The National Catholic Review

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane responds to Nicholas Cafardi in the current issue of America. Here we post the full text of his response:

Re “Politics and the Pulpit” by Nicholas P. Cafardi (7/30): Dr. Cafardi seems to imply that Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle engaged in impermissible lobbying by assisting in gathering signatures in support of Referendum 74 in Washington State to undo the same-sex marriage legislation. The tax code allows tax-exempt organizations to engage in lobbying as long as the lobbying does not form a substantial part of the organization’s activities.

Dr. Cafardi acknowledges this but seems to minimize to the vanishing point the degree to which lobbying is permitted. Whether it is “substantial” or not is judged in relation to an organization’s totality of activities in terms of time, effort and expenditure. Dr. Cafardi should be familiar enough with the activities of Catholic dioceses to know how “insubstantial,” though still important in itself, this effort of the archdiocese is in proportion to all that it does in worship, education and social service. And Dr. Cafardi does not sufficiently emphasize the fact that this limitation is placed on all non-profit organizations that come under 501(c)(3) of the tax code—not just churches.

Moreover, Professor Cafardi seems to draw into his discussion the totally extraneous issue of the “separation of church and state” to have the opportunity to quote James Madison in order to characterize the church’s opposition to the referendum on marriage as an initiative that would “repeal the civil rights of a significant sector of our fellow citizens” and seems “disposed ‘to vex and oppress.’” In doing so, Dr. Cafardi ignores the fact that all the rights of marriage have been granted to registered domestic partners in Washington State, and so even if the same-sex marriage law is overturned, these rights will remain intact except for the description of these relationships as “marriage.”

Several decades ago pro legal abortion activists sued the Internal Revenue Service to remove the Catholic Church's tax exemption because of our opposition to legalized abortion. It took a decade to resolve that suit in the church's favor. It is a good example of the lengths to which some will go to prevent the Church from ever voicing its opinion in a public debate by declaring its efforts to do so out of bounds due to its tax exempt status or the "separation of Church and state."

Dr. Cafardi admits that "churches can certainly advocate on social issues they perceive to have a moral component without violating the tax code." I regret that he has decided to provide an interpretation of the code that limits rather than supports the Church's ability to help politics achieve just and charitable purposes.

(Most Rev.) Blase Cupich
Bishop of Spokane, Wash.


Mike Brooks | 8/24/2012 - 3:16pm
@Dan -

Ok, I think I get your point:  You think that I have an animus towards homosexuals and that that animus prevents me from understanding the emotional aspect of marriage (and your marriage) that you believe should be the controlling factor in the debate.  Does that sum it up?

I don't believe we should make laws based on emotion; marriage has already taken a beating from liberal thought that suggests that marriage is unnecessary for having children, that fathers are unnecessary.  Look to the inner city to see how single parenthood effects economic well-being, how the lack of male role models leads to a perpetuation of criminal activity, how female role models perpetuate the belief that government should support them and their fatherless kids.  Marriage needs reclaim its place as the institution for a man and a woman to have kids.  Same-sex marriage severs procreation from marriage; it sends us in the wrong direction.  The needs of the whole of society need to supersede the emotional desires of the few.
Dan Hannula | 8/23/2012 - 9:03pm
Gerelyn (#21) "The person often (usually?) overlooked in adoption is the adopted person.  His/her adopting parents expect him/her to forget the real parents and the lost ancestors and be grateful."

When I taught confirmation, my first lesson was to tell the young people in my charge that their first moral obligation was to know about the subject before making judgments.  Where did you get such an idea?  The adotion process we went throough was exhausting.  Many people were turned away.  Most adoptive parents I know do not fit your monstrous stereotype. I suggest that you travel to the Twin cities (the largest concentration of Korean adoptees).  There you will find several Korean culture camps for grade-schoolers. Concordia college runs a Korean language summer camp on a lake in Northern Minnesota every summer-full of Korean adoptees!

