Weigel on Marriage via Homophobia

First Thoughts linked this op-ed from George Weigel. At the risk of veering into liturgical fussbudgetry, a quote:

Under Polish Communism, Catholic couples—which is to say, just about everyone—got “married” twice. Because marriages in the Catholic Church were not recognized by the Communist state, believers had two “weddings.” The first was a civil procedure, carried out in a dingy bureaucratic office with a state (i.e., Communist-party) apparatchik presiding. The friends with whom I was discussing this inanity are, today, distinguished academics, a physicist and a musicologist. They remembered with some glee that, a half century before, they had treated the state “wedding” with such unrestrained if blithe contempt that the presiding apparatchik had had to admonish them to take the business at hand seriously—a warning from the über-nanny-state my friends declined to, well, take seriously.

The entire business was a farce, regarded as such by virtually all concerned. Some time later, my friends were married, in every meaningful sense of that term, in Wawel Cathedral by a Polish priest whom the world would later know as Pope John Paul II.

I’m not a fan about the whiny protests emerging over same-sex unions. Protests, I should point out, seem to be surfacing more notably from the upper crust of the clergy–people who are neither married, nor, by the Roman Catholic tradition, actually perform marriages. Catholic couples marry themselves. Clergy, even future popes, witness those vows. They do not (or should not) conduct them.

I don’t have any smidgen of love for communist dictatorships. Mainly because they completely eschew democracy, self-determination, and other human values of freedom. Not unlike American corporate workplaces, I might add. If there’s an über-nanny-state to speak of in the US these days, it would have to be at the hands of conservatives like CEO’s or the craze for celebrity-driven culture of comfort. Or the rainbow of alarm colors foisted upon us during the last presidency–telling us when we should be scared, and when we need to keep shopping, buying, and consuming. (Pay no attention to the rich ripping you off.)

The best thing the Church and its commentators can do is to embrace the freedom to support, promote, and live the dignity of sacramental marriage. How non-believers structure their financial and legal life is little to no concern of mine. What is a concern to me is the ability to provide for the happiness and care and holiness of my wife. I need help to do that. My bishops haven’t been particularly forthcoming with assistance. What the same-sex couples in my community do to secure legal protections or privileges impacts the attempted holiness of my family not at all.

Those men (including me) married to fine and holy women want to avoid the pitfalls of pornography, materialism, anger, addiction, self-absorption, lust, narcissism, ignorance, and indifference. Help us to be better husbands. Help women to be better wives. It’s not as sexy as getting all hyped up about what homosexuals do in the courthouse, the hospital, the school, and at a deathbed. And as long as bishops aren’t signing on to criminalize sex outside of traditional marriage, I find nothing exciting or moral about any of this … homophobia.

I don’t think that term is a misnomer. Phobia = fear. I read about a lot of fear: Oh my gosh, we’re going to turn out just like Poland! Oh my gosh, they’re going to send priests to jail! Oh my gosh, we’re going to have to interact with homosexuals, and buy stuff from them and sell stuff to them, and get cooties!

The focus is way off for Mr Weigel. But at least, he could get the sacramental theology right.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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15 Responses to Weigel on Marriage via Homophobia

  1. John Donaghy says:

    In many countries, not just in Poland, there is the civil marriage certified and then a church marriage. That’s how it is here in Honduras. The state does not use priests or ministers as its agents in certifying marriage. Civil marriage and sacramental marriage are separated.

    • That’s my understanding – that it is pretty universal in Europe as I understand it and in Central and South America as well.

      • Peregrinus says:

        It’s common throughout Europe. Revolutionary France decreed that marriages would not be recognised unless celebrated before a civic functionary (copying, and of course attempting to displace, the position adopted by the Catholic church at Trent, that marriage was normally only valid if celebrated before a clerical witness) and the Napoleonic conquests spread French legal practices, and this practice in particular, across much of Europe. The practice was retained after French influence waned, presumably because it made for certainty about who was married and who was not (which was, I think, a large part of the church’s reason for its decree at Trent). Thus in highly Catholic and distinctly non-Communist Bavaria, for example, a civil marriage ceremony is obligatory and a subsequent religious ceremony is optional, and of no legal significance, and this has been so since some time in the nineteenth century. Even countries where were not conquered by Napoleon adopted the practice; Austria, for example. It applies in many historically Protestant countries too, and in fact such a rule it ties in quite well with the Calvinist view that a marriage not validated by the state is no marriage at all.

        In the US a civil ceremony is not required, but the state’s permission to marry is, and without that permission a religious ceremony is of no legal effect. I don’t see that this is any more respectful of the sacramental reality of marriage than the Polish practice that Weigel decries.

