Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Catholic college guide + objective truth

1) Happy Birthday to our pastor, Fr. Mike!!

2) Someone sent me information about a college guide for Catholics. If you or someone you know could benefit from this help in choosing a Catholic college, please click on the title of this post.
Recently, there was a spirited discussion here in response to the Maryland bishops’ letter on marriage. Here are some of the comments made by “Anon”; I am assuming they are all from the same Anon:

“Why is the church so upset by what lawmakers might do to civil law? If Maryland starts to allow civil unions or even gay marriage (much less likely though) the law would not require the church to start marrying two men or two women. No law could ever be passed that would do that. And since the church doesn't recognize marriages not performed by the church itself, why is anyone worried about what an unrecognized Justice of the Peace does?”

“…the church doesn't recognize civil marriages either, yet it's actively campaigning against any sorts of change to them. The church doesn't recognize divorce, and stays silent on the matter. The overall decline of marriage in this country can be blamed on a few different things, but homosexuality isn't one of them. It just isn't. Speaking out about gay people entering into unions the church doesn't even recognize is a waste of time, since the church won't ever have to recognize them. In my opinion the opposition is also rooted in bigotry, unless you can come up with a different explanation which shows how the recognition of a civil practice can for the first time ever be mandated by law as a sacrament whether the church wants to recognize it or not?”

Anon, I appreciate your comments and your passion, but you are missing the general point of all of this. The general point you miss is that it’s a matter of principle with the Church. Even if the Church won’t be required to perform same-sex “marriages” or civil unions, she has an obligation to speak out against them as the moral authority on Earth. There are many issues which don’t directly involve the (governing, teaching, or sanctifying bodies of the) Church but she still speaks out vehemently against them - abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, contraception, euthanasia, etc.

One of the best teachers that I’ve ever had taught about this one day in a philosophy class. She was teaching about objective truth. She used the example of rape to make a powerful point. She said that all rational people agree that rape is objectively wrong. There is never a time or situation which would justify rape. She asked the class if men could speak out against rape even if they would most likely never be the victim of rape. Everyone agreed that men should speak out against rape, of course. She had made the point that we should speak out against things that are objectively wrong even if we won’t be subjectively affected by them. (By the way, she brilliantly concluded the point by saying that men should speak out against abortion even though they will never become pregnant).

Now, even if “the Church” won’t be directly involved with civil unions or any of these issues, her members will. We all make up the Church, which is the Body of Christ. When the Church teaches on different issues, it is for the good of all mankind. She is defending objective Truth and all that is good (from God) while fighting against errors and all the evils of the world (not from God). Same-sex “marriages”, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc. are not from God, they are from man. The Church has a mandate from Christ to “teach all nations” (Mt 28:19); it is a mandate to teach the whole world what is objectively true and to oppose what is objectively in error.

Your comments about how the Church is “silent on the matter” of divorce are based in ignorance. The Magisterium of the Church has addressed divorce – e.g., the Catechism clearly condemns it, as Fran noted in her post. Priests like me are continually defending the permanent aspect of marriage with their parishioners who want to get out of troubled marriages; many times we are the only ones not telling them to get a divorce. Maybe the Church isn’t speaking out against divorce as much as you would like, but I hope you realize that she is continually defending marriage universally and locally.


At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Ebby said...


At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous From Before said...

It's my view that the church should render under Caesar what is Caesar's when it comes to marriage, and to God what is God's.

Then again, it's my belief that marriage should ONLY be a church thing. Get rid of civil marriage all together and then this debate is rendered meaningless. Everyone is treated equally in all ways. I didn't say it before, but it's what I've believed for a good few years now. I saw one Montgomery lawmaker has proposed such a thing and it won't go anywhere. But it's a good idea and would make marriage a truly sacred institution free of all the ways government can mess it up.

And in terms of divorce, I meant I don't hear the church campaigning as hard for making it tougher to obtain one. I know the stance the church has on it and it's good that you guys back it up on such a personal level. Too many people take the easy way out. But legislatively, for one reason or another, I just don't hear the church asking lawmakers to make it harder to get one.

BTW, what time are Ash Wednesday services tomorrow? I didn't get a chance to look at the bulletin this week.

At 8:07 PM, Blogger fran said...

I do not think it is up to the priests, bishops, etc. of the Church to ask lawmakers to do anything.

I do think it is up to us, as members of the Church, to vote our moral conscience and elect leaders and policy makers who will effect change which is in line with the teachings and thinking of the Church.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Marriage” is already in trouble in our society. Society owes its continued survival to the health and well being of family (founded in marriage). Look around- families without active mothers and fathers are, by large, failing. The consequence of legal recognition of same sex unions would redefine marriage. If, from the legal view alone, marriage between a man and a woman were considered just one form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical and complete transformation. Wouldn’t that only further serve to harm “marriage?” If marriage is further harmed, family is as well. Doesn’t that, in turn, harm the common good, and isn’t that the very thing our state is obligated to protect? God is the author of marriage and the church is obligated to defend it. How can they not?