My daughter took four years of Korea, and a semester abroad at Yonsei University in college.  She is now a graduate student a Sogang (the Jesuit University) in Seoul.  I support her in every way.

I am greatful for my daughter-from my perspective, she owes me no more than a biological child.  Where did you get the idea that adoptive parents were such monsters?  From the first time I could speak with her, I let her know that her obligation was to become the person God intended her to be.  She has done so, and in that process, I became the parent God intended me to be. 

Dan Hannula | 8/23/2012 - 8:36pm
Michael (#19) Why would I ever feel offended that you pigeon hole my (and my wife's) marriage as a "not ideal" "fall-back" "exception" that "serves society in a separate but [certainly] not inferior way than mariage is intended to."  Why would anyone take offense as those characterizations?

I suspect you actually did not read (i.e., think about) my previous entries (#10 & #15). You may have noticed that I suggested that (#10) you had a cultural bias and sought to find some intellectual support.  But, it appears you are as obtuse about marriage and children as a priest I met who told us we I did a great thing in adopting our daughter-i.e., he also had your "fall-back" and "safety-net" mindset. I, in turn, told him it was the most selfish and self-actualizing thing I ever did. Try to understand that.

But, I really get that you need to make my relationship an acceptable "exception" (as you say) to your rule about the purpose of marriage-otherwise the whole casuistic structure you've built against gay people and thier claim to justice comes falling down.

I will leave it there, except for one final point regarding your logic-please, please, make for me that logical link that proves, as you say, that "procreation" is linked to "economic security" and proper "role models" for children.  Perhaps, I can learn enough to try to make up in some other way for being such a poor role model for my daughter in my less than ideal marriage.

pax vobis 
Mike Brooks | 8/23/2012 - 1:34pm
@Marie - I think a lot of religious teaching has a secular purpose underlying it.  Jesus didn't tell us to love one another just because he said so; He told us because it helps make our lives better.  Or at least that's how I see it. 

Likewise, marriage hasn't been the union of a man and a woman just because God commanded it; we realize that there are good things that come from it.  So, we can either rely on the Church to lobby on behalf of the secular purpose; or we can create lobbying groups of non-religious people (though they're in short supply in this country) to do the same thing. 

Just because an institution has a religious component shouldn't disqualify it from participating in public debate.  If the Church's position on same-sex marriage were based solely on a religious belief that, e.g., God hates homosexuals, then that's a different story.  And I  think this latter argument is what the pro-ssm lobbyists are trying to pin, unfairly, on the Church.

Gerelyn Hollingsworth | 8/23/2012 - 12:41pm
''At the risk of further offending you, your adoptive family is not ideal: your daughter lost one or both of her parents, and that's a tragedy.''

True.  The person often (usually?) overlooked in adoption is the adopted person.  His/her adopting parents expect him/her to forget the real parents and the lost ancestors and be grateful.


 ''A person marrying their dog doesn’t cause any harm either, but we don’t legalize that.''


An ignorant and insulting comment.  Sounds like something Santorum would bark.
Jim McCrea | 8/22/2012 - 4:39pm
Rick #8.  Perfectly stated.

The Catholic Church in this secular state cannot have its cake and eat it too.
Mike Brooks | 8/23/2012 - 11:43am
@Dan/@Walter -

Marriage does not require procreation; it establishes a framework for uniting kids with their parents and assigning responsiblty to parents in the event that children are created (through consummation).  Marriage promotes an ideal; exceptions to the rule, such as infertile couples, are inevitable but do not change the ideal.  (And please don't confuse the term "ideal" to mean what will give the best shot at prosperity for the chidren; if that were the intention, we'd just take all of the poor kids from their parents and give them to rich people.)

At the risk of further offending you, your adoptive family is not ideal: your daughter lost one or both of her parents, and that's a tragedy.  Adoption is a great fall-back and a blessing to unite those who cannot procreate with those who have lost one or both parents.  It serves society but in a different (not inferior) way than marriage is intended to.

