Mirror of Justice

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

May Catholic Supporters of Marriage Equality Receive Communion?

That's the question University of St. Thomas law prof Chuck Reid addresses over at ReligiousLeftLaw. Comments on the post are welcome there.

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2013/04/may-catholic-supporters-of-marriage-equality-receive-communion.html

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Society believes that same-sex attracted people should be able to have same-sex activities and get married. Roman Catholicism believes that same-sex attracted people are called to celibacy or should try to engage in a sexual relationship within traditional marriage, despite same-sex attraction. I do not understand why a same-sex attracted person would remain a Roman Catholic, but apparently many do.

I do not understand why I as a Catholic have to, under penalty of excommunication, reject the national consenus that societally accepted same-sex attracted people should have the financial and legal protections associated with traditional marriage. The bishops lost me on this one.

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 18, 2013 8:49:31 PM

I understand that the bishop has the right to make this pronouncement, but I think it will be counterproductive. This is because the majority of married Catholics receiving communion on Sundays are also practicing, have practiced, or intend to practice contraception. The disconnect between the teaching of the bishops and the practice of the laity on the issue of contraception leads directly to the situation in which we find ourselves today, which is also why Robby George is wrong to see same sex marriage as the cultural apocalypse he often describes it as being. All same sex marriage does is recognize in law the understanding of marriage that has been operative at the cultural level for quite some time. You can't blame polyamourous or temporary marriage on same sex marriage, precisely because they all follow logicially from the practice of contraceptive marriage. My beef with the archbishop is that he makes this sort of statement all the while knowing (how could he not?) that contracepting members of his flock regularly do receive communion. But how could they then even understand the "witness" or "principle" he supplies them on the issue of same sex marriage?

At some point incrementalism becomes, instead of a realistic approach to the possible, a farcical denial of the actual.

Posted by: Wj | Apr 18, 2013 10:15:43 PM

Clarity of belief prior to approaching communion would certainly thin out communion lines. For many Catholics, showing up for Mass feels like a ticket to receive communion. A faith-test prior to receiving would also eliminate the need for eucharastic ministers, as the lines would be markedly shorter. For traditionalist Catholics, it would be win-win: purity and no EMHCs. There are many who lobby for a smaller, purer church. Remember: Christ's body and blood are for many, not for all.

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 18, 2013 10:24:28 PM

Joseph,

Lest I be misinterpreted, while affirming what I think is the Church's correct teaching on contraception, I am not advocating for a particular pastoral approach to this issue, except perhaps for some kind of recognition on the part of the bishops that it is one. The bishops have failed to implement any kind of approach that both (1) persuasively presents the ideal of chastity in marriage and (2) realistically addresses the real challenges of married life and the real attractions of contraception for Catholics facing those challenges. Rather than a smaller Church, I want a Church which is at least honest with itself about what from its own perspective must be judged a catastrophic failure in moral catechesis. My hope would be that such honesty would at least prevent the bishops from grandstanding (there, I said it) on a derivative issue (same sex marriage) that is far less significant for the Church's own health than is the root issue of contraception. My problem is rather that, like cultural conservatives, the Church wants to abide in a kind of no man's land, having accepted the social prevalence of divorce and contraception in the culture but then throwing a fit when that culture seeks to express its norms as law. I understand why George and others are worried about this shift, since law does perform an instructive role in behavior, and since once something is legal, it is hard to make it illegal. But I think that it is naive to believe that, once same sex marriage is defeated, we will suddenly start to make inroads against the movement's origins in divorce and contraception. Everybody accepts those realities, rightly or wrongly, as being by now basically established options of behavior in advanced western states. But we are somehow to push a "pause" button at this point, so as to keep the culture from revealing what its practices effectively entail. Sorry, I don't buy it. (Sorry for the long post--but rest assured I am not of the smaller purer faction, for what it's worth.)

Posted by: Wj | Apr 18, 2013 11:16:22 PM

P.S. "for many, not for all" is an unfortunate misunderstanding encouraged by the translation of "multis" as "many," and not "the many". So purer smaller types are wrong if they see this as confirming their, ahem, Donatism.


In Jn 12:32, Christ says, “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all (pantes) to myself.” In John’s narrative, this use of “pantes” is clearly understood in parallel with, and not in opposition to, the “great crowd” (oxlos polus) whom Jesus feeds in John 6. In other words, the “great crowd” is understood as foreshadowing the later “pantes”; and just as Jesus has more than enough even for the great crowd of John 6, so we are to understand that his graces are more than enough for all (pantes).