At 12:50 PM, Blogger bethany said...

"Society owes its continued survival to the health and well being of family (founded in marriage). Look around- families without active mothers and fathers are, by large, failing. The consequence of legal recognition of same sex unions would redefine marriage."
If society owes its survival to the health and well-being of family (which for this argument we'll say is founded in marriage and ignore the idea of families of friends and communities) then let's look at defining a "healthy" family.
The comment seems to indicate that a family should have two involved adults contributing to the upbringing of any children involved. These adults should be steadfast in their love--against all the forces in this world that try to tear them apart. A stable, loving family with two adults who genuinely love and care for their children in everything from playdates to proper nutrition to gratitude to God to discernment is what we seem to be looking for here, right?

I'm going to say plainly here without any hiding that if this is what we're looking for from marriage (there's not much in this comment about not eating shrimp, not wearing mixed fabric, or any of the other Biblical rules) then we should be encouraging the legalization of gay marriage.
Countless studies have shown that children raised with two mommies or two daddies do just as well (if not better) than kids of "traditional" couples (and let's look at Abraham with his sons for an idea of traditional, eh?).

If the Church wishes to say that it's against their divine mandate, fine. If the Church wants to spend money pushing people to vote on that (instead of using it to support God's hungry), fine. It's Rome's choice and we are Roman Catholics.

However, let's not resort to fear-mongering and false ideas as a means of persuasion. To paraphrase, I can't believe that God would give Man a mind he's not supposed to use, so let's all use our minds and argue with facts, faith, and respect.

Finally, since it appears to be Fr. Mike's birthday--Happy Birthday, Fr. Mike! You seem to be a splendidly welcoming and educated priest. I hope that your celebration (whether delayed or not) is fun and that you have an easy fast today (unless the Church gives special fasting dispensations for birthdays...jk)

At 1:51 PM, Blogger fran said...

Yesterday's Wash.Post featured an article discussing new legislation regarding same-sex unions.

Under the new proposal the word "marriage" would be replaced with the term "valid domestic partnership." Cozy euphemism, isn't it? Much like the term "pro-choice" is preferred over the less palatable "pro-abortion." Adjusting the semantics of a moral issue does not make it any more acceptable. It just makes us feel better about our moral indiscretions.

I read with dismay, the comments of a Montgomery County senator who said, "If people want to maintain a religious test for marriage, let's turn it into a religious institution." TURN IT INTO a religious institution?? Last I checked, marriage WAS a religious institution.

Yes, marriage is in deep trouble in our society, and the utilization of clever word-play, makes it all the more troubling. A Washington delegate, quoted in yesterday's article put it best: "They're creating a situation for one special interest group that basically diminishes the value of marriage for everyone else."

He is so right, and it is up to us, the church, to do something about it.

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leaving aside the issue that as faithful Catholics, we are called in humility to submit to the teaching of the Magisterium on such matters, there is a scenario which I don’t think is too far-fetched to envision and there already exists evidence of similar situations which are manifesting themselves as looming dilemmas for the Church’s social mission.

I am speaking about the issue regarding Catholic adoption agencies being forced to accommodate homosexual couples seeking to adopt under the threat of legal action. As a result, these agencies may have to abandon this valuable social outreach program. Consider further that if same-sex marriage became law, along with it anti-discrimination laws will be created so the state will be able to force parishes, schools and businesses to accept this union against their conscience. For example, the state could tell a Catholic parish that it must not discriminate against homosexual persons who are legally married by the state. Catholic doctrine would be subjected to state laws. Strict adherence of said doctrine would be criminal activity.

It’s not as easy as saying “I’m OK, you’re OK” or “can’t we all just get along?” It’s too easy to simply write off the Church’s teaching and those who adhere to it as narrow minded bigots. This is a serious issue and the implications legal gay marriage may end up placing professing Catholics in a precarious place of having to defend themselves from a slew of hate crimes accusations.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger bethany said...

With the adoption thing, unless those agencies are *only* giving kids to practicing Catholics, they really do have no legal leg on which to base a discrimination against a gay or lesbian couple who will feed, love, and nurture a child who needs parents.

Secondly--I'm curious what you mean by discriminate. The situation really wouldn't be any different than now when there are laws protecting homosexual individuals from housing and work-related discrimination on the basis of their sexuality. I don't see anyone raising suit with the Church over that. Besides, our Church has a lot of money to hire lawyers and it wouldn't be hard for a first year law student to argue for the difference between Church and State. Some faiths don't even allow nonbelievers into their places of worship. I think this is a bit of an extreme fear. Pray on it and maybe God will give you some peace.

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" they really do have no legal leg on which to base a discrimination against a gay or lesbian couple who will feed, love, and nurture a child who needs parents."

I am not so sure the Church’s teaching is subject to the popular culture’s notions of what is fair and just. Scary thought, that. The Church is providing a wonderful service. Indeed, the Church has performed wonderful acts of charity for two thousand years and because it has the ridiculous notion that it has a duty to remain steadfastly faithful to Truth (which is inconvenient to the enlightened folks who run our government) it must cease and desist placing children in the homes of loving parents? That seems a bit intolerant, no? And society will be better off as a result how?