The link between marriage and procreation is an important one for children and for society; it tries to give kids economic security, as well as role models in a society made up of men and women.  And it attempts to assure that kids do not become charges of the State.  Encouraging men and women to get married before having kids is and always has been a good thing for society.  One need only look, e.g., in the inner cities, where Black Americans have a 70% illegitmacy rate, and a corresponding higher poverty rate for moms and their kids, to see how the idea that marriage is not necessary for procreation plays out. 
Until recently, nowhere has it ever been codified that marriage is not about procreation (although society has for millenia treated it that way).  But when same-sex marriage is legalized, this is the first time that marriage is expressly DISENGAGED from procreation, because homosexual couples cannot procreate together.  From that point forward, the notion that men and women should get married before having children would be at odds with what the law says.  Indeed, in societies where ss"m" has been legalized, marriage rates have dropped, and this is relatively short-term data.  How it ultimately plays out is unknown, a huge social experiment upending thousands of years of history. 

So what's left of marriage after ther procreative link is severed?  Nothing.  It's definition becomes whatever the parties deem it to be.  How many people?  It doesn’t matter.  For how long?  It doesn’t matter.  Potentially procreative?  Irrelevant.  Love?  That’s the current perspective but unnecessary.  It becomes a random way to receive public benefits with the public receivng nothing in exchange.  That's damage to marriage and damage to the public in my book.
Adoption is a great safety net for children who have lost their parents.  But ss”m” leads to the creation of children through surrogacy with the express purpose of taking a child away from the people who created him/her, and deprives the child of witnessing how men and women relate to one another in a household.  Marriage is not about providing “good parents,” whatever that means (and, btw, the research is not clear at all about whether same-sex couples are harmful to children); it’s about assigning responsibility to parents.
Finally, I don’t understand the argument that same-sex marriage must be ok because it doesn’t cause any harm.  A person marrying their dog doesn’t cause any harm either, but we don’t legalize that.  Why?  Because it does not serve the public purpose of marriage to unite moms and dads with their offspring.
I agree with @Walter that there are forces at work to redefine marriage.  And the Catholic Church should be permitted to fight those forces as a matter of protecting our society and its children, whether you believe marriage as currently defined does that or not.
Dan Hannula | 8/22/2012 - 4:47pm
Michael (#11)  I am sure that you did not mean to demean my marriage-or, to somehow think of it as less worthy-perhaps even a non-sacrament, because my wife and I are incapable of pro-creation, but you did.

I dissent from your conclusion that: ''The unique capacity of male-female couples to reproduce is the basis for marriage and forms the foundation of civilized society: the traditional family.''  Marriage is a unique relationship, sure.  But, not so narrow I think.  My adoptive Korean daughter is no less my daughter than a biological daughter.  Perhaps, my experience gives me some insight into something that you can't understand.  Not your fault.  I have never had a Priest tell me we were not ''married'' in your unique true sense.  Nor, do I feel it is a lesser type of relationship.

But, perhaps you can try to lend an argument to the Bishops contention that (civil) same-sex marriage harms that civil institution.  I have not heard one from them yet.  But, give it another try.  While doing so, let me suggest that you have your conclusion (culturally, if not logically, enforced) and are now searching for support. Apparently, my wife and I didn't hurt the institution-why would another couple who cannot procreate do so.  The Bishops cannot cite any studies that show same-sex parents are not good parents.  

Just a bit of legal insight-a lack of ability to consummate is, in most jusridictions, a legal basis for annulment (as it is in the church) but not the lack of ability to precreate.

try again. 
Mike Brooks | 8/22/2012 - 3:48pm
@Dan said: Nevertheless the Bishops (and others) oppose civil same-sex marriage, from my reading, for two reasons—first, it is a holy relationship instituted by God only for a man and a woman and, second, same-sex civil marriages would harm the civil institution of marriage.