Given that these texts in John replace or substitute for the institution narrative found in the synoptics, it makes sense to me to see the theology implicit in John’s text as similarly at work in the synoptics. Hence, the use of “pollon” in the institution narratives of Mark, Matthew, and Luke similarly connects with the “great crowd” (polun oxlon) referenced in their different accounts of the feeding of the 5,000. John’s text goes further by making somewhat more explicit how we are to understand “pollon” in the synoptic institution narratives. We are not to understand it in the *limiting sense* of many-but-not-all; rather, we are to understand it in the sense already communicated in the feeding of the five thousand episode; no matter how many, more than enough for all. Hence John’s “pantes.”

Posted by: Wj | Apr 18, 2013 11:36:27 PM

For all practical purposes, Archbishop Vigneron's position is a rejection of religious liberty. Under his logic, Catholics cannot "condone" religious liberty because it means supporting secular laws which protect practices at variance with Catholic Doctrine.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 9:27:43 AM

The average Catholic uses contraceptives, and but a few don't "support" their use somehow. It is hypocritical and selective in a way that is discriminatory to the people involved to blithely let this go on and single out in some fashion those who support same sex couples. If consistent, few people will be left at the altar.

As to why Catholics stay, your average American Catholic disagrees with the Church on multiple doctrines, and things are made easier by such practice -- people married in Catholic Church clearly violate important doctrine on contraception, which is deemed a serious violation of the sacrament of marriage and the Church accepts it. The average Catholic, to use a term used by Julia Sweeney, tends to be a "cultural Catholic," though they might still believe more basic Christian doctrine than she does.

OTOH, if you are gay or a loved one is, I do think it is much harder to go along, especially given some of the rhetoric and actions of the Church on this issue. Still, many hope even there it will find its way, including I'm sure several clergy, including nuns, brothers and priests.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 19, 2013 10:08:26 AM

Sean, only The True God can endow us with Religious Liberty, the purpose of which is to come to know, Love, and serve The Ordered Complementary Communion of Perfect Love that Is The Blessed Trinity in this life, and hopefully, be with God forever in Heaven.

The fact is, due to dissension in Christ's Church, many of us were not aware of The Church's teaching on contraception, and in fact, many have been led to believe that non abortive forms of contraception are permissible in The Catholic Church.

This does not change the fact that those who profess to be Catholic but deny the personal and relational essence of the human person, who from the moment of conception, has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male or female, deny the essence of God.

There is nothing that precludes the Pope and our bishops from mandating that before every Catholic Mass a statement be made that those who are not in a state of Grace, including thoses persons who deny The Church's teaching on The Sanctity of Human Life, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, ( Catholic Canon 750) should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, as they are not in communion with The Catholic Church.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 10:25:17 AM

Folks, traditional Catholics have been suggesting for a long time that it is a scandal that everyone at a given mass on Sunday goes to receive communion. Yes, communion is for all, but one should go forward to receive it worthily. Most of the reasons that one should not receive have nothing to do with politics but everything to do with sin (something that we all struggle against). We have the sacrament of penance to receive Gods mercy and we should avail ourselves of it before we go to receive our Lord.

Posted by: CLS | Apr 19, 2013 10:36:51 AM

CLS,

You say, "Most of the reasons that one should not receive have nothing to do with politics but everything to do with sin (something that we all struggle against)."

Regardless of what is true in most cases, Archbishop Allen Vigneron and canon lawyer Ed Peters appear to be saying that holding a certain political opinion—supporting same-sex marriage—is a mortal sin. Is it? The USCCB supported the gun-control legislation 46 US Senators voted against. How would American Catholics react to a suggestion that opposing gun-control legislation is a mortal sin? How would you react?

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 19, 2013 11:15:46 AM

Well, I think their is a major difference between the two. But, if my bishop were to say that those who oppose the measure should not receive communion, I would support his authority to exercise his teaching authority in that way.

Posted by: CLS | Apr 19, 2013 11:31:01 AM

David, gun control legislation is not something that has been definitively proposed by The Catholic Church that we, who profess to be Catholic, must believe by Divine and Catholic Faith. Any person who professes to be Catholic, who opposes the truth about The Sanctity of Human Life from the moment of conception, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, is an apostate to The Catholic Faith, and should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 11:59:20 AM

The answer to David Nickol's question is the difference between principle and prudence. The support of civil recognition of same sex marriage is in principle fundamentally opposed to Catholic teaching--so the argument goes--while the opposition to gun control legislation does not directly contradict any such teaching; and in any case an opponent of such legislation could argue that he or she agrees with the principle of the bishops--a less violent society with fewer murders of innocents by firearms is a good thing--and maintains that the best way to achieve this is to proliferate such firearms, thereby ensuring that the next time some wacko enters an elementary school, the janitor packing a semi-auto glock will cap his a** before he can kill more than three or four kids.

