Cardinal Pell Ready to Sue Papal Advisor

Pell considering legal action against papal adviser
01 June 2015 13:31 by Abigail Frymann Rouch

Cardinal George Pell says he has been left with “no alternative but to consult with his legal advisers” after an abuse survivor who sits on the Vatican’s child protection committee accused him of callousness and called for his dismissal.

The cardinal said he was considering legal action against Peter Saunders who on Australian television launched a bitter attack after a witness at the country’s Royal Commission accused Pell of trying to bribe an abuse victim.

Mr Saunders, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors set up by Pope Francis last year to improve church safeguarding standards, accused Cardinal Pell of “making a mockery of the papal commission, of the Pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors.”

“He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care,” he told the Sixty Minutes programme.

He said Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney who is head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, should be “moved aside” and sent back to Australia to address the current Australian abuse inquiry.

A statement the cardinal’s office issued soon after the programme was broadcast, said Mr Saunders’ “false and misleading claims” were “outrageous”, adding that Pell would consult legal advisers. “From his earliest actions as an Archbishop, Cardinal Pell has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated,” the statement continued.

Hours later on Monday the Vatican issued a clarification, saying Mr Saunders was “evidently” speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Commission, “which is not competent to investigate or to pronounce specific judgements on individual cases”. It added: “Cardinal George Pell has always responded carefully and thoroughly to the accusations and questions posed by the competent Australian authorities.”

Pell has come under intense pressure in recent weeks as the Royal Commission hearings into institutional child abuse has focused on the town of Ballarat, where he served as an assistant priest in the 1970s.

He has repeatedly denied claims that have resurfaced in the inquiry that he moved a priest accused of abuse between parishes and bribed a victim to drop a complaint.


This may well be my last post on kiwianglo for six weeks. Diana and I are setting off on Sunday, 7 June, for a European holiday, during which we hope to catch up with relatives and friends in the U.K. However, with the help of Diana’s I.Pad, I may just be tempted to comment on various topics as they catch my fancy – during a time of refreshment for us.

In the meantime, this was the latest item to catch my eye in this week’s issue of The Tablet in the U.K. Cardinal Pell – ex-Australia – seems to be having a hard time of it battling accusations of neglect of duty during his time in Australia, the the Roman Catholic Church in Australia neglected to deal effectively with clergy accused of paedophilia.

The Cardinal is presently serving the Vatican as its primary financial spokes-person in Rome, and is unhappy about the fact that  the Advisor to the Vatican’s child protection committee, Peter Saunders (himself a survivor of sexual abuse), has recommended his removal from influence at the Vatican.

With our own problems relating to matters of gender and sexuality, we Anglicans will no doubt have an interests in seeding how this current problem for our Catholic friends is resolved – with a Trans-Tasman prelate as the focus of attention.

Father, Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Churches in Uganda rally to Condemn Harassment of Opposition

2 JUNE 2015

Uganda: Clerics Condemn Harassment of Opposition Figure

By Samuel Kamugisha

The Uganda Joint Christian Council has spoken out on electoral reforms and the recent arrests of key opposition figures. The clerics, including Rev Stanley Ntagali of the Anglican Church, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of the Catholic Church and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga of the Orthodox Church faith, want government to work on electoral reforms ahead of next year’s polls.

In a statement issued on Monday during their general assembly at Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Kampala, the clerics said they were nonpartisan and were only “airing out our opinions as these are concerns and complaints by the opposition political parties and civil society organizations that their proposals submitted were not considered”.

“We therefore urge government to take a fresh look at issues pertaining to the electoral reforms,” said Dr Lwanga. “We should be part of the process for shaping the way the country is governed which in a way affects how Christians practice their faith.”

UJCC will also write a joint pastoral letter to government, in which they will detail their recommendations on what should be done before, during and after the polls.

The leaders also condemned the “the attempts by anyone in positions of authority trying to muzzle the voice of opposition political parties through interference with their rights to organize and freely canvass for support”. Recently, efforts by key opposition figures to hold electoral reform meetings have been greeted with arrests and detention


This meeting, of Church Leaders at the Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Kampala, highlights the Roman Catholic initiative in calling together the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican leaders in Uganda to discuss the obvious problems of overt governmental harassment of Opposition Parties’ activity, which leads them to call for democratic rights for all parties seeking to join the government in Uganda.

