A lot of buzz has gone around lately regarding the speech that the Holy Father made to the diplomatic corps last January 9. The media feasted on the alleged statement made by the Pope regarding gay marriage. In all the mayhem that this “statement” brought about, what caught my attention was this article that went viral on Facebook, “Infertile People Can’t Marry Says Catholic Church”. This appeared on my newsfeed over and over again; hence, it piqued my curiosity. Upon reading the article, I just wanted to dissect it and point out some of the places where the writer had his “facts” wrong.
(Italicized paragraphs are quotes from the article “Infertile People Can’t Marry Says Catholic Church”, italicized statements are quotations from various sources).
“What is there that comes from marrying them? Nothing! They are two, they remain two, they die two.” ~Archbishop Oscar Cruz, CBCP
From Archbishop Cruz’s latest statement about the issue of marriage from an interview on GMA news, Archbishop reiterated the Catholic Church’s stance that marriage along with sex is ONLY for procreation, That those who cannot procreate or decide to procreate is committing a mortal sin in the eyes of God.
Actually, this is not true. The Catholic Church does not teach the sex is ONLY for procreation. True, the primary purpose of marriage and the marital act is procreation, but the word ONLY in this writer’s statement totally disregards the fact that the Church also teaches that marriage, along with the marital act, is also for the unity and the good of the couple. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) tells us “The matrimonial consent, by which a man and woman establish between themselves the partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (CCC, 1601).
The Catholic Church is planning to ban the infertile people’s right to marry for they cannot conceive. Even couples who does [sic, recte do] not plan to have babies can have their marriage revoked, for they have failed their purpose to multiply.
For one, what is the source for this statement that the Catholic Church is planning to ban the infertile people’s right to marry? The only references listed with this article were links to GMA news. I clicked them and nowhere do they say that the Church is indeed planning to ban the rights of INFERTILE PEOPLE to marry. This is not what the Church teaches. Again, we read from the CCC: Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality and of sacrifice (CCC, 1654). Again, marriage is not just for making babies. It is also for the mutual good of the couple.
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
This statement is taken from Genesis 1:28. While it is indeed a passage from the Bible which pertains to the Sacrament of Marriage, it is by no means the only one. The Lord also tells us through the Bible that marriage is also for the unity of man and woman. It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18). That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body (Genesis 2:24). So they are no longer two, but one flesh (Matthew 19:6). To reiterate, while procreation is the primary purpose of man and woman joining together in marriage, unity and mutual good of the people involved are also incorporated in God’s loving design. The latter is in no way unimportant, however, it necessarily subordinate to the former.
This is the belief that the Catholic Church is fighting for, and in the Philippines where majority of the people are Catholics. Even with the separation of church and state, if you cannot get married according to the standards of the Catholic Church, other religions has [sic, recte have] no right to marry you either.
Again, where does it say that you can’t get married in the Philippines if it is not according to the Catholic Church’s standards? To quote from the 1987 Constitution:
Section 3. The State shall defend: (1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.
Furthermore, the Family Code of the Philippines also states the following:
Art. 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and
(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. (53a)
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age. (53a, 55a)
Art. 6. No prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of the marriage is required.
Nowhere in these laws can we find that “if you cannot get married according to the standards of the Catholic Church, other religions have no right to marry you either”.
This is another sad case of cherry picking where the words of our priests, bishops and our Holy Father were taken out of context. Like what Fr. John Flynn wrote in his article in Zenit.org: […] the whole section on the family, including a reference to the European Union decision to prohibit the patenting of human embryonic stem cells, took up only 174 words of a speech which was 2,778 words long. The speech in fact covered more than this. The Pope also tackled issues regarding the economy, peace, education and religious freedom. Upon reading the Vatican translation of the Pope’s address to the diplomatic corps, the nearest statement to this alleged “Infertile people can’t marry says Catholic Church” is this: Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. How this was interpreted as infertile people can’t marry, I have no idea. Even Reuters made the conclusion that this, together with the statement ” the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman” was already equal to the Pope saying “gay marriage is a threat to humanity’s future. (For the full translation of the Pope’s address, click here).
Friends in the Faith, let us not be swayed by how the media sensationalizes news nowadays. Let us be more critical in what we read and let us pursue the truth. It is but just that hand in hand with reading all of these things, we also seek what the Church truly teaches us. It is not fair for our Mother, the Church, to judge her based solely on things that other people, who are not even experts on what She teaches, say.
Friends who want to make statements about the Catholic Church, we appeal to you that in making these conclusions about our Faith, please adhere to scholarly standards of truthfulness and integrity. We do not ask you to be experts regarding Church teachings. We only request that you do not take our words out of context. In quoting statements made by representatives of the Church, please take the time to explain the context and the situation behind them. We also ask that you use credible sources to elucidate what the Church teaches. After all, it is our Lord who said: the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Let us continue praying for each other.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
The Family Code of the Philippines