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Bishops to revisit concepts on same sex unions based on gospel teachings

MANILA (Agencies) : Philippine bishops have expressed concerns about same sex unions, saying it will likely be on their agenda after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 26 in favour of same sex marriage nationwide in a landmark decision.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines said the court’s ruling “will not go unheeded” as the bishops will revisit the same sex marriage debate but according to the gospel teachings.

“We shall study it with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions, always with an eye to being faithful to the gospel and to the mission of the Church,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishop’s conference, in a statement on June 27.

“The Church continues to maintain what it has always taught,” Villegas said, reiterating that marriage is a “permanent union” of man and woman, “in the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual fulfillment that the union of a man and a woman bring into the loftiness of the matrimonial bond.”

“If there is an undeniable difference between man and woman, there is also an undeniable difference between the permanent union of a man and a woman,” he said.

However, Archbishop Villegas reiterated that homosexual people should not be judged or marginalised by the Church or any people.

“I reiterate our commitment to the pastoral solicitude of all, and no bishop, priest, deacon, religious or lay leader actively serving the Church will ever demand to know of a person his or her orientation before serving the person, as The Lord Jesus commands all his disciples to serve,” he said.

“All will continue to find welcome in the Church, while, under the command from the Lord himself, will continue to teach what the Church has unceasingly taught,” he continued.

An “anti-discrimination bill” is currently pending in Congress and some are worried that it could eventually lead to legalisation of same sex unions.

Section 4(e) of the bill is accused of intending to legalise same-sex marriage. The provision states that among the prohibited acts of discrimination are those that “deny an application for or revoke a professional or other kind of license, clearance certification or any other document issued by the government due to the applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The provision prevents government agencies from denying individuals to secure ordinary licenses such as driver’s license and other certifications, based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

However, lawyers pointed out that legalising same-sex marriage will further require amendment of the Family Code of The Philippines, which defines marriage as a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman.

“To the legislators who consider through future legislative initiatives giving legal recognition to same sex unions, the Church declares there is no equivalence or even any remote analogy whatsoever in marriage between a man and woman as planned by God and the so-called same sex unions,” Archbishop Villegas said in an earlier statement on March 3.

However, the archbishop said he supports the provisions against second-class treatment of such people in general, but reaffirmed Church teaching against homosexual acts.

Amid calls to recognise same-sex marriage in The Philippines, the head of the Church’s matrimonial tribunal, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, reasserted that such a radical move is going against what nature—let alone God—had intended for humans.

“We can never deny the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman. It is the natural law. It is not between Adam and Adam nor between Eve and Eve,” said the retired bishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in an interview on TV Maria’s Know The Truth show at the end of May.

Also, John Zulueta, executive director of Bagong Pag-asa, an ecumenical support group for persons struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, believes “love” cannot be used to justify the legal recognition of what is commonly referred to as a domestic partnership between two males or between two females.

“It goes both ways. Like gays, married heterosexual couples do experience temptations. For example, I am married to someone I claim to love, but then comes another person whom I begin to love more than the first. Does this new love justify committing adultery? No, it can’t,” Zulueta told Know The Truth show in another interview in early June.

“While we know that God is love, his love for us is for our own good, not for our destruction,” he added.

Zulueta further explained that the Lord invites everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, to live pure and chaste lives. He said that homosexual desires are not sinful in themselves, and what being sinful is acting on those desires.