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From Across the Pond: English Bishop Reacts to Passage of Marriage Redefinition Bill

A bill to redefine marriage – the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act” – was approved in England earlier in July.

On July 29, Bishop Philip Egan of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, England, released a message about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. In it, he spoke of marriage redefinition as “the inevitable outcome of a process that has been gathering pace since the sexual revolutions of the 1960s.”

He goes on: “Until then, the traditional (that is, the natural and the Christian) understanding of marriage, sexual intercourse and family life prevailed. Sexual intercourse was seen as located exclusively within married family life and having a double end or purpose: the expression of love and the procreation of children. Since the 1960s, however, artificial contraceptives have been widely available, which split these two ends of sexual intercourse, separating the unitive and suppressing the procreative aspect. Lifted from its natural context within married love and commitment, and coupled to pleasure without responsibility, sexual intercourse could now be experienced outside marriage, and thus, in time, take on a new meaning in human relationships.”

It is built upon this “revised understanding of sexual intercourse and family life” that “powerful lobby groups” now advocate for the social acceptability of homosexual activity, including the redefinition of marriage to include persons of the same sex.

Bishop Egan writes, “As Catholics, like Israel in Egypt, we now find ourselves in an alien land that speaks a foreign language with unfamiliar customs. For what we mean by the matrimony, sexual intercourse and family life is no longer what today’s world, the government…and policy-makers understand by marriage, sex and the family.” He identifies the pastoral and potential legal challenges inherent in a disconnect between the State’s new gender-neutral definition of marriage and the Church’s (and others’) long-held belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“It goes without saying,” the Bishop writes, “that special support needs to be offered to those of same-sex attraction to help them find that inner freedom, chastity and perfection which Christ offers (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2359).” He adds, “Pastors have always been ready and willing, in Christ’s name, to offer mercy, forgiveness and support to those who are struggling and striving to live up to the ideals Christ calls us to. They are, after all, ideals written deep in the human heart, and which in heaven will find their eternal fulfilment, resolution and true flowering.”

Bishop Egan concludes, “It remains my hope and prayer that in time, by God’s grace and by our gentle love and witness, we will recall society to the path of authentic humanism and thus help everyone hear the call of the Spirit within their hearts to true happiness.”

Read Bishop Egan’s entire message.

3 responses to “From Across the Pond: English Bishop Reacts to Passage of Marriage Redefinition Bill”

  1. I am an Orthodox Christian living in America, and the wife of a priest. I just reposted these remarks of Bishop Egan’s on my FB page: ““As Catholics, like Israel in Egypt, we now find ourselves in an alien land that speaks a foreign language with unfamiliar customs. For what we mean by the matrimony, sexual intercourse and family life is no longer what today’s world, the government…and policy-makers understand by marriage, sex and the family.”” I feel that his remarks apply to Orthodox Christians as well, finding ourselves in an alien land. May God have mercy on us!

  2. This is excellent because it acknowledges that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples is not an isolated event. It is a progression of the steady assaults on marriage that have accelerated since the 1960s. However, this assault did not begin in the 1960’s. You can trace the defense of marriage to the late 19th century with Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Arcanum that was in response to the increased acceptance of divorce.

    • Paul says:

      Very confronting what is happening. It appears that Our Lady’s warnings in Fatima 1917 of the spread of communist ( now re-named “progressives”) error throughout the world has come to pass because of our inaction to her pleas. The gay marriage mess has its roots in 1960’s “gender” and “queer” theory. Research it and see from where this evil emanates. No distinction between the sexes. They want to make us a gender neutral society. The nuclear family is a prime target. Prayer and fasting…….

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