Catholics and same-sex marriage

Last week, President Obama declared, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” His public support for gay Obamamarriage followed Joe Biden’s remarks a few days prior, in which the Catholic vice-president said that he had a change of heart over the years and felt compelled to support same-sex marriage. During his interview, Obama cited his Christian faith as an underlying motivation in coming out for marriage equality:

"In the end the values that I care most deeply about and [Michelle] cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan is not happy with the President. The head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops quickly released a statement:

“President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops, in a May 9 statement.

“We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” Cardinal Dolan added. “The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”

But while Catholic bishops have been clear in their opposition to gay marriage, some lay Catholic theologians are disagreeing, and quite publicly:

Yet while many non-Catholic Americans may take the political position put forward by the bishops as the final word in American Catholic life, progressive Catholic thinkers and theologians say it is time for the church to step back from political arguments about same-sex marriage, and reconsider its own position.

Among the theologians who say the bishops are in the wrong is Paul Lakeland, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Catholic university in Connecticut. “That’s not really an argument that has a theological justification,” Lakeland said of the church’s opposition to same-sex civil marriages. “It’s an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.”

“There is a lot more to be said about these issues than one stream of words from the hierarchy,” Lakeland said.

Evidence suggests that Catholic bishops in the US are fighting a losing battle in opposing same-sex marriage, even among their own flock. Catholics as a whole support legalizing same-sex marriage at higher rates than their Protestant and Evangelical peers. As I’ve noted before, Catholic governors are responsible for signing same-sex marriage laws in five states. Some Catholic politicians feel comfortable expressing support for same-sex marriage not despite their faith, but because of it.

What is happening?

As with the public as a whole, the more visible gay and lesbian people are in families, schools, and the workplace, the more likely Catholics are to support laws that they see as extending civil rights to a group of historically marginalized people. But is there something about Catholicism in particular that would lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage, even as some church leaders rail against it? I think the sacramental nature of our faith, the belief that the world is good and infused with God’s grace, and the understanding of family and community as pivotal to living out the Gospel might compel Catholics to reject the call to take up a fight against same-sex marriage. Perhaps some of the laity have taken to heart the church’s emphasis on social justice, its call to protect the marginalized, and its preached message of inclusivity for all, and are now applying these themes to a specifc, modern situation. Some bishops may lament this break between shepherd and flock, but in some ways perhaps it is not so troubling? If Catholics are following what they believe to be well-formed consciences and standing up for those they see as victimized and marginalized, the Gospel message lives.

Michael J. O'Loughlin

(Image: The cover of Newsweek, in which columnist Andrew Sullivan considers Obama's record on gay rights and same-sex marriage. Sullivan, a Catholic, has been at the fore of same-sex marriage activism in the US).

Chris NUNEZ
4 years 9 months ago
Without stating which side of this issue I fall into, I must say that it would be great to not be distracted from the pressing economic issues facing the nation. Besides, there's so much that is missing from the understanding of the bishops and many who've commented here, that it's going to take many years of thoughtful discussion before the facts can be seperated from the fiction.

So I vote that we should focus on the economy for this election year. The rest will take more time to hash through.
Carlos Orozco
4 years 9 months ago
Michael (#95):

1 & 2. True marriage, religious or civil must follow Natural Law. If we loose sight of this, anything goes. Without the light of Natural Law incest, polygamy, zoophilia are left unopossed.

3. How can one be a practicing homosexual and still follow tenets of Christian faith? Old and New Testament scripture clearly declare these to be incompatible. Jesus himself defined marriage as a union between one man and a woman (Matthew 19:4).

4. Sodomy is always sinful.

5. Can you cite a any Council document during the history of Christianity that sactioned only one sexual position? Or that sex was only for procreation and forbidden during pregnancy? Even is one exists, it does not count with any scriptural base, to my knowledge.
Carlos Orozco
4 years 9 months ago
It is no coincidence the President is making his comments precisely during the reelection campaign. Having no success in starting a real economic recovery (not possible when his top donors, Wall Street banks, run the show to benefit only themselves), the strategy has changed to purposely create narratives that divide the country. The calculation being that they will energize his base enough to outperform that of the Republicans. So he adds marriage equality to the war on women, topics on which he must battle those "evil" Catholic bishops. As a true clash nears, America magazine is more than willing to become another foot soldier in the Obama campaign.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

Rick #81, #83
You and others completely conflate homosexual acts with homosexual inclinations (''the sin is the sinner?''). But that is demeaning, even if you or they don’t realize it. We don’t do that for heterosexuals, alcoholics, polygamists or pedophiles. Who can say that these other impulses are less compelling? You are treating people with homosexual inclinations as less than fully human, as if they alone lacked the ability to live temperate lives. You think their very being demands immoral sex? But what if an adulterer thought their very being required promiscuity (I’m sure they could get a supporting note from their psychiatrist – under the medical sounding term “sexual addicts”)? In our population, there are far more heterosexuals who for whatever reason are called to a life of undesired celibacy (divorce/separation, impotence, sick or absent spouse, etc). But the Church calls them too to a chaste life. (CCC #2396 “Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.”). Of course, most of us fail, and the Church does not in any way spare heterosexuals of their obligations. And there are extenuating circumstances that can diminish guilt. But that is how we recognize the need for God’s forgiveness. 

