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Dear Father Angelo,
I thank you for the answer you gave me two years ago (published on this site on 08/25/2016) which is relevant to what I am going to ask in the question forthcoming. You rightfully answered to my question that if procreation is not achieved in a marriage, the matrimony does not lose its significance. In fact not all conjugal acts ‘inevitably’ lead to procreation (just think of how many fertile couples try unsuccessfully year after year to have a child!).
I’d say then that what is more important is procreativity rather than procreation, in other words, that the act of trying to procreate is geared solely to procreation and is potentially procreative. So if copulation between a fertile couple is without a doubt potentially procreative, the same cannot be said between a sterile couple which might be infertile due to a pathology or due to age. Their act will never generate a child.
In these cases not only is the end not achieved (we’ve seen that this is not a problem because it doesn’t nullify the essence of the matrimony), but it’s the procreativity that is missing, which in this particular case does infringe on the essence of matrimony. Nonetheless, canon law (as well as civil law) allows weddings between the elder and the sterile. It seems to me that a contradiction arises which many homosexual activists pounce upon whereby matrimony is allowed between those that factually cannot procreate.
Of course the finality of a “good couple” is known, but the wellbeing of the couple, in our case of the spouses, can also be accomplished in a homosexual “matrimony” according to the activists.
This is apparently a stumbling block for most Catholics who try to defend our interpretation of matrimony, and who cannot retort against the arguments above mentioned and give up.
I assure you that I will remember you in my prayers.
I thank and salute you.
1. Yes, the original design of God on matrimony is enclosed in the words “Be fertile and multiply”.
But Jesus Christ, through his lifestyle introduced to us a new way of being fathers and mothers; as spiritual parents.
This spiritual fatherhood or motherhood is expressed through living one’s life on a path of sanctification and praise of the Lord.
2. If one of the spouses is sterile because of a physical defect or because the age of reproduction has passed, this is not the reason for which they should abandon the matrimony. They will live it fully according to the path they will have to face, day by day.
With the interesting phrase that you cooked-up, they will equally live their procreativity in another way.
3. Nonetheless, the similarities between a sterile wedding and a homosexual one are inexistent.
In the first case the couple is carrying out an act which the sexual organs and sexuality were intended for. In the second case, the intrinsic purpose for which sexuality was intended for is purposefully subverted.
In the first case, we live our sexuality as the ministers of a design which transcends us, even if we are not able to fulfill the scope due to reasons beyond our control. In the second case, we choose to be the judges of ourselves and of our sexuality. We substitute God’s plan with ours.
4. The Second Vatican Council, in Gaudium et spes reminds us that spouses “should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel” (GS 50).
Also that “Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced” (GS 51).
5. Furthermore everything that is said about birth control is just as valid as for homosexual acts.
Therefore, what pope John Paul II said about birth control whereby spouses “manipulate” and degrade human sexuality-and with it themselves and their married partner-by altering its value of “total” self-giving (Familiaris consortio 32) and that “the conjugal act without its internal truth, because artificially denied of its procreative capacity ceases being an act of love” (22/8/1984) is also valid for an altered use of sexuality outside of wedlock.
6. For this reason Pope Paul IV in Humanae Vitae said that the procreative act “does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed” (HV 11).
7. Since sexuality touches the innermost nucleus of the person and their relationship with God, it is important to know that if in the exercise of sexuality we maintain ourselves allied and friendly with the sanctifying design of the Lord or, if in fact we remove this design.
When we remove God’s design from our sexuality we remove God from our life and our sexuality loses its radical ability to maintain a person on a path of sanctification.
In a theological evaluation, the discriminating element between an infetile couple and a homosexual one is exactly this. It is precisely the outlook of not being able to sanctify oneself that causes some to not understand the purpose of a law made by God on purpose to bring one to God.
I thank you for the question that has allowed me to express these later concepts, which finally are those that close the circle.
I wish you well, I remind you to the Lord and bless you.