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Catholic Bishops Claim Moral Authority
November 18, 2009 11:05 AM   Subscribe

The nation's Catholic bishops approved a broad new document on marriage. "Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions," the letter says. "These unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people." Also Tuesday, the bishops reaffirmed a moral obligation to maintain nutrition and hydration for patients in a persistent vegetative state and approved a document on reproductive technology. "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology" reaffirms Catholic teaching against in vitro fertilization, egg, sperm and embryo donation, surrogates and cloning.

The bishops meet little more than a week after their successful lobbying effort to strengthen restrictions on abortion in the House version of healthcare overhaul.

The bishops gathered here for their semi-annual meeting also heard a preliminary report on the "causes and contexts" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal that resulted in some 14,000 abuse claims and cost the church $2.6 billion since 1950.

Since the abuse scandal erupted in the USA in 2002, the Vatican has barred seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," and conducted an investigation of seminaries that concluded that "difficulties" related to "homosexual behavior" had been largely "overcome."

The pastoral letter, which passed 180 to 45, spells out the traditional position of the Roman Catholic Church. Some Catholic critics have called it "unpastoral" for its focus on threats to marriage, including, in the bishops' view, contraception and cohabitation, which the document compares to original sin.
posted by VikingSword (197 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, they'll have to apologize for this in 300 years...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2009 [21 favorites]


"These unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people."

I am a person, and they do not threaten me, therefore the bishops are wrong.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:11 AM on November 18, 2009 [42 favorites]


Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
posted by sciurus at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2009


"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"

This works fine until they take out a restraining order.

In other news - Monolithic entity reacts in conservative fashion to societal change.

Film at 11.
posted by longbaugh at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2009


Catholic Bishops wedge heads further up collective ass, film at eleven.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hilarious when a bunch of men who are forbidden by their vocation to get married themselves make pronouncements about how marriage is affected by another relationship they are forbidden to enter into.

Will they start making statements about tampon vs. napkin use next? I mean, they have about the same amount of experience with those as with couple-relations.
posted by hippybear at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2009 [33 favorites]


If the Church thinks that it has problems now with recruiting and retaining priests, it would be decimated if it actually kicked out its gay clergy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Retrograde lunatics behaving like retrograde assholes. What else is new? It's what they're programmed to do, and they're going to keep doing it.

Best thing to do is just ignore 'em until they wind down. Sort of like those goddamn windup cymbal monkeys that haunt my nights.
posted by aramaic at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2009


I'm trying to untangle the first quotation: "Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions". It's an interesting task.
posted by boo_radley at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2009


Always preview.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:18 AM on November 18, 2009


Thanks for the dose of Bizzaroworld logic. Now go fuck yourselves.
posted by Skwirl at 11:18 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions

Nation's Bishops Admit: Opposing Gay Marriage Is Unjust
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on November 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


Who would Jesus hate?

This is not Christianity; it is pride, vanity, and elitism. The Inquisition still exists in the (extra small) hearts and minds of these intolerant, bigoted, self-righteous assholes. The rest of us have moved on.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will the IRS get off its lazy ass already? Fuck.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2009 [27 favorites]


They stand athwart History, yelling Stop.
May it run them down like a freight train.
A freight train of history, or something.
posted by zoinks at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fuck them, and fuck every person who props this obsolete hate group up with their financial support.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:22 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

I was just trying to remind the bishops about that, since it appears they've forgotten what it means.
posted by sciurus at 11:22 AM on November 18, 2009


*yawn* The Catholics took a while to come around on slavery, too. Vatican IV will look back on this and say that the people who wrote this were human, and humans make mistakes.
posted by mullingitover at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2009


Well, fuck them. Really. I was raised catholic, baptized catholic, confirmed catholic, and married by a catholic priest. But at this point in time I'm done. A lot of what I did within the church was out of respect for my parents, and their feelings about things, but I can't continue to support this type of hateful garbage. Any lingering feeling I might have had for the church is pretty much gone at this point in my life anyway. This is essentially the last of many, many straws. If people choose to continue believing in a god that espouses this kind of intolerance and hate, well, that is their decision, but I don't want to have anything more to do with it.

Bye bye, church. The donut bribery after CCD classes was a nice gesture and all, but we both knew where this relationship was headed, didn't we?
posted by caution live frogs at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2009 [12 favorites]


And the actual document Marriage - Love and Life in the Divine Plan, available for your perusal.
posted by boo_radley at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


THANKS RELIGION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK'S
posted by Damn That Television at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2009


Meanwhile a new study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services predicts that the Stupak Amendment would result in Gradual elimination of all abortion coverage for all women.

Forced pregnancy for all!
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to untangle the first quotation: "Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions". It's an interesting task.
posted by boo_radley at 2:16 PM on 11/18

"Since black is not white, it is acceptable to discriminate against black."
Or some such.
posted by zoinks at 11:25 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions"...

Read the right way one could argue that this statement is a tacit support for gay marriage , as opposed to same-sex unions. I know that is not what they meant, but the wording is... awkward.

As to the hydration and nutrition to patients in a vegetative state: I presume that means the pointy-headed-sex-avoiding-wankers will thus be picking up the tab to keep these folks hooked up then? right?

