Marriage & Same-Sex Attraction (7)

(Frequently Asked Questions Part 7 of 10)

The Rights of Children

1. Why is marriage about the rights of the children?

2. How do we protect children with same-sex parents from the harm of social stigma

3. On occasions, Catholic schools have rejected the enrolments of children of same-sex couples. Isn’t this stigmatising the children?






A child’s relationship to both mother and father is inherent to marriage. Children conceived by other means may find themselves with people in parental roles who are in a same-sex relationship, but such relationships are not the origin of the child. It is likely for children to be loved and nurtured in such a household, but however good that nurturing, it will not provide the biological link and security of identity and relationship that marriage naturally demands and confirms.

The bodily union of mutual love that is integral to marriage helps to create stable and harmonious conditions suitable for children, and the children can look back to an origin in the love of their parents.

If marriage were redefined, the law would teach that marriage is fundamentally about adults’ emotional unions, about romance only, not complementary bodily union or generating and nurturing children.

What is at stake is an ideal that seeks to ensure that a child has both a mother and a father. That the ideal sometimes breaks down or that there are exceptions to it does not make marriage any less ideal.





It is argued that the lack of legal recognition of and support for same-sex families translates, in practice, to some people regarding such families as deficient, and problematic. Laws that don’t recognise such arrangements as families make it harder or more awkward for others to include them or interact with them and their children.

The fact is that children are living in a variety of households these days: blended families, extended families, single-parent families, families where there has been the death of a parent, poor families, rich families. Over the centuries marriage has been about promoting the relationship of the couple and the continuation of society. It has not been primarily about affirming the choice of one’s partner in life.

Concerning social stigma, it is important to reinforce the Church’s teaching that all human beings have the same human dignity and are worthy of the same respect because they are created in the image of God; this is true whether or not certain sexual behaviour is accepted by the Church.





Children are the true innocents in these matters and every attempt should be made by both parents and the community to protect them from harm due to any stigma of their family situation.

Like all schools, Catholic schools have clear enrolment policies which typically state:

  • the school community is based on gospel values and is guided by Church teachings
  • children from Catholic and other faith traditions will be accepted for enrolment where their families demonstrate that they share the expressed values of the school.


Every Catholic school has a responsibility to faithfully represent the teachings of the Catholic Church to its students and their families. All families seeking a Catholic education for their children are assumed to be committed to raising their children in the Catholic faith or, at a minimum, to have their children raised in a Catholic atmosphere and be taught authentic Catholic values. All parents of children enrolled in Catholic schools have a rightful expectation that the school will do this.

In some cases, same-sex parents have chosen to make a political statement by provoking a Catholic school into refusing enrolment for their child. If any family, whether or not headed by same-sex parents, publically and militantly rejects important Catholic values, it is unjust to the individual child, to the school community as a whole, and counter to the mission of the Catholic school to enrol their child.



List of Abbreviations

CA – Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Centesimus Annus (1991)

CCC – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (2000)

CDF 1986 – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual persons (1986)

CDF 1992 – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons (1992)

CV – Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate (2009)

CSDC – Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004)

DH – Second Vatican Council, Declaration Dignitatis Humanae (1965)

FC – Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1982)

GS – Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (1965)

LF – Pope John Paul II, Letter to Families (1994)

LL – USCCB, Pastoral Letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan (2009)

PP – Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967)

RN – Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891)

TOB – Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, trans. Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2006). Other English versions are available online at EWTN’s website and at the Vatican website.



Key References

The official (Magisterial) teaching of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality and Marriage is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993) , and in three documents of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Sacrament of Matrimony
Download from link: CCC – The Sacrament of Matrimony

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  The Sixth Commandment (Especially Paragraphs 2357-2359)
Download from link: CCC – The Sixth Commandment

Declaration on Certain Questions of Sexual Ethics: (CDF, 1975)
Download from link: Declaration on Sexual Ethics

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person (CDF, 1986):
Download from link: Pastoral Care of Homosexual persons

Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (CDF, 2003)
Download from link: Legal Recognition of Homosexual Unions


In May 2015, the Catholic Bishops of Australia issued a Pastoral Letter “to all Australians” on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate, entitled “Don’t mess with Marriage”. This summarises why the Catholic Church opposes moves to broaden the legal definition of marriage to include ‘same-sex’ relationships.

A Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Australia to all Australians on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate
Download from link: ‘Same-sex’ Marriage Pastoral Letter


The following submissions by the Catholic Church in Australia to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 also elaborate on Catholic Church teaching on marriage and same-sex attraction.

Submission 113: His Eminence Cardinal George Pell AC, Archbishop of Sydney
Download from link: (PDF 4791KB)

Submission 5: Opening Statement tabled by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at public hearing on Thursday 3 May 2012
Download from link: (PDF 1073KB)

Submission 234: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
>Download from link: (PDF 113KB)


Catholic Teaching on Marriage is summarised in the following “Frequently Asked Questions” Booklet.

Marriage in the Catholic Church: Frequently Asked Questions Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, 2006.
Download from link: Marriage in the Catholic Church
Other Non Catholic Church References

Regnerus, Mark: How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. Social Science Research 41 (2012) 752–770.


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