Here are two other well-documented twentieth-century American instances of the Church's exercise of the office we have recently seen at work in the controversial act of the Archbishop of Detroit. When the U.S. intentionally targeted civilian populations with nuclear weapons, the U.S. bishops were outspoken against the act, seeing as it is never right to kill the innocent intentionally to secure even the great good of intimidating the Soviets. Indeed, the bishops' opposition to and condemnation of the act was so stridently set forth that it set a wedge between the Catholic Church in the U.S. and the nation's military that has remained to this day. (This is why you will never find an orthodox or "conservative" priest in the U.S. who is tempted to adopt an uncritical or even fawning attitude toward our nation's military prowess, as so often happens in other countries.) Likewise in their recent pronouncement that, usury being always and gravely evil, no Catholic can participate in some areas of the finance and/or consumer credit industry without committing a mortal sin. Although this prophetic witness arguably hurt the fundraising efforts of the K of C, Legatus, and other such institutes, organizations, and think tanks, the bishops could have done nothing else, so serious was their commitment to witness the truths of Jesus Christ to their flock.

The recent stance taken against same sex marriage is only one of many such stances on principle that the Church has taken, as the above examples make plain. Hence it is unfathomable why some would claim not to appreciate or understand this latest manifestation of their courage and fortitude.

Posted by: Wj | Apr 19, 2013 12:15:29 PM

Wj, I am unaware of this usury document. Could you point me to a link?

Thanks.

-CLS

Posted by: CLS | Apr 19, 2013 12:19:38 PM

CLS,

Alas, I am unaware of it too, for it does not exist. Sorry to have gotten your hopes up.

Posted by: Wj | Apr 19, 2013 12:37:46 PM

Nancy,

Whether our Religious Liberty comes from God or something else is a disputable point. That we have it should not be. Religious Liberty means everyone must allow others to live their lives according to their religious beliefs.

The Catholic Church could require that, “before every Catholic Mass a statement be made that those who are not in a state of Grace, including thoses [sic] persons who deny The Church's teaching on The Sanctity of Human Life, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family...should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, as they are not in communion with The Catholic Church”.

If the Church’s teaching includes that Catholics must oppose secular laws that protect practices contrary to Church teaching or protect the rights of non-Catholics, then the Church would in actuality be requiring its members to choose between their faith and the religious liberty of others. This would put the Church faithful in actual opposition to religious liberty. This would put the Church in opposition to the gift of religious liberty you say God gave us. In this scenario, the Church would be denying God’s gift of religious liberty.

There is something that precludes the Pope and the Bishops from mandating such a thing: their respect for the dignity and worth of non-Catholics and for the gift of religious liberty they think God gave us.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 12:56:58 PM

Wj;

The “two other well-documented twentieth-century American instances of the Church's exercise of the office” involved the Church’s resistance to violence carried out or threatened by the US Government, or resistance to financial abuses by the banking industry.

In their opposition to same-sex marriage, the Church is not protecting anyone from harm; the Church seeks to preserve a harmful practice and to limit the religious rights of those who merely disagree with its teaching.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 12:59:08 PM

Sean, it is The Catholic Church's respect for the inherent personal and relational Dignity of all persons, that precludes The Catholic Church from condoning and affirming same-sex sexual acts, or any sexual act that demeans our inherent Dignity as human persons and thus can never be acts of Love.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 1:34:57 PM

Sean,

Please see above. Re: religious liberty: You may be right that the practical implications of the Church's actions at times may seem to sit in tension with it, but I would submit that is because the concept is basically free of any essential content, but is rather appealed to as an ideal reconstruction of the historically messy and mostly pragmatic political and legal thought behind it. When you start to think that there is some "essence" to religious liberty, then you are quickly brought to see that, construed in this way, the concept is incoherent.

Posted by: Wj | Apr 19, 2013 1:37:35 PM

Sean, in regards to Religious Liberty, can you site a Religious Doctrine that is violated by those persons who refuse to condone and affirm same-sex sexual acts because they recognize that all persons have an inherent right to be treated with Dignity and respect?

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 1:45:31 PM

Nancy,

The Church never needs to condone same-sex acts, but the Church cannot respect the inherent personal and relational dignity of all persons if it seeks to interfere in the private, intimate lives of gay and lesbian persons. You may think of them as homosexuals, but most importantly, they are PEOPLE, as much Children of God as anyone.

As stated numerous times before, the consensual and non-violent sexual relations between gays and lesbians are acts of love that uphold their dignity as persons. It is incessant condemnation of their lives that demeans them; lives lived in conformity to the way God or nature made them. This incessant condemnation cannot be an act of love; it violates the commandment to "love others as your self".

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 1:57:21 PM

Wj;

I am not sure what “above” you are referring to; there are many items above.

