Monday, August 26, 2013

We don't need to reinvent the wheel

We are Catholic. We think with the mind of the Church. It is beautiful, and it is freedom.

I am linking the following 2003 Vatican document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by Blessed John Paul II and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), which addresses all the questions that exploded around the internet in the past couple of days, sadly putting even orthodox Catholics publicly at odds. We don't need to be at odds on this issue, as the Church has spoken, and very clearly:





If you don't know what internet explosion I'm talking about, simply search "joseph bottum same-sex marriage" and dive in if you'd like. I dove in yesterday and today, and I am wiped out.

Why faithful Catholics are arguing the point is so sad and confusing to me, since our marching orders have already been given, both in the above document (please, read and digest every word of it), and in the subsequent words of Pope Benedict in a 2006 speech to European politicians:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge[s] clearly today... 
Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role….

There is no confusion in either the document or the speech, no suggestion that Catholics may simply "give up" the political and legal battle, exit the public square on this issue, and instead work to "re-enchant" the world in other ways. If someone can show me where that approach is even hinted at, I am willing to listen. But from what I'm reading, that avenue is not even an option for a Catholic.

And by holding the principles she does, the Church is not "mean" nor lacking in compassion. The Church is a Teacher and a Mother, upholding the common good, i.e., what is good for all. As the wonderful Brandon Vogt told me today:


One thing I see often among well-meaning Catholics is that they misunderstand why the Church vigorously defends conjugal marriage. It's not just because God established marriage this way, or because we should uphold the sacramental meaning of marriage, though both are certainly true. 
The main reason Catholics defend the traditional, civil understanding of marriage is because a strong marriage culture benefits everyone -- Catholics, atheists, poor people, children, singles, senior citizens, etc. And a failing marriage culture harms everyone. 
To say it another way, a strong marriage culture benefits the common good. Whenever ideas or political movements threaten the common good, the Church must defend it, even at great cost, even when its own people don't understand why, and even when the outcome seems hopeless. 
The Church rejects the idea of "same-sex marriage" not just because it contradicts natural law, or God's divine plan for marriage, but because it's deleterious for society, children most of all.

Amen.

That's all. I'm still exhausted. But before I go, I want to leave you with the link to the Church's teaching one more time, just in case you missed it up above, and just in case you decide to jump into the debates raging on every blog and site:



No need to reinvent the wheel.








317 comments:

  1. Amen, Leila. To be a faithful Catholic means to submit to the authority of Church teaching, regardless of how difficult or popular it is with the culture.

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  2. How can people claim to be "faithful Catholics" and reject the Church's teaching on a sin that cries out to Heaven for justice? I need to pray more, or I'm going to start fearing again that all my loved-ones are going to give in. Been there, done that (fearing, I mean).

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  3. Very good link back to the CDF document promulgated by Pope John Paul II. The question of equating SSM to natural marriage is indeed problematic and rightly rejected (as I point out in my essay on this -- http://thesacredlandscape.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-is-bottom-line-for-mr-bottum.html).

    It seems to me that there can be a "corporate" accommodation to provide for the rights and responsibilities of the contracting parties to ensure equal access to the goods of the society that justice and the common good require -- the language of the CDF document does not address this, but rather it seems to gloss over the real loss of relational rights ("Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest.")

    That is a deeply problematic statement -- the Church cannot afford to make weak arguments in this matter.

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  4. That's the thing. This is a no-brainer when it comes to what the Church says we are to do. It's not something we have to really sit around and ponder. It's not some nebulous, hard-to-understand teaching. That's why I am scratching my head. When did Jesus ever even hint that we must give up when what we say or do is not popular. When has the Church ever taught that we should surrender to the spirit of the age if people start to think Church teaching is "mean"?

    I need me a whole lot of Fulton Sheen. He spoke the truth and strongly -- and everyone loved him, not just Catholics.

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  5. Steven, I am not sure what you mean? I think the statement by the CDF is clear and makes sense. Help me out.

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  6. Thank you for providing the link to the Vatican document. I live in a state that recently passed a law legalizing gay marriage, so this issue has been on my heart and mind a lot over the last few months. I will be the first to say though, my "emphatic opposition" has been weak and I am still processing what that means in my day to day life. I don't disagree with the opposition part, but what does the "emphatic" part look like? I am working through that. Anyway, the law went into effect on my birthday no less. :(

    But I will disagree with you on one thing (okay, I guess it has been more than one thing today, huh?) - there are not "debates raging on every blog and site". Come over to my blog and the closest one will come to controversy is the fact that my daughter was recently forced to wear a Vikings jersey by my DH. :)

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  7. Leila:

    "to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens."

    The reality is that cohabiting persons are deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens -- matters of insurability, survivorship and inheritance, common assets, visitation and medical guardianship, etc. are all deprived even though their is consent and intent on both parties to build a common life. Wal*Mart and McDonalds enjoy more legal rights of asset protection than a cohabiting couple (unless in a state or country that recognizes "common law marriage".

    This is an entirely separate and separable issue from the morality of cohabitation, homosexuality, polyamory, etc. The law is ordered to ensure the common good, the tranquility of society, and direct us toward civic virtues -- not to make us saints or morally virtuous. Ultimately the two converge in Christ and the well lived life in conformance with the Divine law, but the human positive law is about something rather more limited than the divine law.

    I hope that helps explain somewhat.

    ~Steve

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  8. Steve, if you are proposing that any two people (heck, or three or more) who are not married should be able to set up certain legal situations, then I'd agree. That would mean that sisters, friends, roommates, business partners, male/female sexually active and cohabiting couples, parents living with adult children -- all of them should access the "rights as persons and citizens" that you are talking about.

    But if you are singling out gay couples for these "rights", gay couples who consent (in your words) "to build a common life", then isn't that sort of setting up a parallel "marriage" situation and encoding that into the civil law? And wouldn't that contradict the spirit (and perhaps the letter) of what the Church is saying about civil unions and gay "marriage" laws?

    Does that make sense? I guess I am just not understanding why the CDF statement is wrong there. It's not unjust to propose what it does.

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    1. **all of them should be able access the "rights as persons and citizens" that you are talking about.

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  9. Thanks for offering clarity on this issue. Intellectually, I agree. Emotionally, I am tired. And I wonder if a lot of folks are just tired (not a good reason to stop the debate, but an unfortunate reality). I find it so tough to even BEGIN discussing this issue on so many levels. A lot of it has to do with the way the greater culture has framed it. To question gay marriage is seen as a direct assault on the dignity and happiness of a person who identifies as gay. It's far more taboo than abortion. For some reason, with the abortion issue, in all it's drama and controversy, still offers more opportunities for clear discussion than the SSM issue. Maybe part of it is because it's so rare to meet a woman who has had an abortion who walked away unscathed. Meanwhile, many of us have loved ones who yearn to enter into "SSM" and feel it is their key to happiness. I don't know.

    But I always come back to the kids... growing up as a child of divorce and having studied psychology, sociology etc (not that I needed a single study haha), I am so convicted that children deserve to be raised by their mother and father, married to one another. And if their mother and father cannot raise them, they deserve a new mother and father through adoption... a restoration of what they've lost. (And don't even come at me with "What are you saying single parents etc can't successfully raise a child? Please. My mom was a single mom. Of course she did a great job. But you'd be insane to suggest that it was an ideal situation).

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    1. Your comment got my attention and consequently compelled me to reply. I am so impressed by the manner in which you expressed your opinion. It was spot on. Most of us are plain tired of hearing about the whole issue. The homosexual society has pushed their lifestyle down our throats and we feel as if we need to just ignore the whole fiasco just to keep peace. Your explanation and your wording is exactly the way I feel but I have failed to express it as you do. I was a single parent and like your Mother it was a difficult road to raise 3 children and I know each one suffered for it on different levels and it was positive proof that all children should be able to have a life with both parents. I encourage any parents on the verge of divorce to try to come to a solution. I have suffered and I still am and no doubt my children even though, as your Mom, I still tried to do a great job. I am tired of all of the debate. I want it to go away but when watching television or reading any article....it is there in front of us.
      Kudos to you for finding the right words. Angel

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    2. Angel - thanks for sharing your story! I truly believe God does step in and bring good out of difficult situations, too! Praying that you and your kids find healing!

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  10. Sarah, agreed about the emotional weariness. I think part of the strategy is to wear folks down so that it takes the fight right out of us. Who wants to be seen as mean and nasty and standing in the way of people's happiness?

    We are tired, it's true. But I think of Moses, fighting the good fight, but having to keep his hands raised. He grew weary:

    Exodus 17: So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army…

    I think the Church helps us keep our hands up (the Pope sits in Moses' seat), and we also help each other.

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  11. My parents also divorced and I suffered a huge loss. It was crushing. It still is. I hate birthday parties..get togethers and it is either my mom but never my dad there. My family is broken and I suffer for it. Kids need their mom and dad...in the home...together.

    Great post!

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  12. Leila,

    "Why faithful Catholics are arguing the point is so sad and confusing to me, since our marching orders have already been given..."

    You don't really mean that, do you? Why would an old war horse like you be surprised or confused by such phenomena? :)

    It's quite simple: the ones arguing against the Church's stance aren't, in fact, "faithful" Catholics, as you describe them. What I'm regularly finding in my interactions with fellow Catholics (even in my own extended family, sadly) is that those who're arguing against (or trying to undermine) the Church's clear and unambiguous teachings on this issue are the same ones who regularly "disagree with the Church" on a host of other issues as well, OR generally have their timid/nonchalant heads buried in the sand in most matters of societal mores and the common good. At best they're habitual shruggers by choice, constantly displaying a lazy, learned helplessness; at worst they're unfaithful troops amidst our ranks.

    Vast swathes of the Catholic population today are spiritually flaky, under-formed or malnourished - but don't you dare suggest to them, even discreetly, that they might be suffering from any such malady. All hell would immediately break loose, and instead of gaining a convert you'd likely end up losing a friend. I've experienced this time and time again. Sadly, these are the folks who are such easy targets for the liberal propagandists of the day: as we've all too painfully witnessed, it's a cakewalk for the likes of Obama and his band of gay and merry men to gain the uncritical support of such people.

    I'm guessing that when push really comes to shove (as it must - because there's no turning back to gentility or sensibility now), a vast number of Catholics will abandon the Church - to all practical intents and purposes anyway. I see so little stomach for real sacrifice or martyrdom out there (I'll be only too thrilled to be proven wrong on this score). And I'd suggest that the principal reason for this, besides Catechesis Lite and poor leadership, is that the very source, center and summit of our faith, the celebration of our Eucharistic Liturgy itself, has been so steadily degraded since VII, gone in a short couple of decades from being the "Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" to simply "Mass" - which, in all too many Parishes these days, is just a cheaply theatrical prayer service, instead of solemn fortifying oblation of oneself on the altar with the Lord. Lex orandi, lex credendi. No surprises there.

    Emeritus Pope Benedict spoke on several occasions, in no uncertain terms, of his vision of a small (and hopefully purer) Church. I truly believe he was being prophetic: it won't be a billion strong and united Catholics who will win (or even fight) the war that is now raging and intensifying by the day. Rather it will be a core of the faithful - a humble and obedient remnant - that the Lord will use to achieve the victory for His own greater glory. He will employ only the ones who lap up the life giving waters of the Church's teachings and sacraments like dogs (Judges 7).

    Yeah. Keep lapping it all up, as I am, even mid Mission, and may your thirst for the Kingdom of Love, Mercy and Justice for all never be prematurely quenched!

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    1. I am afraid you are right. I am an example of what you are talking about. I was taught with Catechesis Lite (actually critical of Church teaching) and poor leadership of my local priests. I just didn't really care and finally left. I longed for a Holy mass that pushed me to greater reverence and holiness but instead I got youth rock and roll mass which inspired me to see how many girls at mass I could try to bed. (Thankfully I was unsuccessful with the Catholic girls.)

      After 30 years, I came back with the help of a fine FSSP parish with a hard hitting priest who isn't afraid to hurt feelings. In the a sermon from a few weeks ago, he told those that didn't like how the Bible condemned them where the door was. It is refreshing and makes me continually want to become holy and saintly. I can see the improvements I have made because of this fine priest. Guess what, last week we had a record attendance. I guess they realized he was right.

      So many priests are afraid to loose parishioners because of the truth, they never tell it. When the average person watches 20 hours of liberal propoganda (TV and internet), how can we expect 20 minutes of banal words that they learned from their parents at three years old, to keep people on the path to everlasting life. Things like God loves you, you need to be kind, you need to give to the less fortunate. As Paul would say, these are the milk, we need the meat. We need to see how we can really make an impact in the world. We need Holy reverent Masses that show the wonder and power of God, how we must love him and serve him. We can use the milk to hand the derelict on the street corner a five dollar bill so he can get another bottle of booze while we are on our way to our next cruise, or we can use the meat to help that derelict get off the booze and come back the the Catholic Church.

      Our small Latin Mass parish consistently has more parishioners involved in the March against Abortion than all the other parishes combined in a city of a million people. It is the same for the March for Life, various pilgrimages, and various works of mercy.

      The Church has no choice but to stand up for truth. Our leaders need to speak out for what is right and discipline those who openly appose Church teaching. If they don't, it won't just be a smaller church, it will be like France where in 1960 90% attended mass weekly and today only 5% do (and over half of those attend the Latin mass).

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  13. I too am tired of this issue. I am also tired of abortion, I am tired of legalized no fault divorce, I am tired of so many fights that we, the Church, has tried to fight, but lost. This is especially so when I realize that more than half of Catholics don't agree with the Church on these issues. BUT, we can learn a lesson from history. The middle east, at one time was a Christian region. Why is it now Islamic? Because most of the Christians became tired of fighting and just left. When Islam had conquered half of Spain and most of southern Europe, the Pope decided that it was time for him to take the lead and fight. He started the Crusades that pushed Islam back out of Europe. But this only after hundreds of thousands of peaceful Christians were martyred at the hands of the Islamists.

    Our lesson is simple, we must fight. If we do not take a stand, we set no example for our children and society. People must know that we don't have to accept what 'society' tells us we must do.

    We used to live in a free society. Now a photographer or a baker can't refuse to be involved in an evil act. What is it when a photographer is forced by law to attend a same sex marriage. We are forced to take part and promote (through photos) in something that God finds evil and Satanic. When will people start standing up? When will the jails be so full of Christians standing up for truth that the laws must be changed to give us back our freedom. When will we follow the example of the first century Christians? Jesus told us that if we are accepted by the world, we are not following him. Christianity is an uncomfortable religion, but through the Grace of God, we can be uncomfortable but happy and blessed. (I had to stand up for something about a year ago and almost lost everything, my family, my home, everything. I stood up for God and now things are better than they have been for twenty years.)

    My family, though apparently well adjusted, all suffered from the death of my mother. Each of us must fight our own demons due to being raised by a single Father, then a Father and step Mother who didn't like us. Again, a good example of why Gods marital arrangement is the only correct arrangement for children.

