湯漢樞機以及天主教會以不容忍的態度與偏見，宣揚他們對同性戀關係和婚姻的理解，方禮倫認為，他們代表本性的腐敗。他敦促香港天主教社群，應更加高尚、更人性化地宣揚愛的訊息，這才是信仰的真義。譯文由 Alan Chiu 提供，英文原文在譯文之下。
By promoting an understanding of homosexual relationships and marriage based on intolerance and bigotry, Evan argues that it is Cardinal John Tong Hon and the Catholic Church who represent a corruption of nature. He urges the Catholic community in Hong Kong to find relevance in their faith through a more noble, and humane, message of love. The Chinese translation is provided by Alan Chiu.
發表這些意見的時機自然受傳媒注意——教會亦早已預計到。因為這些「恐同」與政治訊息怎樣看也不尋常。對同性戀的立場以及同性婚姻問題所產生的問題，教會經已政治動員教徒，最明顯的莫過於湯漢樞機 9 月 21 日發出的牧函。
同性關係經已在超過 450 種不同動物品種中記錄到，而根據 2012 年耶魯科學雜誌的一篇文章，現存於世的所有物種，當中有超過 10% 都有出現同性戀，是自然不過的關係。而且，我們也有確鑿的証據証明為何同性戀有演化的可能性，以及為何這種關係對生存更有利。該文章指出，加州大學的生物學研究發現，許多品種中的同性配對，「實際上減少離婚的可能性；允許種族成員有更高靈活性的伴侶關係，亦能減低異性間的壓力，從而加強社會的聯繫，減少競爭。」總之，同性戀關係會加強社會中存在的所有關係。沒有人天生「恐同」，自小，我們的本性是去愛人。
湯漢的牧函又譴責美國最高法院 Obergefell v Hodges 一案同性婚姻立法的裁決。他說，婚姻關乎一男一女之間的結合，是「原始而客觀的真理」，又問：「法院是根據什麼獲授權去重新定義婚姻？」
Last weekend, as people around the world celebrated Gay Pride, a once a year event, the Hong Kong Catholic Church saw fit to (again) remind us of the arrogance, ignorance and intolerance of their faith.
First we had Cardinal John Tong Hon openly call for voters to take into account a candidates position on gay rights in the upcoming district council elections. Whilst district councillors may not have the power to legislate, this call is politically significant in the message it sends to legislators who will themselves shortly be up for election.
Seeking to ease the controversy, auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung then weighed in by comparing homosexuality to drug abuse. It is revealing that both these comments were made in good faith and, in the later case, as a conciliatory gesture. By-and-large the Catholic community have stood by these statements. In the Church’s distorted sense of reality, this is a message of “love”.
Whilst the timing of these statements meant they would – as was surely expected – catch media attention, the homophobic and political message is by no means unusual. The position of the Church on homosexuality, and the view that same-sex marriage was an issue around which the faithful were being politically mobilised, was evident in Cardinal Tong Hon’s pastoral letter of the 21st September.
Entitled Human Ecology and the Family, Cardinal Tong Hon’s letter was an open warning to both the faithful and the community at large that legalising same-sex marriage, in effect recognising and according loving homosexual relationships the same familial right as heterosexual ones, was both immoral and unnatural, and that such relationships posed a serious challenge to the values upon which our society is built.
Referencing the Catholic concept of human ecology, Tong Hon quoted Pope Francis in saying “the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment,” and that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.”
Let us remember that this is not nature as understood by either reason or science, or on observation and evidence; but on blind faith in scripture that has, at times and among others, been interpreted to condones slavery, genocide and rape.
Homosexual relationships have been documented in over 450 different animal species, and according to a 2012 article in Yale Scientific, is present in more than 10% of all prevailing species. Not only are these relationships natural, there is corroborating evidence to show why they likely evolved and why such relationships are beneficial for survival. As the article lays out, research conducted by biologists at the University of California have found evidence to suggest that same-sex pairing in many species “actually alleviates the likelihood of divorce and curtails the pressure on the opposite sex by allowing members to exhibit more flexibility to form partnerships, which in turn strengthens social bonds and reduces competition.” In short, homosexual relations strengthen all relationships that existing within a society. No one is born homophobic. From childhood, what we by nature relate to is love.
Homosexuality is neither a corruption of nature nor is it unnatural. What is a corruption of nature, and a trait found only in our species and only after the advent of religious faith, is homophobia.
Cardinal Tong Hon’s letter also castigates the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges to legalise same-sex marriage. He speaks of “a primordial and objective truth, namely that marriage involves a union between a man and a woman.” He then asks, “What, then, gives the Court the right to redefine marriage in the first place?”
Not only is there no such “truth”, but history also shows us that marriage has been understood differently through the ages and between cultures. Today, for many, it is no longer the contract between families that it once signified for much of the history of Christian Europe.
As both a concept and as a social institution, marriage predates Christianity. For much of Christian history, marriage was viewed as being outside the remit of faith. It was a legal contract defined by the state. As such, far from “redefining” marriage, the courts are merely refining their a legal definition to better reflect social values and the people from whom their authority is derived. The real question should be on what right does the Church claim to define marriage?
The believer may claim divine authority. But a believed authority can not be imposed on those who do not believe, let alone recognise it’s right to dictate who we choose to live. My own sense of authority is derived from my own faculties, and shaped by critical reasoning. “Faith” means nothing to the faithless.
If there is a role for the Catholic Church in a modern, knowledge driven society that values progress and understanding – and I do believe there is – it must be as a supportive institution that fosters love, tolerance and humility. The Church is right in saying that such virtues – the gentle virtues – are too often overshadowed by a world dominated by competition and a sense of individualism that breeds greed and selfishness.
As Cardinal Tong Hon’s message illustrates, in both content and in its timing, the Catholic Church in practice dresses bigotry and arrogance in humility, preaches intolerance in righteousness, and ferments hatred in the name of love.
It is time Hong Kong people and the Catholic community send a clear message to the likes of Cardinal Tong Hon and Bishop Yeung that they are wrong in their understanding of homosexuality, and that their faith does not give them the right to define the secular institution that is marriage. Tell the Church to acknowledge nature for what it is, and not for what they want it to be – a justification for their own prejudice; to embrace what we feel instinctively, and not be slaves to bigotry, intolerance and hate. We should send a clear message that love is beautiful and should be celebrated, and that it is not our sex but the love between partners that is the bedrock on which a family is built.
For the sake of their Church, and in the best spirit of their more progressive predecessors who helped shape our society, they would do better to be a reflection of the modern, inclusive and progressive society that Hong Kong is at its best.