As the Anglican Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, is also involved in this move, this seems a welcome change from his overt support for repressive legislation against the LGBT people of Uganda. If the Opposition parties are allowed free access to democratic government, there may yet be hope for changes in legislation that will give hope for a more humane dealing with classes of citizens who otherwise are stigmatised and unjustly repressed.

This is a very welcome situation in one of the African countries where government is too often seen as not openly democratic – in ways that were hoped for after their break from the rule of overseas colonial powers.

A big bouquet for Church Leaders brave enough to seek justice where it is seen to be lacking.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Pope Francis disappoints convert Andrew Comiskey

Papa Do Preach

‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing.’

For a Pope quick to quip about any number of thorny issues, Frances was strangely silent about the 62% of Ireland who legalized ‘gay marriage’ last month.

OK, OK, a Vatican official did declare the redefinition a ‘defeat for humanity.’ But for a Pope who insists on a merciful tone when addressing ‘gay’ issues, his omission here is nothing short of cruel.

Papa, preach on the beauty of man for woman and woman for man, and the dead-end of trying to make same-gender friends sexual complements.

Papa, preach on why the Catholic Church upholds marriage as a sacrament—a wellspring of grace to all every person who encounters a man and woman committed to lifelong unity.

Preach on why ‘gay marriage’ messes with kids by omitting 50% of what they need to become whole men and women themselves.

Papa, preach for the ones who have no voice.

Papa, on behalf of Christian families being torn apart by ‘gay’-identified members, preach on the beauty of repentance to chastity, and the thousands of faithful ministers who will walk with repentant ones to wholeness. Highlight Courage and the huge strides this most courageous apostolate has made in extending mercy to all persons impacted by SSA.

Papa, preach against the lie that ‘gays’ are an oppressed minority. Papa, preach the truth that the Irish were hoodwinked by a billion dollar gay organization from America that poured millions into Ireland and fueled a campaign based not on truth but emotional myths like all who are against ‘gay marriage’ decry human rights, economic recovery, and most of all, ‘love.’

Papa, preach on Jesus’ real love, the love that cleansed Mary Magdalene of her 7 demons and persuaded the Samaritan woman that mercy was better than sexual disorder. Preach on the splendor of mercy to supplant pagan counterfeits.

Papa, preach now on real mercy, and real marriage. Your silence is deadly.


This is what inevitably happens when a former Evangelical Conservative Preacher – like Andrew Cominskey – crosses the Tiber, to embrace catholicism, expecting that the Pope will necessarily agree with him on matters of homophobia and same-sex Marriage.

For Andrew to believe that Pope Francis will become imprisoned by the expectations of a former anti-gay preacher proves a naivety beyond comprehension. Pope Francis is well aware where the argumentation is going towards the full inclusion of LGTB people in the Church, and he probably won’t be side-tracked by would-be nay-sayers. The Pope, after all, is an Apostle of the Love of God in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ – for whom no-one is beyond redemption!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Blatter Gone (?) – Time to Fix FIFA

FIFA is facing a huge corruption scandal that’s not just about money – it’s costing lives.

Call on FIFA to put fair play and human rights first now.


FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter just announced his resignation. This is huge – the world’s most powerful sporting organization is caving in to public pressure. Blatter’s resignation comes after investigations have revealed huge corruption at all levels.

FIFA’s corruption isn’t just about money – it also costs lives. Thousands of migrant workers in Qatar have already died preparing for the 2022 World Cup.

Russia, the 2018 host, also has a horrific human rights record. In both of these countries, it is illegal to be openly gay, lesbian, bi or trans. And in Qatar people can be publicly tortured just because of who they love.

With Blatter gone, we need to take the first steps to restore faith in football by putting fair play and human rights first. Workers should not die, athletes and fans should not face discrimination, and the privilege of hosting the World Cup should only go to countries that respect human rights for all.

Sign and share to fix FIFA:

Just last year, the International Olympic Committee faced similar outrage about the Sochi Winter Games. Hundreds of thousands of All Out members spoke out around the world – and we won. After years of work from All Out and other human rights organizations, the IOC changed its host city contract to ensure host cities protect the human rights of all, including lesbian, gay and bi people. Just last week, Kazakhstan scrapped an anti-gay law for fear of losing their upcoming Olympic bid.

