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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Archbishop Nichols SHOULD Have Written: A Fantasy?

For My "Draft" of the Archbishop's letter (snarky as hell) : Nichols' draft

The govt. released its proposals and open consultations today, March 15.  You can respond on -line here: Equal Civil Marriage Consultation
A Letter on Marriage from the President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference of
England and Wales

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

This week the Coalition Government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.
Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society.
The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity wonder. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the State has the power to change the fundamental nature of human love. The Catholic Church therefore welcomes the inclusion of same-sex partnerships as an essential reaffirmation of love between individuals, as the essential gift of God.
Long understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.  It is for this reason that we welcome the inclusion of same-sex marriage as yet another brick in the foundation of fundamental humanity.

There are many reasons why people get married. For most couples, there is an instinctive understanding that the stability of a marriage provides the best context for the flourishing of their relationship and for bringing up their children. Society recognises marriage as an important institution for these same reasons: to enhance stability in society and to respect and support parents in the crucial task of having children and bringing them up as well as possible.

The Church starts from this appreciation that marriage is a natural institution, and indeed the Church recognises civil marriage. The Catholic understanding of marriage, however, has been short-sighted and exclusive.  By relying upon ancient and prejudiced doctrine, the Church has inadvertently neglected a vital source of revitalization for the institution of marriage.  As a consequence, and without direct intention, we have stoked the fear of homosexuality in ways that have sometimes had catastrophic consequences for our fellow brothers and sisters.  Ignorance has led to violence, discrimination, and bigotry.  Church doctrine has been used as a veil for persecution, both legal and extra-legal.  It has permitted sinful people to act sinfully, while pretending to carry out God's will.   The Church will no longer abet this travesty.  We make it clear today that homosexual people are fully human, fully participate in God's plan, and are fully equal in the eyes of Christ, and Christ's church.  This includes not only the "right" of marriage between people of the same sex, but the obligation to marry, as a fulfillment of God's promise.

These rather abstract words are reflected however imperfectly in the experience of married couples. We know that at the heart of a good marriage is a relationship of astonishing power and richness, for the couple, their children, their wider circle of friends and relations and society. As a Sacrament, this is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We know, too, that just as God’s love is creative. It is open, in its essence, to welcoming new life, ready to love and nurture that life to its fullness, not only here on earth but also into eternity.  This is a high and noble vision, for marriage is a high and noble vocation. It is not easily followed. But we are sure that Christ is at the heart of marriage, for his presence is a sure gift of the God who is Love, who wants nothing more than for the love of two people, regardless of their sex, to find its fulfilment. So the daily effort that marriage requires, the many ways in which family living breaks and reshapes us, is a sharing in the mission of Christ, that of making visible in the world the creative and forgiving love of God.

In these ways we understand marriage to be a call to holiness, recognised and respected as the gift of God to all people on earth, with fidelity and permanence as the boundaries which create its sacred space. Marriage is also a crucial witness in our society, contributing to its stability, its capacity for compassion and forgiveness and its future, in a way that no other institution can.

In putting before you these thoughts about why marriage is so important, we also want to recognise the experience of those who have suffered the pain of bereavement or relationship breakdown and their contribution to the Church and society. Many provide a remarkable example of courage and fidelity. Many strive to make the best out of difficult and complex situations. We hope that they are always welcomed and helped to feel valued members of our parish communities.  Because of Church doctrine, and a history of rejecting same-sex partnerships, many homosexuals have been deprived of the simple rights in times of bereavement: hospital visitation, funeral rites, legal recognition of marital status.  We denounce such discrimination as being essentially non-Christian, and call on all Roman Catholics to open their hearts.

The reasons given by our government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination. Our present law  discriminates unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It creates a class of humans who are seen and treated as lesser beings, not fully worthy of celebrating the gift of marriage.  We denounce this discrimination, in the name of Christ, and call upon the government to swiftly end all legal discrimination against homosexuals.  We pledge our financial, political, pastoral, and ecumenical resources to this crusade for righteousness.  We must redress the past, and will do so aggressively.