  2. FrMichael says:

    Unfortunately, the issue before us for Catholics isn’t “How non-believers structure their financial and legal life is little to no concern of mine.” The issue is believers who are increasingly being forced to pay for and let their children be indoctrinated in ideas contrary to the Gospel, such as the promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I suppose people aren’t talking to you about these issue since your job as a liturgist doesn’t involve pastoral counseling, but these concerns are real “on the ground” for those of us living in jurisdictions where the Culture of Death is stronger. Consider, for example, last weekend where my parishioner, a small business owner, who is strongly considering dropping health insurance for his employees because of CA’s contraception mandate. The previous week was an RN who runs a beautiful little care home who is fighting the “undercover euthanasia” which has taken hold in CA.

    Meanwhile, despite the high unemployment and underemployment in this neck of the woods, parochial school are increasing in numbers as parishioners bite the bullet and make financial sacrifices to get their kids out of the public schools over the homosexualization that has openly taken over? LGBT support clubs at elementary schools? Obligatory LGBT history? A state holiday to comemorate a pedophile (Harvey Milk)? No celebrating kids’ birthdays in class because certain religions don’t allow it? The world has gone crazy!

  3. Todd says:

    “The issue is believers who are increasingly being forced to pay for and let their children be indoctrinated in ideas contrary to the Gospel, such as the promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”

    We live in a society with many influences I would prefer my children not accept. Parental upbringing does not involve shielding young people from controversy, troubling views, and such. I have far more confidence in my parental ability than some of the people you counsel.

    The issue is how we live in a society with values in conflict with our own. Better that we learn to give good and loving example to our children and to non-believers. The most important thing is not to win arguments, but to draw the world to Christ and his Gospel.

    As for your claim that Harvey Milk was a pedophile, I have to point out to you and other readers this is inflammatory, inaccurate, and possibly sinful.

    I understand that when he was around 30, Milk was in a relationship with a youth who was 16. I don’t believe that is pedophile behavior. Ephebophilia, it would seem, by our present definition. However, in the early 1960’s, society had a more loose outlook on older men taking partners who were teens. That said, I would characterize the behavior as immature and inappropriate on Milk’s part.

    If nothing else, your post probably demonstrates the need for LGBT education–always superior to misinformation.

    • Liam says:

      To clarify: Milk’s relationship with the guy went on for years, and Milk was not in a position of authority or trust over him. That said, today, I would look askance at 30-16 “relationship”, given what we know about the limitations of adolescent “consent”. But in the early 1960s, when that relationship started, even though it was a more “innocent” time, it was also a time when people getting married at 16 or 17 was looked on with *much* greater favor than it would be today.

      I am glad we have progressed from such times….

      “Pedophile” is agitprop in this case. There is a valid issue to discuss, but “pedophile” is not about that, but just trying to score a rhetorical point.

  4. FrMichael says:

    OK, guy in his 30s seduces, abuses, and eventually ditches a teenage boy. If that isn’t perversion, I don’t know what else it is. He certainly doesn’t merit a state holiday or being held up as a hero in the schools.

    I will stand corrected on the ephebophilia vs pedophilia. Either way, the pervert should have been sent to the gallows like other child molester.

    • John Drake says:

      Absolutely! And Todd, who constantly rails against bishops who coddle offending priests, gives cover to Harvey F’ing Milk?????

  5. Todd says:

    Yes, a very interesting development on this thread. Let’s see if I get this right.

    George Weigel gets Catholic sacramental marriage and European civil marriage wrong.

    Fr Michael gets pedophilia wrong, plus he has to go back fifty years to do it.

    John leaps in with glee because I (and perhaps Liam) condemned a 30-16 relationship insufficiently. No inaccurate name-calling on my part, at any rate.

    Does that about cover it?

  6. FrMichael says:

    Todd, there is no legal distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia acts in this state, so I didn’t get it “wrong.” Ephebophilia is so rare a word that it is not even in my collegiate dictionary, so I used the pedophile shorthand. Probably should have written “pederast.” And Mr. Milk’s behavior isn’t some isolated incident from 50 years ago. Recruiting the young for this type of evil happens everyday in this neck of the woods.

    In any case, I’m not so interested in Mr. Weigel’s column as critiquing your sentence: “Protests, I should point out, seem to be surfacing more notably from the upper crust of the clergy–people who are neither married, nor, by the Roman Catholic tradition, actually perform marriages.” There have been plenty of protests by the laity in general, culminating in a statewide initiative enshrining monogomous heterosexual marriage in our constitution. Matter of fact, in CA the laity have been much more active than our bishops and priests on this issue.

    Catholics are being forced into making hard decisions– like dropping medical coverage for their employees, finding they have limited authority over preventing what evils their children are exposed to in the schools, and then being subject to personal attacks when they try to fight back. It doesn’t help when other Catholics living in more benign areas criticize those of us living in moral sewers trying to keep back the filth.