Your reading misses the procreative aspect of marriage that renders marriage as impossible between two people of the same sex.  The unique capacity of male-female couples to reproduce is the basis for marriage and forms the foundation of civilized society: the traditional family.  But for the procreative capacity of male and female, there would be no reason for couples (as opposed to singles, trios or more) to be formed by humans.  This is the case for both civil and religious marriage.

How people simply skip over the uniqueness of male-female couples because of their procreative capacity astounds me.  If God thought that people of the same sex should be joined, he would have either created a genderless species or made same-sex couples capable of procreating.

The purpose of civil and religious marriage are the same:  to assure that children conceived have a mother and a father to raise them, and to assure that a mother and a father take responsibility for the children that they create.  Same-sex couples cannot serve this purpose; indeed, any child being raised by a same-sex couple has already been deprived of his/her mother and/or father, a tragedy by both civil and religious standards, and a reason in and of itself to discourage so-called same-sex "marriage" which is known to result in more surrogate births. 

The Church, composed of religious membership and members of civil society should have the right to lobby on this important issue.
David Pasinski | 8/22/2012 - 1:36pm
My canon law is weak and my explanation of civil law worse, but when one officiates at a religious ceremony, the celebrant requires a license from the state which is then filed.
There are instances where a priest may do a clandestine marriage with religious vows that has no legal status because the couple cannot for some reason be married. I have heard of therse instances for older couples where a coopertaive/renegade/ "bigger picture" priest may permt the exchange of vows which, in this couple's eyes, is a true marriage and thus permit marital intimacy in good conscience, but it is not legally recorded for finaniical or other reasons. This has no legal status as such in my understanding.
Rick Fueyo | 8/22/2012 - 12:35pm
I think legal marriage and ecclesiastical marriage are separate in the United States.  That is the main point that I see as to why Marie's point is correct.

The Church and the state run parallel institutions of marriage. A divorce decree from the state will not permit you to receive communion, even if you have validly remarried in the eyes of the state.  Likewise, an annulment does not bring you any legal rights to alimony/property division, or all of the other legal incidents that accompany the state institution of marriage, such as the ability to own property as a tenancy by the entireties, a legal form of ownership unique to marriage, which provides protection from creditors of one spouse.

What the Church is saying is that it also wants to weigh in on the legal definition secular marriage.  That is wrong in my opinion, and is especially offensive given that the Church avoids any political attempt to define marriage in any other sphere, such as an attempt to outlaw divorce, which Jesus explicitly condemned.  But perhaps knowing how unpopular that would be, the Church does not weigh in in that area. Instead, it seems to reserve special animus against homosexuals.
Marie Rehbein | 8/22/2012 - 9:26am
As opposed to other religions, the Catholic religion is housed in what amounts to a foreign government relative to the United States.  Not only that, but as compared to other religions, its leaders seem to think it should use the financial resources of the  organization to bring lawsuits and contribute to PACS, when what should be happening is that the Church should be teaching its members right from wrong, what it believes God wishes, and leaving it up to the individual member to determine whether to make political waves on various issues such as gay marriage and the death penalty.
Joe Kash | 8/22/2012 - 8:31am
That is right Vince. They are not the same according to the Catholic Church and to those who are Catholic. The Catholic Church and Catholics believe that Marriage can only occur between a man and woman without exception.  The Catholic Church believes that there are instances (albeit rare) where Capital Punishment is appropriate.  One is an absolute and the other is relative to the situation.
Gretchen rush | 8/21/2012 - 10:02pm
I see that Marie  shares Nick Cafardi's narrow vision of the Church's contribution to public debate. The Church should only be interested in matters that impact it directly?

This self-serving approach turns the Church into a sect concerned only with its self interests.

