The Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world, and with more than one billion members worldwide, it is the largest Christian church. Its history spans almost 2,000 years and is rooted in the Church's Canon of Scripture and Tradition. At the head of the church is the Pope, who Catholics believe is the successor to Saint Peter whom Christ appointed as the first head of His church. The Pope, according to the religion's doctrine, can speak infallibly on matters of faith and morals. The Catholic Church practises closed communion and only baptised members of the church are permitted to receive the Eucharist, or Holy Communion.
Catholic Church behind the times
The reaction of the Catholic Church to the Court of Final Appeal's decision to allow W, a transgender woman, to marry her partner was disappointingly predictable ("Church fears over same-sex marriage", May 20).
The Court of Final Appeal case was, as W's lawyer pointed out, not about gay rights but about gender identity.
Nevertheless, the Catholic Church, in the face of developments which are leaving it behind in history, opposed the decision as it may "clash with the established concept of marriage".
Now it would take only a few Google searches or a short trip to a library to discover that there is no established concept of marriage, and with all due respect to the Reverend Dominic Chan Chi-ming, vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese, claims to the contrary come across as culturally arrogant and historically short-sighted.
I was also amused to read the comment by Kevin Lai Yuk-ching, of the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family, that sex and procreation are inseparable.
I believe the writing to be on the wall. Around the world Christians argued against giving women the vote, and against giving full citizenship rights to people who were not born white. Arguments drew on claims that to change the status quo would be to go against "nature" and the "teachings of God". And here we are again.
I respect that Catholics subscribe to the idea of marriage between one person born as a man and one person born as a woman. I respect their right to live their lives accordingly.
I cannot, however, understand why so many religious groups feel the need to decide how I identify, who I should be allowed to love and what I should be allowed to do with my love.
The utter arrogance of this is staggering.
I would like to live in a society in which both I and Christians (and I recognise that not all have stumbled along this path of prejudice) are free to make important life decisions according to our personal beliefs and values.
I am, after all, not asking all Catholics to undergo gender reassignment surgery or enter into same-sex marriages.
The Catholic Church, however, would like a society in which I am required to live my life according to its beliefs.
I would be grateful if the church could explain to me why this is so.
Tracy Swemmer, Cheung Chau