The Catholic Church upholds the goodness and beauty of the marriage of a man and woman embraced in a lifelong covenant. In the Church it is lived under the Grace of a Sacrament. This union, ordained by God, is blessed by the Creator with the promise to support the couple to realise their own happiness and to enable children the best opportunity to grow to mature human character.
Marriage is a natural institution whereby a man and a woman give themselves to each other. It is the plan of God from the beginning as the Book of Genesis reveals.
The meaning and purpose of marriage is grounded in our nature as human beings. Its strength and fruitfulness is ensured by the natural complementarity that exists between a man and a woman. Marriage is built on the natural biological complementarity which is at the physical, psychological and spiritual levels.
This union has been recognised, honoured and supported by societies because of its unique role in generating children and providing the best environment in which children can be nurtured and educated. Thus it has been protected and supported by laws because governments have recognised its contribution to the good of the society.
Marriage between a man and a woman provides the basis whereby a child is conceived and born through an act of intimate love. A child grows up in the knowledge of his or her generational identity. They know that they have a father and mother who have committed themselves to each other for life.
The family based on marriage provides the best social framework for the nurturing of children and ensuring the future wellbeing of society.
Does marriage as it is currently understood discriminate against same-sex couples? Unjust discrimination is always wrong. However many social institutions are based around distinctions required for the proper functioning of that institution – university entrance requires achieving certain academic levels; a woman’s college is not open to men.
Are we denying people their right to marry? The right to marry is a universal human right affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Marriage as an institution, as we have noted, has a specific meaning and function. A person is not being denied a right to something which is not for them.
It is argued that same-sex couples can have children by means of donor sperm or eggs, or through adoption. To have children a same-sex couple must involve a third party. The child is not biologically linked to both members of the couple. Furthermore a child grows best from the contribution of a father and mother. Being denied the opportunity for the complementary contribution of a father and mother is unjust to the child.
The institution of marriage needs to be maintained as it is for the sake of the future health and wellbeing of our society. Marriage is the precious heritage that we have received from previous generations. To change its meaning will have lasting effects not only on marriage but it will reshape cultural and social values.
Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, uniquely designed by God, as the source for their own happiness and as the means for the generation and formation of children. As such it makes an essential and irreplaceable contribution to our society.
The Catholic Church urges all citizens to preserve the meaning of marriage as it has been understood for the sake of the common good of our society.