Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, former head of the highest court at the Vatican, said that the Irish people's vote to legalize homosexual marriage was in "defiance of God" and an action more depraved than that practiced by "pagans."
"I mean, this is a defiance of God, it's just incredible," said Cardinal Burke, speaking at the Newman Society at Oxford University's Catholic Society on May 27.
"Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviors, [but] they never dared to say this was marriage," said the cardinal, as reported in The Tablet.
Cardinal Burke, who is now patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, made his remarks in response to a question at the Newman Society after he had delivered a speech on the intellectual legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
In Ireland last week, the people there voted to legalize homosexual marriage, 62.1% to 37.9%. Commenting on the vote, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said it was a "defeat for humanity."
The Catholic Church defines marriage as the sacramental union between one man and one woman for life. "By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory," reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1652.
"Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves," reads the Catechism. "God himself said: 'It is not good that man should be alone,' and 'from the beginning [He] made them male and female'; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: 'Be fruitful and multiply.' Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day."
The Church teaches that homosexual persons "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and that homosexuals are "called to chastity." However, the Catechism further states, "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."(2357)
In a 2013 interview, Cardinal Burke said that homosexual marriage "is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which, after life itself, defines us."
"There is only one place these types of lies come from, namely Satan," said the cardinal. "It is a diabolical situation which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation.”