Oh, and just curious, has this august body ever made any pronouncements irt the pervasive pedophilia that was such a black eye a few years back? Perhaps they have, but I'd by mildly shocked if so.
posted by edgeways at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2009


So they barred seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies"? I would have thought they would want to bar the pedophiles instead.
posted by Hutch at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2009 [19 favorites]



Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

I don't think my right hand would appreciate that, and suspect my neighbors may mildly object as well.
posted by edgeways at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


These unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people.

Well, I feel safer already.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:29 AM on November 18, 2009


Hey, everyone! Come on over to the Episcopal Church! We've got gay bishops and all your favorite hymns from childhood!

Note: the Episcopal Church is too classy to actually do that--unlike Benny and the Jets's "Welcome homophobes!" nonsense--but I'm not too classy. It's fun. We have more coffee hours and fewer folk masses.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions

Emphasis mine, of course. It pisses me off that this political organization maintains its tax-exempt status.

The majority of American Catholics are rather liberal, and poll about the same as the rest of the American public. It's a shame that the Catholic hierarchy is set up precisely to subvert this sort of heresy.
posted by muddgirl at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


So they barred seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies"? I would have thought they would want to bar the pedophiles instead.

Ah, but in the minds of many, if not most, these two are (wrongly) held to mean the same thing.
posted by hippybear at 11:31 AM on November 18, 2009


Well, it's a beautiful sentiment the meaning of which appears to have been lost upon both the Catholic bishops and MetaFilter.
posted by sciurus at 11:31 AM on November 18, 2009


Before anyone blames "religion" (well, too late for that), my rabbi (Conservative Judaism) has been doing gay marriages since the 90s and supports everything the bishops are declaring evil. Religion isn't the problem, close-mindedness is.
posted by autoclavicle at 11:31 AM on November 18, 2009


The donut bribery after CCD classes was a nice gesture and all, but we both knew where this relationship was headed, didn't we?

Growing up I had Catholic neighbors or one side and a Jewish family on the other, both had kids my age. My family didn't go to church, but I was curious so I tried both the Catholic Church and the Synagogue to have something to do on the weekends besides the usual harassment from my older brothers. I'll tell you, the donuts that the Jews bribe their children with were much much better. Sorry you missed out.
posted by peeedro at 11:34 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions"...

Different realities? Do same sex marriages take place on Flatland?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


What's the point of having regional managers meet in a top-driven hierarchical organization? It's not like they can come out and say "Oh, Rome was wrong about all this stuff." I also can't see how that report on the causes of child sexual abuse can be useful, since an honest report would admit liability.

Re: priest shortage, the preferred solution is to just import them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post was carefully constructed for maximum spleen viscosity on Metafilter.
posted by cimbrog at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


As long as the Catholic church continues to produce delicious, sexy, ex-catholics I can't really call for it's completely removal from the world but I would like it if the Catholic hierarchy would never again say anything to anyone ever, for any reason, including emergencies.
posted by fuq at 11:36 AM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


It pisses me off that this political organization maintains its tax-exempt status.

Not to derail, but even if they weren't political it would still piss me off. Tax exemption is something we do for behavior we want to encourage. Religion does not qualify. Or rather, it shouldn't....but I guess as an opiate for the masses and training in blindly following The Leader, I guess it's a good idea for the ruling class to encourage.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on November 18, 2009


Well fuck you stupid asshole bigoted hypocritical backwards Catholic Bishops of America, I guess I'll continue to not give a wild super-duper flaming shit what you think about anything then.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


> the Episcopal Church ... is fun. We have more coffee hours and fewer folk masses.

I was introduced to the ritual of Sunday morning mimosas on the front lawn of an Episcopal church in Virginia earlier this year. If I had known about this twenty years ago, a lifetime's outlook on the nature of religion and worship would have witnessed a sea change.
posted by ardgedee at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


"People are entering into marriage probably without an adequate appreciation of the beauty of marriage and the gift that it is," O'Brien said. "The document is meant to strengthen Christian marriage, to prepare people who are going to be married before they enter that bond to appreciate what the commitment is, and also to open a discussion in our culture as to what the differences are today and to try to reach some common ground."

Oh, okay. Christian marriages. Well, more power to you, I guess, but since a lot of us getting married or wanting to get married are not Christian - or, if we are, don't feel the need to have your particular brand of Christianity add its seal of approval - would you kindly fuck the hell out of public policy and secular government? Thanks.

(And, Catholic bishops, since you're giving advice, maybe take some too: quit giving all that money to fight gay marriage laws; you are closing schools, which serve many (poor!) children, and you are closing parish churches and the programs they run that serve the poor in their communities; and a lot of your elderly religious are practically being tossed out on their ears. Maybe you could look to fixing up your own house before you swing a hammer at mine, okay?)
posted by rtha at 11:42 AM on November 18, 2009 [17 favorites]


We have more coffee hours and fewer folk masses.

My Episcopal Church calls its weekly folk eucharist "Contemporary" which I find hilarious, since nothing screams 1970 quite like a folk eucharist. So, an important note for anyone thinking about the Episcopal Church, it's fewer folk masses, not zero. I think the ex-Catholic hippies are mostly to blame for this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:43 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since the abuse scandal erupted in the USA in 2002, the Vatican has barred seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," and conducted an investigation of seminaries that concluded that "difficulties" related to "homosexual behavior" had been largely "overcome."

