“We cannot make the same that which is different”

Ireland’s Iona Institute has helpfully highlighted some important words from Pope Francis – written when he was the leader of the Catholic Church in Argentina. In two months from now Ireland’s electorate will be voting on whether or not to change the country’s constitution and radically redefine marriage in the same way which Argentina’s legislators (but not its people) did five years ago.

In 2010, Argentina legalised same-sex marriage. At the time, Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He voiced his strong opposition to the proposal. This is quite contrary to the common misconception that he is silent on the issue.

Since becoming Pope, Francis has reiterated many of the things he said in Argentina.

The Iona Institute has reproduced (below) that letter which Cardinal Bergoglio  sent to the head of the Argentine Department of the Laity, expressing his support for a pending march for the family.

In the letter he sets out his reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. “We highlight what we believe are the most pertinent arguments.”

Letter dated July 5, 2010, sent by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to Dr Justo Carabajales, director of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference (CEA)’s Department of the Laity, lending his support to the March for Family and Life on July 13, 2010 outside Congress.

Dear Justo,

The CEA’s Commission for the Laity, in its role as citizens, has taken the initiative of organizing a rally in response to the possible legalisation of the same-sex marriage law, and of reaffirming, at the same time, the right of children to a father and mother for their upbringing and education. By means of this letter I would like to lend my support to this expression of the laity’s responsibility.

I know, because you have told me, that this will not be against anyone, for we do not want to judge those who think and feel differently. However, now more than ever, on the eve of the bicentenary, and determined to build a nation that embraces the plurality and diversity of its citizens, we also want to state clearly that we cannot make the same that which is different: social co-existence demands the acceptance of difference.

This is not a question of mere terminology, nor is it about the formal conventions of a private relationship; we are talking here of a bond of an anthropological nature. The essence of the human being tends towards the union of man and woman in reciprocal fulfillment, attention and care, and as the natural path of procreation. This confers on marriage both social transcendence and a public character. Marriage precedes the state: it is the basis of the family, the basic cell of human society, and as such is prior to all laws and the Church itself. That is why the passage of the Bill would constitute a real and grave anthropological step backwards.

A marriage (made up of man and woman) is not the same as the union of two people of the same sex. To distinguish is not to discriminate but to respect differences; to differentiate in order to discern is to value appropriately, not to discriminate. At a time when we place emphasis on the richness of pluralism and social and cultural diversity, it is a contradiction to minimize fundamental human differences. A father is not the same as a mother. We cannot teach future generations that preparing yourself for planning a family based on the stable relationship between a man and a woman is the same as living with a person of the same sex.

Let us also be aware that, in seeking to advance a supposed claim on behalf of the rights of adults, we may be setting aside the far greater right of children (who are the only ones who should be privileged in this situation) to rely on models of father and mother, mum and dad. 

I ask that both in your language and in your heart you show no signs of aggression or violence against any of our brothers. Let us Christians act as servants of truth, not its masters. I ask the Lord that He accompany your event with his gentleness, a gentleness that he asks of us all.

I ask you, please, to pray for me and ask others to do the same. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you.

Yours in brotherly affection,

Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J.

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