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  14. Christine,

    Jesus took all the pain that the world threw at Him, held it in, transformed it, and then, in return, only breathed out love and peace to all. I pray you'll find some powerful avenues in your life to do the same. As they say, the mark of a hero(ine) is grace under duress. And something tells me you're a hero already! God bless you!

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  15. Great post! Since I've moved to Canada where gay marriage is legal I've had a hard time figuring out how to address this very issue. And it seems I'm not the only one. While it's obvious from a public and political venue how does one address this issue with people at play groups, schools, the bank, etc.?

    I just choose not to say anything unless it comes up. Simply saying well I'm Catholic is enough without coming off as nasty. Most gay persons know what Catholics believe. if they wish to engage or not engage, simply saying that one is Catholic gives them that decision. Then nobody can blame you for being uncharitable or not defending the faith because you can't force a discussion.

    As for people i know who defend it then again if it comes up just address like any political topic. Express your concerns and address theirs. No need to get very personal. If they are gay with children you can express concerns about children who aren't raised with both sex parents be them gay or single.

    What i see is that gay couples feel like they need to defend their love and since love isnt something you can quantify or study its easier to steer away from that and stick to other concerns. Marriage isnt just about love and go from there about procreation.

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  16. For all you good Christian soldiers feeling the weariness of the battle, here's a little video I made:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pji_SC9q1UE

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  17. FYI,

    This is Joseph Bottum's favorite negative critique of his article. I think Fr. Hollowell says it beautifully:

    http://on-this-rock.blogspot.com/2013/08/bottum-ing-out.html

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  18. >>Steve, if you are proposing that any two people (heck, or three or more) who are not married should be able to set up certain legal situations, then I'd agree. That would mean that sisters, friends, roommates, business partners, male/female sexually active and cohabiting couples, parents living with adult children -- all of them should access the "rights as persons and citizens" that you are talking about.

    Yes, exactly, as I point out in my essay:
    http://thesacredlandscape.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-is-bottom-line-for-mr-bottum.html

    "There might well be, in fact, a sound natural law argument compatible with the legal theories of St. Thomas Aquinas for according gay unions a whole series of legal rights under the law, but Mr. Bottum does not make them. It seems to me that matters of property rights, inheritance and survivorship, hospital and prison visitation rights, insurability -- in short equal access to all the natural and civic goods of a society in justice and fairness -- ought to be compelling arguments for consideration within the theory of Catholic Social Doctrine. Such matters can be handled under a variety of methods, from a simple contractual form between consenting parties to a registered domestic corporation between parties for purposes other than that which distinguishes natural marriage (namely, natural parenthood). ***There is not even any reason to limit a registered domestic corporation to two persons -- any number of sexually mature, mentally competent, consenting adults might well do what they will given a good lawyer and decently constructed laws.*** Within Thomas' theory of law, there is nothing I have found that would be objectionable to that.

    Corporations are legal fictions that allow more than one human person (imago dei) to function as a moral agent, to enter into contracts, to be recognized as "legal persons", to be heard in court, etc. Each type of corporation is established for specific purposes -- a charity, a business, a Rotary Club, a museum, etc. The rights and responsibilities are limited to the purposes of the organization and to those who agree to be part of or support or patronize the corporation.

    This is different in kind from natural marriage that has third parties (natural born children) that cannot agree to be part of the family, but just are, and there are real rights and real responsibilities that immediately adhere in the family that are not matters for written contract or corporate law to work out.

    So, yes, go ahead and allow for polyamory and homosexual relationships etc to be recognized as some class of registered domestic corporation for the purposes of ensures the basic civic and human rights we all share under any system of government that is necessarily ordered to the common good.

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  19. Francis Choudhury,

    Your longer comment above is refreshing to read. I find myself in complete agreement with everything you said, with no exceptions.

    I encourage you to set up shop with your own blog. Your strength and clarity are needed on the Internet and especially on the Catholic Blogosphere.

    Phil Steinacker

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    1. Phil, I agree. And thank you for your own great comments here!

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  20. Steven- and therin lies the disagreement. 1) that i believe that children are not commodities or parts of a coorporation. They are persons with rights to be raised by their biological parents. If their biological parents cannot do so than next closest relative if able. If my husband and i both die i expect that my brother will raise my children since he is my closest relative and my husband has no siblings.

    2) when you open up children whether gay or straight to be raised apart from biological parents or parent who otherwise could raise them you are denying rights to children. This is what gay marriage will do or allow. Want someone to recognize your relationship? Then get someone to have a ceremony or draft a will. Marriage recognition involves children. Gay marriage is a marriage that denies children at least one bio parent.

    3) denying children parents is not for the common good. Even Obama has recognized and championed father involvement because it is the best interest of children to have both bio parents. My generation has had to deal with broken homes and single parenthood. Its not been pretty. So how is gay marriage for the common good of children?

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  21. Steven, then I still must disagree. I was not talking about sexual pairings or triplings, etc. (And forgive, me, I am reading quickly, might be sloppy in my answer). I am talking about platonic pairings, siblings who simply want to live together, etc.

    If you are talking about justice for sexual relationships (gay, polyamory, etc.) that are not marriage (in its natural, not even sacramental sense), then I think you are going squarely against the letter and spirit of the CDF document, no? That would be setting up some kind of "parallel marriage" or mock marriage situation.

    If that's what you are saying, then of course we completely disagree. I stand with the Church on this.

    But again, I am in a rush, so I apologize if I am misunderstanding! :)

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    1. Meaning, these "rights" to insurance, inheritance, etc., must be open to ANYONE who wants that at any time. Any citizen, no matter status or sexual orientation, nor living arrangement. It must not be restricted to folks wanting to "build a life" together (and have sex), or else that sets up a parallel of marriage, and it's a no-no according to the Church. Bad for society (as we have already witnessed).

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  22. The Holy Father is wise about many things, but magisterial authority does not extend to politics. The Church completely changed their views on religious freedom during Vatican II. Quite a change from "Error has no rights" to the Declaration on Religious Freedom. Same with the death penalty and the temporal power of the Church.

    The issue here is not Holy Matrimony, but civil marriage. It is a political issue.

    Whose name is at the top of the marriage license? Caesar's.
    Who issues marriage licenses? Caesar.
    Who defines who can get a marriage license? Caesar.
    Who defines the rights and duties of a civil marriage license? Caesar.

    Quite frankly, the Church has better things to do than fight over who Caesar decides to grant certain legal and contractual rights. Fighting to preserve the definition of marriage as it is: "one man and one woman, at a time, for as long as they feel like it" makes no sense. The Church has better things to spend its time and energy fighting over in the civil arena.

    Second, when Catholics oppose same-sex civil marriage, inevitably the media will lump them in with Fred Phelps or similar views contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Finally, we live in a democracy in which most people do not agree with the Catholic definition of marriage. (The idea that marriage is about procreation is considered barbaric by most.) Were Catholics to write a Catholic view of marriage into the civil law, what is to prevent anti-Catholic laws from being written when the political tides turn, which they inevitably will? (One could already argue that this has happened. Christians formed a political alliance with the Republican Party and are paying the price for it now that the Democrats are in power.)

    I will conclude with C.S. Lewis's views on marriage and divorce and the difference between a legal marriage and sacramental one:

    "Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question--how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the state with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."

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  23. James, except for when we are talking about issues that are non-negotiable. For the common good. The issue of marriage is not 'political'. It's foundational to all society.

    Even the Church recognizes that there is civil and natural marriage. What cannot be recognized is gay "marriage", since it's not marriage in any sense. It's an ontological impossibility.

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    1. She's correct, James. Your argument is a good illustration of the Left's desire to separate voters from their religious foundations by politicizing the moral.

      Very sneaky is exactly what it is. However, the TRUTH is that every layer of this issue has always been foundationally a moral issue. It is the Left - supported by folks like you - who have politicized the moral and then turn around to accuse our Holy Father and faithful OBEDIENT Catholics - who refuse to substitute our own judgment for the infallible moral teachings of Holy Mother Church - of imposing our religious views in political issues.

      Wrong, and just plain dumb. If anything, it's the reverse.

      Such a statement, whether straightforward or by implication, is a complete fabrication. Whether you are the liar or you've been conned by the Father of Lies I do not know, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt on that one, as I am called to do.

      But it remains a lie.

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  24. JamesB- 1)civil marriage and sacrimental marriage are separate in places like Italy but not in the US. The priest acts as an agent of the state. The Church recognizes Protestant marriages regardless of officiants to be sacramental. Lots of people have advocating separating the state from the Church myself included but this hasn't happened yet and the state has not proposed it.

    2) its for the above reasons that the Church has a vested interest in civil marriage. What's to stop a gay couple from suing a priest to marry them since he is an agent of the state?

    3) It is the gay marriage groups who are lobbying to change law. If the church is responding it is to legislate what has been the traditional view of marriage in order to protect this view. And its not just catholics one could argue conservative groups.

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  25. Deltaflute,

    1) The US custom is to allow ministers to witness civil marriages primarily out of convenience. The couple must, nevertheless, get the marriage license from a civil authority and register them with the civil authority.

    2) The First Amendment to the Constitution stops them. Catholic priests do not have to marry divorced persons seeking a second marriage. There are cases where ministers refuse to marry interracial couples and are completely within their rights to do so.

    3) The Catholic view of marriage includes fidelity, permanence, and openness to children, all of which are absent from the legal definition. The current legal definition of marriage is not the Catholic view of marriage at all.

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  26. Leila, do you believe that a civil marriage contract creates a natural marriage?

    I would say no. A civil "marriage" contract grants legal rights, but creates neither a natural or sacramental marriage. Calling such an institution a marriage is a misnomer. Thus, whether a same-sex couple can or cannot get one is irrelevant.

    For quite some time the Church was opposed to the idea of civil marriage as marriage was something beyond the authority of a civil government to regulate.

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  27. "Leila, do you believe that a civil marriage contract creates a natural marriage?"

    James, yes, and so does the Catholic Church.

    In fact, with two baptized Protestants who are free to marry, a civil marriage also creates a sacramental marriage.

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    1. No, this is not the case.

      The Church recognizes anything that is done with intent to marry -- provided it fits the Catholic definition of marriage. My aunt's civil marriage was not a natural marriage, because the man she married was already married in the eyes of the Church. Marriages (in other countries) of people below the age of consent, marriages between first cousins (legal in my state) and so forth are not recognized as marriages by the Church. Civil marriage is useful for record-keeping -- knowing who intended to be married -- but the church's definition of natural marriage is more complicated than "any civil marriage." If you contract a civil marriage just to get someone their immigration papers, the Church will be pretty quick to hand down a judgment that that wasn't a valid marriage because it lacks the intent to form a lifelong bond

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    2. Sheila, actually the Church will not hand a judgement down on any civil marriage at all -- unless she is asked by one of the parties to a marriage. The Church does not go around judging marriages. The Church assumes the validity of any civil marriage unless asked to investigate, again, by the invitation of the spouse(s). So, while it is true that some civil marriages are not valid, the Church is going to assume that they are (there's no snooping going on). So it's completely true that the Catholic Church has no problem with the understanding that civil marriages do create natural marriages. Not always, not everywhere, but yes, that is a generally true statement.

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    3. Maybe the problem is that you quoted (me?) as saying "any civil marriage", but I never said that.

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  28. Steve,

    I disagree, respectfully.

    It ideally sounds like a matter of fairness and equal rights, but only under the modernist expanded notion of what constitutes a "right." In the Constitution we enumerate powers to keep government in its cage (fat chance), but the rights of men are limited because they are expressed as first principles.

    However, the radical expansion of what constitutes a right has accorded "rights" status to whatever someone (or a group) wishes to do unimpeded. The contrary values, concerns, and considerations of the culture - normally considered as secondary principles - can only give way to such demands by elevating them to the level of rights justified and recognized by the aforementioned first principles.

    However, the expanded "rights" you suggest we need to grant are, at best, secondary. They conflict with the rights of the overall community to not legitimize strange, perverse, unhealthy, and just plain immoral lifestyles and living arrangements. Suspending these exclusions in law for the sake of fairness unavoidably normalizes and legitimizes these lifestyles and behaviors at the expense of the larger society, primarily but not only at the expense of what's best for our children.

    Only a culture which has placed morality on a shelf because it's inconvenient can view this matter as one of fairness or equal rights. The argument typically boils down to a claim that those resisting are imposing their religious values upon those who don't share them.

    Nonsense. The reality is that shared morality for the sake of the common good has been fractured and diluted by the 20th century hyper-sexualization of our culture and the marketing principles which support it. The normalization is almost complete - certainly in your argument.

    Most of what you describe as deserving recognition are perks - not rights - which extend from first principles and society for centuries (and only until very recently) reserved them for those who best and most fully served the best interests of a Christian morals-based society. It's hard to find legitimacy in the notion that the state and the culture from which it draws authority has a compelling interest in selling out the bests interests of that culture because a small minority have succeed in a major PR coup, even in our churches.

    Next stop will be this crowd suing churches for failing to marry same sex couples. In the UK a suit was just filed against the Church of England by one such very wealthy couple. How long before that lawsuit is filed against the Catholic Church here? How long before the Church is sued by polyamorous couples here?

    You must by now be aware that the long-term goal is to destroy marriage outright (publicly stated by several radical homosexual activists) and eventually the elimination of the age of consent by progressively lowering it until it is meaningless. if you don't know these things then you need to find yourself a canary with whom to share your mineshaft. Or as Bob Dylan once sang in words with unintended but violent consequences, "You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

    Besides, recognizing civil unions for polyamory is too little, too late. Just as the civil rights of blacks inspired homosexual rights and many other movements to appropriate the structural argument from the sphere of racial equality, so too will the polyamory folks demand the same, and no less. Civil unions represent an insufficient concession, as we are seeing in the case of bakers and photographers being persecuted for refusing to participate in same sex weddings even though there is no shortage of those willing to cash in.

    And finally, I see in no way how your proposal benefits children. It will only add profoundly to the hurt increasingly inflicted upon children by sacrificing them on the altar of granting license to over-grown teen-agers masquerading as loving parents.

    Phil Steinacker

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  29. James, I wrote this on Calah's blog, after she got it wrong as well. She printed the correction:

    “Actually, the Church does recognize the civil marriages of Protestants, Buddhists, etc. For non-Christians, those marriages are considered natural and valid. For two baptized Protestants, those civil marriages are considered sacramental (even if the Protestants themselves don’t realize they have a sacramental marriage). Anyone who is free to marry is considered by the Church to have a valid marriage even if the marriage was performed in Vegas, or in front of a JP. It is only Catholics who are required (as one of the precepts of the Church) to be married in the Church (witnessed by a priest or deacon) or else get a dispensation from the bishop.”

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  30. So, Leila...

    What is created when a Catholic gets a civil marriage outside the Church?

    What is created when two divorced Catholics get a civil marriage license?

    What about when two divorced non-Catholics get a civil marriage license?

    What about common-law marriages? We still recognize them in my state.

