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Why defending marriage is a pro-life issue

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This past weekend saw the 2014 Faith of Our Fathers conference, held in Knock, Ireland, and organised by the Catholic Voice newspaper.

John Smeaton, chief executive of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Children (SPUC) and the co-founder of Voice of the Family, delivered an address entitled Why defending marriage is a pro-life issue (full text).

In his address, Mr Smeaton explained:

Statistical evidence on abortion clearly shows that marriage as an institution protects children, both born and unborn. [Also], same-sex marriage represents an attempt to redefine marriage, thus undermining marriage and family life, as a growing body of academic research clearly shows. It is this undermining which lessens protection for unborn children which true marriage provides.

Mr Smeaton discussed the threats to the institution of marriage posed by the acceptance of the same sex unions:

Legalising same sex marriage is not a question of being kind to people with same-sex attraction and letting them get married if they want to. It is a question of the destruction of the oldest human institution in the world which protects the mental and physical wellbeing of men, women and children; No other grouping offers such a high level of the security and stability that human beings need to flourish. Research shows overwhelmingly that children growing up within marriage do better in terms of health, educational success, happiness, careers and their own marriages. It is precisely because children matter, that real marriage between one man and one woman matters so much.

Discussing the problems with the Synod Interim Report that failed to guide the faithful in correct treatment of people engaged in homosexual lifestyle, Mr Smeaton explained:

By focusing on the supposed positive aspects of objectively sinful unions we risk giving people a false understanding of their situation. We run the risk of giving them excuses not to change their lives or to feel that the Church in some way approves of their behaviour.

[W]e should never tire of pointing to the value and dignity of every human being which resides in our creation in the image and likeness of God, and our possession of a rational soul capable of knowing and choosing the good.

Mr Smeaton confirmed that the leaders of the faction, who are assaulting Catholic doctrine on marriage consequently attacking a number of sacraments of the Church, “are quite clear that they will continue the struggle at the Ordinary Synod next year, and beyond.”

“Faced with such a threat to our faith, to our families, and to our children, what can we do?” asked Mr Smeaton.

He suggested that:

In the first place we must follow the call made by the brave Archbishop of Riga, Arcbishop Stankevics, to give ourselves over to prayer. We must pray unceasingly for the Pope, for the Bishops, and for all clergy, religious and laity that we may remain firm in our profession of the gospel.

Secondly, we must remember that we, the lay faithful, have both the right and the duty to make known to our pastors our views about the crisis which has engulfed the Church. We have a right and a duty to require from our clergy unwavering obedience to the natural law and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Code of Canon Law clearly upholds this right and duty. Canon 211 states that:

All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.

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This is followed by Canon 212 which, among other things, states:

The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Canon 213 says:

The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.

Towards the end of his address, Mr Smeaton said:

Finally of course we must strive to remain faithful in our own lives and try to lead our families, and all those we come into contact with, to Jesus Christ.

As we have learned at this conference, it is only through holiness in our own lives that we can hope to draw our family members, our parish communities, our church leaders and the whole social and political community to respect for life, for the truth about marriage and human sexuality, and true reverence for God and God’s laws.

But holiness includes urgent action: urgent action, in particular, to uphold parents as the primary educators of their children. The truth about parents is a truth which, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has found, really does echo in the hearts of women and men of all faiths and none.

Tomorrow, here in Knock, leaders of various groups, including thank God the magnificent organizers of this conference Catholic Voice, are meeting together to plan seminars for parents around Ireland based on the universal truths which brought together 20 pro-life and pro-family groups in Rome these past few weeks as Voice of the Family. The universal truths are these:
1. Sacramental marriage, binding parents together in an indissoluble union, is the greatest protector of children both born and unborn.
2. The artificial separation of the unitive and procreative dimensions of the sexual act is a major catalyst of the culture of death.
3. Parents are the primary educators of their children and it is through the education and formation of parents, and future parents, that the culture of life will be built.

Reprinted with permission from Voice of the Family.

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