Now that we have lived with this egregious ruling for several years, I thought it good to remind ourselves of the issue and the teaching of the Church. We will no doubt be persecuted for our stand against “Same-sex marriage.”

Remember that John the Baptist was not beheaded for preaching Jesus Christ, but for speaking out against the government, particularly on the issue of marriage.

****************************************************

No matter which way the US Supreme Court rules in the “gay marriage” cases before it the international debate over the definition of marriage will continue because that debate is, at root, about matters beyond a civil court’s competence, things like the nature of human beings and the fundamental good of society. Because we Catholics are and will surely remain major participants in such a debate we should be clear among ourselves as to what our Church teaches in this area. I offer as a primer (I stress, primer) toward such better understanding my position on following points.

1. The Catholic Church teaches, though its ordinary magisterium and with infallible certainty, that marriage exists only between one man and one woman. CDF, “Considerations” (2003) passim; CCC 1601-1608; CCEO (1990) 776; 1983 CIC 1055 § 1; Rite of Marriage (1969) n. 2; Vatican II, Gaudium et spes (1965) 48; Pius XI, Casti connubii (1930) 6, 20, 23; Leo XIII, Arcanum (1880) 5, 24; Matthew XIX: 4-6; and Genesis II: 21-24. There is no evidence of ecclesiastical authority ever supporting any other definition of marriage.

1. Note. It is possible that this teaching is proposed as an object of belief (credenda, per Canon 750 § 1, doubt or denial of which assertion would be heresy under Canon 751 and thus sanctionable under Canon 1364 § 1); at a minimum, however, the Church proposes the man-woman assertion as necessarily to be held (tenenda) in order “to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith” (Canon 750 § 2), rendering those who “obstinately reject” the assertion liable to “a just penalty” if, having been duly admonished, they refuse to retract (Canon 1371, 2º).

2. The Catholic Church has the right and duty “always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.” 1983 CIC 747 § 2; CCC 2246.

3. Catholics who promote “same-sex marriage” act contrary to Canon 209 § 1 and should not approach for holy Communion per Canon 916. Depending on the facts of the case, they also risk having holy Communion withheld from them under Canon 915, being rebuked under Canon 1339 § 2, and/or being sanctioned under Canon 1369 for gravely injuring good morals.

3. Note. The situation of Catholic politicians lending support to “same-sex marriage” is to be assessed as above, with special attention being paid to the heightened responsibility that civil servants have to protect the common good. CDF, “Considerations” (2003) 10; CCC 2235-2237, 2244; 1983 CIC 1326 § 1, 2.

4. The Catholic Church would regard any attempt by persons of the same sex to marry, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof, as null. CCC 1603; 1983 CIC 1055 § 1.

5. Catholics who attempt a “same-sex marriage” act contrary to Canon 209 § 1 and should not approach for holy Communion per Canon 916. Depending on the facts of the case, they also risk having holy Communion withheld from them under Canon 915, being rebuked under Canon 1339 § 2, and/or being sanctioned under Canon 1379 for simulation of a sacrament. Morevoer, Catholics who assist others toward attempting a “same-sex marriage” cooperate in the bad act of those others, which cooperation is liable to moral assessment in accord with the usual principles applicable to cooperation with evil and, under certain facts, according to the canonical principles applying to cooperation in crime per Canon 1329 and/or scandal per Canon 1339 § 2, etc.

5. Note. Catholics who have attempted a “same-sex marriage” or who have assisted another toward a “same-sex marriage” can be reconciled morally under the usual conditions by sacramental Confession (Canon 959) or by a ‘perfect act of contrition’ per CCC 1452; they can be reconciled canonically, if necessary, in accord with applicable law.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronald Sevenster January 5, 2019 at 10:23 PM

The problem with this article of Dr. Peters is that the present magisterium of the Church no longer upholds Church teaching, and actually changes it from day to day. All the distinctions made by Dr. Peters are fine and correct, but they are no longer relevant. The Church has fundamentally and irreversibly changed course. One can only conclude that there is no longer a functioning Catholic religion. Everything within the Church is in a state of dissolution and decay. Canon Law is just a museum of the framework that once existed, but is no more. We now have altars covered with LBGT flags. Soon we will have religious prostitution and orgies and the reintroduction of paganism with the consent of the hierarchy.

Guillermo January 6, 2019 at 9:04 AM

Another great article. Keep them coming.

David Basile January 9, 2019 at 11:37 AM

Ronald Sevenster, The Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ. How can it ever be wrong? How can it ever change course? It is the Fullness of Truth. Jesus installed imperfect men to guide His church. They have in the past and continue today to stumble and fall, just like you and I do, but eventually they get back up and try again, just like you and I do. Please do not think that the actions of imperfect men can or will change the Church established by Jesus Christ. The Church and its teachings have always been and will be forever relevant and will guide us along the way to eternal life with God in heaven. God bless you!

Bill912 January 10, 2019 at 9:42 AM

“…the present magisterium of the Church no longer upholds Church teaching…” Evidence, please.

“…and actually changes it from day to day…” Evidence, please.

“The Church has fundamentally and irreversibly changed course.” Evidence, please.

“One can only conclude that there is no longer a functioning Catholic religion. Everything within the Church is in a state of dissolution and decay.” Then Jesus was wrong when He promised that the gates of Hell would NEVER prevail against His Church. If that is true, then Jesus is NOT God.

Steve Bonderski January 11, 2019 at 3:22 PM

Ronald Sevenster, under your idea-Christ’s promise has failed. Church teaching has NOT changed nor has her moral teachings.

Charles C. January 11, 2019 at 10:16 PM

While I am not willing to accept that the situation with the Church is as terminal as suggested by Mr. Sevenster, I am not much heartened by the reminder that the Church will withstand the gates of Hell and cannot err.

Remember that Christians hid from deadly persecutions by the Romans and are hiding today from the Chinese and North Korean governments, to say nothing of the terrors in the Middle East.

It seems quite possible that the True Church, Christ’s Church, may become a few hidden martyrs-to-be without protection in the world, even if Rome and the Vatican continue to exist.

Michael L January 12, 2019 at 10:26 AM

David Basile, Bill912, Charles C and Steve Bonderski…you have said the truth. Jesus Christ IS the Catholic Church; His laws CANNOT change; He left HIS church in the hands of fallible man, so let us trust in Him, pray, remain faithful to the faith. My prayers for us all!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: