The Jesuit Post Editorializes on DOMA

The editors of The Jesuit Post on the Supreme Court decision:

This week, as the Supreme Court decisions about DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 were handed down, we watched two very different reactions develop, in face-to-face conversations, official statements, and especially over social media.


Among many of our friends — gay and straight, active Catholics and “raised Catholics,” religious and non-religious — there was a sense of celebration. Many claimed that equality had won the day, and even more importantly, they felt that their own relationships or those of their gay friends had been recognized as having dignity and being worthy of protection. A sense of threat (a very real threat, backed by the power of the federal government) against those relationships was removed, and rejoicing followed.

At the same time, our bishops issued a statement declaring yesterday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.” And we noticed — in all honesty, we felt ourselves — an uncomfortable silence among voices that often speak about matters involving religion and public life.

In fact, we find ourselves in a very profound tension: we understand why so many are rejoicing. At the same time, we recognize the beauty of the Church’s understanding of the natural purposes of marriage. And we struggle because we do not know how to hold these two things together. Neither of these are maliciously motivated; neither deserves to be vilified by the other side. Nor can we opt for silence simply because anything we say will offend.

Here, then, is what we can say: there is something to be learned in that uncomfortable silence; there is something to be learned from the fact that denunciations are less credible — by far — than images of rejoicing and gladness.

Read the rest here.


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ron chandonia
5 years 6 months ago
Since the piece contrasts the jubilant reactions of "our friends" with the morbidity of the Catholic bishops, it is quite obvious which circles the authors frequent. But surely there are many Catholics--jubilant ones, even--who support what is now called "traditional" marriage . . . and even some who support the legislation to prevent redefinition of marriage that has passed in many states and was supposedly protected by DOMA. Since feelings are apparently the litmus test for moral truth here, do the feelings of these people not count?
5 years 6 months ago
I never have understood how "civil" law in any way threatens the well-being of those in a sacramental marriage. Since the church teaches that the civil law has no bearing on the reality of true marriage, what difference does it make. I have read so many screeds that declare that the government and civil law compromise the "sanctity" of marriage in same-sex marriage. Sanctity is a word that is related to theology and not civil jurisprudence. Again, what does it matter. If the church's magesterium teaches that it, alone, has the right to define true marriage why does it become so anxious when SCOTUS decides otherwise. The Supreme Court is not another Catholic magisterium. It seems that, along with the "fortnight for religious freedom" the church is positing that being denied its own religious freedom in the HHS mandate, it nonetheless insists that others not of its flock (the civil and non-Catholic world) should submit to its dogmas, decrees, and practices. Where is the religious freedom of those "others" in that? DOMA went down to defeat because it tried to make a theological definition of marriage within the framework of a civil law, and because as Justice Kennedy alluded to in the majority opinion the original law was enacted as a political move mainly to block those supporting same-sex marriage, thereby denying that minority equal protection under the law.
Carlos Orozco
5 years 6 months ago
So much for standing up for Truth, not that anything substantial was expected.
Michael Barberi
5 years 6 months ago
"Tragic because it obscures the more fundamental truth of God’s love that the Church is missioned to proclaim, and tragic because it sidelines any real contribution of the Church’s teaching to the marriage debate. But most of all, it is tragic because it makes gay people and those who support them feel like the Church does not value them. And that is simply not true." How does the Church value the dignity of gay people and profess the love of Christ when they assert with moral certainty that people with a same sex orientation is a distorted nature and homosexuality is intrinsically evil. Let's face it, sex outside of marriage is immoral and sinful for anyone, gay or straight. The Church teaches that sexual relations in heterosexual marriages are moral and licit. Yet, the Church denies the legitimacy of a faithful, committed and loving civil marriage between people with a same sex orientation and teaches that the salvation of same sex people is linked to a lifetime of sexual abstinence. Celibacy or lifetime sexual abstinence is a gift from God given to the very few. No one remotely believes that God infuses same sex individuals with the infused virtue of chastity/temperance. For one thing, sexual abstinence and celibacy can only work when it is voluntarily chosen and not "imposed" from authority. Many seminarians do not take their final vows because they do not possess this rare gift from God. To impose such a requirement on same sex individuals, and to deny them civil marriage rights that heterosexuals enjoy is both excessively burdensome, cruel and unreasonable. The Church needs a convincing moral theory that most Catholics can grasp as truth about the nature of same sex orientation and marriage. To proclaim as truth that same sex individuals can not procreate as a reason to deny them a civil marriage, denies the reality that many heterosexual couples cannot procreate as well such as infertile couples, those who marry in menopause and those who have good reasons from not having children. Pius XII exempted couples from their procreative obligations in marriage for good reasons (1951 Address to the Mid Wives) and made licit a formal program called periodic continence that renders sexual intercourse non-procreative. No evidence to date validates the Church's claim that same sex marriage will destroy and undermine heterosexual marriages, nor is their any evidence from any reputable scientific organization that concluded that that the well being of children raised in a same sex marriages or civil union is any different than the well being of children raised in a heterosexual marriage. Very few people I know who have a same sex orientation believes that the RCC treats them with the dignity, love and equality shown to heterosexuals.
Jack Marth
5 years 6 months ago
I appreciate the attempt to by the writers at the Jesuit Post. But when they speak of "the beauty of the Church's understanding of the natural purposes of marriage", it is really hard to see that beauty in the reaction from the bishops this week. The point person for the US bishops is Cordileone. His quotes aren't beautiful and are quite unconvincing. In reaction to the Supreme Court, he speaks about the court acting against "the best interests of the child to be raised by their mother and their father." What does this even mean in the context of civil marriage equality? Is there any child who will be ripped away from mixed-gender parents? Where? How? While studies of gay parented children are still limited -- the reputable, peer-reviewed studies all point to no negative impacts on children raised by same-gender parents. What would be really beautiful would be for the bishops to engage with modern science on sexuality and parenting in a more honest way. What would be really beautiful would be for them to see what many of us see everyday, loving same-sex couples, struggling just like their heterosexual counterparts to be loving parents. Many, many of the same-sex couples choose to parent special needs children, children many heterosexuals would never consider adopting. It would be really beautiful if a bishop acknowledged the courage and sacrifice of these folks, instead of hurling empty words about "the best interests of children".
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5 years ago
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