Study: Homosexuality Not Factor in Abuse by Catholic Priests
"A $2 million study commissioned by Roman Catholic Bishops at the height of the Church's sexual abuse scandal has found no connection between sexual orientation and abuse of children by clergy, the AP reports:
The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won't be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse. 'What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,' said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 'At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.' The question has been raised repeatedly within and outside the church because the overwhelming majority of known victims were boys. As part of the church's response to the crisis, the Vatican ordered a review of all U.S. seminaries that, among other issues, looked for any 'evidence of homosexuality' in the schools.
According to the AP, almost 14,000 sexual molestation claims have been filed in the past 60 years against Catholic clergy."
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on November 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


Religion isn't the problem, close-mindedness is.

It's great that your particular rabbi isn't close-minded on this particular issue, but religion IS institutionalized close-mindedness. The whole point of religion is that you have an unshakable (i.e. immune to evidence and logic) belief in something. QED.

Obviously there are religious people who believe all kinds of things. But fundamentally, the practice is about close-mindedness. And if you are willing to start down the path of believing things just because you were told it was true by a guy in a robe, what's to keep you from believing additional things from that same guy?
posted by DU at 11:44 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Tax exemption is something we do for behavior we want to encourage.

Yeah, but if we have rules, they should be followed. It's actually similar to my opinion on same-sex marriages - I don't like the overall concept of government/religious-co-sanctioned marriage in the first place, but as long as we have it, the rules about fairness and equality should still apply.
posted by muddgirl at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2009


"These unions priests pose a serious threat to the fabric of society Spiderman-themed underwear that affects all people eight-year-old boys."
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry that Andrew Sullivan is completely consumed with tilting at the Palin windmill right now, because I'd love to read his thoughts on this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2009


Please read to the end of the comment before you murder me, but I agree with their theory.

It IS unfair discrimination to make participation in a religious ceremony the basis of a legal contractual relationship between two people. I say we cut marriage out of the equasion all together. Its time we had civil unions for all and those that want to get married can find a church to do it in outside of the scope of the government purview.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


The whole point of religion is that you have an unshakable (i.e. immune to evidence and logic) belief in something.

Many branches of modern Judaism have dispensed with faith. It's a shared system of values, regardless of whether you believe in God or not. And there are other religions that are likewise disentangled from faith -- Unitarians, as an example. I see your point, but you're being overly broad and ungenerous in your definition of religion, as what you said could apply to political groups, national identity, and certain aesthetic movements equally.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


They're really embracing their slide into total irrelevance, aren't they?
posted by Target Practice at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


And yet the letter comes so close, so tragically close to something humane and moving:
110 All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon
111 them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of
112 every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus
113 Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all
114 its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us.
How senseless to come so close to a humane and affirming recognition of love and devotion and then just stepping away from it all.
posted by boo_radley at 11:52 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't understand. Presumably they oppose in vitro fertilization because the couple's infertility is a sign from God that they should not have children, in much the same way that conception following intercourse is a sign that they should. In other words: don't use technology to subvert the will of God. How then does it follow that it's okay to use extraordinary technological means to prolong life, as in the case of feeding tubes, respirators, etc?

I suppose the answer could be: those technologies are not perfect, so if God wills that the person die, then they will die. But the same could be said of birth control. I suppose the rejoinder could be that the sin is in the attempt and desire to subvert God's will, but surely the installation of a feeding tube signals the same attempt and desire to artificially prolong life.

And unlike contraception, there is even direct Biblical support for the idea that man is not meant to live forever (e.g., Genesis 6:3, Hebrews 9:27, the curse of mortality following the expulsion from Eden, etc). I know Catholics aren't Biblical literalists, but I think they'd have to come up with a pretty impressive argument to explain why contraception is bad but respirators are not.
posted by jedicus at 11:53 AM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Read half then thought "why am I doing this to myself?" only time will show these people their ideas are flawed. Participating in their madness by even reading this achieves nothing.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 11:54 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

And who knows more about different realities?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:54 AM on November 18, 2009


You know, I used to take all this crap seriously--forced to study these USCCB pastoral letters in Catholic school and university. But it's really just a bunch of outdated, outmoded control-freak CRAP! Sure, they (feel that they) do a decent job of nuancing and posturing to make stale Bronze Age "morality" somehow relevant (nice work if ya can get it, I suppose!), but it just isn't.

Simply put: living things EVOLVE. Religion died the day it put the final period on the last sentence of dogma and has spent the rest of history contorting in a death-lurch of semantic spasms.

I'm out , baby, and have been for a while. Apostasy is glorious!

(..and just how whacked-out is it that the Catholic priest that presided at my marriage and whom I've known--no, not Biblically! *ahem*--since I was 12 is now a masseuse and nude model?! I shiteth thee not.)
posted by TigerMoth at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


...you're being overly broad and ungenerous in your definition of religion, as what you said could apply to political groups, national identity, and certain aesthetic movements equally.

It may be a little No True Scotsman-y, but if it isn't about faith, then I would say it isn't a religion, it's a philosophy.

I have no idea how you are including political groups, national identities or aesthetic movements, though. Many people in those groups do in fact have an unshakable faith in the group, but that's not the definition of the group. With religion it is (I'm broadly claiming).
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2009


Presumably they oppose in vitro fertilization because the couple's infertility is a sign from God that they should not have children, in much the same way that conception following intercourse is a sign that they should.

