This Defense We Don’t Need

Note to Archbishop Dolan from us married couples: refocus the defense.

The USCCB release got picked up by Zenit.

Marriage needs positive reinforcement, and mainly from other married couples. That’s not to say that the bishops and clergy don’t have a role as witnesses to the liturgical celebration, or as spiritual directors.

Archbishop Dolan neglects the history of gay rights. Same-sex unions accomplish in one legal step all the reasonable expectations (and perhaps a few others) that unmarried couples seek. Visiting sick loved ones in the hospital, sharing financial resources, insurance considerations, visitation of children, adoption: none of them of themselves are immoral. The sticking point for Archbishop Dolan’s tack is that he doesn’t address the root “immorality” of the situation. The ultimate “attack” on marriage is extra-marital sex. The man is probably unwilling to tackle that point. It leaves his outrage on DOMA rather weak.

Instead of the hermeneutic of subtraction, the archbishop could instead consider bolstering the Marriage Encounter Movement, strengthening the Church’s relationship with engaged couples, possibly through mentoring by experienced couples. Then there would be the advantage of integrating unchurched couples into parish life. Or developing initiatives to encourage adoption.

Please, Archbishop Dolan, do the work you can do where you can do it. Leave the legal stuff for the realm of the laity.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to This Defense We Don’t Need

  1. FrMichael says:

    We’ve had the argument at this blog on same-sex couples adopting children. You are mistating Catholic moral teaching to say “none of them of themselves are immoral.”

    There are also significant legal issues with same sex couples that affect Church institutions as well as businesses owned by Catholics. Do I have the right as a pastor to not hire a teacher for the parochial school who is in a legally-recognized same-sex relationship? With no juridically-recognized same-sex relationship, yes. With such relationships legally married, who can really say until the courts have set precedent. Of course, in CA they already have and I find that my parish school is somehow not “Catholic” enough that I can prevent the scandal of such a teacher.

  2. FrMichael says:

    Sorry, that would be “legally recognized” in place of “legally married.”

  3. Todd says:

    Not quite, FrMichael. None of these legal acts I mentioned are immoral. Not even adoption, which takes children with no parents and gives them at least one.

    As for your legal precedent of hiring, consider that sex outside of marriage is not illegal. Where on record has a pastor been unable to fire an employee who has had sex outside of marriage?

    Nice try, but let’s be honest about the political effort. Lobby against same-sex unions if you choose, but please don’t call this in any way a “defense” of marriage. It’s anti-same sex union. It has nothing to do with strengthening my marriage or the marriages of any other Americans.

  4. FrMichael says:

    Apparently you aren’t familiar with the legal precedents set in California. Catholic Charities is not considered a “religious institution” for hiring purposes, and we are heavily constrained in our ability to hire people who accord to the truth of the Catholic Faith. It appears as if parochial schools might fall under the same precedent.

    Of course, you must be more fully informed about Catholic Charities in Boston and its withdrawal from adoption services under duress. The same thing happened in San Francisco.

    As for the Church’s interest in the legal status of these things, the relevant Church document is

    This is the 1986 CDF Pastoral Letter. Number 10 of the document addresses civil law.

  5. Todd says:

    Many dioceses are voluntarily withdrawing from adoption services. There’s just not enough work to be had.

    Anyway, there’s nothing to stop the Church from refocusing on children rather than being an agent for parents. It would seem that if farming children out to single parents and same-sex couples, they could encourage Catholic couples to flood agencies with requests.

    Unimpressed with the blame-the-victim meme in number 10.

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