"Pray on it and maybe God will give you some peace."

May I ask you to consider just how condescending that sounds? The implication your are making is what? - that placing one’s faith in the Church’s teaching is an act which defies God’s will and as a result leaves us unhappy? Peace comes through humility and submission to God’s will.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Countless studies have shown that children raised with two mommies or two daddies do just as well (if not better) than kids of "traditional" couples” -

Maybe you’re right- I am not familiar with those studies. My “concern” over the legalization of gay marriage isn’t (for me) about whether or not two people of the same sex could effectively and lovingly parent a child. I had a child before I was married, and my mother was a tremendous help in raising him (and he’s a great human being). My concern is more about what that has the potential to do to the way people view marriage. If we no longer stand with the belief that marriage, and all the privileges that come with it, is a sacred gift (and when we equate a civil union to marriage, that’s what we are doing), then, isn’t it reasonable to expect even more to walk away from their vows? When the going has been tough in my own marriage, that commitment (before God and others) was what kept me there. If I didn’t believe that my commitment was one blessed by God, one that God expected me to keep, I would have walked. When we believe something is morally wrong (and, as Catholics, we believe homosexual activity is morally wrong), and we put that aside to say a union which incorporates that behavior is “the same” as one the church teaches is designed by God must be seen as wrong.

Furthermore, when marriages break up and one parent is absent from the home, here’s what happens to the children from those families-

20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders

9 times more likely to drop out of high school

10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances

9 times more likely to end up in state operated institutions

20 times more likely to end up in prison

10 times more likely to commit rape

32 times more likely to run away from home

So protecting the sacredness of marriage is a big deal, an important, BIG deal.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

"It’s too easy to simply write off the Church’s teaching and those who adhere to it as narrow minded bigots."

That’s so true- not only on this issue, but so many others as well. When one follows the church’s teachings, others often look at them as under informed, misguided, unreasonable, simple minded and/or bigoted. Yet, when we follow our state and federal laws, we aren’t viewed as ridiculous zealots but upstanding citizens.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger fran said...

The anon who verbalized his/her thoughts on the "looming dilemmas for the Church's social mission," raised some potentially realistic points, none of which I equate with fear mongering. Anything is possible.

Prayer is essential in navigating this moral collision course we seem to be on. We should not, however, be praying that each of us finds peace in what we think, or what others would have us think. Instead, our prayer should be that God is merciful with us for taking so much of the beauty He created and twisting it, re-defining it, and re-shaping it into what fulfills our own self-centered agendas.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely off topic, but I thought I'd share it- today I listened to some people talk about how they started their day today. Because it was Ash Weds., they began their day with Mass. They talked about it was a great start to the day, how they felt good about themselves and had more energy and focus throughout the day. I think that's worth passing along.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is precisely what I am talkng about:


At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

...we should be encouraging the legalization of gay marriage. Countless studies have shown that children raised with two mommies or two daddies do just as well (if not better) than kids of "traditional" couples....

There are a couple of problems with this.

First, encouraging immorality is immoral, and we cannot do evil that good may result. Not even a little evil, not even for a lot of good.

Second, there is a good case to be made that legalizing gay unions weakens marriage in a society. Even granting that children raised by same-sex couples "do just as well" (however that's defined) as those raised by a father and mother, if legalized gay unions lead to fewer families with both father and mother present, the net effect on the common good will be negative.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the article for which the link was posted here, there was a really good point made. Regarding to the commissions and groups working to support “human rights”, when the basic Christian teachings and their agendas clash, a climate exists (and I think is growing) that promotes censorship of our values. Ironically, our values are truly about human rights- all humans’ rights. Because we don’t give into what is socially “trendy,” we are expected to quietly go away. Because we don’t morph into a culture that promotes ideas that go against the very core of our beliefs, we are attacked- verbally and legally. The legal repercussions of the church's stand on what it believes are not merely possibilities, actions are filed. A point was earlier made about the church having enough money to defend these suits, to which I must say- what a sad and pathetic waste of valuable resources.

At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


... "so let's all use our minds and argue with facts, faith, and respect." 12:50 post

Why argue? What about a discussion including the objective facts and the subjective concepts of faith and respect. It seems to me the world needs more discussion and co-operation and less arguing.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger bethany said...

To argue isn't a sin, per se. Many people use it as a synonym for "discuss." For me, I prefer the term disinterested discussion (but find that too few actually have read Lasch) or argue when it's a topic about which I am passionate--equal human rights and legal protection of all religions and faiths.

I suppose that's why I've been moving toward Soulforce lately--there seems to be more acceptance of established science.

One last note--the magisterium, to which some believe we ought to always humbly submit, long insisted that the sun revolved around us. I'm sure they are learned men, but men all the same, with traditions and personal rights and powers they need to protect, just like anyone else.

Is anyone else excited at how much this debate is similar to the whole Copernicus one? History does always repeat itself and it's quite awesome to behold God's pattern in it all.


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