Monday, September 10, 2007

A PROPOSAL FOR A CATHOLIC MISSION STATEMENT - (PART 2 OF 4)

This is a continuation from Monday's discussion about the four focus point adopted for Catholics by the USCCB, and by Bishop Lennon for the Diocese of Cleveland and passed along to the clergy and people of the diocese to implement.

2. DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

Your local parish is not the primary place where the faith is handed on, it is the domestic church, or more specifically, your house. The family, the way it has been understood by the Church these 2,000 some odd years is the primary building block of the Church. We are only as healthy as a Church as we are healthy in our homes.

The bishop made it very clear that marriage and family life are still very much under attack and things will only get worse. There are some who want the Church to stay out of the fray. If we don’t agree to marriages outside of the traditional definition then don’t perform them or recognize them in a religious sense, but what we do as a nation cannot be dictated by a religion.


Be aware however that there is more than just a broadening of the definition of marriage here. It is being redefined. John Paul II reminds us in his Theology of the Body that how we interpret sex and relationships determines our understanding of man, of society, and of right and wrong.

And there is more than just faith at work here. Our laws are based on precedence. There was one courthouse in which a display of the Ten Commandments were challenged by the courts to be taken down but they were ruled constitutional because they were part of a larger display of the history of law which depicted law developing and building as time goes by.

As the Catholic Church, because of Scripture and Tradition, it is beyond our power to change our definition of marriage, which specifically forbids marriage outside of one man and one woman. For the state to change its law would be a similar departure. At that point there would be a radical unmooring from historical precedent and of the understanding of the structure of society. Where that starts to cause a problem is not so much with that first change of law, but with subsequent changes of law.

With absolutely no reference to precedence, the rule of law becomes dependant upon he who has the most power and influence. There is already a long line of causes lining up to take advantage of the marriage law once same-sex marriage is approved. How can we say no? How can we say, “We will make this exception, but certainly it will go no further”? You can’t. It is impossible. So as the definition of marriage continues to broaden, as marriage begins to mean all things to all people, it stops meaning anything at all.


A close friend became a minister in a very "open" church. For a while we would exchange theological letters. A proposal would be stated and we would comment on it. Many times I would spend time following his response to its logical conclusion. Many of them would concern sexual matters. Followed to their logical conclusion eventually led to any kind of sexual union of which the only regulation was that one participant must be a human being. The response was usually, "Then I guess that's where it leads."

And as family is the building blocks of faith, it is also of society the way we know it. There is more at stake here than will effect some Catholics hiding in their churches. This has universal significance. Those who are crying, “We must be fare!” must also look to the logical conclusion of their arguments and take responsibility not just for the immediate change in law, but for its broader consequence.

The challenge for us is to stand up for the keeping of the historical laws while not accepting the label that we are being hateful or unfair (that is not the goal or the reason). When one makes hard decisions one does so because it is seen as the most loving thing even if it hurts another’s feelings. This is a challenge not just for Catholics, but is an issue for all people who have concerns about the future. The defense of marriage and family life is more than a religious issue. Do not be silenced by such accusations. That is a ruse to avoid discussing the deeper issues that must be brought out into the open. It is much more complicated than what the surface issues appear to be. This is why it is one of our four points of focus.

4 comments:

Rob said...

In less than twenty years, in this country, a man will be able to marry his dog. I am not joking. This is what will be. If you think "No, that's going too far," remember that a man married another man in IOWA(!) last week. Remember that we already chew up and spit out over a million infants a year.

Believe me now? It's coming. Just wait. The next decade is going to be full of evil. It will be a nightmare.

Fr. V said...

Rob,

I wish you were just being your normally witty self.

On my way back to the parish today there was a show featuring polygamists (and there are many) who are practicing in the USA as well as polygamist activists groups/lobbyists.

Once the door is opened it cannot be shut.

Similarly in the 1930s ALL Christian denominations agreed with the Catholic stance on contraception. 70 some odd years later we have moved all the way to abortion with some pushing for infanticide and persons with dissabilities protesting at our capitol - THE CAPITOL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - because they fear that their lives are threatened by the direction our country is going in its caring less for the sanctity of life - what we say is a basic right.

*sigh*

eileen said...

At my part-time secretarial job, there is a new employee who is lesbian. In fact, in her first sentence to me, she had no problem relating that fact. She and her partner returned here from San Francisco to be by her aging parents. She is a nice person, and if I knew nothing of her "relationship" I'd have absolutely no problem working with her. However, she seems to have to "prove" her lesbianism (if that makes sense). She describes her relationship with her partner to me/others as that of an "old" married couple. Actually, she just came back from Canada where she did marry her partner. It just seems as if any conversation revolves around telling us of her "gayness". And an added bonus, she said "well, you know, I grew up Catholic." I know she is aware I'm Catholic and married with 6 kids. Do I just remain silent when she describes herself and her seemingly proud gayness? I think I know the answer, just lead by example, but truthfully, I'm thinking God has placed her in my life for a reason and, if so, do I do/say anything differently?

Rob said...

All - Sorry about my "happy statement for the day" earlier. I believe it all, but I probably could have come across with a little more restraint.