Now we need to take this fight to FIFA’s corner and send a message that corruption and discrimination have no place in sport. We need to show that the world is demanding a restructure that will truly fix FIFA and put human rights and respect for all players, fans and employees first.

Can you take two minutes to sign and share?

During his resignation speech, Blatter’s admitted that FIFA needs “profound restructuring.” And according to an important FIFA official “nothing will be off the table” in terms of the changes that could be made at this powerful organization.

But whatever changes are made, we need to make sure that human rights are first on the agenda. 1,200 migrant workers have died in Qatar since World Cup preparations began. And just last weekend, several people were abused and arrested in Russia, just for celebrating Pride.

This has to stop. Global pressure has reached a tipping point and FIFA is listening. Will you ask them to address these human rights abuses before its too late?

Sign and share now to fix FIFA:

Thanks for going All Out,

Andre, Guillaume, Oscar, Pablo, Sarah and the rest of the All Out team.

P.S. FIFA’s corruption scandal has cost thousands of lives – this needs to stop.  The only way we forced the Olympics to change was by hundreds of thousands of us signing AND sharing with our friends.  In moments like these, every single voice makes a difference. Can you take a few minutes to add your name and make sure you get the word out?


  • Sepp Blatter to Resign as FIFA President – The New York Times, 2nd June, 2015
  • The human toll of FIFA’s corruption – The Washington Post, 27th May, 2015
  • _________________________________________________
  • The ‘ALL OUT’ Human rights organisation for LGTB people is canvassing support for the clean-up of the world-wide FIFA Football establishment. By drawing attention to various areas of corruption in the world of sport, All Out is seeking to find on-line support for further ‘outing’ of human rights abuses that have occurred as a direct result of gaining rights for sporting activities to be hosted by offending countries.
  • Their sources of information can clearly be seen from the items shown at the foot of the article.
  • This is the first news I, personally, have heard of Mr Blatt’s resignation from the role of CEO of FiFA.  

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Theology of Sexuality Needs to Change – ‘The Tablet’

Irish vote shows the Church needs to rethink its theology of sexuality
25 May 2015 by Ursula Halligan – ‘The Tablet’

Ursula Halligan

I wasn’t present in any polling station when the votes on the same-sex marriage referendum were being counted. Having “come out” in an Irish Times column during the campaign, I had no professional function: Irish media regulations precluded me from reporting on the story. I could have been there as an interested bystander, but I wasn’t. I was in Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in County Limerick, attending a weekend course on deepening my faith.

Therein lies the paradox in the Catholic Church revealed by this referendum. The most faithful of the faithful found ourselves, not just going against Church teaching, but going against it publicly. They included some very prominent Catholics including the former Irish president Mary McAleese, Fr Peter McVerry, Prof Linda Hogan, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Fr Gabriel Daly.

Tom Curran, the Secretary General of the senior Government Party, Fine Gael, announcing himself as “a card-carrying Catholic” and Mass-going former seminarian, appeared in media to say he would be voting for same sex marriage, against the stated stance of the hierarchy, because of his gay son.

Although some lay church members fought strongly on the “no” side, a majority of the people, on Friday, decided to vote for the possibility of men marrying men and women marrying women.

That represents not just a breakthrough for gay people or a deep separation between Church and state but also a magnification of tensions within the Church itself. For the first time, a country regarded internationally as Catholic, where a majority of the population describe themselves as belonging to that Church, went against the position taken by their bishops in massive numbers.

This is not the time to re-visit the issues raised by the hierarchy in positing their opposition to the referendum proposition. Significant, however, were two points made by Diarmuid Martin, the media-friendly Archbishop of Dublin. The first was that he, personally, would be voting No, but doing so with a heavy heart. The second was his response to a question from a TV news anchorman about how the archbishop was calling on the public to vote. The archbishop smiled and said the days of bishops instructing members of the public on how to vote were long past.

He is right. The issue is not how to instruct the faithful, but how to help the faithful address the complexities implicit in embracing its gay members. The institutional Church has conspicuously failed to do that in the past. In the piece I wrote in The Irish Times ten days ago – which went global as an account of a lifetime of passing as heterosexual – I pointed out that the worst of my miseries, growing up, were caused by me being a good Catholic girl, knowing that the Church I belonged to and loved regarded me as aberrant.

On Sunday, Catholic churches around the world celebrated Pentecost; the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, energising and inspiring them to live and spread the Gospel values.