  7. Todd says:

    Yeah, it’s a difficult thing with history. A lot of standard Western Civ heroes committed all sorts of crimes: genocide, murder, adultery, and such. I don’t have a problem with revisionist history with an eye to the truth. Certainly, if Christians want to update the knowledge about public heroes with their kids in their circles, I don’t have a problem with that. We can question the figure on our $20 bill, maybe, among others.

    One area I’m more familiar with is the reassessment of many athletes in light of their heinous acts and opinions: Ty Cobb, among many others. On the bright side, our culture seems disinclined to give current celebrities a pass. So maybe we’re getting better on that score.

    More of a concern here is that in a few days of posting, you’ve accused an individual of being a pedophile, when he seems to be not. It’s just one example, but on the other hand: it’s just one example. It doesn’t sink the whole notion of finding gay persons (or women or blacks or others) to be outstanding examples of citizenship and humanity.

    It would be rather convenient if the LGBT community were totally bereft of heroes, wouldn’t it?

    More to the point of the thread, you’ve defended George Weigel less than torn down a historical figure. Do you have any positive role model to offer for the cause of marriage, or is this only about making the whole world blind?

  8. FrMichael says:

    I could offer the example of several hundred married couples in my parish, plus numerous couples among my family and friends. Above all, the Holy Family of Nazareth. As you well know, the latter get their own feast day, which I take advantage of greatly.

    I don’t have any particular problem with a historical figure with SSA being acknowledged as such at an age-appropriate grade and with parental permission. I have a big problem with adult males engaging with sex with underage males and having the relationship and the politics that go with it being lionized in school.

    • FrMichael, as a 53 year old woman who endured the first 13 years of her life having every possible act forced upon me by an adult male and his friends in such endeavors, I wish you had the same vigor about protecting young men as well.

      I grow weary of your anti-gay rants all being supported first by your anger and then your search for alleged facts that may or may not support them.

      You might be surprised that I think of you in my prayers, but I do. Today I thought of this thread and all of us who are on it, as I read and prayed with today’s Gospel. This Gospel is a reminder to me in any event, that God’s mercy is much more than I can comprehend and even more than I can accept so much of the time.

      Don’t get me wrong FrMichael, your vigilance to protect children – at least young boys and young men – is admirable. But if it does not extend to children, male and female who are hurt daily at home (and statistics would seem to support that in a parish of several hundred married couples you would find physical, emotional and sexual abuse), along with those who are in danger due to work exploitation, human trafficking and more.

      Today I am going to be spending my time meditating on a God who is more generous than I can really handle and thank that same God for being so generous with me. I will pray for you and I will pray for myself to not want to continue to judge you, but so far, I’m not doing so well.

      BTW, I am wondering what thoughts you might have about this traditional marriage of a man and woman, I mean (*NOTE* – video player comes on automatically, adjust sound if needed. Also note that at about 2 minutes, there is an array of crosses and an image of OL of Guadalupe), given the circumstances of this conversation and the enshrinement of marriage between one man and one woman in general. (Which – lest you wonder – does not mean I am enshrining any other form of marriage, just questioning the blind devotion to OM/OW without appropriate discretion.)

  9. FrMichael says:


    Regarding the GMA clip, here’s some howlers: “Despite her provocative appearance, she is a devout Christian woman.” Along with the “old soul” comment and “Courtney’s plastic surgeon was God.”

    Never heard of the actor or the marriage prior to your comment, but the situation is appalling, a farce.

    “I wish you had the same vigor about protecting young men as well.” By the context of your personal story and following comments, I believe you meant “protecting young women,” correct? As a mandatory reporter and a breathing human being with a functioning conscience, I have had been involved with two reports made to Child Protective Services. The first was a third grade boy whose demeanor and comments gave suspicion that domestic abuse was present in the home. The second was an underaged female having sex with a middle-aged male. Unfortunately, I have heard a case of molestation in the confessional, perhaps the most chilling confession I’ve experienced. My motivation to protect youth and elders from abuse isn’t determined by their gender. Matter of fact, if you were my parishioner you would hear more from the pulpit about the evils of the relentless heterosexual sexualization of the youth culture and governmental institutions (e.g. the schools) more than the gay counterpart, although the latter does get mentioned from time-to-time as the current news cycle warrants.

    Thanks for your prayers this day: God knows I could use them right now. I will, in turn, pray for you.

    Yours in Christ, FrMichael

  10. Jimmy Mac says:

    Europeans and others have it right. Secular benefits are granted and administered by secular government. The granting or withholding of these taxpayer-funded benefits to citizens is NO BUSINESS of any religious organization.

    Religious rites and rituals have nothing to do with SECULAR benefits and should not be allowed to be a control point for access thereto.

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