Beth #84
I agree with much of what you say in #84 and your quotes of the Catechism, which also says: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” (#2359). “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” (#2358)

To your other point, God only makes good things, including all humans. But we are a fallen race, with a weak will, susceptible to weakness, maladies, seductions, presumptions, ideologies and all sorts of evils, introduced into Creation though sin.
Edward Alten
4 years 9 months ago
I am concerned that churchleaders (Bishops) continue to react to the media with religious media bite pronoucments of chruch teaching instead of proclaiming solutions to the tension between gay couples in civil unions for financial reasons verses normal men and women couples as actual marriages. Showing love for both sets of couples would be a more consistant theology and more honest with what the president said than a statement that polarizes the failthful laity and undermines the Bishops authority even more. Faithful Catholics are desperate for leadership that echoes the compassion and love of Christ that unify the Church rather than authoritarian proclamations that divide it.  
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael #95
Your last point is telling. You believe your arguments are right and the Catholic Magisterium is wrong. You have put your personal authority (opinion) above the promise to Peter. Or, you will seek a consensus from a group of intellectuals and confidently call that truth. But that is no foundation at all. It is shifting sands. I will stay with the Rock.

David #92 and earlier
You are really all over the place, with your comments. Of course people with homosexual inclinations are capable of love, and are my brothers and sisters (as are all humans, including the prostitutes and pedophiles, don't exclude them either from love). But, just like heterosexuals, romantic or sexual love can be misplaced. Who is to tell an older married man that his love for his young secretary is not real love? Does that excuse him to leave his wife? Again, what about his obligations to his children?

Rick #81, #83
''the sin is the sinner'' - You completely conflate homosexual acts with homosexual inclinations. But that is an insult. We don’t do that for heterosexuals, alcoholics or pedophiles. It is you who are treating them as less than fully human, saying they alone lack the ability to live temperate lives. You think their very being demands immoral sex? What if an adulterer thought their very being required promiscuity? Or other immoral practices? In our population, there are far more heterosexuals who for whatever reason are called to a life of undesired abstinence (divorce/separation, impotence, sick or absent or unwilling spouse, etc). The Church in its teaching does not spare heterosexuals from living a chaste life. Life is a spiritual struggle. Most of us fail to live up to the Truth. But that is how we know we need forgiveness.

Beth #84
You have to take the whole teaching of the Catechism, not just parts of it. Look also at #2359 - Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. To love one's neighbor is to want the best for them, not just in this transitory world, but for eternity.
Edward Alten
4 years 9 months ago
I am concerned that churchleaders (Bishops) continue to react to the media with religious media bite pronoucments of chruch teaching instead of proclaiming solutions to the tension between gay couples in civil unions for financial reasons verses normal men and women couples as actual marriages. Showing love for both sets of couples would be a more consistant theology and more honest with what the president said than a statement that polarizes the failthful laity and undermines the Bishops authority even more. Faithful Catholics are desperate for leadership that echoes the compassion and love of Christ that unify the Church rather than authoritarian proclamations that divide it.  
Thomas Rooney OFS
4 years 9 months ago
@ Jim McCrea # 89 "Couples do not acheive salvation.  Individuals do."

Neither couples nor individuals achieve salvation. 

Sola gratia
Alfred Chavez
4 years 9 months ago
Apropos to #28, Abe-how do you interpret Mt. 19:4?  It goes directly to the nature of marriage.  So, while the absence of the word ''homosexual'' from Jesus' words in the gospel seems to prove gay marriage was not excluded, Christ only included male/female relationships in his discussion of marriage.  The evangelists at least clearly did not believe that a concept so inimical to the revelation they received needed mentioning.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Carlos:

1 & 2. Natural Law is the practical reason participating in the eternal law. God's children come to know the good and the truth through a connaturality, a natural understanding. It is a mystery, as much as many tenets of our faith is. When something is pronouced as truth, and it is in profound conflict with one's reason and human experience, one must strive to inform one's conscience through education, prayer, and one's spriitual advisor. If someone cannot accept a doctrine of the Church, based on their informed conscience, then they must never go against it because that is the ultimate truth...as the Catholic Church proclaims. The Church also, in contradition, says the individual conscience can err, but the magisterium cannot. Therefore, one must follow the doctrines of the Chruch. This is a circular argument from "authority". If one disagrees, this does not mean one can merely pick and choose the doctrines that suit their personal and relational circumstances, but it also does not mean that a every serious disagreement is immoral. Your argument is from extremism and authority that dismisses anything to the contrary. You can still disagree and remain a faithful Catholic.

3. You read what I said, but did not understand. I was referring to the acceptance of a same sex marriage or union by other Christian Churches. If you want to debate Scripture and other sources of fatith and morals, inclusive of the theory of natural law, this blog is not the place. 

4. Sodomy is defined as anal copulation assuming completion. It was condemned by the Church centuries ago because it was similar to Onanism. The male seed must be placed in its proper place for procreation. Check out your theology. Also check out magisterial theologians Janet Smith and Christopher West on this subject on the internet. You will be surprised and get an earful of the moral dilemma.

