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Archbishop O'Malley clarifies position on gay marriage

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Nov 12, 2003

Archbishop Sean O'Malley is working to clarify his own stance on gay marriage. After the debacle of a couple of weeks ago when the Massachusetts bishops let Bishop Reilly of Worcester speak for them at the Legislature, it's high time for Archbishop O'Malley to speak out.

What he has to say isn't bad, although filtered through the Boston Globe it requires some parsing. Here is the lynchpin: "O'Malley said gays and lesbians should be entitled to the same kinds of benefits that might accompany the relationship between an adult child and his or her mother or siblings." So what he's saying is that while same-sex relationships are not entitled to all the same benefits as marriage, he does think they are entitled to the special benefits that other familial relationships are entitled to.

I'm still not decided on whether that's a good thing. I'm inclined to think it's not. Look, the point is why should homosexuals be entitled to special benefits just because they're gay. If I have a girlfriend and I don't marry her, why shouldn't we get the same benefits that a gay couple does?

"As long as those rights are not extended because of the sexual relationship -- if these are individual rights that are being granted, that would be a different issue, but I think that's what caused the confusion in Massachusetts," he said. "We don't feel as though there should be rights revolving around that relationship, but some of the things people are asking for can be achieved in other ways."
But they are being extended because of a sexual relationship. Is this just an attempt to accomplish the same thing through different means? The only reason these benefits are even being considered to be extended to gays is because they are gay. It's not like they're talking about extending benefits for anyone and everyone.

At least the Archbishop's comments on the Church's teaching on homosexuality aren't bad:

"Many people in disagreement with the church may be following a certain conscience -- an erroneous conscience -- but they are doing violence to their own nature, because we believe that the lawgiver and the giver of our human nature are the same," O'Malley said. "Not to follow God's law introduces chaos into our own personal lives and into the lives of those around us."
Earlier on he repeats the teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. I'm a little uncomfortable with the insistence that only homosexual acts are disordered, but that the inclination is not. Okay, I'm not saying that being tempted toward homosexuality, i.e. same-sex attraction, is a sin. That's not at all what I'm saying. But we have to recognize that it too is disordered and should be battled against in oneself. We do a disservice to those who suffer from SSA if we tell them otherwise.

Besides, what are we telling such people if we say the attraction is okay, but the acts they want to engage in because of that attraction is bad? In every case, the inclination to sin is bad, it is not morally neutral. And unlike opposite-sex attraction, SSA can never result in a life-giving, God-ordered relationship.

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Nov. 12, 2003 6:02 PM ET USA

    Other pundits make this point: gays short of having a "bright line" declaring their relationship to be marriage, they are content to have dozens and dozens of blurred lines in legal reconition of quasi-marriage relationships and quasi-parental relationships that can be created and dissolved on a whim creating confusion and a legal quagmire and when taken together undermine marriage. From this chaos, marriage as we know it will not survive.

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