    My point is that what the law considers to be a marriage is different than what the Church considers to be a marriage and that there are already plenty of people married by the state that the Church does not consider married.

    Canon Law recognizes that a legal marriage CAN create a marriage in certain circumstances, not that it DOES create a marriage in every circumstance.

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  31. James, here are some ways in which I believe your thinking errs.

    1) The Church recognizes natural marriage, not only sacramental marriage. Natural marriage is always between opposite sex couples. I'm no expert in Canon Law, but this comes into play in annulment cases all the time. So the Church is concerned about marriage outside the Church because it affects her members in this way. Natural marriage was recognized by the state and divorce outlawed in the past without the US being a theocracy. Natural marriage is based on human reason, it's not something you have to be Catholic or even religious to understand.

    2) You completely ignore the importance of the family in society. Besides the common good that Leila mentioned, there's the issue of the good of children that's been discussed here often. Should the Church abandon these children, simply because we're not talking about sacraments? Shouldn't we care about society being on a firm foundation? The Vatican document Leila linked to addresses these issues.

    3) Sodomy is physically and spiritually destructive for those who practice it. Shouldn't we be concerned about the physical and spiritual health of those with SSM? If everyone else is telling them that "same-sex marriage" is a good and encouraging them to sin, should we be silent?

    4) Equating morally repugnant behavior with true marriage degrades marriage. Marriage is already falling apart in our culture. We need to strengthen it, not walk away from the fight.

    5) C.S. Lewis, while one of my favorite authors, is not the magisterium of the Church. He is not even Thomas Aquinas. And on this issue he was just plain wrong, because he too ignored the significance of marriage to children and to society.

    6) Who cares if most of our culture thinks we're crazy? Is that a reason to stop speaking the truth? Imagine if the apostles had done that. There was a time not long ago when the majority of our country supported abortion on demand. If we had given up, we wouldn't have seen the tide turning in the last few years.

    To sum up, the Church's defense of marriage is not meddling in politics. Marriage predates the state. It was created by God, whether individuals choose to accept this fact or not. The repercussions of giving up this fight would be tremendous, many of them unforeseen.

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  32. James, even civil marriages are recognized as civil marriages by the Church. Even civil marriages are capable of doing what natural marriage is supposed to do: Be the only civil institution that unites children with their mom and dad.

    Gay pairings are in no way "marriage" of any kind. If we call them that, we have un-defined marriage. That is disaster for the common good. Disaster of a different *kind* than divorce, contraception, etc. -- not just a different degree.

    But at least you stand corrected on civil marriage in the eyes of the Church, I hope?

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  33. 1) sure. But if priests weren't agents of the state than anyone can witness and sign as officients. As it stands you have to be registered with the state in order to act as a witness. That makes you an agent acting on behalf of the state.

    2) there is a couple seeking to sue a priest arguing what i have said. There are also individuals being sued for descrimination because they do not want to witness or photograph gay couples. Thus far the 1st isn't doing so well in protecting people.

    3) I never said that the law was the Catholic view of marriage. I talked about the traditional view as man and woman entered into freely. Catholics dont have arranged marriages but that is one type of legally recognized marriage as they involve a man and a woman in agreement. And Catholics recognize the need for civil devorce when children and or spouses are in need of protection. Catholics advocate that gay or polygamous marriages have consequences to children and that is our chief reason for opposition.

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    1. 1) So why can priests refuse to marry divorced persons under current law?

      2) The suit against the priest will get laughed out of court, probably with costs. The photographers are an issue of anti-discrimination statutes applied to their businesses. Such statutes do not and cannot apply to Churches. (Most recent case on this was decided in church's favor by a unanimous SCOTUS.) Yes, IAAL.

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  34. 1) Civil marriage of a same-sex couple cannot create a natural marriage. I don't think anyone is arguing that it can, which is why I don't see what the big deal is.

    2) The family is quite important to society. Which is why the Church would be far better served fighting against anti-family immigration laws and for other pro-family policies that will have a much larger impact on families than defending an grossly deficient definition of marriage.

    3,4) Do you not think that heterosexual couples do that?

    And BTW, when sodomy laws were on the books, they also included acts that the Church considers to be completely licit between married couples as foreplay. Was the government right or wrong to prohibit such acts?


    5) One cannot DO evil, but it is sometimes licit to TOLERATE an evil in society if would cause more harm to prevent it or to serve a greater good.

    Even the Law of Moses allowed divorce. It also allowed polygamy.

    Aquinas also said legalized prostitution was necessary for the stability of society, as did Augustine.

    In the case of same-sex marriage, people are forming such domestic partnerships and it is in society's best interest to recognize the partnerships. When people form a domestic union without a legal marriage, things can get messy from a legal perspective.

    As for impact on society, many similar arguments were used against religious freedom before Vatican II.

    6) The apostles were spreading the gospel, not engaging in Roman or Judean politics.

    When one talks about the civil law or what the civil law should be, one is, by definition, engaging in politics. God's name is not on a marriage license, Caesar's is.




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  35. Leila,

    No, I do not stand corrected on civil marriages in the eyes of the Church. You are misrepresenting what I am saying.

    Canon Law presumes such marriages are valid, they do not determine conclusively whether the marriage is a natural marriage or a sacramental marriage in fact. If the couple that runs off to Vegas divorces, then goes before a tribunal, it is highly unlikely that marriage will be seen as valid or sacramental.

    You did not answer my questions on the status of obviously invalid marriages. What does the civil marriage license create? A natural marriage, a sacramental marriage, or nothing?

    What is the Church's view on polygamous marriages in jurisdictions that recognize them?

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  36. James, just quickly (I won't be able to respond thoroughly till later), do you realize you are going against the mind of the Church on this? Or do you think that your points are compatible with Church teaching on this issue? (It's a serious question; I am just curious.)

    What weight would you give the CDF document (which was speaking to all nations, not just America)?

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  37. I hope Connie doesn't mind if i say one tinsy thing. But James the saints arent always correct. They often discuss matters of Church teachings that latter the Magisterium disagreed with. Some people make the mistake of reading saint's writings with the same authority and they should not. Saint discourses are just that....discourses. please also read church documents as they are the higher authority and teaching for matters like prostatution and polygamy.

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  38. Civil marriages are civil marriage. Polygamous marriages are polygamous marriages. Gay "marriages" are…. nothing that touches on marriage at all. Nothing.

    As to what you said earlier:

    Leila, do you believe that a civil marriage contract creates a natural marriage?

    I would say no.


    You said "no", the Church says "yes". I asked if you stand corrected. I hope so.

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  39. My position on civil marriage is this:

    Canon Law recognizes that a legal marriage CAN create a marriage in certain circumstances, not that it DOES create a marriage in every circumstance.

    Would you not agree that not every civil marriage is recognized by the Church as a marriage? Would you not agree that if such a marriage ended up before a tribunal, that the tribunal would look for something beyond the license as evidence of whether or not the marriage was valid?


    Yes, I am aware that my position on civil marriages is in opposition to what the Church teaches. I am also aware that politics are beyond the scope of the authority of the magisterium. I am not questioning what marriage is, I simply disagree with the Church on what the LAW should be.

    The Church has also come out against the death penalty, against the War in Iraq, and for universal health care. They have been very critical of capitalism. Yet faithful Catholics may disagree with the Church on all of these political issues.


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    1. You are speaking my language man!

      November

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    2. I agree with you absolutely, James. The Church is infallible on matters of faith and morals. It is authoritative on matters of discipline. On matters of politics, we use prudence to apply the Church's moral teaching in the best way for the situation. At times the Church has been very loud in warning against democracy. At other times it's been pro-democracy. None of these tendencies oblige in conscience.

      Incidentally, the CDF is in no way infallible. Only Popes and Councils are infallible, and those only when they definitively declare something. If we had to obey everything the Pope mentioned in a speech, none of us could be capitalist, support the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, or drive Hummers. The Pope's opinion is only taken as authoritative by most people when they already happen to agree with it.

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    3. Sheila, I responded to your last comment (about civil marriage) right underneath your comment, but I'm going to follow my own rules (ha ha, at last) and respond to this one at the end of the thread, so hang on….

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  40. James, if sane-sex couples can't have a natural marriage, why are you content to let their relationship be called marriage? Many people in our society are arguing that same-sex couples can have true marriage--thus, the change in definition.

    Yes, heterosexual couples can commit sodomy and other perverse acts. But the PURPOSE of a homosexual coupling is to commit these acts. It can't possibly result in the marriage act.

    Immigration laws will have more impact on children than a change in marriage laws? What???? Maybe you're assuming that only children adopted by homosexual couples will be affected. In reality, all children will be affected. Same-sex "marriage" was just legalized in Minnesota this month and already it has been discussed by the teacher in my 7-year-old's SWIMMING CLASS! (Fortunately, he was goofing around and didn't hear her.) Children in public schools are being forced to listen to homosexual and other LGBTQ propaganda in schools.

    We are not living in the time of Moses. I will leave it to experts on Aquinas to explain why his allowance of prostitution is not the same as the Church abandoning this fight.

    Whether similar arguments were used in the past on other issues or not is irrelevant. That's a fallacious argument. We have already seen the impact of "same-sex marriage" on other cultures and in some states. We don't have to speculate. Read some of the links to the Witherspoon Institute that Leila has linked to before.

    Why is it in society's best interest to recognize "domestic union" between same-sex couples as you say? Let these people stay on the margins of society as they have for centuries. I can't see how recognizing their sin in law is going to help anybody. (I know I am being blunt in my wording here, but I am tired of watering down what homosexual acts are just not to offend people.)

    Jesus was crucified by Rome and most of the apostles were martyred by Rome. Rome saw Christianity as a threat to the empire. I don't think spreading the Gospel was political, but Caesar did. Nor do I think defending natural law, on which our country is based, is essentially political. But both have political repercussions.

    The biggest question here is why you think it's okay to ignore Church teaching just because it hasn't been infallibly defined? What happened to the "assent of faith"?

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  41. Jamesb- You are really simplifying these issues. The Church has not come out against the death penalty entirely. And only the Pope spoke against the war. The pope's opinion is only one point to consider but certainly not the whole of the Church. And universal health care? More like health care access which is not the same as socialized medicine or violates conscience like Obamacare

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/u.s._bishops_final_plea_to_congressmen_do_not_pass_pro-abortion_health_care_bill/

    http://catholicknight.blogspot.ca/2010/03/on-healthcare-usccb-liberation-theology.html


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  42. Connie, I also agree with James. I think sacramental marriage and civil marriage are different. Also, I do not feel I am ignoring church teaching -- I am personally obedient and follow church teaching on chastity (and have been married many years), but I cannot follow it's political choice in this regard (and, like James, I see this as political).

    I think in terms of your saying that gay people should live "on the margins of society", you are not following church teaching, which clearly states "Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.

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  43. I would prefer that the state stayed out of the marriage business. Domestic legal partnerships—"civil unions"—for everyone. I find an adulterous couple running to the justice of the peace before the ink is dry on their divorce papers far more offensive to marriage than gay couples.

    No, I don't believe the sky is falling. No matter how much "propaganda" is promoted, most people simply aren't interested in the same sex, and those who are probably aren't going to be persuaded against it by legal sanction. Unless you are advocating for the bedroom police, which I sincerely hope you are not.

    The real problem is that heterosexuals have lost interest in marriage. Spending millions to prevent a relatively small number of same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses is the wrong battle.

    The purpose of a domestic legal partnership is to secure certain rights with respect to property, inheritance, next of kin, etc. I don't see why same-sex couples should be kept from those legal rights.

    I seriously doubt that the coalition of Freemasons and Calvinists who were our founding fathers cared much of the opinion of the Catholic Church when they founded our country.

    I'm not ignoring Church teaching. I have read it, understood it, and flatly disagree with the political opinions of the Church. John Henry Cardinal Newman disagreed with Church teaching (at the time) on religious freedom. This is no different.

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  44. Jessica- unfortunately being a Catholic does mean that all aspects of your life including political ones are formed in good conscience of Catholic teachings. In other words if the Church teaches that civil marriages and sacramental ones are only between heterosexuals then that is how it is. You seem to be taking discrimination to mean no gay marriage when all it means is to be kind and just.

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  45. Jessica. I was talking people setting up homosexual households, not their worth as individuals. Same-sex relationships should not be recognized by society. That's not "unjust discrimination." If people do these things in secret, that's on their conscience. I don't see why the rest of us need recognize it in law.

    People say the same thing about the abortion debate being political. Who gives you the authority to marginalize the instructions of the CDF? Can't you see that nearly every issue can be called meddling in politics, unless it has to do with Church law? Should the Church completely withdraw from society and only care about her own people and what they do within her walls? That sounds suspiciously like Obama's "freedom of worship" versus "freedom of religion."

    What do you say about Caesar killing the early Christians?

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    1. And what she said. I think blogger needs like buttons.

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    2. Agree. I'm too used to Facebook now. I keep wanting to "like" other people's comments.

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    3. I don't have any authority and didn't say that I did. I am expressing my opinion. Abortion involves human life, it is different TO ME than two consenting adults. The equating of the two is fallacious. I am not telling anyone else what they should do politically -- I am saying that I disagree, even while being personally obedient. We are in a democracy, everyone should have the right to debate, vote, etc. And of course the moral compass of voters -- which for many people is developed on the basis of religious teachings -- will inform their politics. I do not think the Church should withdraw from society -- I disagree on the Church's focus and use of resources on this particular issue. And I am trying to show why even people of faith have differences on this issue. And people setting up households you disapprove of should live on the margins of society?

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    4. This isn't a matter of my authority, it is a matter of the limits of the CDF's.

      While Joseph Ratzinger is a brilliant man, the CDF document contains some flawed assumptions.

      1) The assumption that legal marriage is a conjugal institution ordered toward procreation. Neither conjugal relations nor procreation is required for a legal marriage.
      2) It overstates the effect that legal same-sex marriage will have on the population. Most people simply aren't interested.
      3) I do agree that gay couples should not have the same rights to adopt, but a far better tactic would be to deal with this issue separately.
      4) It underestimates the costs and difficulties of couples being able to use other provisions of the law to protect their rights.

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  46. John- smh. One of the founding fathers was a Catholic. And the purpose of all marriages apart from any other partnership is the legal rights of children. Property, inheritance, power of attorney are all legal for any persons. My grandmother's legal poa is my mother. And despite being next of kin my grandmother still had to have documents drafted. Even legally married couples do. So why gay marriage?

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  47. Deltaflute,

    Because you asked...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States

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  48. No, I don't see the anti-discrimination language in terms of marriage -- but it clearly prevents the type of "let them live on the margins of society" rhetoric that Connie used -- and that is specifically what I said. Please re-read my comments. I will add that to the extent that the Church and others want to convince people that gay marriage is a societal -- and not just a religious -- evil, that rhetoric will not help. That is why so many people think those against gay marriage are motivated by bigotry instead of by a reasoned argument. I will just (once again) echo James -- I've read all the documents, I understand them and I disagree. Trust me, I know what that means, I know what we are called to do, but I still disagree. As a political issue, I do not believe fighting gay marriage helps sacramental marriage.

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    1. "As a political issue, I do not believe fighting gay marriage helps sacramental marriage."

      That people do think gay marriage is true marriage is a symptom that heterosexuals have given up on marriage. It is a not the problem, nor is it the cause.

      And guess what? Even in states where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, many people still socially recognize it as marriage.

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    2. Jessica, I already addressed that "margins of society" comment, but you continue to misinterpret it. Sigh! There are many reasons not to recognize Same-sex relationships besides its affect on sacramental marriage. But I've listed many of them already. So I'll bow out for real now.

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  49. Deltaflute,

    Yes, many of these things can be done contractually—at a much higher expense.

    Why make couples jump through all these hoops when there is an existing legal institution that gives them exactly what they want?

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  50. James, you continue to brush aside the harm "same-sex marriage" will do and is doing to children. As far as I know, there was no curriculum requirement in years past to teach young kids that divorce, adultery, contraception, or fornication were okay. (With contraception, there may have been some at high school level some places; I'm not sure). But there are requirements they be taught homosexual relationships are okay. And parents have been arrested for protesting this.

    I don't know of photographers being forced to take pictures of adulterous couples, or bakers forced to make cakes for a divorce party either.

    I believe this is my generation's equivalent of the abortion debate. I'm not going down without a fight. I'm glad the Church isn't either, and I'm sorry you disagree.

    I need to care for my own family now and I think we've reached the point where we can only repeat what we've already said, so I'm bowing out.

    God bless all commenters and I'm sorry if I was a little harsh in some of my comments. Sometimes my emotions get away from me.

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    1. God bless! Have a wonderful evening? Day?

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  51. James- i still have to do that. Many legally married couples do. Not all states have the same marriage laws. So again if not for children what is the states need to recognize gay marriage?

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    1. And health insurance that your spouse has. You can't privately contract into a group health plan.

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    2. Which wouldn't be an issue if people listened to the Church on universal health care. :-)

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  52. Deltaflute, now I am talking as a Constitution lawyer (I am one). I am not sure if you have read the cases on gay marriage. But the legal analysis is this -- an allegation that limiting marriage to two people of opposite genders is discriminatory under state law (statutory or constitutional -- and many state consitutions have stronger/different equality language than the federal constitution). The response is that that state has a "rational basis" for confining marriage to a man and a woman (homosexuality is not subject to the strict scrutiny of racial and religious demarcations of the law, rational basis is a lower standard). In the cases, the "rational basis" is normally that heterosexual marriage is better for children. Both sides present evidence (psychological studies generally, which come to a variety of different conclusions). In some cases, that has been upheld as a rational basis. In other cases, it has not.

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    1. Uggh, Constitutional lawyer. I need to proofread more. The best discussion of the legal issues, the shifting burdens, and the psychological evidence is probably in the Prop. 8 case from California (the transcripts and the opinion of the trial court, not the Supreme Court opinion based on standing). Note -- I am NOT SAYING the transcripts and opinion should change anyone's mind nor the focus of the Church. But it is a clear and succinct view of both sides from a legal, civil marriage perspective, since they had a full trial (unusual in this arena).

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  53. Jessica- exactly. Gay marriage advocates feel the need to have a feelings-only based relationship recognized. But why does the state have an interest in that? Does the state recognize friendships? No. Because there is no reason to. Yet the state recognizes business partnerships becausr of business. So marriage is the state recognizing children partnerships. But gay people cant biologically have children together. They have to have a third party who isnt recognized and is denied. This is making children commodities and not recognizing the rights of children to their parentage. This is what heterosexuals are fighting amongst themselves about too. And gay marriage will just further erode the rights of children.

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  54. Property rights arent guarenteed between couples either. Particularly business ones. Health insurance same. UPS recently gave up coverage to spouses who have another employer.

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    1. Also cant get into a safety deposit box until after testate or unless in will. Its not as easy as you think. Unless your name is on something you have to jump through hoops. Which is why my car title says Mr. Or mrs. Flute. Anyone can set up property that way to avoid issues.

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    2. Yes, there is no guarantee to health insurance. But employer-based group plans that offer benefits to people other than the employee (which they are not required to do) offer benefits to the employee's spouse and children. You cannot contract into such a plan. States differ in terms of property laws in marriage but every state has default property laws that apply to married people -- in CA, we have community property and each spouse has a community (joint, undivided) interest in assets purchased with community funds.

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    3. That's my point. Even legally married couples don't have it easy.

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  55. Deltaflute, the current state of civil, state marriage is not about children -- at least from a legal, rights-based argument. At one point, children did or did not have legal rights based on whether they were born to married people -- illegitimate children were denied inheritance, for example. That has now changes in all (I think all) states. Now the rights the state accords to children -- such as inheritance, support from both parents -- are accorded to the children regardless of the marital status of their parents. So while marriage historically is for the benefit of children -- and certainly that is the Church's position -- modern, civil marriage is about the rights of adults. Sterilized, barren, post-childbearing age people, celibate people -- they can all get married to someone of their other gender. And that has been one of the strongest legal arguments in support of gay marriage. While the state has an interest in marriage as it pertains to children -- the LEGAL aspects of civil marriage pertain primarily to rights and responsibilities accorded to the adults in the marriage.

    Now, that is the legal structure of marriage right now. Morally, I am a HUGE supporter of marriage. And I strongly believe, for example, that divorce is often very bad for children -- obviously there are reasons like abuse that compel divorce. But there is a lot of research -- for examples, studies that show that the standard of living for women and children goes down after divorce -- about the negative outcomes of divorce. Despite that, when this issue has been examined from a legal perspective, the impact on children is not enough to allow a state to ban divorce (and even now most states have no-fault). Because civil marriage is basically a contractual relationship between two adults, they have the right to leave the relationship.

    So therein lies one of the reasons I personally cannot be a political advocate against civil gay marriage. To reiterate again, I am not talking about sacramental marriage, or the Church's own teachings about the primary values and reasons for marriage, which I do believe in but are not what civil marriage is about. If the primary argument is about children -- that is a different standard than CIVIL marriage today.

    Also, gay people can and do and will have children regardless of whether there is gay marriage. Gay marriage rights have nothing to do with the right to have children. If the primary focus is children -- are those children better off with no gay marriage? I don't see any argument that supports that.

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    1. ^ Yes, this.

      The only thing I would add is that one of the reasons we have no-fault divorce is in part because before the no-fault laws, people who really didn't want to remain married would manufacture "fault" to get a divorce. Staged adultery was common.

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  56. I'm going to make a general comment because I am off to activities with my own children and may not be able to respond to any mroe comments today. I just want to say that I have read Leila's blog for a long time and just loved it. I find myself nodding often, and particularly love her little teachings. I have only recently commented (also on a gay marriage post), only because generally I have little to add to Leila's great posts! I commented here because Leila brought up the issue of differences even between orthodox Catholics, and as I said, I am trying to show why some people have those differences on gay marriage -- I am not trying to change anyone's mind. But clearly, people of faith DO differ, even if they are 100% familiar with official teaching. I think this is an important conversation to have, and I am grateful to Leila for allowing it on her blog.

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  57. Jessica- sorry if i was confusing. States only recognize relationships they have a vested interest in. Unless there is some purpose they state doesn't need a law.

    Business partnerships are recognized to protect business assets. While friendships have no legal recognition to do so.

    As I've been pointing out things like insurance or property or even power of attorney rights among spouses vary from state to state. Primarily the point if marriage is for the good of children.

    Sure you can argue that in recent history we no longer have illigitamacy and so forth. But the states current interest is having a populace and to do that you need children. In order to have children you need heterosexual couples and for them to be raised their progeny. Why?

    Better citizens. Children in stable families are better citizens. Children raised by a non bio parent have a higher chance of abuse for example. Doesn't matter if its gay or straight.

    Thats the states interest in children but what of those without children? We can't test virility in every couple. Its invasive and expensive. They also make great adopters. As for older couples they still contribute to each others children from previous relationship and as surrogate grandparents. Plus very few remarry. Neither my widowed grandmother or grandfather remarried.

    Gay marriages offer no children. Instead they offer a separation from a bio parent. This is wrong for heteros or homos. But it should be fought on both fronts. That neither heteros or homos should deny parentage.

    In other words whats the point of gay marriage? They cant and shouldn't have children. What's the state's interest in a group that can't produce children and statistically speaking put children at a higher rate of abuse? It doesnt make sense.

    Marriage, civil or otherwise, is not just a contractual agreement between two adults. Its an agreement to have and raise children if possible in a family unit. If it was simply a contract than my husband and i would not have even bothered as so many often do.

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  58. I haven't been able to catch up but only caught a few things. I would point out that marriage is of course about children ultimately. I go back to the Hillary Clinton quote I use so often, as she said it so eloquently just a few years back [2004?]:

    "[Marriage is] the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history, as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society in which they are to become adults.”

    Everyone really "got" that, and most in the world still do. If humans reproduced asexually and their offspring were self-suffient from birth, then marriage would never exist. The fact that some couples are infertile due to age or disease or medical disorder does not make their sexual union any less ordered toward procreation.

    As for the children, one would expect that when we mess with the only civil institution that unites a child to his mom and dad, we are going to have trouble:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/06/should-children-sit-down-and-shut-up.html

    Do I keep saying the same things? Yes. So does the Church. Her wisdom will be borne out and we will be accountable for which side we were on. I love Fulton Sheen:

    There is often an hour when the world cannot understand the reason the Church gives for her position, but there is never a time when men do not live to see that her judgment was reasonable.

    To James, I just want to make sure we are very clear that the positions you have stated (and the ones from Jessica, too, but I haven't read through all hers) are your own opinions and do not comport with the mind of the Church on this crucial, non-negotiable issue. I just always want to make that clear, so that the Church's stance does not simply get relegated to one opinion among many. As Catholics, we are bound to give religious submission of mind and will when a document such as the CDF doc comes out, and we are to think with the mind of the Church. Her wisdom far surpasses our own. The greatest characteristic of the saints is humble obedience. It's hard, especially in our lives here as Americans, to remember the things that really matter.

    Jessica I did read your last comment and I truly appreciate it! You are very kind and you have been gracious and respectful here (as have the others).

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  59. "I do agree that gay couples should not have the same rights to adopt, but a far better tactic would be to deal with this issue separately."

    James, this is a pipe dream. The 'right' to get married means the 'right' to have children ("I want, I want, I want" say the adults). And this default expectation and connection is there despite the fact that we are told time and again (including on this thread) that marriage has no inherent connection to children.

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    1. Just to clarify my own personal position, I don't believe that marriage has no inherent connection to children. But current state civil law does not at all deal with rights that are about children. All the rights that children had that were connected to marriage are now rights that all children have regardless of marriage. Again, legal, judicially enforceable rights is what I am talking about. Also, I think you are incorrect that political gay marriage advocates say that marriage has nothing to do with children inherently -- one of the had couples in the Prop 8 case had kids and one of their arguments was that legal recognition of their relationship would be better for their kids.

      I don't think faith and obedience are supposed to be easy. But I think many faithful people read the Church's position on this and think "that makes total sense, I am behind this 100%." It is easy for them to support the arguments and they see no flaws in them. That is not the case for me. And so the call for this to be a primary political focus for Catholics is a struggle for me, and I don't think I am alone.

      Also, people have a right to have children regardless of whether they have a right to adopt. Except under very limited circumstances, the state cannot regulate people having children.

      Here's probably one way the civil law and the Catholic law will never meet, and I really think that has become very clear on this issue, and why sometimes it appears as if we are talking past each other. Our country's founding documents speak of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Rights are often spoken of in terms of the individual. The Church speaks of self-sacrifice when it comes to matters of sexuality, and has a very clear message as to when and when not sex is permitted, and that's not part of the rights dialogue (unfortunately in many ways).

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  60. "I believe this is my generation's equivalent of the abortion debate. I'm not going down without a fight. I'm glad the Church isn't either"

    Connie, totally agreed. See Fulton Sheen quote. :)

    It's taken forty years, but the abortion fight is turning. It has not gone away, even during those times when only a small percentage of the populace (mostly Catholics!) cared. Things are changing all the time. When society starts to really feel the depth of the bad effects, eyes start to open. It may take forty years, but the same will happen again on this issue, and we will learn the lesson painfully, mostly on the backs of children.

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  61. The problem isn't the mind of the Church, Leila, it's their awareness of the facts and understanding of the civil law. The CDF statement essentially says that Catholics should fight to preserve something that does not currently exist in the law.

    Legal marriage is NOT about children. Jessica and I, both lawyers, have pointed out that the law is quite clear on this. Parenting issues were generally separated from marriage issues no later than the 1970s. Legal marriage and what the Church considers marriage are two radically different things that share a common name and a few common features and probably always will be.

    The Church is a European institution dealing with European concepts of the state and law. The US ideals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness and Separation of Church and State aren't really a major concern of the Church. US jurisprudence and legal history, even less. One of the most difficult things about being American and Catholic is accepting that the Church doesn't think the USA is the center of the universe.

    Socially, when I mention the idea that marriage is a conjugal union oriented toward procreation, the most common reaction is HORROR that ANYONE would think that marriage could possibly be about sex and babies. Everyone else KNOWS it's about love and commitment. They think the Church is perverted for saying marriage has to do with sex and medieval for saying that is its about children. Dr. Greg Popcak said we are a nation of apostate Puritans and I think he's right about that.

    The big challenge for the Church is to heterosexual couples and the general population to understand what marriage really means. The Church may win their battle to stop same-sex civil marriage, but what good does that do when they are losing the wider war?

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  62. Jessica-

    1) rights of children - yes and no. Children of married couples automatically have the father's name listed on their birth certificate in arizona. But other children have to go through a paternity test. Why do you think that is?

    In the UK they recently passed a law against anonymous sperm donation. In the US if you are a child whose father was a sperm donor you have no right to know anything about him including family history. Recently an actor has no rights to visit his son because he's considered a sperm donor even though his son knew him and spent time with him for two years.

    Those are rights being denied to children. Ones that in other countries they have.

    2) people in China do not have the right to have children. They have birth permits. Having children is something we enjoy but its not a guarenteed right anywhere in the constitution. If the state wanted to they could regulate birth. I know loads of people who think that would be a great idea. As it is the UN doesn't see having children as a right either. Or else they wouldn't push their birth regulation agenda.

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    1. *family medical history. Its getting late for me.

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  63. JamesB- the CDF is directed to all Catholics including Canadians who legally have gay marriage.

    Legal marriage is about children. Why would the tax code only allow one parent or married filing jointly to claim a child? Why cant both separate parents claim the same children? Why do we even have a child tax break if the government didn't care about children and their parents?

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  64. @ James
    "The Church may win their battle to stop same-sex civil marriage, but what good does that do when they are losing the wider war?"