5. Read Thomas Aquinas! Your entire thesis and argument is that unless something is in Scripture it has no basis in the formulation of moral law. Scripture is only "one" source of moral knowledge, and the lack thereof does not make an argument from revelation, tradition or our growing knowledge of the world and human sexuality, superfluous. The truth never changes, but our understanding of the truth is progressive. The history of the Church is proof of that. Freedom of religion was forbidden and considered heresy and the torture of heretics was not immoral. This was taught and practiced for centuries as "Divine Law and the Moral Truth". Slavery was permitted and now it is considered "intrinsically evil". Usury was written in Scripture as Divine law, but is now moral. Get a grip on yourself.

Tim:

Check out # 1, 2 and 5 above. 


Alfred Chavez
4 years 9 months ago
Ed Alten (#52):  You seem to be hoping for a let's-all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya vision of what Christianity should be.  Catholics will probably always be in a counter-cultural mode when spreading the gospel, even within families (Mt. 10:21).  I can only imagine the table discussions within the Jesuit family.  Seas are choppy right now.  Rejoice!  We must be doing good.  :)
J Cosgrove
4 years 9 months ago
''Mr. Cosgrove, you and many others offer a difficult to understand theory that somehow giving gay couples the right to a civil marriage (state) threatens the ''traditional family.'' ''


Did I say that?  That is not the real problem and yes the traditional family is under assault.  But just as a reminder of the real problem, the traditional family is falling apart in the US.  In the last 50 years the number of children born to an unmarried mother has skyrocketed.  It used to under 10% and now is about 40% in the US. For white couple it went from 3% to 30%.  In several European countries the number is over 50% and reached 66% in Iceland.  I would say that something is having an affect on the traditional family.  That is what people should be worried about and what caused it.  


My main point is that same sex marriage is a side show and all about politics and distracts from the real problem in our country and the world.  The issues are elsewhere and I do not see anyone from America addressing it except to make some non sequitur arguments.  As I said a lot of people are fiddling while the country is burning.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

Michael #103
You have made errors of history and logic in your piece. First, it is wrong to say that one's conscience is “the ultimate truth”. Impossible too. Even on this blog, people honestly disagree. Maybe, you meant to say that we will be judged by what we believe in our informed consciences, but that is not because we were right, but because God is very merciful (''“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do''). But, it should not be sufficient for an honest Christian to settle for the excuse, “my conscience is clear.” It may mitigate our sentence on Judgment Day, but, for its own sake, for love of God, we should want to do the real Good and know the real Truth. Catholics have a unique access to the real Truth, promised by Jesus (Mt 16), and that is the infallible teaching of the Magisterium. So, the Church is not contradicting itself when it says the conscience can err.

Second, there is no such thing as a “magisterial theologian”. Even the great St. Thomas (which I read and respect greatly, thank you) was not a magisterial theologian, in the sense that he was protected from error (and he made a few errors, very few). There are theologians who try to think and teach with the Magisterium, but, again, no guarantee.

Third, Sacred Scripture is not just “’one’ source of moral knowledge”. It is the keystone, as the Church has always thought. The Church teaches that it is inspired and does not err, although our interpretations of it can (that is why we have a Magisterium). St. Jerome said ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. In Dei Verbum (Vatican II), on the Holy Scripture, the Church “has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.” So, one is in great danger of erring if one strays from the Good Book.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Least we forget that there is a significant difference between secular or civil law and Church law. This does not mean that civil law is not influenced by Christianity, rather, it means that a civil marriage is more about contractual rights. A Catholic marriage is about sacrament, two-in-one-flesh body-spiritual unity, love, and convenant etc. A civil marriage is not recognized by the Catholic Church as a marriage, while a Church marriage has the force of civil law when registered with the appropriate civil authorities.

For Catholics, the Church will never endorse same sex marriages. However, same sex marriages are permitted by many Christian Churches.

There is also much theological debate about same sex couples and a holistic complementarity that challanges the requirement of biological complementarity as the primary justification for marriage between two human beings. Whether you believe in same sex unions or marriages, or not, only time will tell if this trend becomes significant as many believe it will. If so, it does not make such marriages the absolute moral truth, but there is a legitimate argument to the contrary.

The real question is this:

Can a couple with a same sex attraction be united in a marriage that abides by all the requirements of a hetersexual marriage (fidelity, convenant, love, etc), be able to achieve salvation in Christ? 
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim:

You are technically correct about conscience. What I meant to say was that no one must act against their informed conscience.  As Newman well knew, being faithful to one's true conscience can never lead one away from Truth, for it is God who speaks to the conscience and God who guides the Church. Newman followed his conscience and, predictably, it led him into the Church, and towards Church teaching not away from it. Indeed an individual conscience can err as I have mentioned. However, the Church has erred itself in the past. Yet you do not address that issue. Not everything the Church says is the absolute moral truth. There are specific procedures that the Church says should be followed if one is to disagree with a Church doctrine. I mentioned a few of them. And yes, we will be judged by the sincerity of our hearts in doing what is right, good and just, even if we make a mistake.

