Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bill 185 and the Upcoming Guam Gubernatorial Election

The upcoming gubernatorial election will provide Guam Catholics with a unique opportunity to decide between candidates on the basis of a non-negotiable moral issue.

In recent forums at GCC (April 28 & May 3) , gubernatorial candidates Calvo & Gutierrez were asked how they would vote on Bill 185, a bill that would create a legal equivalent to marriage (despite what the actual union might be labeled).

The responses are worth study.

Calvo: "The core foundation of a society is the family unit, and it starts with the marriage of a man and a woman, and having children. I will fight for the civil liberties of all people on our island especially for those that are the less fortunate.But ... I do believe that the foundation of this society has to be headstrong, and that means a strong family, and that means a strong marriage, and this is why I will vote no on Bill 185."

Gutierrez: "It says marriage defined ... is a thing between a male and a female. What this thing does is allow civil rights for other kinds of partnerships, as in a contractual basis ... We're not saying we're allowing marriage. We're saying we're allowing a civil kind of contract so that they can protect each other at the hospital or anywhere, ownership or property."

Now, compare both responses to official Catholic Church teaching:




10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

Candidate Calvo's position is qualified yet unequivocal. He will vote NO.

Candidate Gutierrez's position is that he will vote YES. His position is essentially the position of the bill's proponents, and that is, since it not called marriage, it's okay.

However, the Church does not mention "marriage" in the above quoted document. It outright obliges all Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians to "oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions", which is exactly what Bill 185 will do:legally recognize homosexual unions. A vote in favor of such a law, by ANY Catholic politician (or any Catholic if it was a referendum) is condemned as an act that is "gravely immoral" (mortal sin).

The duty of the voter is a little more complicated. But essentially, in elections, Catholics are NOT obliged to vote for the "most Catholic" candidate, they ARE obliged to vote for the candidate that will do the "least harm" to the common good as embodied in Catholic moral teaching.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [2357] that "homosexual acts" are acts of "grave depravity" and "intrinsically disordered". Thus Catholics can no more support a candidate that would legally recognize a homosexual lifestyle (as would Bill 185 - regardless of whether or not the partners actually engage in those acts), than could Catholics support a candidate who advocates heterosexual polygamy.

A 2006 statement by the Bishops of Kansas stated the obligation clearly:

" is a correct judgment of conscience that we would commit moral evil if we were to vote for a candidate who takes a permissive stand on those actions that are intrinsically evil when there is a morally-acceptable alternative."

The bishops include the following the list of moral evils: "elective abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex "marriage." (While the bishops use the word "marriage" here, the overriding teaching by the Vatican refers simply to the "legal recognition of homosexual unions. It does not matter that the unions are not called "marriage", or that there wasn't a church wedding. The Vatican is referring to a "legal" action, not a church one.)

Some think that war, capital punishment, poverty, immigration issues, etc. should be included in the list and that Catholic voters must balance all the issues. This is not true. All moral issues do not carry the same weight as was clarified by Pope Benedict XVI (while still a Cardinal) in his memorandum issued to the U.S. Church during the run up to the presidential election in 2004 regarding worthiness to receive Communion.

In many previous communications, I offered many reasons from natural law, legal precedent, & social consequences for the Church's teaching on the matter. However, this communication simply deals with a Catholic's obligation in the voting booth. The Church is not telling us to vote for. It cannot. But it can and does tell us what we must and must not do when it comes to our moral responsibility in regards to issues and the position taken on those issues by the candidates we find on the ballot.

There are some who will always put party over principle, friendship over Faith, and relatives over Religion. We all must bear in mind our End and how we will be held to account....and that will include how we voted.

The candidates must answer for themselves. We are not asking them to take a moral position. THEY ARE TELLING US what moral position they will take. Both candidates are very well versed on this issue. Neither are ignorant of the consequences of their positions. We cannot be either.

I am very conscious of the fact that I have no teaching authority of my own to tell you these things. This is why I link all the critical points to source documents for your own reference. The Church already teaches these things. Our mission at Esperansa and the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam is to help others know WHERE those teaching can be found. Use the links to read for yourself.


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