INDEPENDENT NEWS

Catholics will make up own minds on Civil Unions

Published: Mon 6 Dec 2004 03:07 PM
Catholics will make up their own minds on Civil Unions
Christians for Civil Unions, an ecumenical network of New Zealanders supporting the Civil Union Bill, reacted today with dismay to the letter from Catholic Bishops read in some churches yesterday. However, they do not believe that Catholics who support the Bill will be swayed.
“The Bishops seem to have completely missed the point that the Civil Union Bill is not introducing gay marriage, but rather a completely different alternative form of relationship recognition,” said spokesperson Rev Dr Margaret Mayman. “If the legislation’s intent was gay marriage, then that would have been simply achieved by an amendment to the Marriage Act.”
Christians for Civil Unions has some members who support Civil Union precisely because it is not gay marriage, but rather keeps the traditional and religious aspects of marriage unchanged. Marriage has an intrinsic value that cannot be altered by civil unions.
The Catholic Bishops have supported legal relationship recognition for gay couples until recently (“New Zealand bishops support civil unions,” National Catholic Reporter, May 12, 2000 by John J L Allen). That is precisely what the Civil Union Bill achieves and many are baffled by the turn around.
“We have heard from many angry and distressed Catholic members of our network this weekend. They are appalled that the Bishops should have spoken with such a lack of compassion about Catholics who are living in gay or lesbian relationships. Many gay Catholics and their supporters stayed away from church rather than listen to such insensitivity. Others attended and engaged in conversation with their priests and fellow parishioners.
“Once again, the rhetoric about Civil Unions seems to have left behind the real people who will be affected. While marriage will remain unchanged, the Bill offers relationship recognition and support for many New Zealanders, Christian and otherwise, who are currently vulnerable. It will strengthen both gay and de facto families.
“The Bishops’ ideological position contrasted strongly with the humanity of MP Clem Simich who was interviewed yesterday by The Herald on Sunday with his gay son. Once again, it is real people who make the difference as New Zealanders move from anxiety to understanding and appreciation of diversity.
“If our society was more accepting and valuing of gay people, many more New Zealanders would realize that they know gay people who contribute significantly to families, communities and the nation. There are many Christians in New Zealand, including Catholics, who believe that biblical condemnations of homosexual acts are based on a world view that did not understand homosexual orientation and did not know of long term, committed relationships between gay people. They are also very clear that without exception Jesus taught compassion not legalism,” said Dr Mayman.
Contact: Margaret Mayman Christians for Civil Unions 027-226-4608

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