Most of our moral laws are not contained in Scripture. The Church interpretes Scripture, but so does many other Chrisitian Churches and they do not all agree on certain moral laws, such as contraception. Neither does many bishops, most theologians and the laity. A counting of heads does not mean the truth, but a teaching not received does not have any power to change behavior. Are we then all invincibly ignorant, misguided and a victim of the evil of the secular world? I do not think that NFP-PC is wrong, but I do not believe it is the only means to regulating fertility in the practice of responsbile parenthood.

Lastly, I used the term magisterial theologians to designate those theologians that strive to teach and defend all Church doctrines, without remainder.

J Cosgrove
4 years 9 months ago
''In response to the ad hominem, ''


Absolutely amazing comment after you used ''Bizarrely'', ''consistently wrong'', ''credibility never seems to be a limitation.''


I can back up every thing I say but this thread is not the place to discuss economic and social policy.  I am just pointing out that same sex marriage is just a red herring to distract the electorate from the real issues because of the very poor economic results of the last three and half years.  And America is complicit is this distraction to the point of going against their supposed religious affiliations to support political positions of the Democratic party.  If there were any positive economic news I am sure we would be subject to an endless parade of articles on how wonderful Obama's economic policies have been but there is a real dearth of them here recently.


The president's point of view on same sex marriage has not been evolving but revolving.  As the globe turns and a new day appears, he takes a different position.  To say that his Christian faith let him come to this, is a mockery by him of religion not an endorsement of his religion as a guide to how to live one's life.  Here is a time line of his stands on same sex marriage.


http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/an-obama-gay-marriage-timeline


One of the insights about Obama is that anything he says comes with a time limit.  So you can not depend on anything he says for very long.  Good for 90 days but after that don't count on it.  Maybe it is because he is constantly evolving or is it revolving.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim:

One last point. The term magisiterial theologians perhaps would be better understood as the traditional-minded theologians, as opposed to the less-tradition-minded group. In the past, the terms tradtionalists and revisionists were used. I find these terms misleading since they imply those that are conservative or orthodox, and abide by tradition, and those who are liberal and want to change everything. Theologians today are attempting to get aways from such "labels" that are not accurate at all. 

However, within the tradition-minded group are people like Martin Rhonheimer and Janet Smith. Both have been at the forefront of the debate on sexual ethics. Nevetheless, within this group there are many disagreements about the interpretion of Humanae Vitae and other issues such as the Phoenix Case where the Bishop ex-communicated the sister who approved of the procedures that the physicans recommended. The Church calls thhe voluntary human act in the Phoenix Case, direct abortion. However, prominent tradition-minded theologians Germain Grisez, Martin Rhonheimer and others call it indirect, and thus permissible and not immoral.

I know you are not ignorant of the profound chasm in the Church today over sexual ethics. However, when people like yourself are confronted with the many errors the Church has made over the centuries, they either do not address this issue, or offer inadequate and controversial answers.  

You are entitled to your opinion, however, thoese that disagree with certain Church doctrines and teachings for sound philosophical and theological good reasons are not unfaithful to Christ. We are not just a teahing Church, but still a learning Church. It will take several decades, or a century, before we see revisions in certain Church doctrines. 
Patricia Bergeron
4 years 9 months ago
Dear Michael (#55),

The real question is... how can ANY of us really guarantee that we will achieve salvation in Christ? However, we all live in hope - both gay and straight.

And Alfred - a cautionary note: Don't trash "Kumbaya." I lived through the '60s- early '70s, when we thought the Church had finally settled some divisive issues. Maybe we could all use a little more "Kumbaya" right now.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

Michael #106/107
I think we are close but still differ on conscience in an important way, between subjective belief and objective Truth. Only in God is the subjective also fully objective. I would not harp on this but I think the place of conscience is foundational for much of our diverging positions. In your second sentence you say Newman’s position was that conscience “can never lead one away from Truth.” I don’t think Newman said that as it would be logically wrong, even in his case, where his informed conscience kept him out of the Church until he was 44 years of age. His “informed conscience” was either right before he was 44 or after, but in one case it kept him away from Truth. One can think one’s conscience is fully informed but it is often only partially so. I think it is very difficult, especially for very intelligent people, to humbly admit that their process of informing themselves could be defective or provisional. It is hard to let go of the ego.
The definitive teaching of the Magisterium should weigh heavily in any process of informing a Catholic conscience, since the Church has a promise from Jesus (that individuals do not have) that it is protected from teaching erroneous doctrine (the power to bind and loose) in any definitive way. If that happened, it would mean that God had abandoned us to our intellects and egos and the fullness of the faith had been lost forever. This is why “Christ who is the Truth willed on (the Church) a share in His own infallibility” (CCC #889-891) - to protect the Church from permanently going astray. It is a negative power, in that it protects but does not mean the Church covers all circumstances in its teaching, until some new challenge arises. It does not protect individual churchmen from erring, especially on prudential teachings, which you pointed out. But, Church teaching is not about “the people” accepting the teaching (Jesus posed this enigmatic question in Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?''). Otherwise, we might all be Arians.
Michael Appleton
4 years 9 months ago
The anguished reaction among many religious leaders to the notion of same-sex marriage reflects continuing confusion regarding the distinction between marriage as a religious rite and marriage as a legal relationship.  The interest of the state is solely in the latter.

