Saturday, June 25, 2011
THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION
Like divorce, like abortion, same sex marriage is now legal in New York. Catholic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill last night after the state Senate narrowly approved it.
Is this the end of civilization as we know it? Of course not, but it is the beginning of a new era and I suspect within the next ten years more and more states will recognize same sex marriage.
As with the legalization of divorce, the Catholic Church does not recognize the legitimacy of same sex marriage. She never will. If a marriage is a sacrament it is until death do they part. No civil law can change that. Does the Catholic Church recognize as marriage those who having lawfully entered a first marriage, then lawfully end that marriage and then lawfully enter a second marriage? No.
For a union to be considered the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church, the couple must:
1. be male and female
2. freely and without reservation commit to one another in a life long union
3. be open to children and forming a Christian home
4. be committed to marital fidelity
5. be emotionally mature and psychologically stable and not have hidden any important information about themselves such as alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal record or sexual deviancy
Even if a couple gets married in the Catholic Church, but any of the above criteria are provably lacking from either individual of the marriage, the marriage is not a Sacrament, although presumed to be until judged otherwise by a Church tribunal.
My suggestions for the Church as she lives in an increasingly secular, post Christian world:
1. Maintain separation of Church and State by requiring the legality of marriage to be the domain of the state and the Sacramentality of Marriage to be the domain of the Church.
2. Specifically, this would mean that in order for a valid sacramental marriage to take place in the Church, its legality must first be recognized by the state in a state civil ceremony. Once that has occurred, the couple "solemnizes" or "sacramentalizes" the marriage by having the Nuptial Liturgy in the Church. At this point a legal marriage becomes the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Church governed solely by the laws of the Catholic Church.
3. The Church's ministers would no longer sign any civil marriage license as this is taken care of in civil court at the time of the civil marriage, although the civil license would be necessary for the sacramentalization of the marriage.
Even with this arrangement, the Church would still insist that couples refrain from the "marital act" until they have had their civil marriage converted to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony through the Church's recognition.
This would be no different than the Catholic Church not recognizing as a Sacrament anyone who divorces after a their first marriage and marries again.
What about the reception of Holy Communion? Anyone who "mocks" the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and is Catholic, i.e. does not have or cannot have their civil marriage "sacramentalized" in the Church, may not receive Holy Communion.
This would apply to:
1. Heterosexuals who enter civil marriages but do not or cannot have that marriage sacramentalized in the Church.
2. Homosexual Catholics who enter same sex civil marriages