You presume wrong. The Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilization comes from the fact that it separates reproduction from intercourse. It's the flip side of their opposition to birth control; birth control is sex without reproduction, in vitro is reproduction without sex. They see the act of intercourse as having two components, the reproductive and unitative(the joining of the two parties together), and they oppose separating those two components.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Presumably they oppose in vitro fertilization because the couple's infertility is a sign from God that they should not have children

No, that isn't why.

They oppose in vitro fertilization because it involves the man masturbating, which they believe is sinful.

It's fine to have fertility treatments of any kind that enhance either the man's or women's fertility, as long as the baby is conceived by fucking.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone really give a fuck what the Catholic church has to say?
posted by chunking express at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos said it much more elegantly than I did, but yeah, that's the bottom line. Lupron injections twice a day? Awesome. Putting your ass in a sling after fucking? No problem. Icing your balls? Go for it, champ.

As long as actual penis-in-vagina action between husbands and wives trying to make babies is on the menu, the Catholic Church is down with that noise.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:01 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anyone really give a fuck what the Catholic church has to say?

Only a billion people or so, worldwide. Probably nothing to worry about.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:04 PM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Does anyone really give a fuck what the Catholic church has to say?

That question is answered when they are hugely successful in politically denying gay people the right to marry - as Maine and California showed recently.

And they were critical in lobbying to have abortion excluded in the recent health bill deliberations.

They are hugely influential - no question. To dismiss them, is to make a big mistake.
posted by VikingSword at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have struggled in vain to find coherent, concise, rational words to express how offensive I find this, but unfortunately I find it too profoundly offensive and yet illogical to object.
posted by bunnycup at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2009


Presumably they oppose in vitro fertilization because the couple's infertility is a sign from God that they should not have children, in much the same way that conception following intercourse is a sign that they should. In other words: don't use technology to subvert the will of God.

That's not why. They're against in vitro fertilization because the process involves fertilizing lots of ova (and giving them souls and etc.) and then deciding what to do with them. They believe that a fertilized egg is the same as a baby, so they worry about keeping babies on ice, doing experiments on them, throwing them away, etc..
posted by moxiedoll at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


With religion it is (I'm broadly claiming).

And I'm saying you're overbroading claiming. It's about as true of religion as it is of politics, and you'd know what I was talking about if you had ever talked to Ron Paul supporter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just a protip here: the doors on many churches are very ornate and can be quite heave so please do take some care not to let them hit you in the ass on the way out.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2009


For those confused by the seemingly-awkward language, it might be elucidating to know that "unjust discrimination" is a term of art; the Catechism prohibits "unjust discrimination" against those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies." In other words, the Magisterium recognizes that the Church strongly opposes hate crimes, and some clergy have construed this provision as also being opposed to at least some forms of housing and employment discrimination.

When the bishops say it is not "unjust discrimination," what they're really signaling to the Vatican and to the European bishops is, "Hey, this position is consistent with our interpretation of the formal teachings on homosexuality." It's not meant to be a justification of the policy vis-à-vis secular ideas of justice.

It is my opinion, as a Catholic, that this statement is a poor example of pastoral care and that it brushes close to violating subsidiarity. I expect that if the 20% of bishops who opposed it speak publicly about why, those two principles will be at the forefront. 20% is too low, but considering the age, race, and gender of most of these, I find it somewhat optimistic. Anyone know the rate of support for gay marriage among atheist white men over age 60, or among white men over age 60 generally? I only hope that future generations of bishops are capable of reconciling Church teaching to objective reality, as they are supposed to.

As for the tax issues, I'm not a tax attorney, but... I neither think there's a moral problem with this on tax policy grounds, nor do I think they're in violation of the law. A very small percentage of any diocese's funds go to lobbying, and they are only issue-lobbyists. The tax code restricts the amount of money that can be donated to causes, but doesn't prohibit the donation; the only outright prohibitions appear to be on endorsements of candidates for office. And it makes sense to me that non-profit organizations should be able to lobby w/r/t issues that they consider relevant to their mission. As a Catholic, I don't think this should be the Church's mission or the mission of the Magisterium that leads her, but as an officer of the court I feel it's not the government's proper place to determine what a third-party non-profit's allowable mission should be (beyond things prohibited by broader non-tax public policy, like murder or drug trafficking).

More broadly, I feel that eventually the Magisterium will come to recognize (religious) gay unions - but not (religious) marriage - as a Scriptural imperative. (The problem with gay marriage per se is that marriage is a sacrament in the Church. Sacraments represent the presence of God. God himself is present in the marriage in that the marriage mirrors the nature of the Trinity because it is generally both unitive and procreative. Where opposite-sex couples are infertile, it fails to be procreative, but idiosyncratically; compared to same-sex couples which fail to be procreative by design. This should not and does not to my mind equate with a theological reason why gay couples could not do God's work in supporting each other, or why the clergy should not bless them in their efforts to do so; not every holy thing must be a sacrament.) If we are to take lessons from Scripture, we should look at our lives and compare them to situations described in Scripture to see which they are most like. In the (ostensibly) Pauline letters, we're presented with two situations I think could potentially be applicable: (1) that in which a city of sinners burns with lust for one another; and (2) that in which a person recommended into chastity, but who is not called to be so or cannot fulfill that calling, should commit to a monogamous relationship rather than have his spiritual life overcome with lust. Knowing as many gay people as I have known, and recognizing their individual human dignity, and considering the Catechism's blanket rule that homosexual persons are called to chastity (as far as I know, the Vatican purports to divine the calling of entire groups of people in no other situation), and the large number of people who find that rule untenable, it seems to me that situation (2) is far more fitting to the modern reality of gay relationships. "It is better to [domestically partner] than to burn with desire." 1 Corinthians 7:9
posted by jock@law at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


"Man shall not be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
posted by adamvasco at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Presumably they oppose in vitro fertilization because the couple's infertility is a sign from God that they should not have children

No, that isn't why.