Changing the legal definition of marriage is a profound step toward the expansion of justice, and therefore of God's intention. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably improve our society and it's relationship with both the Church, and with God. 

We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that love is never hindered by hide-bound and medieval doctrine, and that the Roman Catholic Church is never again used as a cloak for the sins of legal discrimination and violence directed toward homosexuals.

With every blessing
Most Reverend V. Nichols, Most Reverend P. Smith
11 March 2012

Archbishop Nichols' Actual Text


  1. Hi, I love your letter. This is what I wrote and handed out after Mass at my church this Sunday.

    If only your letter was the one they really had read out.

  2. Many thanks for this. What I love, is how it shows that the church's own logic should lead to support for equality, a point I have frequently made myself. I have heavily promoted this post, and expanded on it, at "Queering the Church" -

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I especially appreciate that you understood the rhetorical strategy -- indeed, according to its own logic they should be supporting it. A point I might have made more strongly, on reflection, is that in the very parts of the the world where its influence remains powerful its homophobic doctrine is doing the most damage. Legally, medically, culturally, and socially Africa is a disaster for homosexuals and the RC church has indirectly contributed and aggravated what is catastrophic. Thanks, too, for sharing. I will have a look. Peace. -- Joe

    2. Hello Terence.

      Please check your email address. I just sent you an interesting idea.


    3. Hi, I've never posted reply on anything like this so no idea if it will work. Do you have any objection if I use some of your ideas from this piece in a piece of music I'm writing? It's an anti-homophobia thing, a mass funnily enough! I just found it inspirational..... Regards

    4. Hello,

      I have no objection whatsoever, and find it flattering. Could you tell me a bit more about what you have in mind? Why don't you email me with your information, contact, etc. And we can discuss. My primary email address is Now, of course, I'm quite curious ... look forward to "chatting" with you.


  3. Concenting to marriage between to males or two females is an act of treachery by this govenment,it takes the country down the road to ruin it is outright disgusting,there is only one marriage and that is between man and woman.(adam and eve not adam and steve)

    1. Oh Dear. "Adam and Steve" Clever. Did you just think of that? Thanks so much for sharing. I'll tuck it away for future use. It even rhymes. Peace.

  4. There are people who deliberately go against God and claim “their religion compels me to do this”. Given that, I would have to say you are in a “false religion”. God’s word says that if you profess to be a Christian, you are in Christ (in agreement with Him and his teachings), you are to be Holy (set apart/separated from), not of the world, but in the world. Christ said He came to do the will of the Father and to please Him (to love the sinner and turn them from their sin). Therefore, you are to be set apart from the world and its immoral culture. What are you to be separated from? Anything that God would call an abomination would be a great start. Idol worship (which includes love of yourself), envy/coveting (wanting what someone else has that you don’t), sexual immorality (homosexuality, bestiality, sex outside of marriage, etc.) are just a few of the things God hates and even calls many of them an “abomination in His sight”. If you claim to be a Christian and support the things God hates and claim to be doing it because God compels you to do it, you are either calling God a liar or you are a liar yourself. I happen to believe God when He said He is unchanging, the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, what He has said is wrong from the beginning, is still wrong today and to support it is wrong no matter how popular it is or isn’t to accept and agree with these things.

  5. I have called no one, not God, not you, not your pet goldfish, nor your 2nd cousin twice removed, a "liar." You, on the other hand have felt "compelled" by the love of Christ (you say) to call ME an abomination, an idol worshiper, a practitioner of bestiality, a generic and congenital "sinner." One of us has some name-calling issues, and I'd politely suggest that it isn't me. I have not interfered in your life one jot, yet you feel obliged to interfere with mine. How does this magically become a matter of divine inspiration. As you know, Jesus SAID NOT ONE WORD about homosexuality. He mentioned love quite a few times ... if homos were high on the 33 year old laundry list of things he needed to take care of before ... well, you know, you'd a thunk he'd mention it once or twice ... say in between parables? You my friend are perfectly free to believe whatever you'd like to and to live your life accordingly. So Am I. Mind your own business. Jesus will smile at you for it.