"Our law," wrote Blackstone, "considers marriage in no other light than as a civil contract. The holiness of the matrimonial state is left entirely to the ecclesiastical law: the temporal courts not having jurisdiction to consider unlawful marriages as a sin, but merely as a civil inconvenience... . And, taking it in this civil light, the law treats is as it does all other contracts."

As is the case with many lawyers, I am a notary public.  In that capacity I have performed a number of marriages over the years.  In no such instance have I presumed to call down the blessings of the Almighty on the happy couple.  I have not annointed them with holy oil or professed their mutual pledges indissoluble except by God. I have instead gathered the necessary witnesses, confirmed the validity of the marriage license, recited the required language and filed the paperwork in accordance with Chapter 741 of the Florida Statutes. The result is the creation of a civil union with a specific set of rights and obligations ordained by statutory and common law.
 
That the law grants the clergy the same right to perform marriages does not mean that the state has endowed marriage with a sacramental character.  It merely means that priests as well as court clerks are authorized to solemnize the legal relationship by law. And if and when a marriage is terminated, the same law prescribes the methods to effect the termination and defines the legal consequences.

The legal relationship of marriage does not implicate religious freedom in any manner.  All religions are free to set their own rules and no religious institution has ever been compelled by the state to perform a marriage ceremony.  It is time to ratchet down the hysteria a notch.
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Tim:

The quotation about Newman is correct...unless many authors who quote him are wrong. It is indeed perplexing that in Veritatis Spendor John Paul II give a definitive definition of conscience but in the same encycylical pronounces that the Church speaks the Truth that the individual Catholic conscience should know and gras. So, whatever the pope says is what my informed conscience should comprehend as the truth. Unfortunately, there is our practical reason, human experience, education, et al., that cannot grasp Humanae Vitae. If HV is the Divine Truth, it is perplexing why the majority of His Church does not grasp it, understand and assent to it. It is not a matter of fath per se, but of reason. 

What Christ said about never allowing His Church to be lead astray, he meant "His Church", as in the entire Church, clergy, theologians, and laity. God does not abandon us and the Holy Spirit guides all of us. Granted the pope is a special person, but history has taught us that not everything a pope, and his bishops, says is the absolute moral truth. Doctrines and teachings have changed. 

Newman also said that if a Catholic goes against a Church teaching, based on his informed conscience and the procedures the Church says one must follow, then he or she must be willing to stand before God and give an accountability for their actions. I am confortable in doing that, as well as others with an informed conscience and a theological edcuation and a strong faith.  Our Church is profoundly divided and we have a Crisis in Truth. Unfortunately, the book is closed to any debate on contraception as far as the magisterium is concerned. This is a tragedy because there are many complex cases where HV causes moral dilemma, suffering and conflict.

When we get to heaven, we will both know the truth. 
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Patricia:

We achieve salvation because of our trust and faith in Christ. All we are to do is follow his commandments and Gospel as best as we can, in accordance to our informed consciouses, practical reason, guidance of the Holy Spirit, constant prayer, frequent receipt of the sacraments and advise from our spirtual advisors. Thus, sincere Protestants, Episcopalians and other Christian people can have salvation...not just Catholics. According to the Cathollic faith, contraceptors are grave sinners because their marital acts are intrinsically evil. Other Christians don't believe that contraception is always intrinsically evil. Neither do most Catholics. Who among us will deny salvation to same sex couples?

God will not judge us by what is objectively right or wrong but on the sincereity of our hearts in doing what is good, right and just, even if we make a mistake. 
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
Michael #109
Isn't it possible you are not understanding Pope JPII's meaning when you think you find a contradiction in the one encyclical, when many others see clarity? In any case, you are right that we will both know the truth more clearly on Judgment Day (1 Cor 13:12: ''For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.'') - I, in fear and trembling, for not having followed the Lord as closely as the Church taught me to.
Alfred Chavez
4 years 9 months ago
[#42 Rick Fueyo]

''...the soft misogyny of ''complementarity.''''

Thus is the strongest rational argument against gay marriage dispatched, with a false parallel to the pro-woman nature of Christ's opposition to divorce.

The fact is that the biological complementarity of a male and a female cannot and never will be matched by gay partners.  They simply can't do it biologically-there's no matching equipment.  Never mind the fecundity part, although it's a fruit of a unique relationship between men and women. You can't have equal rights when the two things being equated are not in plain fact equal.  At least you can't do that without denigrating biology, as if it means nothing.

An analogy is instructive: With a lock and a key you have a security system.  With a lock and a lock or a key and a key, you have, well, a lock and a lock and a key and a key-no security system. 

