Realism, the Pope, and the case for civil unions

By Phil Lawler ( ) | Oct 28, 2020

Writing about the Pope’s much-remarked comments about remarks on civil unions Ryan Anderson and Robert George observe that “there is a plausible interpretation of Pope Francis’s comments under which they are consistent with historic Catholic teaching and moral reality.”

That’s true. It is possible to square what the Pope said with the Catholic tradition. But it isn’t easy—particularly when the Pope and the Vatican let the widespread misinterpretation of the remarks (if indeed it is a misinterpretation) stand uncorrected. Anderson and George write:

However, it is up to Pope Francis to make clear that this interpretation is sound, and lest the faithful be kept in confusion (and distress), it is his obligation to provide the necessary clarification.

We have seen no clarification. Instead we have seen the Venezuelan strongman, Nicolas Maduro, citing the Pope’s words as he asked legislators to consider legal recognition for same-sex marriage. And we have seen a Washington Post editorial encouraging judges to ponder the papal remarks when weighing the rights of Catholic institutions to uphold the Church’s perennial teachings. Rightly or wrongly, leftist politicians are quoting the Pope to their advantage, and the Vatican is not correcting them. Qui tacet consentit: Silence gives consent.

Having said that one could reconcile the Pope’s statements with previous Church teachings, Anderson and George go on to say that “there is nothing intrinsic to a civil union… that has to conflict with moral reality…” They cite San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s analysis:

… a civil union of this type (one which is not equated to marriage) should be as inclusive as possible, and not be restricted to two people of the same sex in a presumed sexual relationship. There is no reason, for example, why a brother and a sister, both of whom are unmarried and support each other, should not have access to these kinds of benefits.

Perhaps so. But what you would then have would not be a piece of “civil union” legislation as commonly understood. You would have instead a piece of legislation expanding the legal rights of any two or more people who happened to be domiciled at the same address. If there are convincing arguments for that sort of legislation, those arguments should apply to all sorts of living arrangements, not just to homosexual partnerships. But the Pope was talking explicitly about homosexual partnerships. And frankly, so is everyone else who promotes civil unions.

The point of civil-union policies—the only reason why these policies have been proposed and advanced—is not to protect roommates in general, but to give special recognition to those roommates who are engaged in homosexual activities. There has never been any political drive for the acceptance of civil unions “not equated to marriage.” That’s the whole point.

American Hostage Kidnapped in West Africa Rescued by US Forces

Nigerian army soldiers board a pickup to escort Nigerians heading north towards Libya as they leave Agadez, Niger on Oct. 29, 2019. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

Nigerian army soldiers board a pickup to escort Nigerians heading north towards Libya as they leave Agadez, Niger on Oct. 29, 2019. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) US News

By Janita Kan October 31, 2020 The Epoch Times

An American hostage held by a group of armed men in West Africa was rescued early Saturday morning during a rescue operation lead by U.S. forces.

The Pentagon confirmed the operation, saying that the American citizen is safe and now in the care of the State Department. They added that no U.S. military personnel were injured during the operation.

“The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world,” Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said in a statement.

President Donald Trump also lauded the operation, saying on Saturday morning: “Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!”

Counterintelligence officials told Fox News and ABC News that the elite SEAL Team 6 carried out the mission to rescue 27-year-old Philip Walton, who was kidnapped in Niger earlier this week after six armed men took him across the border into Northern Nigeria.

Walton lives with his wife, young daughter, and brother on a farm near the border with Nigeria.

The State Department also issued a statement on the operation, saying that the United States is committed to working toward the safe return of all U.S. citizens taken captive.

“We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a U.S. citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger,” the statement said.

“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family.”

Niger, like much of West Africa’s Sahel region, faces a deepening security crisis as groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS carry out attacks on the army and civilians, despite help from French and U.S. forces.