Catholic Bishops Help Stop LGBTQ Rights Initiatives in Chile, Korea, and Belize

Chilean bishops in meeting with Pope Francis

Bishops in Chile have expressed their opposition to a surprise proposal by the nation’s president to pass marriage equality, though signaled support for civil union-style legislation. Meanwhile, other developments from church leaders in Korea and Belize in regard to LGBTQ civil rights are also troubling.

Chilean Bishops Oppose Marriage Equality

In a congressional address, President Sebastián Piñera said “the time has come for equal marriage in our country,” reported Crux, expressing his sense of “urgency” to do so. This announcement was surprising for all because marriage equality had not been in the public discourse since a 2017 proposal was shelved.

The Chilean bishops were quick to express disapproval for the initiative, seemingly suggesting that marriage equality was not important in light of the pandemic:

“In a message released Wednesday afternoon, the Chilean bishops conference acknowledges that ‘no one doubts that Chile is living a complex time that demands the best of each one of us,’ alluding to the referendum earlier this year that called for the re-writing of the country’s constitution.

“‘The deep health crisis caused by the pandemic and its economic, social and emotional consequences has placed large groups of Chileans in extreme precariousness, and they expect from their authorities measures and decisive actions to help, especially for the benefit of the most vulnerable,’ the bishops wrote. . .

“They bishops also defended the preposition that same-sex couples having their rights protected through national legislations that grant ‘persons who decide to live together’ recognition.”

The move by Piñera, a political conservative, to so readily endorse marriage equality reveals just how much Chilean society, so traditionally Catholic, has evolved in recent years. Crux reported:

“Chile, once a predominantly Catholic and conservative country – civil divorce was only made legal in 2008 – has been undergoing a rapid process of secularization that has accelerated in the past three years, when a series of clerical sexual abuse scandals made the news.”

Korean Cardinal Makes Mixed Remarks on LGBTQ Legislation

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul offered mix comments on two LGBTQ proposals in a new statement, “Lessons from [the] Catholic church on family and marriage,” reported The Korea Times:

“He added, ‘Living together without marriage and common-law marriage are considered as homosexuality and hurt the definition of family which is made with lifetime love and unity between husband and wife and to give birth and raise children.’

“However, the cardinal made it clear that what he said doesn’t mean anyone can be discriminated based on sexual orientation or identity or face verbal or physical abuse, just because he doesn’t recognize their right to get married.

“Mentioning the proposed anti-discrimination bill, which is causing heated discussions, he stressed that ‘Some phrases in the bill, especially the policies in expanding the concept of family such as allowing cohabitation without marriage and common-law marriage, are largely different from the universal values in society and religious and ethical beliefs of the Catholic church.'”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea has registered its opposition to the non-discrimination bill, which was put forward, in part, after a spate of LGBTQ people dying by suicide.

Belize Church Leaders Stop Non-Discrimination Bill

Church leaders in Belize helped stop the Equal Opportunities Bill, which would have provided LGBTQ people with new protections, reported Angelus News. Bishop Lawrence Nicasio of Belize City and Belmopan issued a letter against the bill saying it would allow “a new colonialism,” suggesting international experts would be allowed in in contradiction to Belize’s culture. Nicasio in theory defended ending discrimination, but said further the non-discrimination bill would actually harm youth, parents’ rights, conscience protections, and more.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 12, 2021

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