Omnia exemplia claudicat, but this one is nearly spot on. 
4 years 9 months ago
St. Paul says, “Christian marriage is the most perfect model of the Church.” The “Church  is Christ, with whom through Baptism we are “entombed” unto resurrection, hemmed in as it were by the restraining, yet liberating walls of truth, as revealed in Scripture. If this is true how is it possible to justify homosexual marriage? I can understand "Civil Unions," but "Marriage?" certainly not Christian Marriage, or even more focused, "Catholic Marriage" which is a Sacrament.   
Kang Dole
4 years 9 months ago
Bruce, I don't understand why you put "Christian marriage is the most perfect model of the Church" in quotes and attributed it to Paul, because I can't think of where he ever said that.
Patricia Bergeron
4 years 9 months ago
Michael - My point exactly. And I believe Jesus' commandment was ''Love one another as I have loved you.''
Michael Barberi
4 years 9 months ago
Heterosexual complementarity pertains  to the biological, genital distinction between male and female. The mere possession of male and female genitals, however, is insufficient to constitute heterogenital complementarity; genitals must also function properly. If they cannot function complementarity, as they cannot in either male or female impotence, neither heterogenital nor reproductive complementarity is possible, and in that case canon law prescribes hat a valid marriage and sacrament are also not possible. However, the magisterium also teaches that "for serious reasons and observing moral precepts", it is not necessary that they biologically reproduce. Infertile couples and couples that choose for serious reasons not to reproduce for the duration of the marriage can still enter into a valid marital and sacramental relationship.

In the light of this teaching, Paul VI's statment that "each an every marital act must be open to the transmission of life", is morally ambiguous in the cases of infertile couples, cases in which the wife is post-menopausal, and couples who practice permitted natural family planning with the specific intention of avoiding the transmission of life. We may reasonably ask in what way are sexual acts between such couples "open to the transmission of life"?
Crystal Watson
4 years 9 months ago
I appreciate Obama making his state,emt: even if it doesn't have a federtal force of law, the symbolism of an American president approving same-sex marriage as a civil right is important.  Also important is his reasoning based on the gospel.  The bishops want to deny the fact that one can be Christian and accept same-sex relationships, but many Christian denominations do just that. - the Episcopal church, the UCC, the Quakers, etc.  The gospel values Obama mentions, those sayings of Jesus, trump Thomistic natural law theory  every day of the week.
Kang Dole
4 years 9 months ago
Do us all a favor, Carlos, and tell us what Jesus' views on "the homosexual issue" were. I'm sure that would clear things.
Kang Dole
4 years 9 months ago
http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103334/ask-jesus
J Cosgrove
4 years 9 months ago
A few comments:


First, is this an example of an American politician imposing his religious beliefs on the people?  Something in our secular age is supposed to be taboo.  Of course not, because we all know it has nothing to do with religion and is just campaign expediency which leads to my second comment. 


Second, one in six of Obama's big campaign bundlers is now gay.  So is support for gay marriage, nothing more than a quest for money or campaign donations. Hardly, a noble reason to support this cause.  Did Obama sell out his beliefs for some silver?  Interesting choice he had to make since Latinos and Blacks are generally against gay marriage.


And third, if Romney had used the same words for advocating something that he wanted politically, would America, the magazine, have been all over it as a threat that Mormonism has for America, the country.  Does anyone doubt that?  In other words this is all about politics and nothing to do with religion, just as a large part of the religious posturing by America, the magazine, is driven by the politics of editors and it chosen authors.
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years 9 months ago
I don't know what to make of the US Bishops these days.  I tend to feel a little sorry for them - like they're stuck in something and don't know how to get out of it.  The more they try, the deeper they dig themselves in. 

Most of us have been in similar situations (stuck, blinded by our own willfulness), and the only thing that helps is profound humility and a willingness to listen to others.

Like President Obama, my feelings about same sex marriage are evolving.  I think of marriage and sexuality as sacred, and the fact that children can only be biologically given in a heterosexual relationship seems to put a natural stamp of preferential holiness on that relationship.  But being an adoptive mother, I have come to understand that relationships can be blessed in ways other than biologically - and that these blessings are no less holy or legitimate.  So I've had to let go of a rigidly held conviction and open myself to other possibilities. 

It has dawned on me that marginalizing homosexuals is, like slavery, saying that some human beings are not as legitimate as others.

It's both scary and freeing to let go of something that you've always thought was "true".  Like Fr. Clooney says in the previous post, these are the revelations that wake us up in the middle of the night. 
Thomas Farrell
4 years 9 months ago
As American citizens, the Catholic bishops in the United States are free to participate in the public debate about same-sex marriage as a possible legal arrangement.

But I do not understand why the Catholic bishops have decided to oppose same-sex marriage as vigorously as they are opposing it.

However, I strongly suspect that they are opposing same-sex marriage as vigorously as they are as a way to impress their boss, Pope Benedict XVI.

Now, if I understand Fr. Clooney's commentary about Peter and Cornelius correctly, I guess his commentary means that we are waiting for Pope Benedict to have a vision in which a voice tells him to stop opposing same-sex marriage.

Joshua DeCuir
4 years 9 months ago
It's fascinating to me that much of the coverage of Pres. Obama's "declaration" regarding same sex marriage (especially that praising it) never actually discusses what he said.  What he said was that he "personally supports" same sex marriage, but also believes it should be left to the states to decide.  His position is kind of a reverse-Cuomo: whereas Cuomo "personally" opposed abortion, he didn't feel like he had a moral responsibility to take a certain course of action with respect to legalized abortion, Pres. Obama "personally" supports gay marriage, but apparently feels that he can't do anything on a federal level to legalize it.  This is especially telling because Pres. Obama is, of course, a "celebrated" constitutional law scholar.  His words in this context are revealing, because they amount to a rejection of the liberal jurisprudential argument that the Federal Constitution enshrines protection for the right of gays to marry.  By stating that the decision should be left to the states, Pres. Obama apparently believes that nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment or elsewhere prevents individual states from banning gay marriage.  When seen in this light, it's amusing to see the rush to canonize the President for his "bold and courageous" stand on the issue.   Especially when you look at his track record:  when he was running for President 4 years ago, he stated he opposed gay marriage because of his Christian beliefs.  Now he supports it because of those same beliefs.  As one commentator noted over the weekend, Pres. Obama was apparently the only politician in America who, as the issue of gay marriage gained in popularity, actually became more conservative on the issue!