Regarding religious liberty, I have absolutely no idea why you get on about its essence. I wrote nothing about essences; I am dubious that any actual “essence” of anything exists anywhere.

The content of religious liberty is not that hard to find: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How would you want others (not of your religion) to regulate your religious practices? As long as what you do causes no tangible harm to another, you’d demand to be let alone and not deprived of rights by those who object to your religion. Religious liberty means that you pay for the right to be left alone: and the coin you pay is to leave others alone. It ain’t rocket science; it’s quite coherent.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 2:00:56 PM

Sean, it is a self evident truth that men and women are designed in such a way that one cannot engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning the inherent Dignity of the human person. Even if a person denies the fact that our unalienable Rights are unalienable, our inherent Right to be treated with Dignity and Respect, still exists. My question to you in regards to Religious Liberty is specific, can you site a Religious Doctrine that is violated by those persons who refuse to condone and affirm same-sex sexual acts because they recognize that all persons have an inherent right to be treated with Dignity and respect?

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 2:24:24 PM

Wj,

You say, "The support of civil recognition of same sex marriage is in principle fundamentally opposed to Catholic teaching--so the argument goes . . . ."

The question in my mind is which Catholic teaching the support of civil recognition of same-sex marriage is fundamentally opposed to. To answer that the Catholic Church opposes the civil recognition of same-sex marriage is begging the question. The Catholic Church opposes—does it not?—the recognition of civil divorce as a sufficient prerequisite to marry a second time. The Catholic Church does condemns in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogacy. Must Catholic politicians oppose them? I recall in the presidential primaries, Rick Santorum made it clear that he voted for Title X funding for family planning. Certainly that could be considered direct support, and funding, for contraception.

I can certainly imagine that there might be specific laws that the Catholic Church would be justified in flatly declaring Catholics may not vote for, but it seems to me a Catholic could justify supporting same-sex marriage (or government-funded family planning programs) without disagreeing with any fundamental Catholic teaching. It seems to me the Catholic Church must make a very specific case as to why a Catholic in a pluralistic democracy may not support particular laws or policies. Lawmakers and voters must make prudential decisions all the time about what to support and oppose. They cannot simply try to make American law implement Catholic teaching. This is even more the case with judges. Civil marriage laws do not now, nor have the ever, implemented the Catholic understanding of marriage. Is it really possible that there is no prudential decision-making rationale a Catholic politician could have for supporting same-sex marriage without committing a mortal sin?

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 19, 2013 3:01:46 PM

I am concerned by the suggestion above that The Blessed Trinity is "The Ordered COMPLEMENTARY Communion of Perfect Love." The word complementary is derived from the Latin word "complementum," which means "that which fills up or completes." To fill up or complete implies that that which is filled up or completed was lacking or incomplete prior to being filled up or completed. Such a characterization appears to undermine, at the very least, the consubstantiality of The Blessed Trinity.

As the Fathers of the Second Council of Constantinople declared in 553 A.D., "If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons: let him be anathema."

Posted by: dfb | Apr 19, 2013 3:07:37 PM

Actually, complementary means to support and thus not possess.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 3:19:55 PM

Nancy,

Sorry for the length of this, but, well, there it is. Perceptive readers will discover that I learned to program on IBMs long ago. Moving on...

That human design might alter the dignity of a person dependent on their conduct is not at all a “self-evident truth”, it is an opinion so murky that proving it true has defied even the wisest and demands acceptance of claims that are themselves unproven. Much less is this idea “self-evident truth”. It is an opinion, a tenuous opinion, and nothing more.

We agree that “our unalienable Rights are unalienable [and] our inherent Right to be treated with Dignity and Respect... exists”. Those rights are violated by incessant condemnation of gay and lesbian persons living their lives in accord with the attributes which God or nature gave them.

Regarding your request to “site a Religious Doctrine that is violated by those persons who refuse to condone and affirm same-sex sexual acts...” let me answer thus:

ZEROTH, the word is “cite”. “Site” refers to a location, “the site of a battle” for example. I’ve made that mistake too; we all need an editor.

FIRST, gay and lesbian persons believe that their sex acts are as moral and natural as sex acts between heterosexuals. That belief harms no one and is their right to hold and believe.

SECOND, I don’t care about violating Religious Doctrines, I resist violating Human Rights. Religious liberty is a human right acquired from whatever source other rights are.

THIRD, mere refusal to condone or affirm is of no interest to me either; though to deny a person respect for living the life God or nature gave them is disrespectful and unloving; whatever Religious Doctrines disrespect and unlovingness violate is something I leave to others to determine.

FOURTH, since the principle of religious liberty prevents the State from failing to honor the beliefs of gay and lesbian persons (as set out in my FIRST point above), persons who “refuse to condone and affirm same-sex sexual acts” who also demand that the law prohibit same-sex marriage are in effect, demanding that the State violate the religious liberty rights of same-sex couples.

