Friday, June 26, 2015


Yes, today's Supreme Court decision is one for the history books. Yes, this changes everything as it concerns the definition of marriage from the state's point of view or from the point of view of civil law. It is big. It is a victory for those who want legal recognition of their same sex relationships and the civil benefits that come with these. Supposedly it will help the children of these same sex partners not to be marginalized, at least that is the law of Justice Kennedy. Those children who have polygamous families will take heart for their situation will be rectified one day too.

However, in the Catholic Church we have had to deal with civil marriages of heterosexuals that we do not acknowledge because there was an impediment, either a previous sacramental marriage or some other kind of impediment.  There is a separation of Church and state. Marriage is not a sacrament for the state. It can be dissolved by the state very easily with no fault divorce. Lawyers will be enriched by a whole new category of people seeking divorce. It is a big business and the almighty dollar continues to win--the free market is what some call it. I think Pope Francis has some words about free markets and the corruption that money brings to society, to people and to the earth's ecology. Pope Francis is prophetic in this regard.Thank God for Laudato Si at this particular juncture in salvation history.

Marriage is a sacrament! Bishops, priests and deacons should not be the legal agent for the state to bring about the legal benefits for our sacrament. The state should take care of that themselves.

Therefore, I pray that our National Conference of Catholic Bishops will write a national policy whereby Catholics when they procure their civil marriage license also have at the same time  the court magistrate legalize their civil union for the benefits they will receive as a civilly married couple.

After acquiring civil recognition of their union and the benefits that accrue, Catholics may be married in the Church as long as their are no impediments. This means one man, one woman, no previous marriages and no other impediments such as psychological impairment, immaturity, and a lack of willingness to live according the the vows and promises made before God and the Church. (The legal, civil part must come first as the Church has always required that the Sacrament of Marriage have societal recognition. In other words, no bishop, priest or deacon can solemnize a marriage without the legal component. I'm just saying let civil authorities do that part first. Clergy should not act as an agent of the state.

Simple, no?


Anonymous said...

Not so simple.
Then there will be even more people stop at the civil recognition step.
Fewer and fewer matrimonial will happen.
Although your idea protects clergy, does it help fight the good fight? Or rather find a way to live with and tolerate evil?
Does your idea strive to save souls?

Perhaps you can shed some light on your reasoning. Thanks.

Anon who ashamed of Smerica right now.

Anonymous said...

The majority is ominously silent as to the effect this decision will have on free exercise. Kennedy devotes one vaguely-worded paragraph to the issue: "Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered."

To me this says nothing and can easily be gotten around (as Thomas notes in dissent). Yes, the Church can still _teach_ that same-sex marriage should not be condoned (how magnanimous of the Court to allow that) . . as long as priests still recognize same-sex marriage licenses and bless same-sex marriages. The next logical step will be to try to force priests to do this.

Anonymous said...

It may not be the end of the world---but it may hasten the end of it. As Franklin Graham wrote several months ago for the Billy Graham Ministry, America is on the road to destruction...and he went further to say he would not vote for a candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who favored abortion and same-sex marriage.

And the irony of it all? The "deciding" vote came from a justice with a background in a Church that has described---and always will describe---marriage as one man and one woman---period. So indirectly, and ironically, the Catholic Church, through vote of Anthony Kennedy, paved the way for legalization of same-sex marriages. It will be interesting to see where there will be any "Alabama-style" defiance of this ruling.

Anonymous said...

Using a similar rational as Pope Francis did to label those who might own a gun as being un-Christian I would suggest that anyone who fights for this country is not Christian. I wouldn't give one drop of blood to defend this country and the sooner it falls apart the better. Empires always end the hopefully the days are numbered for this one.

This lays the foundation for eliminating the Church's non profit status and that will give clergy like the Pope a crash course in tax policy. Maybe then economic liberal Catholic leaders will begin to understand the inverse relationship between Church authority and governmental power.


Anonymous said...

Mike, you may see more calls for secession---I mean, this country is probably lucky to have survived as long as it has since 1789, when Washington became our first president.

Obviously there were defects in our original Constitution---allowing slavery certainly was a defect, and other defects were not specifically defining marriage as a man and a woman, and allowing for abortion on demand. But the latter two were usually viewed as state issues, perhaps because no one back then could have imagined the power the Supreme Court would have to "make" law, as it clearly did with Roe v Wade and now the latest one.

