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Irish theologian supports gay unions as US bishops back Bush legislation

Senior Irish moral theologian Enda McDonagh has called for legal recognition of homosexual unions, while the US bishops have lent their support to President George Bush's attempts to protect the legal definition of marriage as heterosexual.

McDonagh, who was professor of moral theology for three decades at the national seminary of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, wrote in the latest edition of The Furrow journal that there shoud be some type of legal recognition of homosexual unions.

Although opposed to the use of the term marriage to describe gay unions, he said "changes in the understanding and practice of homosexual relationships, as witnessed by many dedicated Christians, suggest a more sophisticated analysis of how human embodiment may be expressed lovingly and sexually between same sex partners....."

Meanwhile the administrative committee of the United States bishops' conference voted to endorse a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The constitutional amendment is designed to protect the institution of marriage from court challenges by interests seeking legalisation of same-sex marriage.

The amendment endorsed by the US bishops' committee takes a neutral stand regarding state recognition of "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships." The language of the proposed measure allows the individual American states to establish their own legislation regarding the legal benefits that might be given to unmarried couples.

In Canada, the bishops have expressed a fear that their Federal Government's proposed law to allow same-sex marriage could possibly be interpreted to include incestuous relationships.

"When you change the definition of the institution, you open the door to things you can't foresee," Montreal Archbishop Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte told a news conference hosted by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Back in Ireland, a second moral theologian has said that he "would not call homosexual acts disordered".

The Irish Catholic reports that Fr Sean Fagan SM, who has lectured in Moral Theology since 1955, said: "I would not call homosexual acts disordered." Fr Fagan recently wrote a letter to The Irish Times questioning the basis by which the Church teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and against natural law.

But University College Dublin philosophy lecturer Dr Gerard Casey condemned the two moral theologians for their "scandalous" and "willful" rejection of Church Teaching. He called on the bishops to use their authority to control such dissent from "what the Church has clearly and definitively taught on matters of faith and morals".

Irish Catholic
Catholic World News
Toronto Star

US Catholic Leaders Endorse Constitutional Amendment Against Gay Marriage (AP)
Catholic Leaders Opposed to Gay Marriage (AP)
[Canadian] Catholic bishops say same-sex marriage could open door to incest (Canadian Press)
Hobart Archbishop accuses State Govt of deception on same-sex relationships (28/7/03)
Vicar General concerned about gays importing surrogate babies (18/8/03)
Pell says Vatican gay unions document meant for all people (15/8/03)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Considerations regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (English official text)
Another Vatican sex disconnect (National Catholic Reporter)
Bishops Conference head welcomes Howard comments on gay marriage (6/8/03)

11 Sep 2003