Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh, That I Had Written This Comment In Response To Cardinal George

Cardinal George listens attentively while composing his own version of Benedict's thoughts.
True to the Christmas message Pope Benedict sent concerning gay marriage and it's threat to world peace, our American bishops have entered the fray.  One of the most recent was from Chicago's Cardinal George.
The following comment is perhaps the most cogent response I have yet to read with regards to our hierarchy's obsession with gay marriage.  It's in response to this article covering George's thoughts by the National Catholic Reporter.  It was written by Dennis M WoytowichThe sentences in bold are my emphasis.

After an all-out push here in Maryland by the Catholic hierarchy (and their benighted associates like the Knights of Columbus), both in the legislature and during the recent campaign, a majority of Catholic law makers and the electorate voted in favor of marriage equality, making MD one of the first states in the country to grant full civil rights to gays and lesbians regarding their relationships. Others will follow; the battle Cardinal George and other churchmen are fighting is OVER, but it doesn't seem to stop them from making absurd arguments which have the effect of alienating a large portion of their flock, making them look shrill and idiotic as they inappropriately try to inject their religious judgments into civil law. If the cardinal bothered to follow the proceedings through the appellate courts regarding CA's Prop 8, he would discover that civil law can never have as its basis simply traditional or religious conviction as its source. We as Americans cannot be totally protected from the biases and prejudices of other individuals or even private groups in our society, but "Before the Law" we are guaranteed equality, free of unfounded bias, unless it can be demonstrated that there is, at least, some compelling Governmental interest to the contrary. As the courts have said mere tradition or religious judgment does NOT suffice.

To me one of the more inane assertions made by the cardinal is his hysterical claim that: "marriage comes to us from nature." Surely, marriage is a social construct, establish in various forms over the centuries as a means of regulating all sorts of social human interactions. It is a construct by humans imposed ON NATURE which can and has changed over time as humans come to a more complete understanding of their nature. Sexual attraction and the biological processes of reproduction are surely a part of this construct, but to suggest that some how these natural processes dictate how humans can understand and sanction intimate interpersonal relationships is not only to ignore history but to grossly misunderstand the dynamism of the human scientific enterprise. One can find numerous example where the biology of sex has little to do with the contract of civil marriage (e.g. Marriages between the elderly, imprisoned, handicapped, etc.)

I do however agree with the cardinal that the bottom line here is that as more and more people accept gays and lesbians as equal citizens who no longer are expected to be secretive or ashamed of who or what they are, and as their relationships are given the same dignity and civil protections before the law now afforded straight couples, those who stridently oppose these rights and recognition will be seen as the bigots they are. The fact that the cardinal grasps just exactly where all of this is heading is a bit of a silver lining. He of course see his inability to openly condemn marriage equality for same-sex couple, even for those not associated with his church, as a great infringement on his religious liberty. For me, it's eerily reminiscent to the sentiments of slave-holding or segregationist preachers of an earlier time. I have no complaint about anything which he feels his beliefs require him to say or preach, but he has no right to complain when others call him out for what is in their minds bigoted and in some cases hateful speech. The 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech as well as religion. I believe that the time has also long passed in this country and perhaps the world when most are willing to give a Catholic cleric the benefit of the doubt when making pronouncements on matters of sexual behavior. I think much of the current whining is motivated by this (infamously earned) loss of prerogative in the public square.