Anthony Kennedy, the justice who "decided" same-sex marriage (I mean, was there any doubt how the 4 liberal justices would vote?), should refrain from taking communion in what I presume is his home diocese, the Archdiocese of Washington (the city, not the state) and engage in a long period of repentence. Unfortunately the damage he has done is irreversible---there is no way a constitutional amendment on marriage will ever pass in this country---you can't get two-thirds of Congress to agree on about anything, much less 38 states. He is also the one back in 2003 or so who said sodomy was a right---why has the Church put up with his antics all these years?!?

As for county clerks who are now being pressed to issue same-sex licenses, they may want to consider Acts 5:29. "It is better for us to obey God than man" and resign their posts rather than comply with an ungodly---and legal mush---document from the Court. After all, the life to come---whether in the place of bliss or the place of teeth gnashing---is a lot longer than our life on earth for all of us.

Rood Screen said...

The ruling is a scandal, from the Christian perspective, because it will encourage those suffering from homosexuality to act upon their temptations, leading them to their damnation. As Christians, how can we be satisfied just knowing that our rights are protected? Are we no longer disturbed by the loss of souls? Do we no longer want to create a legal framework in which virtue thrives and souls can more easily be saved?

If our goal is no longer to save souls from damnation, then we have ceased to be Christians.

Paul said...

Perhaps it isn't the "end of the world" but the world did end for 40,000,000+ since 1974 because of the "right to privacy".

In a nation drunk on being "historic" and "first", I find it reckless and disturbing for this nation to be bestowing broad, sweeping "rights".

Angry Augustinian said...

Fr. did not post what I wrote. Not sure why. I'll try again…the Church will cave to this in practice. I just do not believe most Priests and Bishops have the guts to take a strong stand and resist the tidal wave of secular humanism. Again, practice is the key word here. There is a growing indifference and mere lip-service toward doctrine and a focus on "the human side." You will see more and more of this. Gays will see this as permission to act out…I can only imagine what we will be seeing during the "sign of peace" at Mass. It is coming…guarantee it.

Joseph Johnson said...

As for my neck of the woods, the probate judges (who issue marriage licenses and will now, regrettably, be required to issue them to same-sex applicants as well) plan to exercise their discretion and will simply not offer to officiate over any more civil marriage ceremonies. This has been the case in Ware,Bacon and Pierce Counties here in Georgia since the first of this year (in anticipation of this extra-Constitutional decision). According to these judges, the law does not mandate that they officiate a any civil marriage ceremonies, they are only required to issue the licenses. I guess the gays will have to find willing judges and ministers of other denominations to witness for the State.

Anonymous said...

I'm finished. Commenting on blogs isn't going to change anything. The world is sick and wants none of the medicine to make it well. The conversations here don't advance anything either. The forces of good have been beaten by the forces of evil. The only hope is the final intervention of the Good God. I suspect my remaining years on earth are going to be as a witness to a sad, sad decline.

Rood Screen said...


I, for one, will stand firmly against this nonsense. And, I promise to vomit the first time I see such a thing during the Pax.

Servimus Unum Deum said...

Sounds like what I've been asked to do here in Ontario, Canada. I was told with three months to go to get a civil marriage license prior to the marriage ceremony. I am not sure though if my priest signs the legal documents the day of, or the city hall magistrate does. I'll find out soon enough in the new year.

Anonymous 2 said...

I believe Father McDonald is exactly correct.

The sky is not falling and the Church cannot be compelled by the State to recognize same-sex marriages because of First Amendment free exercise protection. C’mon people, there is a huge difference between a business person baking a cake and selling it in the stream of commerce and a Church solemnizing a marriage in a holy Sacrament.

Anonymous said...

The 14th amendment trumps all other amendments. It beat out the 10th today, hopefully the 1st will be safe. But today with political correctness, I don't have much faith in it.
Bummed Out In GA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2,

You're placing a lot of faith in free exercise. Under the Smith test, the effects of today's ruling could easily be characterized as a neutral law of general applicability, and any officiant over a wedding could be seen (if the Court wishes) as a state actor (despite the fact that the equal protection argument wasn't the opinion's main basis). Justice Kennedy's assurances about religion's freedom to disagree was wishy-washy at best, and arguably dictum. It was anything but a strong statement that clergy will be able to decline to officiate over a same-sex wedding for religious reasons. It was so vague, weak, and off point that I'm surprised that Kennedy bothered to address the point at all.