    As King Theoden says in Lord of the Rings, "But we will meet them in battle nonetheless." Besides, as Catholic's we know the end of the story. We win! (See the last book of the bible.) Our Lord never said we have to be successful. (Results are His business). He only asks that we try. We should never give up hope.

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  65. James: What part (specifically) about the CDF document does not have application for Catholics in America (or anywhere)?

    Gay marriage was unheard of just a few years back. Unheard of (because it cannot actually exist). By contrast, divorce, polygamy, contraception, etc., has been around for longer than Christianity. The CDF document is talking about gay marriage/legal unions. It is addressing something new. It is applicable. Show me where, in the document, there is no applicability for us as Catholics in any society? Help me out. Quote something for me.

    Yes, you are lawyers. That is commendable. Lots of lawyers disagree with you on the legal points involved. Hillary Clinton, also a lawyer, said this as recently as 2004:

    "[Marriage is] the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history, as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society in which they are to become adults.”

    She held that position through the 2008 primaries. Where did she come up with that idea, if she is a lawyer? How did she, and intelligent, educated and historically-astute attorney, get it so wrong? Help me out.

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  66. "And so the call for this to be a primary political focus for Catholics is a struggle for me, and I don't think I am alone."

    You are not alone. But the call is the same. To see what obedience and love look like, meditate on a crucifix. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."

    I highly recommend a prayerful reading of Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. It speaks to these issues of what it means to have faith, and what it means to gain understanding. It's so beautiful and I think you will really enjoy it. Our faith is not often compatible with the spirit of the world. It's okay, we are different, and Christianity calls us out of ourselves. But it's a burden that is easy, a yoke that is light. Truly, it's a gift to be a Catholic in this age or any age, but it's not going to be comfortable.

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  67. Deltaflute,

    "Even Obama has recognized and championed father involvement because it is the best interest of children to have both bio parents."

    Are you suggesting the contemporary world's most powerful man speaks with a forked tongue on all manner of issues, from both sides of his mouth? Oh, surely not! :)

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  68. James B,

    You wrote:

    "In the case of same-sex marriage, people are forming such domestic partnerships and it is in society's best interest to recognize the partnerships.

    Are you arguing that a child involuntarily placed for nurture and upbringing with people resident in each others' anuses via a same sex "union" which is wholly a diabolical, unnatural and surreal fabrication of marriage (and thus, of family - the very foundational unit of society), is in society's best interest? And that those among us (whether religious or not) who nonetheless retain the most basic cognitive power to differentiate between the healthy and the toxic, should just stay calm, live, and let the most important institution in our lives die?

    Man, are you serious??? Somebody pinch me, please!

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  69. James B

    You wrote:

    "No, I don't believe the sky is falling. No matter how much "propaganda" is promoted, most people simply aren't interested in the same sex, and those who are probably aren't going to be persuaded against it by legal sanction."

    I wish I could share your nonchalance and marvelous serenity regarding this issue!

    How about the dangerous brainwashing of our next generation, James? From kindergarten age? Children being ,"legally" abused with so much crap being forced into their tender heads that they won't stand a fighting chance of deciphering right from wrong or even the natural from the unnatural when it comes to sex, marriage and family - and will only develop the skills to discern between good and evil only after years of confusion and surely at great personal cost to their lives?

    http://www.massresistance.org/media/video/brainwashing.html

    http://groundspark.org/trailers/thatsafamily.html

    Do you find anything chilling at all in these three videos? Is this the new norm(s) of socio-legal constructs which you're so strenuously advocating?

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    1. I have never had the slightest interest in engaging in homosexual activity. I don't see how "propaganda" would have made any difference. Other men just don't do anything for me. I have zero temptation toward this sin, as do most heterosexual people.

      Not to brag, because I make up for it with heterosexual temptation. But I don't know where you get the idea that children can be brainwashed into being gay or that they have to be taught to be straight. It comes pretty naturally for most people.

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    2. James,

      If you read my comment again, you'll see that I didn't write that children are being brainwashed into being "gay" (what a weird expression... presumably the rest of us - heterosexuals - are "sad"... or something...! :)) Rather, the child abuse (for it is precisely that) consists in befuddling their unknowing brains with rabidly false claims that something patently weird, nonsensical and damaging (the concept/construct of "same sex marriage") is natural and just a part of normal (family) life.

      Wander over to Leila's post "Should the children sit down and shut up?" (here: http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/should-children-sit-down-and-shut-up.html) and read some of the testimonies of adults who were brought up by same-sex couples. Read about their struggles (which are only now coming to light) to adapt in later life to the realities of the birds and bees, while reconciling those with their understandable love for the only parents (in a contrived marital relationship) they've ever known.

      If "gays" can be allowed into schools (even in states where "gay marriage" is not legal) to propagate their inclinations and activities as being acceptable and, indeed, normal, can you - as a lawyer - proffer one legal argument as to why polygamists, for instance, should not be allowed to do the same?

      On the issue of what brainwashing from a young age can do to a person's concept of self identity &/or purpose in life, perhaps you might ponder why there are so many kids pouring out of Wahabi funded Madrasas in Pakistan and elsewhere, sincerely believing that their noblest goal/purpose in life is to strap explosives to their chests and dismember themselves along with as many of their fellow men as possible. Or why a million half-starved kids in North Korea use the deferential term of "Dear Leader" when addressing the tyrant who is responsible for their tenuous hold on life, its freedoms and its true joys.

      (P.S. We're both breaking blog rules here by hitting "Reply" and appending our responses below each other's comments. In future we'd better address each other in fresh/distinct comments, referencing the comments we're responding to. This makes it easier for everyone to locate our comments and/or add to them.)

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  70. Is marriage something to which all people are entitled? Should there be any restrictions at all? Or should we allow all people to fulfill their desires, no matter how perverse?

    How far is America willing to go with all this entitlement? Why can we no longer say that same sex marriage is objectively wrong? Not just from a religious standpoint, but from a natural law standpoint.

    And once again, I pose the question, can people live a full, satisfying life without marriage/sex? What about God's love which far far surpasses any mere human romance?

    Why not just obey God?? Why do we think we know better? Why are we willing to settle for short-term, momentary happiness instead of genuine, eternal joy?

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  71. James B,

    1) The assumption that legal marriage is a conjugal institution ordered toward procreation.

    Would you care to explain, if marriage isn't an institution ordered principally towards procreation (and the healthy rearing of resulting children) then why exactly is the state involved in the business of supporting or regulating marriages at all? Since when is the state required to codify mere emotions or relationships between people?

    As for legal rights concerning property, insurance, visitations, etc... aren't these already covered/coverable by civil union contracts, obviating the need to tamper with the common understanding and historical definition of marriage?

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    1. "Since when is the state required to codify mere emotions or relationships between people?"

      But they do. It's not rational, but it is the law. This is what gay marriage opponents are defending.

      I would prefer civil union contracts, but the difference between "civil unions" and "civil marriage" is one of semantics. I believe very strongly in marriage, but the legal institution is a pale imitation of what marriage is.

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  72. James B wrote:

    "The Church is a European institution dealing with European concepts of the state and law."

    That's got to be a first! First claim ever, that is, that Jesus and the Apostles - and Catholics in every corner of the world now - were/are European! :)

    Is there ANYTHING at all that one doesn't read on the little Bubble? :)

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  73. Deltaflute,

    "What's the state's interest in a group that can't produce children and statistically speaking put children at a higher rate of abuse? It doesn't make sense."

    BINGO! The elephant in the room now stands addressed!

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  74. One "gay marriage" supporting lawyer (James B) says:

    I do agree that gay couples should not have the same rights to adopt, but a far better tactic would be to deal with this issue separately.

    Another "gay marriage" supporting lawyer (Jessica D) says:

    Also, I think you are incorrect that political gay marriage advocates say that marriage has nothing to do with children inherently -- one of the couples in the Prop 8 case had kids and one of their arguments was that legal recognition of their relationship would be better for their kids.

    The blunt fact of the matter is that same sex "couples" want their dumb charade of "marriage" camouflaged with ALL (hopefully) legitimizing props, bar none. Even if the props are helpless child victims, burdened for life with a totally nonsensical (albeit "legal") construct of "two mommies" and "two daddies".

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  75. Leila,

    Hillary Clinton is a lawyer. She is also a politician and was speaking as a politician. Politicians say what their audience wants to hear.

    Second, Hillary is speaking about the social institution of marriage, not the legal institution of civil marriage, which are two entirely different things.

    I think you see Church authority as far broader than it is, and I think you and many other people on this thread are treating Christianity as a political movement, which is dangerous. Yes, politics are a means of changing society for the better but they are only one means. They are not an end in themselves. When a tactic isn't working, it is time to change tactics.

    Worse yet, many of the comments aren't spreading the love of Christ, but a sort of paranoid fear and loathing of one's neighbor. This political battle is poorly chosen and counterproductive.

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  76. James B- I don't like Leila will mind. Shes probably not up yet.


    I think we're talking in circles. Civil marriage and social are the same. The state's interest is in upholding marriage as a social construct. It has no other reason to legislate it otherwise. Marriage has no meaning outside of social construct. We don't legislate sisterhood because that's inherent at birth. Marriage isn't. And unlike friendship which is also social is protected for the interests of children. As I've said repeatedly because that social construct is the only one that produces children who thrive better.

    Again the state has no interest in regulating marriage as simply a legal institution because there are other legal constructs in place for things like inheritance. Its always been about protecting the social of marriage.

    Christianity became a political movement during the time of Jesus. So its a little late for that.

    Politics is just one front we work on. There are many. And according to the Church you have to work on all fronts. Sorry if that aspect bothers you. Maybe that's an issue best addressed by a bishop.

    How exactly is speaking out against something that could send one to hell not nice? Even Penn Jillette an atheist gets that evangelization is about love and saving souls. There hasn't been anything that anyone has said that is paranoid or spoken with anamosity. On the contrary its all for concern for you and others. We want you in paradise with us or we would say nothing because it is easier.


    Political fights are productive. Look at the abortion bill passed in Texas.

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  77. The CCC says that "...Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals (890)."

    I think that's what James means by saying that often Catholics think the Church's authority is broader than it actually is. The Church teaches homosexual marriage (marriage the Catholic way) is not possible, and we agree it is impossible, and that homosexual sex is wrong (also a moral matter). However when dealing with a legal institution that does not look anything like what we as Catholics believe marriage to be, the Church's authority does not cover it. It is a political issue.

    November

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  78. November- the Church covers and has a vested interest in all aspects of life not just moral ones. It's a way of living for all persons not just Catholic ones. Just reading the CCC you see the address of various religious and social groups.


    Now one can argue that legally the government is Catholic and cares to be. But as a Catholic we have a duty to assert our political voice whether others like it or not. To Catholics there is no separation. So I dont get where the Church has no authority. It certainly does through its members. You don't leave your faith at the church door. It permiates your whole life.

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  79. November,

    We, Catholics, are the Church! So when you speak of the "Church's authority", you also speak of our enfranchisement as individuals and our consequential right as individuals to engage politically! The last I checked, we have every right as citizens to impress our views and demands in the common activities and decisions of a democratic republic! Same as everyone else! Canon Law exists in addition to the civil laws which govern us - civil laws, the framing of which we have every right - and, indeed, civic responsibility - to provide input to! Indeed, it is precisely in recognition of these rights that we are allowed - as Church bodies - to file suits or to provide amicus briefs before courts when they consider fairness or otherwise of civil laws!

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  80. Correct me if I'm wrong but we're discussing 3 things.


    1) Whether or not marriage is two-fold social and political

    2) what the state's interest in marriage is

    3) what the Church's interest in legislating marriage is (and aspects if it)

    Sorry. Trying to keep it all straight.

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  81. So James has talked about strict guidelines for marriage from the Church not being translated to legalise. And so i want to address that quickly.

    The government laws are loose on purpose. Even the Church says things like sodomy should not be legislated because its a personal moral imperative. In other words subsidiarity. Not to mention scandsl if caught by someone. The Church only desires a traditional view.

    Why arent gay activities personal? Sure but if you legislate gay marriage its about children now.

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  82. Neither November, Jessica, nor I are saying that Catholics should separate our faith from our voting. What we are saying is that the Church's authority does not extend to telling individual Catholics handle a particular political issue.

    A Catholic must submit to the Church's definition of marriage. None of us disagree with that. The Church's authority does not extend to telling us how we live out our Catholic beliefs in the political sphere. Otherwise, the Church would be no more than a political movement.

    To take a less hot button issue, the Church opposed religious freedom until Vatican II. A common saying on the subject was that "error has no rights" and that state non-involvement in religion was against the common good. Were Catholics free to disagree with this political position or not?

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  83. Deltaflute,

    The discussion is about:

    (1) Whether civil marriage in the US is merely a contract between two adults or is an important social institution

    (2) The authority of the Church in political matters.

    Civil and social marriage are quite different. I know one gay couple in a state that does not recognize gay marriage. They had a wedding. They socially go by wife and wife. They have a social marriage, but not a legal or natural one.

    Conversely, I doubt the people on this board would socially recognize two women as being married even if the law did.

    Second, its not that many of the people on this thread don't have valid points about the meaning of marriage, the importance of marriage, and how this impacts children. It is that in the United States these issues have very little to do with civil marriage.

    "Children should have a mother and a father": I agree completely, but that is a matter of adoption and child custody law, not marriage.

    "The state should not promote unnatural sexual acts": I agree completely, but legal marriage has no connection to conjugal activity.

    "If marriage is not about procreation, then marriage has no purpose." I agree completely, but there is no requirement that laws be wise or well thought out. Even if it were a concern, that ship sailed a L-O-N-G time ago. (I would argue that legal marriage in the United States as it is does have no purpose, and that this is the real problem.)

    "Children should not be taught to approve of homosexual acts." I agree completely, but this is a matter of education policy, not marriage.

    "Catholics should not be forced to approve of/accomodate unions they find immoral." I agree completely, but these are an issue of non-discrimination and public accommodation laws, not marriage.

    When you look at what legal marriage really IS in the United States and what it actually does, what you are left with in opposing gay marriage is denying people tax breaks and making it more difficult for adults to legally define their relationship with each other. Fighting over tax breaks and contractual rights is not a battle over civilization. Saying it is shows a gross ignorance of US civil law.

    That being said, this is not the case in other countries. In France, for example, civil marriage comes with quite a few rights related to parenthood and procreation. When France gave gay couples domestic partnerships without parenting rights, nobody cared. When France decided to extend marriage to gay couples, people took to the streets in protest. The French people knew that French civil marriage was about children, not adult rights and that the French government was doing something extremely harmful to children.

    Cardinal Ratzinger, I suspect, had more of a French idea of civil marriage in mind than American one when he wrote the CDF document. Because different countries have different political and legal realities, the Church does not have the authority to tell Catholics how they must apply Church teaching in their own country's politics.

    I think this discussion is going in circles because both sides are talking about completely different things when it comes to the meaning of civil marriage.

