Wednesday 13 April 2011

People should be wary about David Quinn's writings on pro-life/pro-family issues

David Quinn, the prominent Irish Catholic commentator, has written an article for The Irish Independent on homosexual issues. The article is mainly an argument against gay marriage, but it starts:
"When homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1993, I supported the move and said so publicly. Right from that point, which is basically when I began writing a column, I also supported partnership rights for same-sex couples. I still support decriminalisation and partnership rights."
The article goes on to try to distinguish gay marriage from civil partnerships, and adds:
"In Britain, the last Labour government introduced civil partnerships but not marriage."
However, I'd be very surprised if the very well-informed Mr Quinn didn't know that civil partnerships in English law:
And, as Mr Quinn himself has written elsewhere (The Irish Catholic), Ireland's civil partnerships law:
"is deeply flawed in that it creates a new type of legal relationship for gay and lesbians couples that is almost equivalent to marriage."
So I am unclear as to why Mr Quinn, in his Irish Independent article, now implies that there is a crucial difference of great moral significance between homosexual civil partnerships and homosexual marriage, and leaving throughout the article impressions that he favours the former.

Mr Quinn focuses rightly on the nature of (heterosexual) marriage as an institution ordered towards the procreation and education of the couple's natural children, and argues how homosexual marriage is contrary to that good. So why does Mr Quinn omit to make (at least in his Irish Independent article) the same argument against civil partnerships, which in Britain, Ireland and other places are exclusive to homosexuals? (It should be noted that in the UK, homosexual adoption was legalised before, and separately from, civil partnerships.)  

I would also be very surprised if Mr Quinn did not know that any and all forms of legal recognition or privileges for homosexual couples have been condemned squarely by the highest doctrinal authority in the Catholic Church. In 2003, the late Pope John Paul II approved a document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons", signed by the current Holy Father and published on the feast-day of the Ugandan martyrs, who died rather than submit to sodomy. Here are some relevant extracts from that document, marked "CDF" and with my emphases in bold, followed by my comments:
CDF: "In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty." (no.5)
By the use of the word "or", the CDF made clear that the Catholic Church condemns civil partnerships between homosexuals per se and not only "[i]n those situations where homosexual unions...have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage." Mr Quinn's article fails to manifest that "clear and emphatic opposition".

In his Irish Independent article, Mr Quinn refers to "partnership rights". Also, in his earlier Irish Catholic article, he claimed:
"Very few people object to same-sex couples being given just and appropriate rights such as hospital visitation rights, and maintenance and property settlement rights."
However, the CDF's document teaches that:
"Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society." (no.9)
The CDF document also teaches that:
"The homosexual inclination is...'objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity'." (no.4)
Yet there is no mention in Mr Quinn's article to homosexuality as a disorder nor to the wrongness of homosexual acts. Such an omission is a failure to fulfil the requirement of the next paragraph of the CDF's document, which reads:
"Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, [for example] stating clearly the immoral nature of [homosexual] unions..." (no.5)
The final paragraph of the CDF's document says:
"Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean...the approval of deviant behaviour..." (no.11)
Again, by the use of the word "or", the CDF made clear that the Catholic Church condemns civil partnerships between homosexuals per se and not only where such unions are "plac[ed] on the same level as marriage." One of the bases of this condemnation is "the approval of deviant behaviour", about which Mr Quinn's article is silent.

Mr Quinn has high-profile roles in the Catholic world and therefore his thinking can have considerable influence upon the faithful, including Catholic eduationalists.The stakes are simply too high for people to be exposed to ambiguous messages on sexual ethics. Readers may like to contact Mr Quinn via his Iona Institute to make their concerns known to him.

And why is the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality (and sexual ethics generally) important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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