FIFTH, if these persons (in FOURTH, above) who demand that same-sex marriage not be recognized simultaneously insist that religious liberty protects their beliefs and practices, then their demands against same-sex marriage VIOLATE RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES WHICH CONDEMN HYPOCRISY. It is hypocritical to seek shelter in religious liberty for yourself and deny it to others.

SIXTH, in marriage, the concept of “biologically complementary” persons is irrelevant. If it were critical, then failure of different-sex marriages would be rare. Fact is: it’s quite common. Biological complementarity (ugly word) is necessary to reproduction, but reproduction does not require marriage, and vice-versa.

SEVENTH, in marriage what matters is COMPATIBILITY. Compatibility is a complex idea touching on personal attitudes, desires, needs, goals, etc. Incompatibility is the principle and broad category of reasons that marriages fail, apart from Financial reasons.

EIGHTH, Apart from religious objections, same-sex marriage is fundamentally and importantly like different-sex marriage. It is a union of two COMPATIBLE persons in marriage. Prohibiting same-sex marriage denies gay and lesbian persons the right to marry others with whom they are COMPATIBLE. A same-sex marriage might fail because of other incompatibility issues, but the same must be said for different-sex marriages.

NINTH, legal recognition of same-sex marriage involves no condoning nor affirmation of the marriage; it involves condoning and affirming the rights of persons to be treated equally under the Law, and a recognition that (as laid out in EIGHTH above) same-sex marriage is so fundamentally and importantly like different-sex marriage that refusing to give it the same legal status is a violation of a basic human right: the right to be treated equally under the law barring some compelling or important purpose.

TENTH, there is not even a rational basis for barring same-sex marriage, much less a compelling or important purpose.

I’m going to rest now.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 3:35:35 PM

Regarding the "usury document" referenced above, Canon XXV of the Third Lateran Council in 1179 A.D. provides:

"Nearly everywhere the crime of usury has become so firmly rooted that many, omitting other business, practise usury as if it were permitted, and in no way observe how it is forbidden in both the Old and New Testament. We therefore declare that notorious usurers should not be admitted to communion of the altar or receive Christian burial if they die in this sin. Whoever receives them or gives them Christian burial should be compelled to give back what he has received, and let him remain suspended from the performance of his office until he has made satisfaction according to the judgment of his own bishop."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/LATERAN3.HTM

Posted by: dfb | Apr 19, 2013 3:59:18 PM

com·ple·men·ta·ry adjective \¦käm-plə-¦men-t(ə-)rē\
1: of, relating to, or suggestive of complementing, completing, or perfecting
{their economies are more complementary than competitive — William Petersen}
{participation … as complementary to observation — Lewis Mumford}
2: mutually dependent : supplementing and being supplemented in return
{farmer and townsman represent complementary interests — Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)}

When two or more things are complementary, each one has something the others lack, and consequently in combination they form something complete, while each one separately would be incomplete. If for the three persons of the Trinity to be complementary means that they each provide support to the others, the implication is that they support each other by each supplying something the others lack.

For those who hold the Trinity up as a model for marriage (both have "unity and diversity"), it should be noted that there are three persons in the Trinity, and yet the idea of marriage of more than two persons is utterly rejected by those who see the Trinity as some symbol of marriage or marriage as some symbolic referent to the Trinity.

Also, as somewhat of an aside (in reaction to someone writing in another forum), there are certain metaphors made concerning marriage that *must* be understood as metaphors. God in the Old Testament is described as the faithful husband of an often faithless wife (Israel). God was not married to Israel. The Church is said to be the Bride of Christ. Jesus is not married to the Church. The Church is described as the Mystical Body of Christ. If the Church is literally the Bride of Christ, then Christ is married to his own Mystical Body. Women religious are said to be betrothed to Christ, but if the Church is the Bride of Christ, first of all, Christ has multiple women betrothed to him, and second, he is already married to the Church. The point here is not to mock any of these metaphors, but rather to point out that they are metaphorical truths, not literal truths.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 19, 2013 3:59:55 PM

For anyone who may not know, the definitive discussion on the Church's condemnation of usury, the failure of that condemnation to gain acceptance with the laity, and the subsequent irrelevance of the condemnation is

John T. Noonan's book A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching.
http://www.amazon.com/Church-That-Can-Cannot-Change/dp/0268036047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366402636&sr=8-1&keywords=a+church+that+can+and+cannot+change

Usury at the time of its condemnation by the Church was the collection of interest on a loan. It is sometimes now claimed that it was the charging of exorbitant rates of interest (like the average 16.98 percent on credit card debt!), but it was in reality the collection of *any* interest on a loan.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 19, 2013 4:27:13 PM

David,

Very briefly: Given what has been the Church's de facto, if not de iure, approach to these other issues, I agree with what you say about the Archbishop's decision to take a prophetic or principled stand on same sex marriage. (Prophetic and principled witness to the Gospel is not a rear-guard stratagem by which we concede so much, but no more. That, rather, is fear and weakness hypocritically masquerading as courage.)