They oppose in vitro fertilization because it involves the man masturbating, which they believe is sinful.


-----

That's not why. They're against in vitro fertilization because the process involves fertilizing lots of ova (and giving them souls and etc.) and then deciding what to do with them.

And all this time, I thought it was because it made the Baby Jesus cry.
posted by hippybear at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2009


They're against in vitro fertilization because the process involves fertilizing lots of ova

It's not just that, though that's certainly a factor. The RCC's position against in vitro includes one-egg-at-a-time fertilization, because of the whole masturbation bit. (At one point, fertility docs tried to market a one-egg-at-a-time process to Catholics and others who were against tossing away fertilized eggs, and there was an official ruling that that was also No Good for Roman Catholics.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:14 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone really give a fuck what the Catholic church has to say?

I have a lot of super bizzaro-world Catholic relatives, who periodically contact me to endeavor to explain that I should not have more children because God frowns on surrogacy. Apparently, a compassionate woman carrying a child for us (after we became infertile in a near-death accident and lost our only child to brain cancer) is offensive to the Lord, because when it comes to HAVING children, technology is a no-no, according to a bunch of old guys who have chosen never to have children. Of course, once a child is born using that technology is mandatory, again according to a bunch of old guys who have never had kids, so I assume I am also to the devil for having failed to hook my 10 month old child to every kind of medical device imaginable for nutrition, fluids and so forth when she nevertheless had no possibility of recovery from terminal brain and spine cancer.

One of those relatives had no hesitation in telling me that since embryos might be discarded in the IVF process used for the surrogacy, it would be "just like" losing a child. Except I've already lost a child, and I know just what that IS like. And it's not comparable.

(see, this is why I can't respond rationally.)

I find in much of the Church's recent decisions and doctrine (and I am thinking of the excommunication of the parents of the 9 year old rape victim in Brazil), a lack of even an attempt to PRETEND to show compassion. I find that troubling, to say the least.
posted by bunnycup at 12:14 PM on November 18, 2009 [28 favorites]


Does anyone really give a fuck what the Catholic church has to say?

Our elected officials absolutely do.
posted by muddgirl at 12:14 PM on November 18, 2009


45 of the bishops in the conference voted against the marriage pastoral. That's only 5 votes under the 1/3rd that would have been needed to derail the whole thing. In an earlier vote, 56 bishops voted to return the pastoral to committee. There's not widespread support for the teaching, and no one should consider it wholly reflective of Catholic bishops, let alone Catholics generally.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:17 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


My parents came to visit me and discussion turned to my 40 year-old brother who is getting an apartment closer to his girlfriend. My very Catholic parents expressed concern about the threat of cohabitation. I found it very odd thinking a man of his age and experience would need permission from Dad, like he's taking the family car out for the night to go see a film with a date.
posted by yeti at 12:17 PM on November 18, 2009


considering the Catechism's blanket rule that homosexual persons are called to chastity (as far as I know, the Vatican purports to divine the calling of entire groups of people in no other situation)....

That's a bit off. According to the Catechism, all people are called to chastity - including married people. (Chastity doesn't mean what you think it means). All people who are unmarried are to be celibate, whether gay or straight. The unique problem for Catholic gay people is that they cannot be married in the Church, and therefore would have to be celibate forever, which is cruel and untenable, but not inconsistent with The Rules for everyone else - they aren't singled out so much as that they fall into a shitty loophole.
posted by moxiedoll at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


t's not just that, though that's certainly a factor. The RCC's position against in vitro includes one-egg-at-a-time fertilization, because of the whole masturbation bit. (At one point, fertility docs tried to market a one-egg-at-a-time process to Catholics and others who were against tossing away fertilized eggs, and there was an official ruling that that was also No Good for Roman Catholics.)

Actually, it's not even THAT sensible. Children "deserve" to be the product ONLY of the physical union (sex) between a married mother and father. To separate conception, as in IVF, from the physical act of sex, is (in more ridiculous words than this) mean to the child.

Now for me, no amount of physical act will bring about a child. I no longer have a uterus. So is it meaner for a compassionate, kind third party to volunteer to help (and so therefore a child can be born) or to never let that soul be born. And, on a more philosophical note, IF you believe that only God can create life, then God creates the life born from IVF.
posted by bunnycup at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


These unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people.
Amen. Just like heliocentrism.
posted by Flunkie at 12:19 PM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


You presume wrong. and No, that isn't why. and That's not why..

Ah, well, that's at least more internally consistent then. Still monumentally stupid and harmful, but internally consistent. Thanks. But yet:

birth control is sex without reproduction

But here I still don't follow. Let's begin with the case of a good Catholic couple that has unprotected sex on a regular basis. They will, as I understand Catholic doctrine, become pregnant if and only if it is God's will that they do so. In other words, it is never wrong for a married couple to have consensual unprotected sex on a regular basis, and any resulting children are a blessing from God. God in his infinite wisdom determines when and whether they become pregnant.