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  84. Those who say that the Church should leave the issue of gay marriage up to the state are extremely short-sighted. Where gay marriage is first recognized, religious freedom becomes shaky, at best. Catholic adoption services are shut down for not adopting out to gay partners. Teaching the Catholic understanding of marriage to children in Catholic schools becomes hate speech. Churches WILL be forced to provide these "marriages". Businesses will be shut down if they refuse to service those they disagree with. The military has already issued memos defining Catholics as extremists. Do not think priests will not be prosecuted and put in jail if they refuse to go along with any of this. These are all things which are coming to fruition NOW in different areas of the world, and many of them in our own country. It will only get worse.

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  85. James- i agree that we are talking in circles. And until we agree that the state's interest in legislating marriage is to generate a civic minded population then we cant really come to terms on other issues.

    You say the government legislates marriage is about a legal defining of relationships and tax breaks. But than explain why friendships arent legally defined? Explain why the government gives tax breaks particularly child ones? Keep in mind i grew up with civic minded government workers who taught me what the purpose of law. My dad was a tax collector. Lawyers work to define laws but they dont create them. Hows about taking a stab at why the law is set up to benefit heterosexual married couples as opposed to hetersexual unmarried couples or homosexual couples?

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  86. Here is the status of legal marriage in Cardinal Ratzinger's native Germany. Marriage specifically INCLUDES parenting rights, while civil partnerships specifically EXCLUDE parenting rights. Marriage is expressly linked to the family in the German Constitution. This is a very different legal structure than civil marriage in the United States.

    http://www.expatica.com/de/essentials_moving_to/essentials/marriage-and-divorce-in-germany-3264_9949.html

    When viewed in light of German law, the CDF document makes complete sense.

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  87. "When a tactic isn't working, it is time to change tactics."

    When it comes to non-negotiables, we work all "tactics" and angles. Ours is not about outcomes, it's about serving the good at all times. Opposing abortion on the legal front is also a "political" issue, but we don't drop that. We have fought for decades, often alone. Should we have quit that aspect of things about thirty-five years ago?

    Politicians say what their audience wants to hear.

    Exactly. Which is why she suddenly "evolved" on the issue. But that doesn't answer the question. How could she have gotten the history of what marriage is so wrong (or did she)?

    Second, Hillary is speaking about the social institution of marriage, not the legal institution of civil marriage

    And yet, she was speaking of codifying civil law. As a lawyer. That has to do with "legal" and "civil", no?

    I think you see Church authority as far broader than it is

    What does our Church teach is the right response to a document from the CDF, signed by the Pope? My understanding is that such a document requires "religious submission of mind and will", even if the teaching does not rise to the level of an infallibly declared statement. What is your obligation? Not to the world, but to God?

    Worse yet, many of the comments aren't spreading the love of Christ, but a sort of paranoid fear and loathing of one's neighbor.

    It sounds like psychoanalysis here, not productive discussion. "Fear and loathing of one's neighbor"? Yipes. That's the media's line about Catholics. Do you see fear and loathing in the CDF document or Pope Benedict's words? Those are the things which should be informing your conscience, even if the rest of us are hateful bigots.

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  88. Well again it appears I am the only gay in the village.

    So a few things:

    1. Whomever is tired of the gays "shoving their lifestyles down your throats" get over it. Frankly we are tired of you shoving your lifestyle down our throats.

    2. Is a marriage without children just a friendship? Some of you seem to think my marriage to a man (for those who don't know I am a man) is no more than friendship. Or it is no more than "just feelings". Well I can tell you with authority, it is not just a friendship and is more than just our feelings. How is your marriage more because it may or may not include children?

    3. Just exactly what is "natural marriage"? I've asked before with no answer.

    4. My sexual actions are not sinful. They are not perverse. Those are simply your opinions. Yes they are not focused toward procreation. But I'd be willing to bet that most of you indeed include some of the sexual acts that we do in your repertoire in the bedroom. (Connie you do border on offensive and rude in my opinion. And the fringes of society comment, well you can't explain it away. It is what it is)

    5. Margo, we've done this before. Yes one can live a life without sex. But what you are missing is that being gay is so much more than about sex. I think you all miss that. Why should I not be able to share my life with my husband, to build a life together (that may or may not include children, just like a heterosexual marriage) just because your church says it's a sin? Yes that life will include sexual acts (and when I say sexual acts I am meaning those committed with ones genitals, not penis finishing in vagina),so what? My marriage, as I assume yours when you get there, is about so much more.

    6. I have been damaged, injured or adversely affected in no way, shape or form by my homosexuality.

    If you think that marriage has always been about protecting the children then you truly have not done your research about marriage.

    And Leila, for the love of Pete, Hilary Clinton has evolved her opinion. Get over it. You have evolved your opinion and beliefs in the catholic church. Have you not? Have you always been an orthodox catholic? (Hint, from what I remember the answer to that is a big no) So why cannot Hilary have evolved her opinion just like you have?

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  89. James,

    Re your above comment (at 5:47) the Church (and the faithful) is regularly required to hold many seemingly contradictory things in tension. It is the well worn Catholic way of entertaining "both/and", instead of "either/or".

    An example would be the question of Catholics being free or not free to disagree with what you describe as a "political" position of the Church. In matters such as these the Church does preach the preeminent right of conscience, but she also adds the (quite logical) proviso that it be a good conscience, adequately (in)formed. In more blunt terms, a conscience informed by the wisdom of the Church - who acquires her wisdom from Wisdom Himself.

    What this means to me as a careful Catholic is that I'd better be very darn sure (and very darn sure again) of my personal discernment if I were to ever take a position on anything that is contrary to the mind of the Church. Even today, as always, there are many theological/moral debates and proposals, for instance, within the Church - which she does not dismiss arbitrarily out of hand, particularly if they appear to be emanating from the common sense of her people - sensus fidelium. The Church recognizes that the Holy Spirit guides not just her Magisterium but all of Christ's Body as a whole. However, in cases where
    1. something relating to the faith or morals has been declared by the Church's Magisterium as infallible truth deriving from Sacred Scripture or Apostolic Tradition or
    2. something is readily and widely recognizable by natural law as (intrinsically) evil,
    the Church's position cannot change.
    So it's not a question of the Church telling individual Catholics how to vote on a particular political issue such as "gay marriage" (particularly as the issue may be nuanced according to locale, as you correctly point out) as much as the Church reiterating to a voter her corporate views on the underlying moral/ethical aspects of the matter. This an individual is free to ignore, but only at his/her own spiritual peril.

    The Church cannot, and does not, tell me whether I should or shouldn't elect a Fuehrer by the name of Adolf Hitler, but she can and does tell me, in no uncertain terms, that genocide and ethnic cleansing are grave moral evils, deserving of the eternal fire of Gehenna.

    You've gone to great lengths to explain in your subsequent post what civil marriage laws in the US actually are and do. That was useful. Thank you for that, although you've not really addressed the fallout from amendment of these laws to incorporate "gay marriage", which must also necessarily involve amendment, widening or re-interpretation of anti discrimination legislation. All this is part of an integrated package - of a frenzied evangelical prosecution in fact - of a rotten, dangerous, immoral and idiotic ideology that is seeking to change the very heart and soul and fabric of societies in America/the West for the worse.

    Methinks it's time for all good folks to put aside the technical arguments, current legal hurdles and the like, borrow a page from the Arab Springers (or their more sedate cousins in France) and hit the streets demanding sobriety and protection of the rights of all in our societies. Social media and blogs such as this can certainly facilitate a momentum/mobilization for this if it is to ever eventuate. If we're truly serious about these things, our Parliaments and Courts will be compelled eventually to fall obligingly into line. And you'll have to familiarize yourself with a whole new set of good legal tomes! I'll drink the next beer to that! :)

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  90. Deltaflute,

    Historically, the purpose of legal marriage was for marriage and family. There are still some minor vestigial remnants of these principles, but as it is now, marriage in the United States has no legal purpose beyond regulating friendships. The connection between marriage, family, and procreation, was largely severed in the 1970s. For now, it is retained simply because it is popular.

    The child tax credit is about supporting children, not marriage. The tax code did not have any marriage provisions until after World War II, but deferred to state law. The problem was that community property states (derived from French/Spanish law) gave married couples a significant advantage over common-law property (English) states. To level the playing field between the states, the federal government treated all married couples as if they lived in community property states. (DOMA was a tax nightmare in California, where the state recognized the marriage and the property as community owned, but the federal government did not.)

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  91. "What does our Church teach is the right response to a document from the CDF, signed by the Pope? My understanding is that such a document requires "religious submission of mind and will", even if the teaching does not rise to the level of an infallibly declared statement. What is your obligation? Not to the world, but to God?"

    My obligation, as I see it, is to read and understand the document, then to apply its principles to our current political situation.

    The problem with the CDF document, as I have said MANY times on this thread, is that it deals with concepts that are simply not applicable to US law. It appears that Cardinal Ratzinger has more of a European concept of civil marriage in mind than what we have here in the United States. What makes perfect sense when applied to French or German law makes little sense when applied to United States law. The legal status of marriage and the legal implications of a change are far less important in the USA than in other countries.

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  92. James- thank you for your answer.

    If it's retained simply because its popular why not dismantle it? Why do certain states fight to define it?

    If the chikd tax credit is only for children why then cant both single parents claim their children particularly if they jointly raise them? Why only married couples? And dont tell me the tax code is archaic. It changes constantly. Obama could easily change it just like he did with his alledged health insurance fine.

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  93. Francis Choudhury,

    Technical issues matter quite a bit, which is why Catholics must be very careful in defining what we are arguing for in the civil sphere.

    The First Amendment provides religious groups quite a bit of protection from anti-discrimination laws. This is a BIG difference between the USA and Europe+Canada, and something rarely appreciated in the marriage debate.

    This is why I say that the real problem in the United States is not legal, but social. Priests will not be prosecuted for refusing to perform same-sex weddings, but it is increasingly socially unacceptable to say that marriage is between one man and one woman.

    As religion becomes socially associated with socially undesirable views, support for religious freedom will wane. Many in younger generation are extremely hostile to religion and openly advocate government regulation of religious institutions.

    Obama is popular among the young BECAUSE he takes a narrow view of religious freedom, not in spite of it. That statement should give us all pause at the enormity of the problem.

    Compared to this, the issue of civil marriage (in the United States) is a relatively minor front in a MUCH larger war.

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  94. James, James, James!

    "[...] the legal implications of a change (in marital laws) are far less important in the USA than in other countries."

    Man, you're a lawyer! How on earth can you say that? Have you not heard of any of the repercussions of such changes already manifesting across the US - from bakeries to photography businesses to adoption agencies - severely impinging on the constitutional rights (a la religions freedoms and the right of free expression) of common people on the street???? Even we unwashed commoners are aware of and alarmed by the atrocities! Gud-ness grr...acious me!

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    1. SMH. These are anti-discrimination laws, not marriage laws. I addressed this upthread.

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  95. When you look at what legal marriage really IS in the United States and what it actually does, what you are left with in opposing gay marriage is denying people tax breaks and making it more difficult for adults to legally define their relationship with each other.

    Forgive me if I am being dense, but isn't this exactly like saying, "We Catholics certainly oppose abortion from the stance of natural law and the upholding of the common good, but when you look at the legality of abortion in America, and what the law actually IS, you realize that civil law says that the fetus is not human (legally! But we know as Catholics what it is!), so the laws are only about women's autonomy and rights to be released from unwanted pregnancy. The abortion laws in America are not about children or their rights, so Ratzinger is well meaning, but he must be thinking of Malta or something."

    Sorry, it's early, but I can't get around this?

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  96. "If it's retained simply because its popular why not dismantle it? "

    You just answered your own question.


    "Why do certain states fight to define it?"

    Because marriage amendments are an easy way to get a certain kind of voter to the polls. Many of these campaigns deliberately muddy the water about the purpose of the amendment or the status of current law.

    "If the child tax credit is only for children why then cant both single parents claim their children particularly if they jointly raise them? Why only married couples? "

    Because to do so would be to give the unmarried couple a "double deduction". In the case of married couples, both incomes are pooled and they get the whole deduction. With unmarried parents, the custodial parent gets the whole deduction.

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  97. "If marriage is not about procreation, then marriage has no purpose." I agree completely, but there is no requirement that laws be wise or well thought out.

    Before we go making marriage completely purposeless in society (I don't think we are there yet), why not simply stop the thing that will completely obliterate the character of marriage? The thing that will completely obliterate it (like nothing that has come before) is pretending that something with no "marriage stuff" in it, is marriage. It's like legally calling a cat a dog. That is the way to obliterate the understanding of dog-ness, even if before we had dogs with missing ears and limbs.

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  98. Leila,

    I think you are getting hung up on the word "marriage". In the United States, legal marriage is "marriage" in name only.

    So I ask you: How do you define marriage and how does this compare to the current legal institution of marriage in the United States?

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  99. SMH. These are anti-discrimination laws, not marriage laws. I addressed this upthread.

    No! As Francis said, they are implications in the changing of marriage laws as well. It all converges. Homosexuals (and their acts??) as a protected class, rights to celebrate "marriage", etc. The minute that happened, Catholics suddenly became discriminators if they don't go along with the celebrations. We run afoul of the law, simply by being a practicing Catholic.

    James, you can pick apart the legal situation, but that adds up to one big societal mess. And is God really interested in how we stuck with the Church in theory, but not in practice? I honestly don't see a "Americans are exempt from their duty to fight for man/woman marriage" from the CDF document.

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  100. How do you define marriage and how does this compare to the current legal institution of marriage in the United States?

    James, I will define it as Hillary did. And as for the current legal status, it hardly matters since we are talking about taking the next step: Obliterating marriage altogether. The CDF document speaks specifically of not "going there". Meaning, not pretending, in law or otherwise, that marriage can be the purview of two men. The law going "there" is a sea change. Wouldn't you agree? Again, there may be defects and problems with marriage in America, but at least we can still call it "marriage". Divorce implies a marriage. Contraception within a marriage still implies a marriage. But a "union" of two men? Or two women? Cannot be marriage in any sense of the word. An impossibility. CDF says, "Don't go there, guys."

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  101. James, the law in America says that the unborn child is not a legal person. Why should Catholics be involved in advocating for children or the common good on that issue, when the law says what it says… that abortion is not about children at all, since there are no children, legally, affected by abortion?

    I'm honestly asking.

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  102. Leila,

    No, no, no! Marriage laws and discrimination laws, while related, are separate issues. You have a complete non-understanding of what the law is and what the government can and cannot compel Catholics to do.

    Catholics will not run afoul of any law by refusing to celebrate, but they will be social outcasts.

    Yes, it IS a big societal mess. That's my entire point!


    As for the Church's authority on politics, was Cardinal Newman right or wrong to disagree with the Church's position against religious freedom that was clearly stated in the Roman Catechism? Why?

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  103. James,

    Thanks for your response. You said:

    "Compared to this, the issue of civil marriage (in the United States) is a relatively minor front in a MUCH larger war."

