The Church’s stand on divorce (2)
This is a response to Pro-Vicar Fr Anton Gouder’s position in an interview on RTK, where he claimed that notwithstanding the fact that it is a sin to vote in favour of the legislation of divorce in a referendum, one is absolved if s/he confesses his/her sin. I will argue that it is the Church’s right to promote this kind of doctrine to its members and it is the individual’s right to feel free to decide whether to abide by these sort of teachings or not. My idea of democracy permits such impositions by religious institutions on those who choose to form part of them. This is as long as religion refrains from manoeuvring for greater control on political decisions which are meant to lie under the prerogative of the secular state.
I’ve got strong feelings in favour of religious freedoms in a state that is secular and which allows more than one hegemonic voice to be heard. It is in view of this that I will suggest that the Roman Catholic Church is allowed to voice its opinion freely whilst realising that what they consider as their civil rights should not deny the civil rights of others who do not share the same views that they do. Not abiding by the Church’s laws is as much a right as abiding by them. I do hope that the Church has grown enough in tolerance to enable it to co-exist with other voices, i.e. that it is not playing the game of presenting its own axioms as the truths they expect civil institutions to disseminate. This seems to be what Fr Gouder is suggesting in his interview when he appeals for the true information to be disseminated. He interprets statistics in a way and expects others to do the same because he erroneously believes that the very fact that he uses statistics gives him and his institution’s views precedence over all the rest. He dismisses the fact that documents could be read in different ways and one interpretation should never be considered as a beacon of an unquestionable truth.
I will not quarrel with the Church for portraying its values as truthful. My problem is that Fr Gouder is imposing his truth by expecting civil organisations to play the same tune his does i.e. the Roman Catholic Church’s tune. If information were to be disseminated in the way he expects it to be, the debate would fail in its objective of being democratic. A democratic society should ensure a fair debate, unlike the one being suggested by Fr Gouder. The duty of a secular state is that of ensuring the impartiality of the debate. The Church, on the other hand, should maintain its place and try to convince society that they have got the best idea possible on the issue of divorce.