Now, as pro-abstinence folks (including the Catholic Church) are fond of saying, abstinence is the only 100% effective form of birth control. Surely, then, if it were God's will that a woman using birth control become pregnant then she would become pregnant. Birth control methods are, after all, imperfect. How is it that God's will is the determining factor in the former case but not the latter?

I suppose one could say that in the former case the couple is open to God's plan whereas in the latter they are not, but then what about a couple that has unprotected sex but wishes, hopes, and prays fervently that they not become pregnant? What about a couple that uses birth control but earnestly prays that if God should wish them to conceive that they are fine with it?

On preview: Thanks jock@law for the demonstration of the intellectual contortions that the Church can undergo in order to keep up with the times without actually admitting fault. (Not an attack leveled at you, just an outsider's observation of what that thought process looks like).
posted by jedicus at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2009


I should be more clear. I think there is very little to gain by rolling around in the mud with the Catholic Church. Their asses are crazy. I'm willing to bet half the shit they are spouting off about now they'll have to apologize for in a 100 years or so. Maybe sooner, who knows? I mean, it's not like pointing out the church is bigoted is going to make them change their mind on things. Similarly, I doubt their members are going to suddenly decide maybe they are acting ridiculous.

The problem in the US is that they seem to have referendums over issues that should definitely not be decided by majority rule. For example, minority rights issues. Sorting out why the Catholic church can push its weight around when it comes to issues like Gay rights is probably a better use of peoples time and energy.
posted by chunking express at 12:22 PM on November 18, 2009


Wait a second. No cloning either?

Where am I going to get my organs in the future when this body breaks down, church? Huh? Answer me that, smart guys.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put my brain in a robot, like Robocop.
posted by chunking express at 12:28 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


It may be a little No True Scotsman-y, but if it isn't about faith, then I would say it isn't a religion, it's a philosophy.

Actually, I think that your statement is even more problematic than that. Relatively few religions make a virtue out of absolute faith. You tend to hear about them a lot because they tend to be very evangelical, and they do have millions of followers, but absence of doubt is only one of many religious paradigms. Furthermore, there are plenty of philosophies which do call for absolute and unshakable faith. Certain forms of communism spring to mind as examples.

Here's an example of something which is clearly 'religion', but which has nothing to do with the casting out of doubt: the contemplation of ineffable mystery. In this religious idea, you're not meant to understand the divine, or even to accept it, but somehow to be awed by its bigness and how difficult it is to think about. Or something. 'Ineffable mystery' is a bit hard to explain, which is sort of the point.

Then there's 'mysticism', the religious paradigm which stresses a kind of subjective emotional experience in which religious ceremony evokes powerful and intangible forces which you can neither articulate or explain. Mysticism doesn't necessarily have to be connected to any particular moral structure or set of firm ideas, and frequently makes a virtue of doubt, but it's unmistakably religious as opposed to philosophical.

Many big religions combine several different religious paradigms, stressing one or the other depending on the person or the age. The Roman Catholics are no exception in this. While many Catholics stress the importance of banishing doubt and obeying authority many, many more embrace doubt as an important part of their religious practice for any one of a number of reasons.
posted by Dreadnought at 12:28 PM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Surely, then, if it were God's will that a woman using birth control become pregnant then she would become pregnant. Birth control methods are, after all, imperfect. How is it that God's will is the determining factor in the former case but not the latter?

It's not so much that birth control thwarts God (which, obviously, we can't). (This isn't my opinion at all I'm just explaining). To put it really broadly, it's more like - Sex without birth control reflects the intention of the partners to take part in marital sex in a manner that is open to the gift of life in partnership with God as marriage is meant to be. With birth control, the mindset is one of pure lust, shut off to life, people just using each other, which is sinful, even if you're married. It has to do with what your intentions are - coming together in a spirit of total communion and hopeful baby making is what sex is supposed to be about - straight up fucking is lustful and sinful and you might as well be jerking off in a movie theater.
posted by moxiedoll at 12:31 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole point of religion is that you have an unshakable (i.e. immune to evidence and logic) belief in something

Well, those of us with shakeable religious belief will just fuck right off then. You seriously want to define religion is such narrow terms as to exclude those who are open to revising their beliefs based on new evidence?
posted by reverend cuttle at 12:31 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a side note to the ten "V" watchers, did you notice that there's a pretty strong implication that the Roman Catholic Church is run by undercover lizard people?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously there are religious people who believe all kinds of things. But fundamentally, the practice is about close-mindedness. And if you are willing to start down the path of believing things just because you were told it was true by a guy in a robe, what's to keep you from believing additional things from that same guy?

The short answer to this question is, my brain, the same organ that tells me that these latest pronouncements from the Catholic Church are piffle.

Speaking as a believer in God and a religious person, I have to say that I don't understand atheistic or anti-religious dogmatism any more than I understand religious intolerance. I'd add that it is unfair to assume that because someone is religious, that must be because they were told their beliefs were true "by a guy [sic] in a robe." I have no trouble remaining religious while disagreeing respectfully with the people in the robes who I think are wrong. Like these Catholic bishops.
posted by bearwife at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That question is answered when they are hugely successful in politically denying gay people the right to marry - as Maine and California showed recently.

