IN DEFENSIONE SANCTI MATRIMONII
Patriarchal Encyclical of the Patriarch of Saint Stephen regarding the Issue of Redefinition of Marriage by the State
To our Venerable Brethren the Bishops, to our well-beloved sons the Regular Clergy, and to our dearest sons and daughters the Faithful of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, we send greetings and Apostolic Blessings.
IN defense of Holy Matrimony, one of the sacred sacraments of the Holy Church, we as Christians find ourselves locked in bitter conflict. A great spiritual battle is underway within the United States and around the world. For decades there has been an agenda to normalize homosexual behavior and to condition the general populace to it. Many legal battles have been fought. Some states in America have allowed homosexuals to contract a form of marriage, and some nations around the globe also permit this. True Christian leaders have continually spoken out against this and the significant dangers it poses to society. Unfortunately upholding and proclaiming the Gospel is all too often these days labeled as hate speech. When we preach the Gospel, however, we do not speak hatred, but love. We commend those who have had and continue to have the courage to speak God’s truth and proclaim God’s love, despite the opposition from the world. Much as was the case in the Early Church, Christians and Church leaders today run a serious risk of persecution as secularists and modernists press forward with full force their agenda to liberalize and remove true religion from society. Yet only a nation under God whose laws and governance are in accordance with the law of Christ may be said to possess true authority to govern. Only a society under God that fully embraces the love of Christ has hope of peace, harmony, and salvation. What is at stake here is not only the definition of marriage or the sanctity of marriage itself. What is at stake is the very ability of the Holy Church to function in society in her mission of spreading the Word of God. At the heart of the question is whether or not the Church will be allowed full civil participation with all freedoms guaranteed. Also at the heart of the question is whether the state will seek to suppress the rights of the Church if the Church refuses, as she must, to surrender her authority to the state and modify her views to conform to the wishes and demands of the state. Indeed, what is at stake is the very salvation of mankind.
1. Most recently, a ruling by the United States Supreme Court has effectively declared that homosexuals may validly and licitly contract marriage. This more so than any other act by any agency or level of government in America has ushered in a new definition of the word “marriage.” We as Christians see marriage properly as the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is a holy thing under a law far greater than that of any nation on earth. That is why no one who has validly received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony may dissolve it, especially
through the state process of divorce. The Supreme Court’s new definition of marriage is simply incompatible with the Christian definition of Holy Matrimony. This has understandably left those who truly hold the Faith of Christ in quite a moral dilemma.
2. The secular society of today not only has rejected God, but in so doing has fundamentally rejected the order of nature, for nature was created by God. This secularization in society is a conscious choice to replace God's natural laws with our own. That is the height of arrogance and a complete and utter failure to display humility before God. In marriage, there is one man and one woman. This is ordained by God in nature. Marriage is not simply about love, affection, or even sexual relations. True marriage acknowledges and celebrates the fundamental differences between man and woman. This is nature. No amount of debate or decision by humans can change this fundamental law of nature. This even predates the coming of Christ. So-called homosexual marriage is inherently incapable of fitting in to the simple laws of nature and is, therefore, intrinsically disordered.
3. Let it be stated unequivocally that neither the Church nor the faithful in Christ may accept what the state defines as marriage as a true marriage if it is not in accordance with the laws of Christ and His Holy Church. More specifically to the recent matter, neither the Church nor the faithful in Christ may accept as a true marriage a union, under whatever name, between two persons of the same sex.
4. It is understandable that the state may impose regulations regarding certain aspects of human relations. There may reasonably be a “civil component” to marriage that applies exclusively to temporal issues such as property, finances, taxation, and benefits. What is wholly unacceptable is any attempt to force the Church and the Christian faithful to accept as marriage that which inherently cannot be true Holy Matrimony under natural law and God’s law simply because the state has decreed it to be so.
5. Given the new definition imposed by the Supreme Court of the United States and the possible outcome that so-called “gay marriage” will be legalized and normalized within the entirety of the country within time, it is therefore untenable for the Church to continue to permit such grave confusion of terms. Marriage as defined by the state no longer is compatible with the Christian definition of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. If the word “marriage” is used widely and openly to refer to both Christian Holy Matrimony and homosexual unions, there is serious and significant potential for confusion in the minds of the faithful and of those who know not yet Christ. The unacceptable nature of this is clear. The leaders of the Church have a duty to prevent such confusion as much as in their power lies in order that the souls of the faithful may benefit. Therefore, we advise the use as much as possible of the words “Holy Matrimony” rather than “marriage” to refer to the true and valid Christian sacrament.
6. Furthermore, in states of America in which gay unions or “marriages” are permitted by law, the clergy of the Old Holy Roman Church of the English Rite are enjoined from acting as an effective agent of the state in performing the rituals of Holy Matrimony. That is, the persons to be married must first enter into the civil contract in accordance with the laws of the state and then receive the blessing of the Church in the usual manner. In such a case, it is the full form of Holy Matrimony that is to be celebrated and not the alternative form of blessing a civil union.
7. Lastly, we call upon all the clergy and faithful in Christ to pray all the more intently for the state of the world, a world that has turned from God. Let us pray that the people may convert and return to the faith of Christ. Let that process of conversion begin inside each of us.
Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham in the House of Saint Stephen, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, the twenty-ninth day of June in the two thousand thirteenth year of the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.