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Robert P. George: Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist (11/11)
When you went to bed this past Sunday evening, the Catholic Church taught the following: So long as they maintain a sexual relationship with their new partner, they cannot judge themselves to be in a state of grace and therefore cannot worthily receive Holy Communion. To return to the sacrament, the partners must repent—which requires ending the new sexual relationship—and be absolved. Marriage is the conjugal union of sexually complementary spouses—husband and wife. Non-marital sexual acts, including all same-sex sexual acts, are seriously sinful. Same-sex sexual desires are intrinsically disordered: Experiencing such desires or inclinations is not sinful, but acting on them is. Today, when you are reading this essay, the Catholic Church teaches the following: To return to the sacrament, the partners must repent—which requires ending the relationship—and be absolved. On Monday the Catholic Church changed its teachings on marriage and sexuality. It has no teaching authority whatsoever. It did not propose reversing the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the requirement that divorced Catholics living in adulterous pseudo-marriages refrain from taking Holy Communion, the conjugal nature of marriage as a union of husband and wife, the grave immorality of non-marital including same-sex sexual acts, or the disorder of sexual desires not ordered to conjugal union. What were liberal Catholics such as Jesuit Father James Martin , who would like to see the Church change some of its teachings, crowing about? The cause was evidently a combustible blend of inartful drafting, media ignorance, and liberal wishful thinking. But the Church has never denied any of this. It takes the form of a rhetorical question: Are our communities capable of providing that [i. As any social scientist will tell you, its meaning is notoriously unstable. Or to what one does—ever, or perhaps just consistently. Our affective brokenness is no exception. I think their use sows confusion. At the press conference at which Synod officials presented the relatio, a puzzled reporter asked Cardinal Erdo of Hungary, who took the lead in presenting it, what the sentence about valuing orientation meant. Although the Church cannot admit people to Holy Communion while they live in a presumptively adulterous relationship, it does call on all Catholics to treat them with acceptance, compassion, and love. And, again, the hope is that Mass attendance and spiritual communion will lead such persons out of adultery and back to the sacraments. So was there an earthquake? That teaching is untouched. Sinners are precious human beings, who must never be rejected. That teaching is resoundingly reaffirmed. Sinners—which means all of us—must always be loved. Thanks be to God for that.
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