Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Marini on Same-Sex Unions: Currying Favor with Pope Francis?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 24, 2013

Archbishop Piero Marini’s support for legal recognition of same-sex unions is interesting for several reasons. Marini is the president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and he made his statements in an interview in connection with the current National Eucharistic Congress in Costa Rica.

The first point of interest is the Eucharistic context itself. While promoting the deepest mystery of Christ’s Presence in His Church, it is certainly striking to imply that there is a right for gay persons to have their unions recognized in law. It is also very dangerous to mix dubious opinions willy-nilly with articles of Faith.

The second point of interest is the Archbishop’s strange logic when he portrays recognition of same-sex unions as necessary since “there are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren’t recognized.” This would appear to be a kind of tautology—namely, the elementary logical error of assuming what one wishes to prove.

It is important to note Archbishop Marini’s statement that Catholics must oppose the effort to define same-sex unions as marriage. I will also grant that government could conceivably have an interest in recognizing same-sex unions in some other way, and that Catholics could legitimately prefer the recognition of same-sex civil unions to the recognition of same-sex marriage. It is, I think, just barely short of immoral under all circumstances for a Catholic to support such recognition.

But it is at least very difficult to see how, on any sound understanding of the human social order, the recognition of same-sex unions can serve the common good. It is also difficult to see why government should have an interest in protecting this sort of union, which can only further weaken the very foundation of the social order, namely the family. The presumption, then, must be this: A Catholic may, under some circumstances, morally tolerate such recognition, but never desire it for its own sake.

The final point of interest is that Marini used the interview as an opportunity to take thinly veiled shots at Pope Emeritus Benedict while praising Pope Francis. Yet the problems he pointed to under Pope Benedict do not appear to have been caused by Benedict, and they have certainly not disappeared (at least, not yet) under Pope Francis. The whole interview would seem to be both logically flawed and, to put it mildly, unseemly.

In fact, based on what appears to be a conventional liberal mythology of the new pontificate, Archbishop Marini actually seems to be currying favor. Personally, I would not take the bet that Pope Francis will be pleased. In any case, it remains true that Eucharistic Congresses are great occasions of grace. And that the willingness to cooperate with grace remains a separate question.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Niklas - Apr. 29, 2013 3:29 AM ET USA

    Kyrie eleison!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 26, 2013 3:38 PM ET USA

    In 2003, during the pontificate of John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF promulgated "CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS" binding the consciences of all Catholics to oppose such unions. I honestly believe Marini must live in a world where he never heard about this. Debate is over. Finished. Natural Law has been authoritatively interpreted. This, women priests, and contraception always come in threes, it seems.

  • Posted by: timothy.op - Apr. 25, 2013 11:53 PM ET USA

    You might want to clarify which recognition you intended to classify as "just barely short of immoral." I believe you meant civil unions, but your statement could be read as suggesting that the recognition of gay 'marriage' is short of immoral, when in fact it would be quite immoral. Just wanting to clarify.

  • Posted by: WBSM - Apr. 25, 2013 7:55 PM ET USA

    "It is, I think, just barely short of immoral under all circumstances for a Catholic to support such recognition." I, on the other hand, think that it is not short of immoral, not even barely. Marini has no excuse.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Apr. 24, 2013 7:36 PM ET USA

    To be fair, I believe the topic of the general conversation was about the secular nature of the modern state. But, you actually soft peddle Marini's swipes at Benedict. They were quite blatant and most uncharitable. He obviously is still upset by Benedict's removal of him as papal master of ceremonies and the outreach to the SSPX. The swipes at BXVI were disgraceful and an afront to the sacrament not the muddled same sex union comments. Blessed JPII pray for your former aide!

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Apr. 24, 2013 7:17 PM ET USA

    Might it be possible to reward Marini for his 'loyalty' to the new pope with an episcopal see in, say, Uzbekistan?

  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 24, 2013 6:07 PM ET USA

    But what of,“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. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.” JPII, 2003