That said, I agree with the President: it should be a federalism/states' right issue, and no group of unelected, unaccountable federal judges ought to foreclose such a solution.  Polling suggests that most Americans, even those who support gay marriage, agree.

Finally, it's also curious to me that folks like Sullivan have lauded the President for his stand on "human and civil rights," while ignoring that this President also claims to have the authority under the Constitution to assassinate American citizens on foreign soil without prior conviction by a jury and sentencing.  For what it's worth, I presume he feels the same regardless of whether they're gay or straight. 
4 years 9 months ago
I looked up Marriage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and it said "see Matrimony." Mixed marriages and "trial" marriages (quotes in the Catechism) are discussed under Matrimony. There is a sacrament to protect, along with a political position. Most of the commentary I have read deals with the political position. The Cathechism, as I say, deals mainly with the sacrament.

Marriage and divorce laws in this country are the business of the state. Hence, Mr. Obama wasn't breaking fresh ground when he said same-sex marriage should be up to the states. He did, however, put it into a human rights category, and when states have been backward about human rights in regard to slaves and women in the past, the federal government has pre-empted the issues. It appears to me that Mr. Obama is allowing time for everyone else's idea to "evolve" like his.
Finally, I'd like to note that our bishops told us to love our unfortunately disordered children, but they have never said anything as loving to homosexuals as the president just said.
HAROLD HARTINGER
4 years 9 months ago
It is exceedinly strange for Archbishop Dolan to lead a campaign for religious freedom, only to find that the freedom does not extend to members of churches that disagree with the Archbishop's views.
Stephen SCHEWE
4 years 9 months ago
For the record, on his web site Sullivan regularly criticizes Obama for extra-Constitutional imprisonment and killing of Americans who are alleged to be terrorists, although you won’t find me shedding a tear for Al-Awlaki.
On this as on so many other issues, I appreciate that the President acts pragmatically.  A state-by-state approach will mitigate the disorientation many people are experiencing because of the speed with which attitudes towards GLBT folks are evolving.  It’s too bad that the Supreme Court couldn’t have decided something similar on Roe v. Wade; there would have been less conflict and pain over the last forty years, not to mention many fewer abortions, and I imagine the states would have reacted to abortion much as they have (so far) to same sex marriage.  It would also give the Bishops time to evolve their positions instead of immediately joining King Canute down at the beach.
Rick Fueyo
4 years 9 months ago
 
First, well said Beth.    Very moving.   Second, in terms of a legal analysis, I strongly agree with Harry Hartinger’s comments.
 
Legally, marriage is governed by two very separate and often parallel institutions. The states recognize your marriage, you traditionally only needed a different sexes, minimum age, and not related within certain defined levels. Nothing else mattered.
 
Church marriages are different, of course. Each faith is perfectly free to impose their own standards as to what they will recognize, and any interference by the state is the valid subject of religious liberty.
 
No one suggests that the institutions overlap legally. One can be divorced in the eyes of the state with an appropriate property division, without that having any effect and how the Church recognizes marriage. Similarly, you can be married in a Church, but if you don't record it in the clerk's office with a marriage license, you will enjoy none of the legal rights that the state confers upon married couples, or the responsibilities.
 
Against that backdrop, I find it illogical for the Church to indicate that it should weigh in on how the state defines marriage. It does in no other context.  The Bishops do not advocate an ending to divorce laws to harmonize the state definition of marriage with Catholic teaching.
 
As for the argument that this amounts to some form of imposition of secular or different religious beliefs, that is a talking point that is never made any sense logically. 
4 years 9 months ago
Lakeland said of the church’s opposition to same-sex civil marriages. “It’s an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.”

This guy is an insulting nit.  Where does he teach?  This is NOT a comment from someone who has more than half a brain.  Can't he give an intellectual counter argument?  Why just attack.  He is a progressive?  Wow!
Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago
I don’t know which is worse, the deep and multi-layered hypocrisy of Barack Obama or the enabling (“protecting”) by this supposedly Catholic magazine. Obama, supported gay-marriage in 1996 (http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0109/Obama_backed_samesex_marriage_in_1996.html), then backed away from it to seek higher office in 2004, then tip-toed back again now (he now believes it is a State’s issue) to satisfy his rich gay donors. I suppose flip-flop is ok if goes in the right direction, third time around.

And then for Michael O'Loughlin to turn the crass duplicity of the president into another way to slight the Bishops, not by saying so himself, but by dredging up another liberation (married ex-priest) “theologian” who thinks homosexual sex should be sanctified. For Catholics to support gay marriage, they would have to throw out all teaching on chastity, sodomy, marriage, fornication, polygamy, as well as radically redefine the interpretation of Scripture and teaching from Councils and Tradition. For there is no rational way to parse these components of the Natural Law.