Would she also hold the following? ''The Church's interest should be limited to gaining assurance that it will never be required as an agent of the government to participate directly in executions of death row prisoners. Since this is probably understood, there is little that the Church needs to do with regard to opposing the death penalty.''
Marie Rehbein | 8/21/2012 - 9:11pm
The Church's interest should be limited to gaining assurance that it will never be required as an agent of the government to perform marriages that it cannot recognize.  Since this is probably understood, there is little that the Church needs to do with regard to opposing the recognition of secular marriage between individuals of the same gender.
Vince Killoran | 8/21/2012 - 10:26pm
Sorry Gretchen but I don't see the equivalency between opposition to the death penalty and opposing what kind of life-long loving marriage compact of consenting same-sex partners.

Actually, I don't think churches should be the government agent in marriages.  They can perform ceremonies etc. but everyone should go to city hall to make it official.
Marie Rehbein | 8/23/2012 - 12:03pm
Michael Brooks, Does it not make more sense for you, and others who think as you do, to carry on the fight against gay marriage, than for an institution to do so?  I think the opinions of citizens are much more significant than the religious arguments provided by a financially powerful insitution run by men who are not allowed to marry.
C Walter Mattingly | 8/23/2012 - 9:27am
One wonders where the expanded definitions of marriage are headed. The characteristics of a Christian marriage, as described by Christ, is that it is a permanent bond (now largely discredited) between a man and a woman (currently in flux) in which two (still largely intact) become one flesh. (There is here, incidentally, no mention of the necessity of procreative capacity of the couple in Jesus' words in Mark 10 as a precondition I can see.) And Amy, no gris-gris intended, if a group of say one man and 6 women, consenting adults all in loving and committed relationship with one and the the others, by what right have we to deny that society not approve the union of these several consenting adults by refusing to recognize the relationship as a marriage? The women can be true to the man and the man true to the several women. They may love their children and the bond they have created within the group. And such marriages are common outside the US in other existing cultural traditions.
In "discerning the spirit of the times," it seems the winds of the zeitgeist are predicting that the definition of marriage may be expanded to include more or less what two or more consenting adults desire it to be.  
Jim McCrea | 8/22/2012 - 6:50pm
“The Church spent billions defeating the ERA, and you don't hear women complaining.”

Yes they did:

Officially recognized Catholic women’s groups, such as the National Council of Catholic Women, campaigned against birth control, divorce, child labor laws and the Equal Rights Amendment. But what pulled Holy Mother Church’s chestnuts out of the fire was the overwhelming involvement of the LDS church in defeat of ERA efforts. Donations to support the anti-ERA effort were solicited by ward bishops; speeches against the amendment were deemed appropriate at all church meetings, and church buildings were used as an anti-ERA literature distribution points. Church sponsored anti-ERA organizations operated in Florida, Nevada, North and South Carolina, Missouri, Illinois and Arizona.

Gee, just like Prop 8 in California. It seems that HMC is very happy to play second fiddle to a church that, if the truth were known, they don’t recognize as legitimately Christian.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 8/22/2012 - 4:58pm
In my state (MA) there is a ballot initiative this year to permit physician-assisted suicide. Should the bishops lobby against it only if they think they will be compelled to bury the physician-assisted suicides?

When the bishops believe the voters are about to do something that will damage the common good, they are duty-bound to warn them against it. If they spend a little money doing it, that is legitimate.

Suppose there is a referendum proposing that buffalo chips should be classified as a vegetable, so they can be served in school cafeterias. The bishops would not simply ensure that Catholic schools' cafeteria menus not be affected; they would lobby against the legal imposition of a redefinition that would do harm.

Religious lobbying was responsible for the prohibition on polygamy, and you don't hear Muslims complaining. The Church spent billions defeating the ERA, and you don't hear women complaining. The Church lobbies to keep its tax-exempt status, and you don't hear tax-payers complaining. Why is it only this one issue that invariably elicits these inane transports of self-pitying hysteria?
Jim McCrea | 8/22/2012 - 4:41pm
To clarify #12: this applies to ALL marriages and marriag-equivalents, irrespective of the genders involved.