Sean S.

By "Please see above," I meant to refer you to the post in which I made explicit the point that I thought was understood by my fanciful preceding narrative. The point was that the bishops took no such public and directly challenging stance on the murders committed by the U.S. government at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that they have, for a very long time now, decided to keep their mouths shut about specific economic or business practices, lest they be mocked by people like Sirico and Weigel--and the many readers of these people and others like them. Perhaps it was always true that the "principles" of Catholic Social Teaching were so far removed from reality that one could, effectively, advocate *any* economic policy or business practice on the grounds that, in the long run, such a policy, while *appearing* directly to contradict such-and-such principle, actually will fulfill it. But I am suspicious that this is actually the case. It does not follow, for example, that because the Church does not itself propose specific policies or practices, it therefore also lacks the competence to denounce any. And, really, if Catholic Social Thought does not enable the bishops to denounce the economic policies and business practices that led to the 2007-2008 collapse, then I don't see what the point of it could be. Just to tell us that Communism is bad? Really?

On religious liberty, I'm not interested in debating the issue except to say that your characterization of religious liberty seems to me to prove its incoherence. (I don't say, "prove its rhetorical and pragmatic usefulness," which, lawyers of all people should know, is not at all the same thing as coherence.)

Posted by: Wj | Apr 19, 2013 4:53:15 PM

Our call to Holiness is a call to Love. God desires that all Marriages are Holy. The Communion of Love between a man and woman united together as husband and wife, creates a new Family.

Those persons who deny The Church's teaching on The Sanctity of Marriage, having excommunicated themselves from The One Body of Christ, should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion.

Sexual Inclination or preference is not a person. It is a self evident truth that sexual behavior does not change the fact that a man remains a man, and a woman, a woman, and it is not unjust discrimination to discriminate between sexual acts that respect the inherent Dignity of the human person and sexual acts that do not.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 4:53:49 PM

Sorry, "uselessness", not "usefulness". My bad.

Posted by: Wj | Apr 19, 2013 4:56:10 PM

Nancy;

“Our call to Holiness is a call to Love. God desires that all Marriages are Holy. The Communion of Love between a man and woman united together as husband and wife, creates a new Family.” -- Everything in that sentence applies as much to a same-sex marriage as to any other.

“Sexual Inclination or preference is not a person.” -- No one on this thread has ever said it was.

“It is a self evident truth that sexual behavior does not change the fact that a man remains a man, and a woman, a woman...” -- True, and irrelevant.

“it is not unjust discrimination to discriminate between sexual acts that respect the inherent Dignity of the human person and sexual acts that do not.” -- It is if that determination is made unjustly and in denial of the truth. Voluntary, consensual, non-violent sexual acts within a gay or lesbian couple respect the inherent dignity of those persons. Incessant disparagement of them disrespects their inherent dignity.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 19, 2013 5:17:30 PM

Had Rick Santorum been barred from receiving communion for voting for Title X funding for Family Planning and continuing to defend his vote until February 2012?

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/23/santorum_flip_flops_on_family_planning/

Has each person who voted for Rick Santorum at any time prior to February 2012 been barred from receiving communion?

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 19, 2013 8:19:05 PM

The question is, "should Catholic supporters of marriage equality receive communion"?The answer is, those who profess to be Catholic while supporting marriage equality simultaneously, are not in communion with The Catholic Church and thus should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. (Catholic Canon 750 and Catholic Canon 915)

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 19, 2013 8:48:07 PM

Nancy, why not phrase it as
"Have you never married someone of the same sex? Do you promise to never marry someone of the same sex?"
If so, you are fine to receive communion, as you are free from the sin of same-sex marriage.
"Have you never aborted a fetus? Do you promise never to abort a fetus?"
If so, you are fine to receive communion, as you are free from the sin of abortion.
"Have you never remarried after a divorce? Do you promise to never remarry after a divorce?"
If so, you are fine to receive communion, as you are free from the sin of marriage after divorce.
"Have you never charged or received interest? Do you promise to never be a usurer?"
If so, you are fine to receive communion, as you are not (and will not be) a usurer?