Today, the energy that enlivened the Early Church is in short supply at the higher echelons.

Perhaps, if there was more around it might inspire the hierarchy to reexamine its theology of human sexuality and its understanding of what it is to be human. In science when the facts don’t fit the theory, the theory gets changed to fit the facts. If the Church wants to stay relevant and in touch with human realities it will need to acknowledge that gay people are facts, not freaks of nature.

Ursula Halligan is the Political Editor of the Irish television station TV3


“The most faithful of the faithful found ourselves, not just going against Church teaching, but going against it publicly. They included some very prominent Catholics including the former Irish president Mary McAleese, Fr Peter McVerry, Prof Linda Hogan, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Fr Gabriel Daly.” – Ursula Halligan – ‘The Tablet’

The above-named are only a few of the Roman Catholics in Ireland who have voiced their support for a renewed understanding of human sexuality in the Church. It seems that, like the official sanction against contraception, many Roman Catholics are ignoring the current teaching about homosexuality. In a country like the Irish Republic, which is predominantly Roman Catholic, the fact that a public referendum voted overwhelmingly for a change to the Marriage Laws has given a shock to the Church hierarchy who had   recommended the flock to vote against legislation for same-sex marriage.

Ursula, a self-acknowledged lesbian, was actually engaged in a spiritual retreat at  a Benedictine Monastery on the weekend of the Referendum; which surely must prove something about the spiritual connection of Gay people with the Church – despite the degree of criticism that they most commonly receive from the clergy.

I admire the fact that her faith is strong enough to believe that the Church will one day alter its entrenched attitude on the issue of sexual orientation, which has led to others leaving the Church on account of outdated prejudice.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Church Times Editorial on Church v. Culture

Leader: A reality check

The RC Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, remarked after the vote: “I think really that the Church needs to do a reality check . . . to look at the areas where we really have to start and say: ‘Look, have we drifted away from young people?'” It is interesting, and encouraging, that he put it that way round rather than repeat the common suggestion that it is the young people who drift away. He will know, as the Anglicans know, that it is not enough simply to look for new ways to present old doctrines. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said after the UK vote on same-sex marriage two years ago: “We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it.” The evidence is there: the British Social Attitudes survey in 2007 recorded that 47 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage. Five years later, in 2012, the figure had risen to 56 per cent. The Irish vote at 62 per cent shows that the tide continues to flow in one direction, and is probably lower than in the rest of the British Isles. An opinion poll for BBC Radio last year suggested that 68 per cent were in favour.

Of course, theology is not a democratic discipline. A statement from the conservative Core Issues Trust warned against “simple majoritarianism”. To agree that same-sex marriage is right just because the majority believe it to be so would entail having agreed that it was wrong hitherto, just up to the point when the balance tipped. Followers of a Christ who was abandoned by all must be ready to belong to a minority. On the other hand, all Churches have mechanisms for reassessing doctrine in the light of new evidence and understanding. And, as Archbishop Welby reminded the General Synod last year, the Church of England, in particular, is not “a closed system”.

This paper has argued before now against the view that allowing same-sex marriage somehow undermines the institution. The continued withholding of the Church’s blessing from certain couples, on the other hand, will increasingly undermine the Church, if not marriage itself. Rather than seek to find ways to get young people to agree with it, the Church ought to consider whether it should agree with the young people


There once was a time when the Anglican weekly ‘Church Times’ was considered not only catholic in ethos, but also broadly conservative. However, with the march of time, and new perspectives on faith and morality – especially in the light of advances in the way sexuality has become more honestly and openly discussed in both Church and society – this venerable newspaper has come to terms with the ‘facts of life’ as they really are, rather than how they ‘used to be’. Here is the seminal, final, paragraph of this week’s editorial:

“This paper has argued before now against the view that allowing same-sex marriage somehow undermines the institution. The continued withholding of the Church’s blessing from certain couples, on the other hand, will increasingly undermine the Church, if not marriage itself. Rather than seek to find ways to get young people to agree with it, the Church ought to consider whether it should agree with the young people” – (Church Times editorial)

When even the Roman Catholic Churches have been discovered to be less than honest and open about the problems of pederasty in the ranks of their clergy (see the latest news on Cardinal Pell, of Sydney, whose abrupt transfer from Australia to serve in the Vatican has revealed the fact of his cover-up of paedophile priests in Sydney), one might ask what denomination of the Christian Church can claim exemption from a lack of propriety in its dealings with matters concerning sexual behaviour in its ranks?