I'm not saying that it necessarily follows from this case that religions will lose their First Amendment rights not to conduct/bless/recognize same-sex marriages. But from this, Windsor, and similar cases, it is clear which way the wind is blowing, and the climate is increasingly one in which free exercise arguments of religious institutions 1) are very likely to be challenged in the very near future, and 2) could be easily gotten around by five justices if they have a mind to.

Paul said...

I hope people are waking up to the notion that amendments to the Constitution are being avoided through use of Supreme Court "opinions".

The amendment process is purposefully slow in order to give people time to think, consider and reflect about what is being done and prevent the fast, sweeping process we are witnessing now. The permissives will not wait, will not consider that their agenda will be rejected by states and instead utilize lawyers and creative wordsmithing to achieve the goal -- much less time consuming and much less expensive. The permissives remember the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment to pass. So now, with a court that seems to favor creative redefinition of words, the long amendment process can be ignored with a vote of five people.

Such is the seduction of being "part of history".

Anonymous 2 said...

We shall see, won’t we? In any event, do you really think Justice Kennedy would vote to impose such a burden on Churches even if four other Justices were willing to (which is doubtful)? I mean, really?

Angry Augustinian said...

Anon 2, you are living in a dream world. Both the thing in the Blac…er, White House and the Supreme Court are ignoring the Constitution. Everything is up for grabs..there are no absolutes anymore, and you and other academics like you have contributed to it with your constant rationalization, ambivalence, and progressivist leanings. You say you are Catholic, but admit you voted for Obama and are always apologizing for your gay friends, of which I am sure you have many, being in academia. Do you even believe that 2+2=4?

Anonymous said...


If not Kennedy, some other justice in the not-too-distant future. Admittedly, the Hosanna-Tabor and Hobby Lobby cases give signs for hope, but Kennedy has shown in this case and in Windsor that he's purely outcome driven. In Windsor, federalism says that the feds can't define marriage, so so much the worse for the feds. In this case, federalism says that states can prohibit same-sex marriage, so so much the worse for federalism. I'm not an expert on Kennedy's jurisprudence, but since his vote is the reason Roe is still good law and we now have universal same-sex marriage, he obviously isn't concerned with putting Catholic morality into his opinions--and Catholicism will obviously be one of the highest-profile religious institutions involved in the struggle i foresee, and probably the biggest. Ultimately, I base my prognostication not on the current state of First Amendment law but on the way the social winds are blowing. Equal protection, substantive due process fundamental rights (especially those related to sexuality) and penumbral rights to privacy seem to be sweeping all before them these days. Just look at the reaction to the state RFRA proposals recently to see what I mean.

Православный физик said...

While, yes, it's true it's not the end of the world. I believe the government wants the Church to be out of marriage. It seems to me, this will be a means by which they attempt to fully silence the Church.

Anonymous 2 said...

Extremely Jolly Angry Today,

Perhaps I do live in a dream world but if I do, then so do you. As I suggested on another thread, a great many people spent a lot of time and energy and lost a lot of goodwill fighting a battle that could not be won or, if won today, would surely be lost in the not too distant future, given the overwhelming trend towards civil law recognition of same sex marriages. If you thought you could win this battle, then I suggest you are living in the dream world.

A wise general knows where and how to deploy his military assets fighting battles that actually can be won. Surely you can appreciate that, given your militaristic leanings. The correct battle for the Church to fight is over defense of the Sacrament. And the same broad notion, that is, the separation of Church and State, can and should be used to defend the Sacrament as can justify the Church conceding the right of the State to confer validity on a “marriage” under the civil law. As Father McDonald suggests, the Church should get out of the civil law marriage business and stick to the Sacrament.

Moreover, none of this should prevent the Church from continuing to bear witness to its belief that civilly valid same sex marriages are immoral. That argument can and should continue in the public square. It seems to me that President Obama has perhaps already invited this argument, in a variant of George Bush’s: “bring it on” (see Father’s later thread), although his main concern there appears to be that religious voices accept the Supreme Court ruling regarding civil validity as a matter of constitutional right.

As for your usual cheap ad hominem (and inaccurate) shots, I chose to ignore them except for this sentence.