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 19, 2013 10:42:44 PM

David, I see your confusion, as I left out a couple of key words regarding complementary, "as in enhance" support not possess. Unlike the Ordered, Complementary Communion of Perfect Love, The Blessed Trinity, That Was In The Beginning, Is Now, and Forever Will Be PERFECT, and thus The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are PERFECT, our call to Holiness is not complete until we become transformed through Christ.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 20, 2013 10:55:43 AM

The Trinity has absolutely nothing to do with civil marriage laws in the United States. I dare to say that the Trinity is not an issue even in the Catholic Church's case against same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion, and so on. I don't know why we are discussing the Trinity here at all. If the Trinity were relevant as some kind of ideal complementary relationship (which it is not) it seems to me it could be used as an argument for polygamy.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 20, 2013 5:18:59 PM

Nancy,

Non-Catholics have a Right to live according to their non-Catholic beliefs.
If every Catholic who supports the rights of non-Catholics is therefore “not in communion with The Catholic Church”, then the Catholic Church rejects religious liberty as a valid concept.
If religious liberty comes from God (as you have often written) then the Church, by rejecting religious liberty is rejecting God’s decision to give that right to everyone.

Catholics who support the rights of non-Catholics to live according to their non-Catholic beliefs exemplify religious liberty. This includes those who support marriage equality.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 20, 2013 8:12:07 PM

Sean S,

I think the Roman Catholic Church is tiptoeing past that line. We are (or will soon be) required to refrain from supporting religious liberty in the US if supporting religious liberty in the US enables laws to be enacted which deviate from orthodox Catholicism, in particular on any matter relating to pre-born persons and marriage.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html
(Doesn't quite go up to the point of saying that communion should be withheld from those who vote for pols who support same-sex marriage.)

http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/a-primer-on-church-teaching-regarding-same-sex-marriage/

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 20, 2013 10:26:10 PM

To graft complementarity onto the Trinity appears to make God in our own image in order then to find our image in God.

Posted by: dfb | Apr 21, 2013 8:46:39 AM

dfb—

Agree, nothing can be grafted onto the Trinity. But that doesn’t mean some type of ineffable divine complementarity isn’t in the three-ness of it.

Posted by: Mark | Apr 21, 2013 9:16:32 AM

Joseph;

A claim that abortion is a practice protected by religious liberty is unlikely to succeed. Fundamental rights like religious liberty can be invaded by the State when harms caused by a practice are demonstrated. Certainly abortion is at least arguably the infliction of a harm, so its protection by the free exercise clause is tenuous at best.

Same-sex marriage is entirely different; same-sex marriage causes no harms; so it is clearly protected by religious liberty.

In summary, the Church’s objection to abortion is on a whole different plane from its objections to same-sex marriage. The Church could vigorously oppose abortion without opposing religious liberty; it cannot oppose same-sex marriage without also opposing religious liberty. At least not coherently.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 21, 2013 9:20:18 AM

Mark:

If something is truly ineffable, does that not mean we should not speak of it?

Posted by: dfb | Apr 21, 2013 9:46:30 AM

dfb-

Ha, yes, that's one meaning. But I was thinking ineffable in the sense of being inexpressible--something the human mind can reach but not grasp, and then put in a dictionary.

Posted by: Mark | Apr 21, 2013 9:58:49 AM

It is within the ambit of the Bishop to advise the diocese on when its members should and should not take communion. One is not supposed to take the sacrament when he is harboring sin or serious doubts as to the tenants of the faith. Supporting same-sex marriage is, in fact, a position that runs counter to the central tenants of the faith.

This is not to say that people are not allowed to have doubts about what the Church teaches. Quite contrary, like Thomas Didymus, all Catholics at some point or another question what the Church teaches. The question is what do we do in light of that. 3 things are required of us. First, we must first acknowledge that we are having doubts about the Church's teaching. This is not a sin in it of itself; it is merely reality. Second, we have a duty and an obligation to first seek out what the Church teaches and then understand why it professes it. Finally, once we have sought out that instruction, if we are still harboring doubt, we must enter a period of discernment to examine our conscious and confront the reasons for our doubt and how it stacks up to the Church's teaching.

This last step is not easy. People can go through periods of discernment for years. More often, most people refuse to even take that step. If they hear the explanation and still don't accept the truth, they will not take the chance to reconcile their doubt with that truth and in a sense, deny that it is ever there.

I make this point because it relates to the same-sex marriage issue and communion. Perhaps the most direct and obvious manner to make some acknowledge their doubt, seek out the truth, and discern is to bring it to their attention through the denial of communion. This should be most apparent to any one who has voluntarily chosen not to take communion due to their own short-comings and their attempt to wrestle with why they do the things they do. Being one such person, I was forced to examine my conscious every Sunday before during the preparation of the Eucharist. It wasn't easy, but it caused me to really think about what the Church teaches and ultimately accept the truth of its position. In my mind, this is what the Archbishop is trying to accomplish. Catholic supporters of same-sex marriage must examine their conscious, no different than those that support abortion and other practices that run counter to the Church's teachings.