As a CA resident, I certainly could do without these sick assholes sticking their nose in my State's business. From a completely different hemisphere, no less.

If I could just say one thing to the Vatican....it would be
"WE ARE STILL SUPER GAY AND PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY GETTING GAY WITH EACH OTHER AND LOVING IT!"

suck it.
posted by cbecker333 at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It IS unfair discrimination to make participation in a religious ceremony the basis of a legal contractual relationship between two people. I say we cut marriage out of the equasion all together. Its time we had civil unions for all and those that want to get married can find a church to do it in outside of the scope of the government purview.

Marriage is, and always has been, a civil matter in the United States. Since we were the colonies, marriage was a contract between two people and the government. The scope of who could be those "two people" has changed, much like the scope of who could be "a voter," as time passed.

The Church ought to be talking more about "Christian Marriage" or "Sanctified Marriage," which are concepts the government certainly will not be adopting or endorsing. Then, a same-sex couple could be "married" (little M), but their "Marriage" (big M?) would not be "Sanctified."

They could even crib a slogan: "A marriage is just a marriage, but a Sanctified Marriage is fruit and cake!"
posted by explosion at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where can I get me some of that Society fabric? I have some ideas for a costume.
posted by sidereal at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a side note to the ten "V" watchers, did you notice that there's a pretty strong implication that the Roman Catholic Church is run by undercover lizard people?

Futurama already treaded that ground.
posted by explosion at 12:38 PM on November 18, 2009


I'm a Catholic, and by and large I'm pretty cool with the Church's various teachings. I'm a convert, so I knew what I was getting into. I think that being Catholic is what brought me around to opposing the death penalty.

And I don't really care about same-sex marriage that much. I don't like to see anyone discriminated against, but it doesn't affect me, in the sense that two men or two women marrying each other wouldn't really diminish my marriage any. I voted for allowing it when I had the opportunity. It's generally better for all of us when people are happy.

But I also defend the right of my Church to say "We think this is not good." And I do believe that sacramental, in-the-church marriage is far different from any legal construct. Further, I think that Christians have a duty to promulgate their faith. That's what we were instructed to do, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's something wrong with beating other people over the head with it, and with not respecting that others may have made different faith choices. But we're at least supposed to try. And I'm okay with that.

I try very hard to accept that not everyone thinks the same way I do, or believes the same things I do. And I certainly hope that I don't discriminate against anyone for anything. I don't want to judge anyone- that's not my job. I don't have to worry about it. Maybe sometimes I do a better job than others. But I really do try.

I'm glad that there are so many people who are passionate about this issue and want to change things. That's good for our political culture, good for our society, and good for making people think about things. But there will always be someone who disagrees with you, and they may be just as passionate about their belief as you are about yours. There's probably a common ground in there somewhere. You don't have to like what they believe, ir what they say, or what they want, but you don't have to call them names, either.
posted by Shohn at 12:39 PM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


briank: "I would tell these guys to go fuck themselves in the ass, but I suspect that many of them would actually like that sort of thing."

This is perhaps unhelpful to any side in the discussion.

Chunking express' comment about minority rights issues reminds me that the Catholic Church was only of the most outspoken opponents of the KKK in Colorado. The Church really is an odd duck in a lot of ways and it's not always easy to pigeonhole them. They are broadly wrong, certainly, on the topic of gay marriage from my perspective; but Marriage - Love and Life in the Divine Plan is a compassionate and caring documents in a lot of ways, which makes its missteps even more glaring. Infertile couples, I think, might be particularly challenged to reconsider their views of the Church after reading.
posted by boo_radley at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sex without birth control reflects the intention of the partners to take part in marital sex in a manner that is open to the gift of life in partnership with God as marriage is meant to be

Well, right, I get that, but what about the last two hypotheticals I gave: The unprotected couple that fervently opposes getting pregnant and the protected couple that is completely open to a child if it is God's will. It's the latter example I'm most interested in.

I suppose one answer could be that both of those couples are still sinning: in the former case the mindset is sinful and in the latter case the act is sinful; only the combination of unprotected sex and a willing mind is okay. But in that case, surely natural family planning is sinful as the very use of the method demonstrates that the couple is hoping not to conceive or to conceive less frequently, which in the long run will mean fewer children. And if they somehow are still completely open to conception despite their use of NFP, then how is it different from the latter case except as a matter of degree of effectiveness of the birth control method? (Ignoring for the moment issues with barrier contraception preventing unity; let's assume hormonal birth control for simplicity).

And if it is just a matter of degree, is it not wildly unprincipled, ad hoc reasoning that a 25% failure rate is okay but anything better is right out?
posted by jedicus at 12:46 PM on November 18, 2009


And the family wonders why I am not raising my daughter Catholic.....
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2009


jedicus, I think you are anticipating FAR more logic than exemplifies Catholic doctrine. Belief in transubstantiation is perfectly fine, but it is not the sign of a logical approach to decision-making.
posted by bunnycup at 12:48 PM on November 18, 2009


You don't have to like what they believe, ir what they say, or what they want, but you don't have to call them names, either.
posted by Shohn

You seem like a very nice person but also very naive. The reason they are being called such names is because they are lobbying for the laws of the United States of America (which is, I'm sure you are aware, a nation with freedom of religion) to be such that it is illegal for willing adults to enter into a relationship because it goes against a religious belief that they do not hold.