And things like this will happen whether the RCC agrees with it or not:
Jim McCrea | 8/22/2012 - 4:37pm
"The Catholic Church and Catholics believe that Marriage can only occur between a man and woman without exception."

However, the Catholic Church has learned to live for quite some time now with the fact that many European countries require that ALL marriages be contracted before an agent of the government in order to be eligible for governmental-provided benefits, rights and responsibilities and to actually be recognized as a marriage. 

Religious organizations are perfectly free to solemnize in any form they choose those already legally contracted marriages that meet their requirment for such rites.

It's also interesting that, in considering annulments for Catholics, said Catholics are required to obtain a civil divorce (something that Catholics don't recognize, right?) in order to be granted an annulment.

Is this called Catholic Convolution, simple expediency, or Catholic Causistry?
Dan Hannula | 8/22/2012 - 2:05pm
The problem, it seems, is linguistic and cultural. The word "Marriage" represents both a religious institution and a civil institution. Separating those concepts is essential for any reasonable discussion. Catholic Bishops, as far as I can discern, admit that marriage is both civil as well as religious. Nevertheless the Bishops (and others) oppose civil same-sex marriage, from my reading, for two reasons—first, it is a holy relationship instituted by God only for a man and a woman and, second, same-sex civil marriages would harm the civil institution of marriage.

Leaving aside the first reason-in the U.S. religious groups are always free to follow the dictates of their particular sect.  That is, Catholics can keep marriage as they view it within their church-a sacrament. The second reason the Bishops advance, however, is totally unpersuasive.  There is simply no data to show that same-sex marriage harms the civil institution of marriage—zero. In the 1950’s, the Catholic Bishops, also publicly opposed the repeal of legal barriers to divorce for similar reasons. However, virtually every state legislature eventually enacted a no-fault civil divorce system and Catholics went their own way—keeping their own rules on dissolving marriages. And it is highly unlikely that the civil institution of marriage was harmed by the change any more that it would be by keeping the old legal barriers to divorce.

To engage in public debate, for the Bishops, means to advance secular, i.e. civil, arguments (not religious arguments) for or against a public policy.  Bishops, like all citizens have every right to do that.  (But, it is not legitimate, I submit, to advance or opose a secular government policy because "my God" said so. And, as a civil issue, the Bishops miss the boat-marriage is simply not about love-certainly no a sacrament.  No law would forbid a civil marriage between two heterosexual people who openly reject love, commitment, children, etc. As a civil issue, marriage is about property: taxes, property ownership, inheritance, and other benefits and obligations related to property. If a same-sex couple wants to enter into that legal relationship, it’s no skin off my nose-neither does it prohibit/inhibit different beliefs with regard to the religious concept of marriage. Again, same word, different purposes. 

In a broader sense, I like to think that even civil marriage is also about love and commitment.  Love and the expression of love is one purpose of marriage.  And I have no special insight that tells me that a gay couple lacks the same magnitude of love or the same quality of commitment as I have with my wife or she with me. In addition to and perhaps more important than the legal rights conveyed, civil marriage conveys public dignity and respect to a relationship. Society benefits when all citizens are respected—black or white, male or female, straight or gay. That, by way of Aquinas and Aristotle, is part of the concept of justice the Jesuits taught me over 40 years ago.  moreover, if the history of our democracy represents anything, it represents a steady march toward wider tolerance.
David Pasinski | 8/22/2012 - 9:58am
While I agree with the reasoning expressed by Marie and some others, I don't think Gretchen's example is entirely invalid regarding this thorny aspect of the role of the Church in promoting what it sees as the "common good." i support the right to gay marriage and, having llived in Latin America whre the legal marraige and ecclesiastical marrige were separate, wonder about adopting that system here. While not agreeing with all of the bishop's criticism, I think that the argument cannot be made that only sectarian beliefs (in this case, exclusively heterosexual marriage) warrant or at least permit lobbying efforts.
Rick Fueyo | 8/21/2012 - 9:30pm
Well said Marie