    So how do we prosecute the larger war, if not by these distinct, constitutive, defining battles? Where do we raise the bulwarks and standards that read: "This much and no further will you impinge on our God-given rights and freedoms! This much and no further will you be deporting us to re-education camps to denude us of our commonsensical beliefs? This much and no further will you harm our nation's children!"?

    In the case of the latter, should we be paying urgent heed to clear warning voices such as that of the American College of Pediatricians?

    http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change

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  104. "Catholics will not run afoul of any law by refusing to celebrate, but they will be social outcasts."

    How can you say that when it's already happening? I've seen law do a heck of a lot of things that it's not supposed to do, including compel folks against their consciences. We are to fight for what is right, and I don't see the CDF giving you a pass.

    I know you realize that other Catholic attorneys and policy-makers disagree with you, and agree with the CDF. I'm siding with those attorneys, those intellects, and the CDF. I can do no other.

    Give me a link to study the issue on Newman, if you don't mind. Thanks!

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  105. Leila,

    You are completely misrepresenting my position.

    Catholics should fight against abortion and fight for the true meaning of marriage because of the natural law. On this we agree.

    The problem is that you seem to see politics as the only front for fighting this battle or the primary front for fighting this battle. I disagree. I believe that Catholics should work to change the culture and the politics will follow and trying to change the politics when the culture is opposed is a fool's game.

    As for abortion, what you mention is the great legal obstacle for the pro-life movement. Justice Scalia, a devout Catholic well-versed in the Natural Law, acknowledges that fetal personhood is not a legal basis for criminalizing abortion.



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  106. My obligation, as I see it, is to read and understand the document, then to apply its principles to our current political situation.

    The problem with the CDF document, as I have said MANY times on this thread, is that it deals with concepts that are simply not applicable to US law.


    James, can you cut and paste any part of the document that does not apply to Catholics in America? Thanks!

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  107. Here is an excellent article on Newman and religious freedom.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/003-religious-freedom-innovation-and-development-41

    "As Newman himself intimated, doctrine of a social or political character does not follow exactly the same course of development as pure dogma. It is not simply spun out of the original deposit of faith, but emerges with a certain irregularity according to the vicissitudes of history. Pope John Paul II explains that the social teaching of the Magisterium is under continual revision insofar as the unchanging principles of the gospel need to be upheld in varying social situations. The fundamental principles are constant, but the judgments and adaptations are ever new. A measure of discontinuity may therefore be expected in successive responses to novel situations. Such discontinuity, however, does not require reversals unless the Church at an earlier time ruled out precisely the development that was to occur under changed circumstances."

    Quite simply, you seem to be taking the view of the schismatic Marcel Lefebvre on the Church's political authority.

    My point is that the social situation in the United States with respect to legal marriage is radically different than that in Europe and that which is addressed by the CDF document.

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  108. Alan, you cannot be married, because marriage is a conjugal union of complementary sexes (male/female union). A man cannot consummate anything with another man. It's an ontological (yes, that word!) impossibility.

    As for Hillary, of course, I said that she "evolved" quickly (if quick evolution is possible). But that was not the question. The question is: How did she get her history so wrong, for so long? What was she missing about the nature and history of marriage, and how did her history suddenly evolve? If she was wrong when she said it, what part was wrong? What new evidence from history did she suddenly discover that she didn't know in all her years as a brilliant attorney, educated woman, intellect?

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  109. "I believe that Catholics should work to change the culture and the politics will follow...

    That sounds so reasonable, James, except if the law suddenly says I can't even say that a patently unnatural thing is unnatural, or worse, if I can't refuse to actively participate in such unnatural "celebrations" without being sued, fined, run out of my livelihood and sent off to a rehabilitation camp simply for expressing my most deeply held beliefs, how exactly am I supposed to change the culture? In pragmatic terms, doesn't cultural change arise from political/legal initiatives as much as does the reverse?

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  110. "We are Catholic. We think with the mind of the Church. It is beautiful, and it is freedom."

    Unfortunately this phrasing of blind, gleeful obedience sounds more at place in a cult, or maybe in Mao's Red China, a place where Dear Leader is followed and no one thinks for herself. It is not Catholic though.

    As Cardinal Newman (recently beatified by Benedict) pointed out, there have been periods in the Church's history when the laity were truer to the faith than the hierarchy, and it was the laity which had to pull the hierarchy away from the path of error, instead of the other way around. He also noted that, before Pius IX formulated a dogma as to Mary, he consulted the laity. See Newman's "On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine".

    On this issue, a majority of Catholics now disagree with their hierarchy, and it will become an increasingly overwhelming majority as the years pass. Further, their change of view has been a result of gay people coming out of the closet, being less stigmatized, and actually becoming known to them as friends and family members -- something which would never have been possible if society had stuck with the Church's position. You can say that gay people are "to be loved" but if you're also saying that their desires are "gravely disordered" then they will never be accepted by society, and with humans being the way they are, gay people would continue to be discriminated against, shunned, hated and in some cases murdered.

    The new majority Catholic view is based on knowledge, tolerance, understanding, and (above all) love. Whereas the hierarchy's view is based on prejudice, ignorance, and an understandable but ultimately inexcusable institutional concern about not reversing prior positions. It will be interesting to see how the hierarchy handles this issue in future years. My guess is that it will modify ("develop") its teaching, rather than allow the Church to shrivel into a cult.

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  111. James, I'm chuckling because you actually prove my point and the CDF's position as valid!

    And the idea that I hold the view of Lefebvre (a schismatic) is a funny comment (well, ironic), seeing how you are the one opposing John Paul II and the teaching arm of the Catholic Church. :)

    Wow, that is something. Thanks for securing me in my understanding of the current situation and the Church's very clear application of teaching. You still need to provide me with some links from the CDF that do not apply to you or require religious submission of mind and will.

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    1. Remember, "religious submission of mind and will" does not mean that the teaching is infallible dogma.

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  112. captcrisis, the "cult" thing. Yawn. We've never heard that before in 2,000 years of wading through hostile cultures and opposition. ;)

    It is not Catholic though.

    Um, yep, it's totally Catholic. Have you read many Catholic works? Try the works of the Popes (yes, recent ones) as well as the writings of every saint that the Church has canonized. Go ahead, then get back to me.

    As for the moral law reversing? Don't count on it. I'm not worried.

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  113. Leila,

    I think you grossly misunderstand Church authority in matters of politics and you continue to misrepresent my position on the CDF document.

    The big problem with the CDF document, as I have stated before, is that it assumes that marriage is a conjugal union, which is legally not the case in the United States.

    Strictly speaking, the rights granted by legal marriage are more similar to the toleration in paragraph 5b. While such unions are equated with "marriage", what we call "civil marriage" in the United States is marriage in name only.

    Legal marriage is closer to a contract that is described in paragraph 9b. Here, the CDF states, "In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest."

    My solution is to call civil marriage what it really is, a civil union, but this isn't very popular.

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  114. As Cardinal Newman (recently beatified by Benedict) pointed out, there have been periods in the Church's history when the laity were truer to the faith than the hierarchy, and it was the laity which had to pull the hierarchy away from the path of error, instead of the other way around.

    Individual bishops or priests? Absolutely! No shortage of apostate and dissenting folks in the hierarchy. That goes back to Judas, so it's nothing new. But the Magisterium teaching error? Never.

    He also noted that, before Pius IX formulated a dogma as to Mary, he consulted the laity. See Newman's "On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine".

    Consulting the laity for reasons other than trying to figure out whether a truth was true. The truth of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was true and believed by the Church for almost two millennia before it was officially defined. Same with the Assumption.

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    1. But it's awesome that you are reading Newman! He is one of the best, and I jumped for joy at his beatification. I wish everyone would read his works, and we really need his intercession here in America today.

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  115. James @ im afraid that no matter what i say you will trivialize what marriage means to voters and legislators. So there's no point. Maybe Leila or Francis has a better way of explaining it to you. I will say that it's not true that custodial parents get to file for it. Lots of moms have fought dead beat dads on that one. There are exceptions to residency.

    And nobody says politics is the only front. In fact I've heard numerous times people lamenting the lack of outspoken priests ( my priest and former priest speak often on these subjects. In fact my priest has spoken about his disappointment with Canada not celebrating the Assumption. He held a special vigil Mass even though he didnt have to.)

    Its just that politics affects us all to a far higher degree. What Alan described about his bedroom does not affect me as much as my child being exposed to what gay sex is at a young age. As a parent i should have the right to teach my child morality but in US parents are not being told the curriculum or allowed to opt out.

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    1. Yikes! My clarity is awful. I meant to say hearing about it is one thing but making it a part of a child's school curriculum as a matter of public policy is another. Sorry Alan. Didnt mean to imply that you teach my children about sex.

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  116. Another deliberate miscast by captcrisis of this being a Catholic/Christian/religious versus enlightened new culture issue - instead of a clash between common (and biological/scientific) sense and imbecility.

    Yawn.

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  117. Interestingly, Arizona law provides for two types of civil marriage. Covenant marriage closely resembles "traditional marriage." The prospective spouse must sign a declaration with the following language: ARS 25-901

    B. A declaration of intent to enter into a covenant marriage shall contain all of the following:
    1. The following written statement:
    A Covenant Marriage
    We solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for as long as they both live. We have chosen each other carefully and have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes and responsibilities of marriage. We understand that a covenant marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.
    With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do declare that our marriage will be bound by Arizona law on covenant marriages and we promise to love, honor and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives.

    A standard civil marriage in Arizona does not have any declaration attached to it with an understanding of the purposes, nature, and responsibilities of marriage. It is what the spouses make it. It can be sexless, fruitless, "open", or entirely in line with Catholic teaching.

    Maybe, instead of fighting gay marriage, Catholics can proactively support legislation to enact covenant marriage laws in the 48 states without such laws. Sometimes it is better to be for something than against something. I can almost assure you that the gay lobby would have no desire for covenant marriage.

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  118. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  119. Leila, I just saw this upthread:

    James, I will define it as Hillary did. And as for the current legal status, it hardly matters since we are talking about taking the next step: Obliterating marriage altogether. The CDF document speaks specifically of not "going there". Meaning, not pretending, in law or otherwise, that marriage can be the purview of two men. The law going "there" is a sea change. Wouldn't you agree? Again, there may be defects and problems with marriage in America, but at least we can still call it "marriage". Divorce implies a marriage. Contraception within a marriage still implies a marriage. But a "union" of two men? Or two women? Cannot be marriage in any sense of the word. An impossibility. CDF says, "Don't go there, guys."

    Ahhh, so THIS is where we disagree.

    My position is that marriage has already been obliterated in the United States. Marriage has been so stripped of meaning that I do not think we can call legal marriage "marriage" anymore. Gay marriage is the equivalent of shooting a dead body. You can't murder something that is already dead. You can't obliterate something that is already destroyed.

    The CDF document urges Catholics to "protect the wounded" institution of marriage. I say "marriage is already dead, there's no point."

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    1. My comment above was in line with your thinking about the status of marriage. I taught a Family Law class to paralegal students and most were horrified at the prospect of someone choosing a covenant marriage. Covenant marriage uses statutory criteria (adultery, abandonment) to dissolve a marriage. My students wanted to be able to get divorced without a big hassle if they were done with their spouse. This is the current culture as it relates to marriage. Gay marriage is just a symptom of a larger cultural problem.

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    2. I think this is more a distrust of government's ability to bring about the common good (libertarianism) than it is a rejection of marriage.

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  120. Ah, yes. Then we totally disagree on that point. I think the CDF holds my thought on that, or else they would not have written the document.

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  121. Captcriss-*yawn* read formation of conscience

    Priscilla- novel idea. But why not both?

    James- yes. That's what Leila and i have been saying. We dont think marriage in civil society is dead. Otherwise why do people fight for it?

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  122. Leila - The CDF document was addressed to a worldwide audience with a wide variety of political and legal situations. Also, that document was written in 2003.

    Deltaflute - What are they really fighting for? See Priscilla G.'s comment. The situation is far worse than you think.

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  123. Gay marriage is just a symptom of a larger cultural problem.

    Absolutely. No one is arguing otherwise. But that doesn't negate our obligations. And, the law is teacher. If the law says two men can "marry", the populace will believe it. But it's a legal fiction.

    James, again, you have yet to give me an excerpt from the document that does not apply to American Catholics. From which specific parts are we exempt?

    Yes, it was written a decade ago. I have shoes older than that. Humanae Vitae was written 45 yeas ago (still relevant). Heck, the Bible was written a couple thousand years ago, and I still find it quite relevant today.

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  124. Remember, when we hit 200 comments, Blogger goes nuts. You'll have to hit the "load more" option at that point, or else subscribe to comments via email.

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  125. "The situation is far worse than you think."

    …said the Apostles to each other on Good Friday. ;)

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    1. So, short of a miracle, we're screwed. :-)

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    2. Before they fled the highly politicized arena and hid! :)
      Let's adopt Mary, John and a wee bunch of steadfast holy women as Patrons of the Bubble!

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    3. James, Catholics are never screwed - although the world might claim we have a few screws loose! Which other bunch of folks have survived bowed and unbroken for 2000 years? :)

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  126. Ahhh! We're reaching bloggers critical mass.

    James- As Leila said nobodys desputing the importance of marriage on all fronts. We just think you're throwing in towel on gay marriage is not what we're supposed to do nor should we.

    (I love it that Leila and I agree. Sometimes the battle amongst ourselves gets rough. It's nice to have a bud).

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    1. Sheesh im terrible today. I meant amongst us Catholics. Leila and I havent really quarreled that i recall.

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  127. Absolutely. No one is arguing otherwise. But that doesn't negate our obligations. And, the law is teacher. If the law says two men can "marry", the populace will believe it. But it's a legal fiction.

    The concept that "the law is a teacher" is a key component of Catholic political thought, but one that is largely foreign to American politics, and often considered repugnant to many Americans. This political reality impacts our obligations as Catholics.

    The social teaching of the Church DOES change based on the current social situation. This was the entire purpose of the First Things article I sent you. My point, which you have not refuted, is that the CDF document is ill-suited to the current political situation in the United States.

    You seem to think that a statement on the social and political teaching of the Church is equivalent to a statement of faith or morals, but this is not the case.

    James, again, you have yet to give me an excerpt from the document that does not apply to American Catholics. From which specific parts are we exempt?

    The CDF does not exempt countries, nor do they list countries where documents are applicable. The CDF document describes a political situation that does not exist in the United States.

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  128. James,

    From the CDF document:

    "The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element."

    You're talking about a set of purely legal current circumstances in the US different to, say, those prevailing in Europe, but the cultural shifts, threats to sanity, and legal challenges arising in the US from new "marriage" laws/redefinitions are exactly the ones addressed in the document. So there's no reason at all to posit that the advice contained therein is not equally relevant to (or equally binding on) Catholics in the US. And the fact that the document was penned a decade ago merely serves to prove that the voice of the Church - as so often - was prophetic.

