I would argue that it would make more sense to impose it on the C of E. The C of E, after all, has paved the way for this. Consider...:
- The initial break from Rome removed it from the safeguard of orthodoxy and set a precedent for a State-run Church (and this too was centred on marriage);
- The 1930 Lambeth Conference attacked the integrity of marriage by moving away from Christianity's previous absolute opposition to contraception, again attacking the integrity of marriage: the two essential goods of love and openness to life;
- The constant fudging of the issue of divorce and re-marriage, attacking the integrity of marriage with regard to the clear teaching of Our Lord about its indissolubility;
- The pseudo-ordination of women to the priesthood, lending credence to the superficial view that the difference between man and woman is superficial and irrelevant, rather than profound and full of Divine meaning and intent.
However, that is not to say that the Catholic Church in this country has been blameless.
We too have contributed to allowing the development of a culture in which this is even thinkable (and it it is startling to reflect that it would not have been thinkable till relatively recently). We should particularly repent of:
- The dissent, and tolerance of dissent, from Humanae Vitae
- The collapse of Catholic education
- The collapse of Catholic evangelisation
- The scandal of the Soho Masses and other signals sent that suggest homosexual practice is a good (the infamous Filochowski celebratory Mass, for example)
- The scandal of seeming to approve of Civil Partnerships for homosexual couples.
Perhaps the blame sits more heavily with us: we have the truth, and the guarantee of it, yet still we have colluded with the collapse of moral understanding that provides the context for this reckless attack on civilisation.
The bishops tell us that it is not too late to stop this Bill. Perhaps they are right, and we should certainly try. But without a strong moral fightback, even if this Bill fails, another will follow it as night follows day.
There are many people of good will, of many faiths and none, who recognise that re-defining marriage is gravely problematic.
But if we cede the ground on homosexual practice as morally equivalent to married love (eg by approving Civil Partnerships) then we will lose this battle and civilisation will pay a very high price. The fear of being deemed homophobic should not inhibit us from proclaiming the truth.
What we need to do is find a way to proclaim that truth in love: the truth that human sexuality finds its true expression in chastity; either in marriage, open to life, or in chaste celibacy.
Most people know that marriage breakdown is an evil: but feel it is inevitable. Most know that abortion is an evil, but again have given up hope of any better solution. I suspect most know that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, but fear even to voice the thought. Of course we do not seek to persecute people for this affliction, but pretending that it is not an affliction at all has led to where we are today.
The Church has the right answers to these terrible scourges: it is our duty, in love, to make those answers known.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful
And kindle in them the fire of thy love.
Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created,
And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.