And what about the children? For years, the importance of male and female role models was stressed for the healthy raising of boys and girls (all that criticism of dead-beat dads and welfare moms). It is a small step from thinking gay marriage is a civil right to denying Catholic adoption agencies participation in state adoption services because of supposed discrimination, as has already happened in some states. In the UK, there is real concern Churches will be forced to bless gay marriages and Christian preachers have been criminally charged with hate crimes. This magazine has already shown its cavalier attitude to the Bishops concerns for their religious freedom. What will the editors not do to stand by their man?

Is this the necessary end of the various liberation theologies? The failure of America and some of the correspondents above to see the radical nature of their position is amazing. It is a great example of how minor disobedience on doctrine and practice mutate over time to something completely unrecognizable from the bark of Peter.

Doesn’t this kind of article also completely undermine the credibility of other attempts to critique the Church from within? How could anyone even begin to look for guidance on celibacy and contraception from a magazine that has strayed so far from the Truth?
Stanley Kopacz
4 years 9 months ago
If there's one principle that has made its way into the American consciousness,  it's that you don't discriminate against people or reduce their range of rights because of an accident of birth.  The president's statements were in line with this principle.  I wish his statements and actions with respect to the environment, the wars, and human rights were as "brave".  But he is a politician and one skill of a politician is to cover your person with your persona.  He remains the better choice, in my opinion, over Romoney.
Vince Killoran
4 years 9 months ago
Nothwithstanding Cardinal Dolan's charge that the President's postion "erode[s] or ignore[s] the unique meaning of marriage," it seems as if it underscores our 21st century understanding of what constitutes a life-time commitment of loving, consenting adults.

As for the Cardinal's "we cannot be silent. . " now-frequent tagline: I really wish this were employed for some many of the other fractures the hierarchy has created within the Church. Picking up on Stanley's comment, religious leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. used that phrase to oppose war and embrace racial justice, not deny people their rights.
Tom Maher
4 years 9 months ago
The Harvard Kennedy School of Government just gave awards this week to three Iowa Supreme Court judges who arbitaritly and capriciously pulled  out of thin air that smae-sex marriage was a Consitutional right.  The people Iowa strongly disageed and removed these three justices from the bench when Iowa Supreme Court Justice's term are  periodically reviewed by the voters.   

This is another case of elite judicial, academic and politcal groups rewarding  and praising  arbitrary declarations of judges and politicians not at all supported by the voters. 

However the people of Iowa overwhelming voted to ban same-sex marrIage as part of their state Consistuion.  So far over 32 states have done the same - about 64%  of all states so far.  And more states expected to put into their state Constituiton a ban on same sex marriage so much so that it is possible that with another six states banning same sex marraige - which could easily happen - more than three qaurters of all states Constitutions will have bans of same-sex marriage.  Approval by three quarters of the states is enough to get a federal Consistutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

So actually same-sex marraige is widely not supported by near super majorities of Americans across the country which would of course include the majority of Catholics.
ed gleason
4 years 9 months ago
It's been asked why the young are ignoring RCC membership. Maybe because the bishops are all for only  heterosexual marriage which they don't allow their priests to engage in, while they insist on  a dogma that  SSA is intrinsically disordered while  about half of them have the SSA  but insist that they themselves are not inflicted by this SSA 'disorder'.
The young say   gee wiz.. no thanks. Answer?  Let's all do another study to see where this is going..  NOT. 
Joshua DeCuir
4 years 9 months ago
"Against that backdrop, I find it illogical for the Church to indicate that it should weigh in on how the state defines marriage. It does in no other context.  The Bishops do not advocate an ending to divorce laws to harmonize the state definition of marriage with Catholic teaching."

They do in my state, as they were at the forefront of objecting to so-called no-fault divorce laws.  If you look at the research, those laws have been a disaster for women. 

What is illogical is to suggest that because the state has a role in marriage, that the Church has no right to give witness to the meaning of marriage.  That is, of course, what the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment guarantees.  The state also regulations the death penalty, war, imprisonment and many federal anti-poverty programs.  I don't see liberals crying foul over the Church's weighing in on those state-regulated matters.
Jeanne Linconnue
4 years 9 months ago
Josh, #16

No-fault divorce laws are irrelevant to the discussion.

But, your statement that these laws have been a ''disaster'' for women seems to ignore the reality that more than 2/3 of all divorces are initiated by wives, not husbands.  This percentage is even higher among college-educated women.  The divorce rate shot up after these laws were introduced because they coincided with opening up of the job market to women - discrimination against women was made illegal. Of course, many companies ignored the laws, but eventually were forced to comply. And gradually women were able to get into professions that had traditionally denied entry to women - especially to married women, and especially to married women with children. Opportunities for post-high school higher education, including university and professional education, had also opened up to women.  Once women could get decent jobs and support themselves and their children, many welcomed the option to leave unhappy, and often emotionally abusive marriages. They no longer had to prove either infidelity or physical abuse and they were no longer forced to stay within these marriages because of financial dependence.  No-fault divorce was a blessing for many.

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