A few years ago, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna made waves with an off the cuff observation that the time had come for the Catholic Church, in dealing with lesbian and gay people, to shift its emphasis from an obsession with genital acts, to the quality of their relationships. Other bishops soon followed, with similar remarks.
When the Portuguese bishops attempted to prevent the introduction of a marriage equality law, they proposed support for civil unions, instead. That was probably prompted by the established Catholic principle of support for the lesser of two evils when it is not possible to avoid both, but it is an approach that has been accepted since by an increasing number of bishops – sometimes as a positive good, not just the lesser of two evils.
When Archbishop Nichols of Westminster last year stated his opposition to British plans for equal marriage, he softened his stance by stating that he could see “some value” in civil unions. Recently, the French Bishops’ Council on Marriage and Family and Cardinal Paglia, have similarly expressed direct support for alternative kinds of legal recognition for same – sex marriage. Episcopal support for civil unions and the like almost seems set fair to become the new Catholic episcopal orthodoxy for gay relationships.
In the video below, Scicluna repeats the standard bishops’ line that marriage “is” between a man and a woman, for the purpose of procreation, but gives implicit support to other forms of legal recognition of same – sex relationships, with the words,
We do not need to change the definition of marriage, to give legal recognition to other forms of relationship which are not between people who are heterosexual.
(Thanks to Frank DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry, whose post at Bondings 2.0 alerted me to this useful video)