Finally, his hollow claim that; the "Catholic church is not "anti-gay"" would be hilarious if it didn't cause so much pain for so many people. The very basis of the Church's "welcoming acceptance" of gays is preconditioned on gays' acceptance of themselves as "intrinsically disordered." I'm at a loss to understand just how that embodies either welcome or respect! Gay men or women does not see their natural desires as "intrinsically" disordered or evil, anymore than do straights. Capable of sin or evil, of course, but INTRINSICALLY so!-- What Medieval Claptrap! I honestly don't know who is served by promoting this notion that gays are welcomed as long as they take their place as "afflicted--disordered" members of the Body of Christ, content to live out their lives in some quasi-monastic state constantly denying their natural desires while their straight counterparts lead "normal" lives. I find it particularly disgusting that the Catholic hierarchy not only continues to recommend this psycho-torture as their model for "ministering" to gays, but now finds a need to try to promote their "closet" solution for dealing with the "Gay Problem" on civil society. I'm only encouraged by the fact they their efforts seem to be having the same disastrous effect as their similar rants about other sexual and reproductive issues about which their lack of knowledge and sensitivity would fill libraries.


I really truly hope this obsession with civil gay marriage ends with the Benedict papacy.  It may be naive on my part, but I also believe a lot of Roman Catholic bishops hope the same thing.  In the meantime I guess American society is going to have to put up with millions more dollars of lay donations being dumped into a political campaign the majority of American lay Catholics no longer support.  But that's the kind of thing that happens all too frequently in an institution whose leadership is not accountable to it's constituency, and is instead accountable to one person and that person's personal whims.  


  1. I wish it would end with Benedict XVI, but it won't.

  2. The author's comments on slavery made me think of this video where the pastor replaces all of the references to segregation with LGBT remarks. It's hysterical the way he ropes all the bigots in (you can see one woman nodding her head behind him) and then pulls out the rug from under them! A must see!

    1. speaking about the segregation, this remind me someone who described himself as "a Catholic, but not an Archbishop's Catholic."
      History is full of Catholics who profess to be 'Catholic' but contrary to the hierarchy when the hierarchy does not agree with them.

  3. In all this I can't understand if the author or NCR or the Enlightned Catholic also support same sex marriage as sacrament in the Catholic Church.

    1. To be honest domics, I don't think too many gays really care if the Church ever blesses gay marriages or considers them sacramental. The Church is perfectly free to define marriage however it wants for Church members.

      The point is that Church hierarchy have no right to attempt to legislate that sacramental teaching as civil law for the entire US.

    2. Exactly! I keep pointing out to right wingers how they would feel if some other religion like Islam or Judaism or Mormonism was able to enforce THEIR beliefs on the whole country.More than a little irate I'll bet they'd be then!

    3. well, just found an example of Cardinal George's attempting to enforce his religious beliefs on his country urging the legislators to change the laws.
      Let's read as this request is motivated on religious ground: "Our church teaches that the family is sacred. It is the cradle of life, the core institution of society. To separate families — wives from husbands, children from parents — is to diminish what God has joined,”

    4. The more I look at that brief excerpt Cardinal's remarks in detail, the less they make sense. Even when read in context, they still raise a lot of questions. Which is why this post is so short - the longer I thought about them while planning my post, the longer it became.

      That quotation is a mess for a start.

    5. Rat I'm not interested in what he is sayng but in this.
      Do you agree with his battle in favor of immigrants? if not, OK and the matter is closed; but if you agree why do you think in this case no one has complained to the cardinal for this intervention on the country's legislators asking to change the law invoking the precise Catholic doctrine on marriage?
      Take note that in this case Cardinal George makes explicit reference to the doctrine of the church while in the letter on the issue of same sex marriage he makes no reference to religious reasons but in this last case NCR author and our guest have complained ' that civil law can never have as its basis simply traditional or religious conviction as its source'.
      Could you show me a NCR article criticizing Cardinal George for his request to change the law on immigration according his traditional and religious convinction?

  4. ## That last paragraph was on target. It would be useful to know how gay people are intrinsically disordered in a way that straight people are not. I remember a priest saying "God does not make trash" - so ISTM the Church needs to be very careful indeed before denying that (say) the love of two boy-friends for one another is evil or sinful or wrong. STM much a better pastoral strategy would be for the CC to give guidance to gay Catholics (especially teenagers) on how to love another in a good and life-enhancing way that treats their being gay as a gift of God. If the Church is to teach effectively, it badly needs to take account of the experience of gay people.