As hard as it may be to step outside the secular liberalism paradigm that our academic institutions have trained us to think in, we as Catholics must align our faith with our political positions. We cannot divorce our political mind from our faith life. That doesn't mean we impose our will on others, but when it comes to central issues, we cannot waiver. It may be hard, but the Church isn't a political entity; it doesn't have the authority to modify its doctrine based off what the people in the pews prefer it to be.

Posted by: Brian | Apr 21, 2013 12:06:20 PM

David, etc., The Blessed Trinity has everything to do with why those who deny The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, having separated themselves from Christ's One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. To deny the truth about the personal and relational essence of the human person, who from the moment of conception, has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a son or daughter, is to deny the essence of God and makes one an apostate to our Catholic Faith.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 21, 2013 12:11:26 PM

Brian;

It may be that LIVING IN a “same-sex marriage is, in fact, a position that runs counter to the central tenants of the faith” but SUPPORTING the right of others (non-Catholics) to live according to their faith is not counter to the central tenets of Catholicism UNLESS the Catholic Church, as a “central tenet of faith” rejects religious liberty. Do you believe it does so?

I embrace your three steps that any Catholic should undertake if they find themselves doubting some Church teaching; that they must first acknowledge that is the situation, and then to inform themselves regarding that teaching and its justification, and if doubts remain to “enter a period of discernment” to examine their conscience and their doubts. That last step is difficult because it may lead to a fourth step: leaving the Church. If after extended discernment, one’s conscience cries out against a Church teaching, then one is morally bound to reject the teaching. If the Church is unwilling to engage doubting members and their reasons for doubt; if the Church has no place for doubting members in its communion, then in good conscience, such persons must walk away.

The problem vis-à-vis same-sex marriage is that one need not believe it is “good” but only that it is something others might think is “good”. Supporting same-sex marriage is not about approving of it, but about approving the right of others to decide that for themselves. Excommunication on this matter is not a consequence of the Church’s moral judgment about same-sex marriage, it is a consequence of the Church’s rejection of religious liberty of non-Catholics; or is apparently so. I hope it is not so; that is not the Catholic Church I was raised in.

I agree with your statement that “Catholics must align our faith with our political positions. We cannot divorce our political mind from our faith life. That doesn't mean we impose our will on others, but when it comes to central issues, we cannot waiver.” To interfere in the religious practices of non-Catholics is an imposition of Catholic will on others. Catholics need NEVER condone same-sex marriage; but they do NEED to respect the religious liberties of others.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 21, 2013 1:54:07 PM

Nancy;

“To deny the truth about the personal and relational essence of the human person, who from the moment of conception, has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a son or daughter,” is to deny the gift of God to those sons or daughters whom God or nature have made homosexual. Gay and Lesbian PERSONS are as much “created in The Image and Likeness of God and equal in Dignity” as all other PERSONS.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 21, 2013 1:55:47 PM

Brian,

You say: "Supporting same-sex marriage is, in fact, a position that runs counter to the central tenants of the faith."

Supporting the idea the Jesus is not the Messiah and the Son of God runs counter to the central tenets of the Catholic faith. Supporting the right of Jews to practice their religion, which denies that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, somehow does *not* run counter to the central tenets of the Catholic faith. Supporting the rights of those who follow Luther and others who left the Catholic faith, denying one or more tenets of Catholicism, does not appear to me to be something Catholics are forbidden to do.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 21, 2013 3:32:20 PM

Nancy, I am still puzzled about the link between the Trinity (a masculine Creator, his Son, and a Holy Ghost) and marriage (traditionally a man and a woman). Is the analogy between God the Father and God the Son joined by the love of the spirit?

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 22, 2013 7:36:44 PM

Like Joseph, I find the supposed link between the Trinity and marriage very puzzling. If I recall my Catechism correctly, the Trinity is three persons, but they are only One God. So is the One God merely a metaphor for the conjunction of Three Deities? That seems wrong, but that makes the Trinity more like a marriage; two persons conjoined into One Marriage. Of course, that makes the Trinity similar to a polyandrous marriage (assuming the Holy Spirit is the female member.)

On the other hand, if there is only One God, only One Deity, then the Trinity is metaphorically a marriage between God and... himself? Twice? I can make no sense of that, or how it links to human marriage.

I am not mocking nor belittling the idea, but it does lead to some odd conclusions. This I think is a good example of magical thinking. Things are asserted in all seriousness without any consideration for what they mean. These things do not instruct, they are to be accepted without thought because thought causes them to dissolve.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 23, 2013 9:07:15 AM