The Church Times is right to draw attention to the current dilemma in the Church of England; where monogamously-partnered same-sex couples are denied the blessing of the Church, when their only alternative is celibacy or promiscuity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Fr. Tobias Haller, BSG, on Marriage – Civil and Religious

MAY 30, 2015

Being and Doing: A Response to an Essay on Marriage

A few weeks ago, John Bauerschmidt, Zachary Guiliano, Wesley Hill, and Jordan Hylden published a response to the report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage (TFSM), titled “Marriage in Creation and Covenant,” henceforth MCC. This essay appeared on theAnglican Theological Review website along with three responses from Scott MacDougall, Kathryn Tanner, and Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski. The three responders took up some of the serious problems with MCC and I commend their essays to your attention.

As one of the authors of “Essay 1″ (Biblical and Theological Framework) in the TFSM report, I had hoped for a better level of engagement than MCC demonstrates; it is largely and off-handedly dismissive, but also mistaken in some of its characterizations of content, leading me to the conclusion that the MCC authors do not actually understand the argument. I have long been an advocate of the position that one can only truly have a meaningful discussion when you can state your interlocutor’s position in language she can recognize and affirm. MCC fails that test, even to the slight extent it engages with Essay 1 at all — the authors spend most of their time disagreeing with the essay on history, and I leave it to the author of that essay to address their concerns.

MCC to a large extent follows the method of questioning motives and form rather than engaging deeply with the content of the TFSM report. Interestingly enough, this seems to me to reflect the deeper issue of what constitutes marriage: MCC expounds a thesis about theform of marriage as a male-female bond that serves as an icon of the relationship between Christ and the Church in a constructive sense (I hope I’ve understood and stated their thesis correctly); whereas the TFSM focuses on the content of the marriage relationship as expressed in the vows, and in the spouses’ living out the loving mutual self-offering inherent in those vows, as an iconic realization of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Some might say, What’s the difference? We are dealing, to some extent, with the old perceived conflict between being and doing. (It also likely reflects the distinction in the honor given to icons as dulia rather than latria.Some, it seems to me, want to exalt marriage to a place it does not belong. However, in the present context, this also reflects the old difference of opinion as to what constitutes marriage: consent or coitus.

Which gives me the opportunity to correct a misapprehension of MCC, one of the few observations about Essay 1. On page 4, in the context of bemoaning the lack of references to the literature, the authors state,

…Brundage’s work makes a brief appearance in “Essay 1″ (13), where an incorrect citation is provided, making unclear the reference to a definitive “papal ruling” on the significance of consent and consummation in marriage. Perhaps it refers to Alexander III’s Veniens ad nos or Innocent III’s Per tuas? It is hard to know; neither said quite what the essay states nor offered a final word.

First, the citation is only “incorrect” to the extent that it fails to include “ff” after the page indicated — the page which marks the beginning of a subsection of a chapter dealing with this issue. More importantly, however, is the coy, and erroneous, rejection of what Essay 1 says, which is, “The eventual papal ruling settled the debate (for Roman Catholics) by taking a middle ground: consent makes the marriage, but consummation seals it.” It is true that “seals” is my language for the more convoluted “renders indissoluble by any human power.” But this is the conclusion reached by Alexander III (not in a single decree but in a process of development through many rulings) and enshrined in the Roman canons to this day (see CCL 1141-42.) As George Hayward Joyce, S.J., put it, in a work written long before our current controversies,

Alexander III… settled the dispute between the Schools of Paris and Bologna about the essentials of marriage. He approved the teaching of the Paris doctors that marriage is effected by the consent of the parties…, rejecting that of the Bolognese canonists who held that until consummation the partners were not strictly speaking married. Yet he did not accept the Paris teaching in its entirety, but retained one important feature of the Bolognese system…. Alexander III, though pronouncing consent to be the effective cause of marriage, taught that until consummation the bond was capable of dissolution. (Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study, Second Edition. London: Sheed and Ward, 1948. pp 430-431.)

