The U.S. bishop’s draft on Marriage published in the National Catholic Reporter condemns artificial birth control, same-sex marriage, cohabitation and divorce as a “challenge” to marriage. It describing two of these challenges to marriage -- cohabitation and contraception -- as intrinsically evil, a theological term reserved for nuclear weapons in Humanae Vitae. The paper condemns 1) artificial birth control, 2) same-sex marriage, 3) cohabitation and 4) divorce as challenges "directed to the very meaning and purposes of marriage." What is their stated motive? To teach both the church and wider culture the meaning of marriage "from the riches of our Catholic faith." Put another way, this is to re-establish the bishops as a (if not “the”) moral authority for American culture and society.
This reminds me of a childhood game “which of these things is not like the others?” Of the four items listed as “verboten” one stands out in contrast to the other three. Cohabitation, the use of artificial birth control and divorce are all widely accepted socially. If you were to conduct a referendum on the continued legality of any of these three, the electorate would overwhelmingly approve all three easily within the 90% range at the ballot box. Same sex marriage; however, is still highly contended in the mind of voters and that is the principle thrust of this “pastoral.”
Why then list the other three items? To give the illusion that the bishops are “even handed” and that the church is not “picking on” homosexual persons per se. Rather the bishops are looking at the “moral issues” surrounding marriage of which same sex marriage is “just” one. At this point, some may strenuously object to the bishops speaking about sexual morality at all! After all, these same men covered up the pedophilia abuse by countless priests and as their superiors seemed far more interested in the material wealth and public relations image of the Catholic Church than in the protection and well-being of pedophilia victims.
Yes, and that is precisely why this is such an excellent opportunity for the bishops and the Vatican. Same sex marriage is a highly divisive social issue since about half of the electorate is opposed to marriage equality for same sex couples. The Vatican is using the American Catholic Bishops as its mouthpiece in society and here they are claiming to address the broad question of moral issues affecting marriage. They know that even the majority of Catholics will universally ignore their statements on artificial birth control, cohabitation and divorce, however, their statement on same sex marriage will move to center stage.
Conveniently, this will redirect attention away from the pedophilia sex scandals. The religious far right, ultra conservative talk show jocks and far right media will focus on the Catholic Church’s “moral” statement on same sex marriage, since it coincides with and serves its own prejudices. The Catholic hierarchy will instantly have the sympathy and support of about half the electorate. Not bad, especially when you consider how they were viewed only a year ago. Remember all of the jokes at parties, in the movies and on T.V. shows?
In LGBT people and popular bigotry, they have an effective scapegoat for the “moral evils” plaguing marriage and society. Thereby they are able to refocus popular attention away from the pedophilia sex scandals in the Catholic Church and re-establish themselves as a moral authority. What if someone should bring up the inconvenient fact that most Catholic priests and bishops are gay and that this data has been published? Well, hypocrisy is the obsequious bow which vice pays to virtue. Besides, most people chose not to believe that embarrassing data.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- How It All began
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight