Vatican Continues to Respond to Marriage Equality Victories

On Saturday, Bondings 2.0 reported about a front-page article in the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper which continued the Holy See’s opposition to marriage equality in the United States and Europe.  It was significant that the article appeared only a few days after the U.S. witnessed four electoral victories for marriage equality.

The newspaper article is now joined by an editorial on Vatican Radio from Father Federico Lombardi, the main Vatican spokesperson. A Reuters article contained excerpts:

” ‘It is clear that in Western countries there is a widespread tendency to modify the classic vision of marriage between a man and woman, or rather to try to give it up, erasing its specific and privileged legal recognition compared to other forms of union,’ Father Federico Lombardi, said in a tough editorial on Vatican Radio. . . .

“Lombardi’s editorial on Vatican Radio, which is broadcast around the world in some 30 languages, called the votes myopic, saying ‘the logic of it cannot have a far-sighted outlook for the common good.’

“Lombardi, who is also the Vatican’s chief spokesman as well as director of Vatican Radio and Vatican Television, said there was ‘public acknowledgement’ that ‘monogamous marriage between a man and woman is an achievement of civilization.’

” ‘If not, why not contemplate also freely chosen polygamy and, of course, not to discriminate, polyandry?’ he said.”  [Polygamy refers to a man with multiple wives; polyandry refers to a woman with multiple husbands.]

According to a Vatican Radio news story about the editorial, Lombardi identified three recent stories which prompted the editorial:

“. . .in recent days there have been three worrying events concerning legislation on marriage. In Spain, the Constitutional Court has refused an appeal that challenged the existing law, which excludes all reference to the difference between a man and a woman and simply mentions spouse A and B; this remains then the situation. In France, the Government has presented a bill for the transformation of marriage, so as to include same-sex marriage. In the United States, some of the referendums held on the same day as the presidential elections in various States have, for the first time, delivered an outcome favourable to same-sex marriages.”

Obviously, there is a contradiction in Lombardi’s statements.  There can’t be “public acknowledgement” that heterosexual marriage is the desired norm if so many governments and voters are acknowledging that it is not.

Lombardi’s reference to polygamy and polyandry are inflammatory rhetoric which seems designed to incite fear rather than to argue the facts of the case.  None of the marriage equality initiatives in the U.S. or Europe–or anywhere, for that matter–have included any concession to polygamy or polyandry.  Why does that continue to be brought up as an argument?  It certainly should be below the integrity of such a high-ranking official to raise those specters.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Patrick Nugent
    Patrick Nugent says:

    Inciting fear appears to be the Vatican and the bishops’ MO. “When persuasion and trust fail, then instill fear.” I would like to think that these events demonstrate that the church is beyond fear of the senior management of the institution.

  2. Kay Miller
    Kay Miller says:

    The Vatican and the hierarchy are irrelevant to me. Recognition of same-sex relationships grants civil rights that are necessary to prevent discrimination in the matter of contracts, taxes, rights of inheritance, etc. The church does not have authority over civil matters.

  3. Terence Weldon
    Terence Weldon says:

    I cannot understand why “polygamy” is such a horrifying prospect for the Church. It has much, much more in common with biblical marriage than the modern version, which they claim to be “traditional”. In my view, the problem with polygamy is simply that is inherently unequal, based on a patriarchal view of a woman’s place. But if the objection is to the inherent inequality, then same-sex marriage, which is inherently rooted in equality between the partners, should be entirely unobjectionable.

    You really can’t have it both ways and claim consistency – reject either biblical marriage norms, or the modern evolution of the institution – but not both.


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