|Add a Roman Collar and a 1000 more and a person would have a picture of the clerical angst over gay marriage.|
I want to thank Rat-biter for giving me the link to this article in London's Daily Telegraph. Although I've reprinted most of the article, I did edit a few paragraphs. I also happen to think there is more to the 'chicken little' response from these clergy than the threat of gay marriage. I think it's what gay marriage represents to too much of their theology.
Gay marriage could signal return to ‘centuries of persecution’, - say 1,000 Catholic priests
The comments are contained in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, signed by 1,054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and other senior Catholic figures.
They account for almost a quarer of all Catholic priests in England and Wales.
It comes as opponents of gay marriage launch a lobbying campaign targeting MPs in 65 of the most marginal seats.
The Coalition is due to publish its Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to wed at the end of this month.
Legal opinions commissioned by opponents have argued that teachers could face disciplinary measures under equality laws if they refuse to promote same-sex marriage once the change has been implemented.
Hospital, prison and army chaplains could also face challenges if they preach on marriage being between a man and a woman, it is claimed.
Until 1829 Catholics and other religious dissenters in Britain and Ireland were barred from entering many professions or, in many cases, even meeting to worship under a body of restrictions collectively known as the penal laws.
The priests write: “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.
“Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.
“It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.”
Arguing that marriage as traditionally understood is “the foundation and basic building block of our society”, they add: “We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.” (I fail to see what those consequences are since no religious entity has been taken to court for teaching against divorce, and Catholic clergy do not marry every heterosexual couple whose relationship violates Church precepts. Nor have they been persecuted for such refusals.)
Last night the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan, one of the signatories, insisted that the comparison with the penal laws was “dramatic” but not an exaggeration.
“It is quite Orwellian to try to redefine marriage,” he said.
“This is strong language but something like this totalitarian. (And this is a lie with no basis in reality.)
“I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic Schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it – that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.”(You haven't been arrested for teaching against divorce or refusing to marry divorced Catholics.)
Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent, a leading Oxford University theologian, who also signed the letter, said: “We are very sensitive to this historically because of course the reformation started in England as a matter of marriage.
“Henry VIII could have been forgiven for his adultery but he didn’t want to do that, he wanted to control marriage and redefine what was a marriage and wasn’t.(This is pretty simplistic and ignores a whole host of other variables involved in Henry's situation. Not too mention Henry was only interested in his marriage, not every-bodies marriage and he had very specific grounds on which he argued his case.)
“Because the Church would not concede that point, that launched three centuries of great upheaval in English society, and from the Catholic point of view life was very difficult.(The papacy's relationship with Spain had a whole lot more to do with refusing Henry's divorce decree than the Rev Pinsent lets on.)
.....In recent weeks the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and several other leading Catholics in Britain have stepped up their attacks on David Cameron’s plans, echoing concern in a series of pronouncements from Pope Benedict.
But the letter is the first large scale protest initiated by local priests.
Rev Mark Swires, one of the organisers, said it had taken weeks to compile the signatures but that it showed the strength of opinion in the pews. (No, actually it shows only the level of concern of 25% of the men occupying the pulpits.)
“This is a grass roots initiative by priests, it isn’t an initiative by the hierarchy of the church.....”
And so now our fearfilled Catholic leadership has degenerated to predicting centuries of persecution if gay marriage is passed. Since these are supposed to be highly educated men, I can't help but wonder what is it about gay marriage that precipitates such hyperbole. What are they really afraid of?
When I look at the acronym GLBT I can't help but notice how little one hears from the pulpit about the "L" and "B" parts. One hears a whole lot more about the "G" and "T" parts. What is it about the "G" and "T" parts that makes them so threatening to Christian clergy, and especially the Vatican. I think Pope Benedict actually spoke about it in his Christmas message to the curia. It's the gender bending the "G" and "T" represent, and they do so in ways the "L" and "B" apparently do not, or at least not enough to warrant much mention.
Gender bending, especially when the latest research in epigenetics is proving the gender bending is a result of genes not starting and stopping their influence on sexual identity and gender development in a normal pattern, destroys the validity of the creation story in Genesis. We know that Eve did not come from Adam's rib. All of humanity starts on the Eve pattern until certain genes in the Y chromosome start activating in the 5th to 6th week of gestation. We also know the brain does not begin it's own gender identification until much later in gestation, at the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth month, and again this neural development is dependent on certain genes operating in the correct sequencing, producing the correct amount of certain amino acids/hormones. When this doesn't happen you get gender bending in both sexes. This is a major problem for religions who base too much of their theology on the gender absolutism of Genesis. In God's real world, neither physical gender not it's expression, is absolute--not by any means.
When the Adam and Eve story is no longer absolutely valid in it's gender definition, then all other theologies which are based on this story are weakened. Rigid gender typing is a false premise and a great deal of theology is based on rigid gender definitions. The gender expectations for a Sacramental marriage is just the most historically recent in a long line of teachings which subordinated women to men based on Genesis and the Genesis story of Adam coming first and Eve the product of Adam's body. I would think it would be pretty difficult to maintain Genesis is correct about women's place in creation when embryology is showing the exact opposite of the Genesis creation story. I would think demanding conformance to doctrines based on physical genitalia for a number of crucial leadership roles is difficult to maintain when epigenetics is proving gender is not absolute and physical genitalia do not always dictate gender expression.
When the Vatican looks at the real implications of secular society embracing the facts of science and moving well beyond the notions of gender and gender roles assigned in Genesis, they are seeing the end of their own Genesis inspired status as their male god's exclusive male voices. No wonder there is fear aplenty in Rome and elsewhere--the Truth may very well set them free, but unfortunately for them, not on their terms.