Conscience objections urged in face of Colombian gay unions

Officials from the Bishops' Conference of Colombia have urged Catholics to adhere to Church teaching in the face of potential same-sex unions and a movement towards a secular nation.

Father Pedro Mercado, adjunct secretary of the conference, warned that Catholic notaries will not be able to witness same-sex unions, as required by a Colombian Constitutional Court ruling, without committing "a grave act against God." He demanded that the State recognize a right to conscientious objection.

In the absence of congressional legislation enacted by late June, the Colombian Constitutional Court has ruled that gay couples will be able to go before a public notary in order to "constitute a family." 

In statements to the Colombian daily El Tiempo, Father Mercado warned that witnessing same-sex unions "would be considered a grave act against God and against society" by public notaries.

"Catholic notaries cannot formalize same-sex unions as proposed. Such a consideration is absolutely irreconcilable with an upright Christian conscience," he said.

He also insisted that the Colombian government recognize the right to conscientious objection in this case, saying that failing to do so "would gravely violate the rights of notaries, not only those who are Catholic but those of other religions as well, by forcing them to carry out an act that for them could be considered morally illicit."

If the State were not to recognize this right for notaries, Father Mercado warned, "they would have no other option but to ignore the Court's instructions."

For his part, Bishop Jose Daniel Falla Robles, general secretary of the Colombian Bishops' Conference, said in a May 2 article that Christians "should always stand up for our right to conscientious objection whenever necessary in order to show that we obey God before men."

"In this way we will show with our own lives that when it comes to the Word of God, there is no middle ground," Bishop Falla Robles said.

"Either we refuse to follow our empty and superficial thoughts, as well as our lower passions, so that the presence and greatness of God may shine in us," he remarked, "or we refuse to follow God and his Word, and thus remain at the mercy of our way of seeing life, our disordered passions, and thus see ourselves deprived of the blessings that only He can give us."

If the actions of Christians "do not reflect the will of our God, we cannot say that we love Him. We are liars," he added.
The bishop also said it is unfortunate that some lawmakers and members of minority groups want to create a secularized State "that takes no account of God, much less of his Word."  

They want a kind of permissiveness that rejects the values and principles that give society stability, granting legal protection to every whim, tendency and special interest, "thus making room for moral relativism and, through it, undermining the foundations of society," he said.

Bishop Falla Robles explained that those who believe and love God "should remember that today more than ever, unfortunately not everything that is legal (that is, what is protected by law) is at the same time moral (in other words, in accord with God's will."

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