So Cardinal Keith O’Brien thinks gay marriage is grotesque. His church will be lining up to oppose the enactment by HMG to give civil partnership an equal status with traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
In the meantime, the Church of Ireland, who’s official position is no different from that of the (Roman) Catholic church are, instead of lobbying the government, planning to have a debate:
Canon Ellis said there had been a serious debate within his church since it was revealed last autumn that one of its clergy – the Very Rev Tom Gordon in Co Carlow – had entered into a civil partnership.
The Church of Ireland is holding a conference for members of the synod this weekend on human sexuality, prompted by the revelations, Canon Ellis said.
He said Archbishop Alan Harper set out the denomination’s position on sexuality last autumn, which “only approves and affirms sexual relationships within marriage” and “outside marriage advocates abstinence”.
Canon Ellis said the aim of this weekend’s conference is to “inform the mind” of the church synod, which meets in May. While the conference itself cannot change church policy, its discussions may – or may not – lead to a change in church policy by the synod.
“The Church of Ireland takes a traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Canon Ellis said.
“The discussion that will take place is on whether or not the church should bless civil partnerships and same-sex relationships in general. There is a very clear division.”
As The Heresiarch (who’s not particularly fond of either communion) notes, the argument is already close to lost, and the Cardinal is not exactly putting up a logical defence over what is viewed in wider society as a sociological phenomenon more than a religious one:
The essential elements of marriage, as most people today understand it, are as likely to be found in gay couples as in straight ones. And those elements of traditional marriage that were specifically heterosexual are either offensively outdated or (like sex, cohabitation and even children) can all be found, without social opprobrium, outside the married state. Marriage has become a choice, in other words.
What is left is a question of semantics. Since the legal implications of heterosexual marriage and homosexual civil partnership are close enough to be practically indistinguishable, the difference in terminology is no more than a polite legal fiction. Same-sex marriage already exists in all but name.
Then again, as Pete has noted on several occasions in the past, in the view of the church under Benedict the rational logic of the scientific revolution is more a case of redemption lost than enlightenment found…
But where does that leave the churches with their wider congregation who are having to adjust to a world which is rapidly making social space for gay partnerships within their own families and wider communities?
Perhaps the Church of Ireland have got something
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty