Following a press statement (see below) issued by the Holy See on Dec 19 stating that the Vatican "condemn(s) all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urg(ing) States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them," Fridae contacted the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore to ask if it would support the decriminalisation of sexual relations between men under Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code.
The statement was a follow-up to clarify its opposition to the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' statement presented at the UN General Assembly on Dec 18. Sixty-six nations at the UN General Assembly supported the groundbreaking statement reaffirming "the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
On Dec 23, Fridae reported: Vatican urges countries to "do away with criminal penalties" against gays
Fr James Yeo, a diocesan priest and Parish Priest of St Anne's Church, replied on behalf of the Archbishop of Singapore Nicholas Chia who was contacted by Fridae last week:
1. There is no current or past official position of the Catholic Teachings on the laws that criminalise homosexual acts. The Catholic Church stands united so the position of the Archdiocese of Singapore is that of the Official Catholic Church, namely that there should be no violence and discrimination towards homosexual persons. The Church teaches that all persons have dignity and must be treated with respect, love and care.
2. If we read the latest Vatican's statement, there is nothing new. It merely says that we must not criminalise homosexuals. But the constant teaching of the Catholic Church is to differentiate between homosexual persons (orientation) and homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are morally wrong. The Church differentiates the sinner from the sins. We condemn sins but not the sinner.
3. I don't think that we need to campaign for anything as our teachings are clear unless people wants to misinterpret them. Laws in Singapore do not criminalise homosexual persons. But homosexual acts are different.
4. Whether one is homosexual or heterosexual, one has to be responsible in the use of one's sexual faculty. Any abuse of one's sexuality regardless of whether one is a homosexual or heterosexual is wrong. It does not mean that if one is heterosexual, he or she can express this irresponsibly in any way he or she wants. Similarly the Church does not condemn persons with homosexual tendencies (orientation) but asks that they like anyone should refrain from irresponsible sexual acts.
5. The Church always differentiates between what is legal and what is moral. Something which is legal may not necessarily be moral.
Holy See: Response to declaration on sexual orientation
From: Vatican Information Service
VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon was made public the declaration of the delegation of the Holy See to the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly on the theme: "Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms".
Archbishop Celestino Migliore affirmed that "the Holy See appreciates the attempts made in the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' - presented at the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008 - to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them".
"At the same time, the Holy See notes that the wording of this Declaration goes well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent".
"In particular, the categories 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity', used in the text, find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law. If they had to be taken into consideration in the proclaiming and implementing of fundamental rights, these would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards".
"Despite the Declaration's rightful condemnation of and protection from all forms of violence against homosexual persons, the document, when considered in its entirety, goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms", the declaration emphasized.
"The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them".