Politicians who support gay marriage are not Catholic, says cardinal

February 17, 2010

VATICAN CITY – Public officials who openly support same-sex marriage cannot consider themselves to be Catholic, said an Italian cardinal.

“It’s impossible to consider oneself a Catholic if that person in one way or another recognizes same-sex marriage as a right,” said Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reprinted a portion of a doctrinal note the cardinal released Feb. 14 concerning “Marriage and Homosexual Unions.” The note, which appeared in full on the archdiocese’s Web site, was aimed at helping enlighten Catholics in public office so that “they would not make choices that would publicly contradict their affiliation with the church,” he wrote.

Catholic politicians must not only promote the common good; they also “have a serious duty to make sure their beliefs, thoughts and proposals concerning the common good are consistent,” he wrote.

“It’s impossible for the Catholic faith and support for putting homosexual unions on equal footing with marriage to coexist in one’s conscience - the two contradict each other,” said the note.

Even more serious would be the case of a Catholic lawmaker who introduces a measure or votes in favor of a law that supports gay marriage, he said. “This is a publicly and gravely immoral act,” he wrote.

If a Catholic official were to ever implement or enforce such a law, “God forbid, we will, at the proper moment, give the necessary directives,” he wrote.

Cardinal Caffarra, who holds a number of positions in the Roman Curia including as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Vatican’s highest tribunal, known as the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, wrote that the consequences of same-sex marriage would be “devastating.”

“One of the pillars of our legal order – marriage as a public good – would crumble,” he wrote.

“The state’s legal order must not be neutral on marriage and homosexual unions just as it can’t be (neutral) on the common good: society owes its survival to families founded on marriage, not homosexual unions,” he wrote.

The cardinal also said allowing same-sex couples to adopt children would seriously hinder the child’s proper development because, without a mother and a father, the child would lack a male and female role model.

A consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Franciscan Father Maurizio Faggioni, said the issue is not new and was addressed by the congregation in its 2003 document, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons.”

The document detailed the arguments against legal recognition of same-sex unions and asked lawmakers to fight growing movements to legalize gay marriage.

Father Faggioni said the church teaches respect for homosexual individuals and their rights as people, such as the right to employment and freedom from unjust discrimination.

“However, for the church, gay marriage is not part of an individual’s rights,” he told Catholic News Service Feb. 16.

Wanting to put a homosexual union on par with a marriage between a man and a woman “is unacceptable,” he said.

However, he said, supporting gay marriage laws would not incur excommunication since that sanction is reserved to extremely serious crimes like abortion or abuse of the sacraments.

The church seeks to encourage Catholic politicians to be inspired by church teaching and be consistent with what they believe and do, he said.

“Otherwise why would someone still call himself a Catholic if he is not inspired by the magisterium?” he said.