Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. ... The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace.Do gay spouses not love one another, care for one another, accept and forgive one another, just as straight spouses do? Do gay parents not love and teach their children as straight parents do? Do gay people not care for their family members in sickness or old age, just as straight people do? Indeed, every virtuous element of families that the Pope has enumerated here applies equally to gay families as to straight ones. (It may be said to apply somewhat less to childless families than to childful ones, but despite common confusion to the contrary, that is not a gay/straight issue.)
Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace. This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.Except for the over-specification of marriage as to a man and a woman, I can agree with all of this. As discussed above, gay families are as relevant as straight families in serving to exemplify and reinforce the fundamental elements of peace. Given that, following the Pope's logic then entails that anything that undermines the institution of the family (including gay families) undermines peace in the world. In other words, if the Pope would properly recognize gay families as valuable families, he would have said: "This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of two loving people (such as not giving all marriages their just legal recognition and societal support), everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life (such as banning adoptions and foster care by gay parents), everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children (ditto the previous), constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace." Sure, I know what the Pope has in mind by "openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life", but the words he has chosen here captured the essential part of it. Who could possibly be more open to the responsible acceptance of a new life than gay parents who must make a monumentally intentional effort just to become parents?
The social community, if it is to live in peace, is also called to draw inspiration from the values on which the family community is based.Indeed. Some of the most inspirational examples are those who hold to the traditional marital values of lifelong loving commitment, not when it is easy, supported, and encouraged, but when it is hard, when it is discountenanced by society and by government, when our partners are sick and dying of disease without a cure. You want inspiration for values? Try Curtis Watson, rather than Britney Spears. The Pope is right about the crucial importance of the family to the larger community. Which is precisely why it is wicked to not be supporting all of us who wish to create and sustain families.
Knowledge of the natural moral norm is not inaccessible to those who, in reflecting on themselves and their destiny, strive to understand the inner logic of the deepest inclinations present in their being. Albeit not without hesitation and doubt, they are capable of discovering, at least in its essential lines, this common moral law which, over and above cultural differences, enables human beings to come to a common understanding regarding the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. It is essential to go back to this fundamental law, committing our finest intellectual energies to this quest, and not letting ourselves be discouraged by mistakes and misunderstandings.That's nearly perfect, but there's one crucial omission, which may tell the Pope's blind spot. I believe knowledge of the natural norm is inaccessible to those who reflect only on themselves. It is simply not possible to discern the essential vs the contingent, the common vs the distinct, without reflecting on all of nature and the glorious variety of the Creation. Without striving to understand the deepest inclinations present in other beings, one may mistake deep inclinations distinctly present in one's own being for the deepest ones common to our nature. Those of us who have experienced "coming out" can tell a thing or two about coming to understand "the inner logic of the deepest inclinations present in our being". We were not discouraged (or only temporarily so) by our prior misunderstandings of who we are. We -- out of necessity -- committed our finest intellectual energies to the quest of discovering the essential parts of the values we were raised with, the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. Our initial image of the good life, based on mistaking our parents' contingency for our essence, once shattered, forced us to reimagine a good life for us as God created us. And for many of us, this quest has lead us back to marriage, discarding the contingent part not found in our deepest inclinations (the man and woman part), and keeping the essential part, the lifelong loving commitment of two people. From my own quest, I am absolutely certain that gay marriages (like my own) and gay families embody all of the goodness that the Pope rightly sees in families, for they are families, just like any other in the essential aspects. And undermining them is indeed an obstacle on the road to peace.