The Bishops of the Diocese of Los Angeles have finally managed to issue a statement on the California’s Supreme Court decision that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Looking at their statement I am not quite sure if it was worth the effort.
It starts off with the standard caveat that persons with same-sex attraction must be treated with respect, and compassion, and that no form of violence can be used against homosexual persons. While I understand such caveats and the truth behind them it always makes it sound as if it is Catholics are acting in this manner in the first place and have to be constantly reminded of this.
All people, regardless of sexual inclination, are called to holiness; and "should be encouraged to take an active roll in the faith community" and to live according to its teachings.
I think this part is badly worded since to me it makes it seems that the teachings are according to the "faith community" rather than ordered towards the whole Church. But I admit that is nit-picky. I prefer how the Catechism puts it.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
It then goes on:
Nonetheless, the Church cannot approve of redefining marriage, which has a unique place in God’s creation, joining a man and woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended.
This part is surely badly worded since it only seems aimed at one end of marriage and "committed relationship" is so broad that it hardly touches on the theology behind marriage. As the Catechism states "1601 The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring;" and 2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family." In a statement such as this obviously you are going to keep it short and not densely packed with theology, but you have to get the basics right.
The meaning of marriage is deeply rooted in history and culture, and has been shaped considerably by Christian tradition.
As Karen Hall says in her excellent fisk of this statement "I can make the exact same statement about Nascar." They have not made a very good natural law argument here which would have been appropriate.
The state has a primary and fundamental obligation to protect and promote the family, which is rooted in marriage and sustained by it.
This part I can totally agree with. The state though has done massive damage by not living up to this and is complicit in the destruction of families via no-fault divorce – one of the greatest evils of our time. Some argue that the state should just get out of the marriage business in the first place, but the reality is that it does have a duty to protect and promote the family and not a redefined family.
The statement then goes on to say that same-sex marriage is not required since basically same-sex partners can get benefits such as visitation rights and healthcare without it. From the whole statement you would basically have no idea that "homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."
I also found it interesting that none of the footnotes use Vatican documents. It seems to me that a statement of this type would do well to look at Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by Pope John Paul II. But maybe that is just me.