As it stands in the UK now, if civil law recognizes “gay marriage” then in order to protect the right of priests not to perform “gay” weddings, the Church will have to bow out of the civil aspect of marriage altogether. This is the legal reality of the situation.
Under the current wording of the ["gay marriage"] bill, the “threat of litigation…would be enormous.”
“If we want to keep the current modus vivendi, it is imperative that unintended consequences that may undermine this system should be addressed now and not left until later,” McCrudden said.
“Immediately the bill is passed, the Catholic Church will have to consider how exposed to legal risk it is and whether it can continue to work the existing legal system based on that assessment,” he said.
The government has insisted that wording in the bill creates legal protections for clergy, but they have been repeatedly warned that these “safeguards” are meaningless in the current legal situation.
Catholic priests currently officiate at 8,500 weddings a year in Britain and are recognized as “authorized persons” to marry couples on behalf of the state, he said. They are therefore technically regarded as state officials and as such, homosexuals who want to force the issue could demand that the priests conduct the ceremony or face a claim of unlawful discrimination.
Even if such efforts by individuals, or campaign groups were to fail, the expense of fighting the cases would be crippling for the Church, McCrudden added.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who believe that we have to convince them of our arguments on marriage in order for our arguments to be considered legally valid. That’s tyranny, folks. To claim that my religious belief is not valid as an argument for protection under civil law unless you are convinced that my belief is reasonable, and are convinced to agree with it, is to advocate tyranny. You’re saying I don’t have the right to believe what I believe unless a majority of people agree with it. Why so many don’t get that such a claim is a claim for tyranny, I will never know.
The issue goes even beyond who can perform civil marriages, though. Bishop Philip Egan rightly says:
“Just as the Church has been forced to abandon its adoption services, so too Catholics who work in the medical profession and in social services are going to find themselves under intolerable moral pressures. These pressures will also arguably be felt throughout our Catholic schools, by teachers, staff and parents.”
Having had many discussions with people who support “gay marriage,” I have come to the conclusion that they have no idea what they are up against in forcing the Church into such a legal predicament. It’s not like we haven’t done this before. In the early Church, the Church did not participate in civil marriage. Marriages were conducted apart from the civil government. Catholics have never needed government to have marriages. My own life is a personal example of this in that the state considers me to be divorced while the Church considers me to be married. I was allowed to obtain a civil divorce for a reason granted in Canon Law, but I am still married in the eyes of the Church, and that is the law I submit to. I remain celibate since my civil divorce.
You don’t have to understand and agree with all of this. You do have to respect that we have the right to believe these things as a matter of religious conscience. With certainty, I can say that the faithful will adhere to Church law when it conflicts with civil law. Always. Given that we don’t need civil government to have marriages, bowing out of the entire civil process is definitely an option for us.
If we are forced to do that, we will be an underground Church. If you ask me, that’s the main reason “gay marriage” is being pushed to begin with. It’s certainly not about “diversity” and “equality” when it forces the Church underground. It’s about forcing the Church underground.