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    1. I meant the emasculating immorality (in a manner of speaking :)) arising in the US from the cultural shifts, threats to sanity, etc... is exactly what's addressed in the document. Now that should be clear as mud! :)

      Time to get some shut-eye methinks: it's creeping up to 4 am here! Catch y'all later.

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  129. Francis,

    I think we can both agree that the USCCB has dropped the ball on this.

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  130. Leila,
    Way to miss some points, but I am so used to that from you by now.

    But the points you addressed:

    "Alan, you cannot be married, because marriage is a conjugal union of complementary sexes (male/female union). A man cannot consummate anything with another man. It's an ontological (yes, that word!) impossibility."

    But I am married, I am. You are simply using your (or the catholic churches) definition of marriage.
    You can use the word all you want. When I look it up (yes I admit I had never heard the word before) it has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. But keep telling yourself that. For me all I will say is yes Leila, I am indeed married. Don't really care if you think it is ontologically possible.

    "As for Hillary, of course, I said that she "evolved" quickly (if quick evolution is possible). But that was not the question. The question is: How did she get her history so wrong, for so long? What was she missing about the nature and history of marriage, and how did her history suddenly evolve? If she was wrong when she said it, what part was wrong? What new evidence from history did she suddenly discover that she didn't know in all her years as a brilliant attorney, educated woman, intellect?"

    Unless you ask Hilary those questions are unanswerable, and perhaps your cause would be better served by choosing another who has not evolved? How long did your evolution take?

    Care to address the other issues I mentioned?

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  131. The CDF document describes a political situation that does not exist in the United States.

    Sorry, I am still not understanding. The CDF doc addresses both threats to marriage that are on the horizon for any nation, and also situations where the laws allowing gay "marriage" have already passed. So, it addresses the "lost cause" scenario -- if you consider laws already passed in a nation a "lost cause".

    Frankly, I don't understand this idea of a lost cause or "we're screwed" with regard to the universal moral law and the non-negotiables. That does not compute with me and with the mind of the Church. Honestly, I am not even able to make sense of that attitude. I guess that is what we should have said about abortion a few decades back?

    And how is anything a lost cause before the fact? That is weird to me. My state does not allow gay "marriage". Many states have passed amendments that protect the understanding of man-woman marriage. So, maybe it's this pre-emptive "throw in the towel" attitude by millions of well-meaning citizens (not up for the fight and don't want to be called names) that has put us on a path to further gay "marriage" expansion? I am sure your attitude is not uncommon, and it's the very problem which put us close to the cliff.

    Again, I don't need to "refute" your contention that the CDF document is not suited for our nation, you are the one who needs to show me which part of the CDF document does not apply to us. Please, any excerpt will do. Just something.

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  132. Leila on second thought don't address the other issues I brought up.
    I have tired of this debate with you early this time.
    You have your way of thinking, I have mine, and on this issue never shall they meet.

    Now off to hang with my legally married husband. Ontologically or not.

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  133. Alan, I've never had an evolution on the history of marriage. The history of marriage is very clear. Obviously my point in using Hillary is that she very well knows what the history of marriage is, and what it's for. She knows. She stated it eloquently, as did all the other intelligent Democrats and Republicans who have since "evolved" on the issue with the spirit of the age. I am simply asking anyone (anyone!) to speculate how she got her history so wrong? What was the new revelation she suddenly got?

    I did hear from one (only one!) gay "marriage" advocate who tried to answer my question about Hillary on another site. She said that up till then, Hillary had been "full of turds". Okay, then. That was not so intelligent an answer. It was no answer at all, but it's the best anyone has given me.

    I am not going to comment further on whether or not you can possibly be "married" without being able to complete the marital act, etc. I won't go into ontology. I will just say that there are people who say that two men can be "married" (a groom without a bride previously being unheard of). There are also folks who say that men can be legally declared women, when they are biologically men. We are very much into the realm of feelings, unmoored from any truth. So I will leave it at that.

    As for your other questions, hang on...

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  134. Shoot, I just now saw that you don't want me to address the rest. Okay, I will not continue, but please let me know if you change your mind and I will answer. Have a good day, alan and God bless!

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  135. A Catholic named James sent me this message after reading a related blog post about how it's time to "give up" the battle for legalizing gay "marriage". I think it's worth repeating here:

    After reading the blog post (and a couple others with a similar theme of "why not give up?") I was very disheartened. Your comments helped a lot in confirming my initial response to Joseph Bottum's article - "No, we must not surrender, for then who else will be willing to speak the truth in love?"

    This reminds me of Satan's temptation of Jesus, where Satan offered Jesus the authority that already belonged to Jesus.

    It also reminds me of the scene in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy when Merry and Pippen (I think) are watching the troops march into Minas Tirith before the gates are closed and they comment on how few in number they are. Yet in that battle, unexpected hero's arose (Eowyn and Merry), allies came from unexpected sources (The Undead), and good triumphs. I firmly believe God will have the same thing happen in real life, unexpected champions for truth with emerge, and unexpected allies will come to our aid (I have already seen more cooperation between Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Orthodox Jews than I would have thought possible in my short life so far).

    Thank you, again. And may Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, continue to bless your efforts and the hearts of those you communicate with.
    - James


    Thank you James! We must encourage one another as the Church Militant. I don't think surrender is ever an option. It's not in the Christian lexicon.

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  136. Leila, I think you are in denial of the situation.

    Here is the current political situation in the United States:

    1. The Supreme Court has essentially said that they will strike down DOMA as soon as they get a case. The Court has said that the only reason to prohibit gay marriage is unjust discrimination. This means gay legal marriage is coming to all 50 states via the Full Faith and Credit Clause. That's the ballgame, Leila. The political battle is over.

    2. Marriage definitions, which passed by overwhelming margins in 2003, are now failing. The young overwhelmingly support gay marriage.

    3. In the US political system, one party rejects the idea that the government should actively support the common good, while the other believes supporting gay marriage is part of the common good. Even people who don't agree with gay marriage don't believe it is the government's role to prevent it. This rejection of the concept of "common good" is somewhat unique to the US political system.

    4. The CDF document is a matter of Catholic social teaching. Catholic social teaching is dependent on society. The CDF instructed the bishops conferences to tailor the document to each individual country. The USCCB's efforts failed and the situation now is remarkably different.

    5. The definition of legal marriage in the United States has been separated from procreation for a generation.

    You mention the abortion issue, but the greatest success has been outside the political arena. Roe is still the law of the land, but abortion clinics continue to close.

    Conversely, on the marriage issue, marriage advocates won every political battle until 2012, but lost the war. Politics are a means to an end, they are not an end in themselves.

    Accepting a dismal reality is not embracing despair. An approach similar to this is what I advocate. This blogger is from Canada, which, as you know, already has gay marriage. Such an approach will eventually be successful, but it will take at least a generation, if not more.

    http://www.bigbluewave.ca/2013/08/we-need-different-approach-to-same-sex.html

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  137. Thinking about those who insist gay "marriage" is possible: It is like saying, "I am a chair. You think I am a person, but I am really a chair. What I mean by 'chair' is different that what you mean by 'chair'. I am a chair because I say I am. How dare you force your belief of what the word 'chair' means on me. Keep that to yourself." I could use bad language and rant and rave about how I am a chair until I am blue in the face, however, after my emotional spat, I would still not be a chair. It is like that for those who insist that so called gay "marriage" is possible. It is impossible to reason with them because they are not being reasonable.

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  138. James, you lost me at #1. You have no crystal ball, and you've called the game before the last inning. And even if we lose in the last battle (before the eventual turnaround, even years later), it's not our concern. Our concern is serving the good, not effecting it:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2012/06/little-teaching-we-serve-good-not.html

    The link you provided has good intentions, but makes no sense. The idea of reparative therapy is laughable now, as states have begun to outlaw such a thing (CA, PA). If something is wonderful enough to have the status of "marriage" in our land, then the idea that it's something to be "brought out of" through therapy is simply criminal (and will be). So, that is a really out-of-touch suggestion. And, he's wrong for not identifying children as victims of the gay "marriage" movement. There will be many, many victims, since the "right" to children necessitates deliberate fatherlessness and motherlessness, and IVF and ART, surrogacy, etc. I've obviously linked to this before, but here is the tip of the iceberg:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/06/should-children-sit-down-and-shut-up.html

    It won't be "ex-gays" who turn this around, it will be the legions of children who one day grow up and tell their stories.

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    1. *Meaning, the idea that reparative therapy could be an alternative to a legal and political fight against gay "marriage" is laughable now….

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  139. You have no crystal ball, and you've called the game before the last inning.

    I think the Supreme Court has made its opinion on gay marriage clear. See page 25. The balance of the Court will not change until 2017 at the earliest.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_6j37.pdf

    If you want a sports analogy, the game isn't over, but it's going to take quite a few Hail Mary's to win. (Pun intended.) When you start talking about Lord of the Rings, that's not a good sign.

    I find it curious that you say that I am "calling the game before it's over", yet all I have gotten is dire warnings of priests being prosecuted and Christians being accused of hate crimes, despite clear US Constitutional protections. That's calling a game that hasn't even started!

    As for serving the good, not effecting it, this is not a matter of "ends justifying the means", this is a matter of choosing your battles wisely. It is a matter of the virtue of prudence.

    "Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it." CCC 1806.

    Given the results the CDF document has (near total failure) prudence would indicate that spending resources on political means without adequate support for evangelization is not the right means of promoting the Church's teaching on marriage.

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  140. Wait, how much energy is it to fight on all levels and at all fronts? Not much, actually. We vote, we speak, we act in the legislature, etc. I actually spend more energy on my three-year-old all day. It's not like it's sucking the life out of us. I feel like we've barely done anything. You speak of the bishops dropping the ball… what about us? What about individual Catholics? We have a lot of culpability here, mostly for being silent, for citing "compassion" as a reason not to put a target on our back. We love to be comfortable. We congratulate ourselves for being "loving", when in reality we are so self-serving. We don't want folks to think we are "mean", and we don't want to be called a bigot.

    My goodness, what wimps we have become in the fat and happy west!

    Forget LOTR, I need me some Braveheart...

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  141. Just because it won't be easy and at times we will loose doesn't mean we should give up. Priests may be threatened with and go to jail but voices should not sit in silence. And even if we loose completely (which i doubt) thats how martyrs are made. There is nothing wrong with being called to martyrdom.

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  142. The Knights of Columbus have spent millions on marriage initiatives. The USCCB responded to the CDF document with political action—which failed spectacularly.

    This money—money from KofC dues and bishops' appeals—won battles, while losing the war.

    I blog about sexual issues, but I do not blog about homosexuality. This is a sin I do not struggle with. I have no temptation in this way. I cannot give any useful advice. Those who do struggle have no reason to listen to me. It is objectively disordered, but I cannot say if the root of it is psychological or biological. It seems to be co-morbid with psychological dysfunction, but I cannot say whether it is a cause or effect.

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  143. Well, of course we have not and will not lost the war. Not ultimately, and not even necessarily in America. I am fairly certain that the same mindset attended the abortion battle. You said, James, that the real battles were won outside the political arena, but that is not true. There are real and substantial battles being won on the level of state laws. We have victories in both areas, private and public. And we fight on both levels. How many millions have been spent to fight the abortion battle? Were those dollars wasted?

    We fight on all fronts, prayer, private, public. Good will always triumph, it's just a matter of how many victims suffer grave harm in the meantime. I won't be silenced. It's not about counseling homosexuals either, or giving "advice". It's about witnessing to and supporting marriage. There are many strategies that can capture the imagination (we all have a primordial memory about what is true, good and beautiful -- thus Bottum's use of "re-enchant"), but that doesn't mean we give up on the legal/political front. Just like on abortion. Fruit may come much, much later. Who knows?

    Our job is not outcomes, it's fighting the good fight, including in the ways our Church asks of us.

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    1. I guess I just keep thinking… Can you imagine if Catholics in America actually DID something? If they stood for marriage? Imagine it…

      We have ourselves to blame, and we are full-blown wimps. Lord have mercy, and give your people some backbone.

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  144. In traffic, applying blue face paint. I'm with ya sister. ( that should keep the NSA watch list updated)

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    1. Wheeeee….!! Knew I could count on you, brother!

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  145. James, I think you will enjoy these two articles, by a canon lawyer:

    http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/first-thoughts-on-jody-bottums-second-thoughts/

    http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/why-the-church-cannot-walk-away-from-marriage/

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  146. "I find it curious that you say that I am "calling the game before it's over", yet all I have gotten is dire warnings of priests being prosecuted and Christians being accused of hate crimes, despite clear US Constitutional protections. That's calling a game that hasn't even started!"

    I'm getting a little off topic here, but I feel like I have to address this. This game was actually started quite a while ago. Is there a meaningful freedom of religion if it is illegal for the Church to perform active ministries? Off the top of my head, Catholic adoption agencies and Catholic hospitals are already under attack, and the talking point that you can have whatever belief you want in private as long as you keep it to yourself is becoming quite prevalent. If it is illegal for the laity to live one's life as a faithful Catholic (e.g. wedding photographers and bakers, business owners under the healthcare law), is there a meaningful freedom of religion? Are the constitutional protections working?

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  147. Glad you're back, Leila! Hope you accomplished what you needed to over your break.

    I found Bottum's article thoughtful and rewarding, and wrote about it here:

    http://letterstothecatholicright.tumblr.com/post/59643446633/joseph-bottum-on-the-things-we-share

    Mostly, I was impressed because Bottum sincerely listened to marriage equality supporters, even though he continues to disagree with them to an extent.

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  148. On matters of politics, we use prudence to apply the Church's moral teaching in the best way for the situation.

    Sheila, yes on most matters of applying policy, you are right. What is your understanding of when "religious submission of mind and will" is required of the faithful? And what is the role of the CDF (and, what is the weight of a document issued from the CDF and signed by the Pontiff)?

    You are right that the particulars of any political movement or fight is a matter of prudential judgement. But with the non-negotiables (and there are few), the question of pulling out of the public square on these issues is not an option. I think that is the point folks are missing. We are to defend these essential natural law, foundational human rights issues in the public square. Abortion. Euthanasia. Rights of parents to educate their children. Cloning and ESCR. Gay "marriage". Period. Again, that is the mind of the Church.

    apply the Church's moral teaching in the best way for the situation

    Absolutely. And that does not include the option of exiting the public square. That would not be "applying", that would be "leaving".

    ...none of us could be capitalist, support the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, or drive Hummers

    Pretty sure that was "unbridled" capitalism where workers are treated as a means to a material end, and yes, we must oppose that. Supporting unjust wars? That would also be wrong for a Catholic. Hummers? Not sure he said that… and I am sure that there are SUVs owned by the Vatican. I think that was a reference to being good stewards of the environment, and yes, we must be. Absolutely.

    PS: I am not implying that a CDF doc is infallible, but just as an aside, there are more levels of infallibility than just definitive council declarations and ex cathedra pronouncements.

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