Now, this may seem trivial, but it appears to me to indicate a problem that the MCC authors, and many others, have when wrestling with the issues surrounding marriage — same-sex and otherwise. There is a reluctance to place the locus of marriage in theaction of marriage, the exchange of vows that makes the marriage, as an act of self-dedication through the human faculties of will and love. Instead there is a repeated retreat — often rhapsodically articulated — to the formal biological reality of male and female. With Augustine, and many since, they emphasize that which is shared with the animal realm rather than that which is uniquely human. (The reponses to MCC detail a few of the other problems with their use of Augustine. I would add to that, their failure to distinguish between sacramental marriage as Augustine understands it, as only existing between Christians, and what is often called “natural marriage” — a point I think fatal to their thesis about the constitutional nature of male-female marriage in and of itself. But that is a point for another essay.)

Of course, the TFSM does not deny this formal reality. However, what we do attempt is to articulate the reasons for our emphasis on the vows rather than the “purposes” of marriage — recognizing that the Episcopal Church did without an articulation of these “purposes” in its marriage liturgy for almost 200 years. But even here MCC misunderstands. For instance, on page 18 they state,

The very idea that marriage is a social form with ends (or purposes, teloi) given by God is not grasped at all; rather, such ends are described as “extrinsic” (perhaps better put, heteronomous) and so run afoul of Kant’s categorical imperative never to treat persons as means rather than ends (21, 24). By this argument, we are told that the marriage vows are what really count, as they represent the moral “commitment” that two make to one another, and that the opening exhortation describing the ends of marriage is extraneous to this deeper reality (20-25).

The last sentence approaches but misses an accurate grasp of our position, though why commitment is in scare-quotes escapes me. However, the first sentence here not only misstates the TSFM position, but presents a thesis Essay 1 explicitly rejects as mistaken. Here is what the report says about “extrinsic” and the way in which the TFSM proposes to balance the Kantian ethical concern with the role of the “ends” of marriage (page 23):

Procreation can become a problematical cause or purpose when it is understood primarily as an extrinsic end, rather than as the natural outgrowth of the loving couple treating each other as ends in themselves. It is acknowledged that as the end in this case is a human life, it has its own inestimable worth. It must also be noted that many, if not most couples, desire this end and work together toward its accomplishment; and that the generation of new life is a tangible expression of their mutual love…. Children are a gift and a grace and a hope — but ought not be understood as an extrinsic expectation or demand, in the absence of which a marriage is deemed to have failed in some intrinsic way. Moreover, the greater and more fully realized the love of a couple for each other, the more likely any child who becomes part of the growing family, by birth or adoption, will be nurtured and raised in a way that expresses the familial virtues.

What the TFSM essay does is attempt to give procreation in marriage its proper place and role as reflected in the Prologue to the marriage liturgy: as a positive good (when possible, and “when it is God’s will” or as the older (1946) canon put it “if it may be”). This stands in opposition to the rhetoric advanced in some circles that it is an “essential element” of marriage. This has never been the teaching of the church. The confusion arises precisely when one drifts from the language of “goods” or “ends” into “purposes.” The issue is that theinstitution of marriage (as the Prologue puts it) may have purposes which never are realized in a particular marriage — and that should not be seen as a reduction in the value of that marriage. The traditional position — which the TFSM paper supports — is that procreation should take place within a loving marriage; not that any given marriage must lead to procreation in order to be a valid and loving marriage that reflects God’s love and generativity.

I hope I’ve adequately addressed these two problems with MCC. A more general concern is that they seem to think that the proposed canon change undercuts the church’s teaching on marriage, and I hope I’ve addressed that in the previous posts on the topic of that change. Obviously, the canon change will remove an obstacle (in some minds) to authorizing liturgies for solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples where it is permitted by civil law, but that in no way alters the teaching concerning the nature of marriage — merely refocuses it on the moral center of marriage, which the tradition holds lies in the couple’s mutual consent to live by the vows they make to each other; not on their capacity to fulfill a “purpose.” It is, in short, the content of marriage, not its form, that ought to be the focus of our canonical, liturgical, and theological attention.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Fr. Tobias Haller, a priest/theologian in the Episcopal Church of North America, here discusses various understandings of the Sacrament of Marriage. The last paragraph of this essay is perhaps the one to focus on, as Christians seek to tease out the origin and purpose of Marriage – both civil and religious. I will not comment on Fr. Tobias’ essay at the moment – off to Mass on Trinity Sunday, 1st June 2015. Perhaps others may like to comment in a way that will bring more light than heat into the conversation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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