    It occurs to me that there is a danger of the CC's thinking within the box so that it fails to be able to see the reality of gay love - whether *eros* or *agape* - & therefore insists it can't possibly exist, even when it certainly and clearly does. It so obvious that many gay people love another, that to say this is or can be "nothing but" lust, simply makes no sense: one might as well say that all straight marriages are "nothing but" lust - which is patently absurd.

    1. That's been my position for a very long time. We need a sexuality based in relationship and not biology. Or at least a sexual and marriage theology which is not based in taking the second story of man's creation in Genesis literally. Of course I get why the Vatican is loathe to do this. Throw out Genesis as a basis for sexual activity and one really impacts the whole idea of the transmission of original sin. Throw out original sin and you throw out Atonement theology. Throw out atonement theology and much of the theology of the priesthood is gone.

      It maybe that gay marriage is almost equivalent to the 'want of a horse shoe nail' that eventually cost the war. It may seem to be a small thing, but it isn't.

    2. Rat or Colkoch,
      how do you think the Catholch Church should address this?

      As it seems that science is claiming that consensual non-monogamy(CNM) is better or at least equal to monogamy do you think that the CC should review his stance on adultery or monogamy? Do you think that the Catholic Church should recognize this type of relationship as we find adult people romantically loving each other even if they are more than two? Do you think that the Church should see the reality even of the polyamory?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. "...before denying that (say) the love..." = "...before *saying* that (say) the love..."

  6. "Finally, his hollow claim that; the 'Catholic church is not "anti-gay"' would be hilarious if it didn't cause so much pain for so many people."

    Amen. And the pain can get overwhelming at times, especially when folks like Cardinal George repeatedly assert that what they're doing is all about love.

    Love doesn't eat like corrosive acid in the depths of people's self-esteem. It doesn't lock them into dark and lonely places. It doesn't energize hate and violence against them.

    I am growing really tired of Catholics (and other Christians) misappropriating the term love to describe what is quite clearly the very opposite of love.

    1. Me too Bill. It's the old abuse=love dynamic. I'm also getting really sick and tired of true believers hi jacking entire threads in an effort to 'save souls' when no one asked them to save their soul. Even Jesus didn't shove Himself and His healings on people unless they asked.

  7. Talking of "hysterical claims", this makes Cardinal George look positively la-di-da:

    That's right - allowing gay marriage "could signal return to centuries of persecution".

    It is beyond parody. Poe's Law applies:

    "In one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, [the signatories] raise fears that their freedom to practise and speak about their faith will be “severely” limited and dismiss Government reassurances as "meaningless"."

    ## These fears are baseless. Catholic priests will still be free to say that gay people are "intrinsically disordered" from the pulpit, by using a loop if they insist. What they will not be free to do, is deny the civil rights of gay people. Gay people are not lepers, or non-persons.

    People other than gays have rights and liberties, that need to be protected; but that is no reason for the panicky self-coronation with the martyr's laurels that we are seeing at present.

    Apart from any other consideration, this silliness is deeply insulting to the real martyrs; it trivialises what they have gone through in past centuries, and endure today. What is so depressing is that the most exaggerated conclusions are being drawn, not from a law already enacted, but from a measure that not yet been submitted for debate in Parliament, let alone approved for enactment into law. Bishops & other religious superiors ought to be pouring cold water on such silly nonsense, not inflaming it.

    If the bishops are not very careful, they are going to win their case - at the cost of covering the CC with disgrace & forfeiting respect and sympathy for it.

    This is *very* well said:

    "Love doesn't eat like corrosive acid in the depths of people's self-esteem. It doesn't lock them into dark and lonely places. It doesn't energize hate and violence against them."

    ## Love is like Christ - & see 1 Cor. 13.

    1. Answer this question: if the law in UK will permit same sex marriage a municipal Catholic employee would be free to refute to perform such a marriages?