In other words, we don't have to call them names, but we will, because those fucking piece of shit regressive asshole backwards hateful pricks deserve it.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


But I also defend the right of my Church to say "We think this is not good." And I do believe that sacramental, in-the-church marriage is far different from any legal construct.

Your Bishops disagree with you.

"it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the LEGAL RECOGNITION of same-sex unions".

They are talking specifically about using your tithe to oppose civil same-sex unions. Church doctrine already prohibits same-sex marriages in church. The US Constitution already prevents the government from forcing the church to marry same-sex couples. I can't see how any Catholic can justify this doctrine.
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on November 18, 2009 [12 favorites]


(I know that the words "unjust discrimination" are actually a reference to internal Catholic doctrine, and not to a more general legal principle, but the outcome is the same.)
posted by muddgirl at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2009


the Catholic Church was one of the most outspoken opponents of the KKK in Colorado.

That's not altruism, though: the KKK is an explictly anti-Catholic organization. Of course the Catholic Church opposes an organization that is anti-Catholic.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Church ought to be talking more about "Christian Marriage" or "Sanctified Marriage," which are concepts the government certainly will not be adopting or endorsing. Then, a same-sex couple could be "married" (little M), but their "Marriage" (big M?) would not be "Sanctified."

This is what I find so peculiar about the Mormons' support of Prop 8. They already do this with their temple ceremonies. You would think that would be enough for them.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Marriage is, and always has been, a civil matter in the United States. Since we were the colonies, marriage was a contract between two people and the government. The scope of who could be those "two people" has changed, much like the scope of who could be "a voter," as time passed.

The Church ought to be talking more about "Christian Marriage" or "Sanctified Marriage," which are concepts the government certainly will not be adopting or endorsing. Then, a same-sex couple could be "married" (little M), but their "Marriage" (big M?) would not be "Sanctified."

My marriage licence was signed and filed by an ordained minister. It may have been a civil document, but it was certified by a non-secular authority. I don't believe the state has the right to deny a religious group from believing it can withold or providing what it feels is a sacrement within the confines of that religion, but by the same token, I believe that all people should be given the same right to file a civil contract. The only way to do this equitably and without treading on either side is to absolutely render the concept asunder. Marriage is the religious thing, civil union is the secular thing. Badda-bing-badda-boom.

Any biggots that want to cut gays out of Marriage that wants too can have at it. They also will have to compete for reception hall rentals with all the gay Unitarians, United Church of Christ, and Episcopalians.

posted by Pollomacho at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yikes, goddam bigotted Italics!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Any biggots that want to cut gays out of Marriage that wants too can have at it. They also will have to compete for reception hall rentals with all the gay Unitarians, United Church of Christ, and Episcopalians.

I would love to see a public faceoff between the Catholic bishops and the Reception Hall lobby. Hell I'd lobby for them, you know the catering would be spot on.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:01 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I might be completely wrong on this, but to me, this seems like establishing a justification for spending over a half-million dollars influencing an election in Maine in a year when the same diocese was forced to close churches and cut services. The statements of the bishops quoted in support of this position also seem to be clear that this isn't about doctrinal sacraments, but about political and legal activism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The comment was made--though I don't remember by whom--that everyone gets a birth certificate, but not everyone gets a baptism certificate.

The solution is abundantly clear: everyone in the US has a civil union, and those religious institutions that wish to have a sacramental marriage are free to do so.
posted by jefficator at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Those people are a real blast.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:04 PM on November 18, 2009


obsolete hate group

Does this kind of shit just get posted so that Metafilter can have its Two Minutes' Hate? Over what? Whether a church no one is forced to belong to supports two dudes getting married in that same church? This is like the snarky, fake-grown up version of pitching a screaming fit on your parents' front lawn.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whether a church no one is forced to belong to supports two dudes getting married in that same church?

Except that church spends millions of dollars nationwide campaigning to ensure that two dudes or two gals can't get married anywhere. The interesting part is seeing their own internal justification for what many here view as hateful, discriminatory behavior against themselves and other human beings.
posted by jedicus at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Poppa Bear, can you read?
"oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions"

So - more like a church which is not part of the life of a gay couple preventing them from getting any of the benefits of legal marriage from the state, which has nothing whatsoever to do with marriages within that church.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would love to see a public faceoff between the Catholic bishops and the Reception Hall lobby. Hell I'd lobby for them, you know the catering would be spot on.

My wife and I were married (and held the reception) by a Unitarian lesbian at the gardens of the Franciscan Monastery. Roman Catholics couldn't get married there, because they have to get married inside the church. A bunch of the monks actually attended and hung out.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


surely natural family planning is sinful as the very use of the method demonstrates that the couple is hoping not to conceive or to conceive less frequently, which in the long run will mean fewer children. And if they somehow are still completely open to conception despite their use of NFP, then how is it different from the latter case except as a matter of degree of effectiveness of the birth control method?

Again, agreeing with you that all of this is goofy - one major difference is that natural family planning is the practice of periodic abstinence, so you're never having the "bad kind" of pregnancy-avoiding birth control sex (a sin) you just aren't having sex at all at the times that you figure you're most likely to get pregnant.

I think you're right about your other hypothetical examples (although who knows, I'm not a Jesuit or anything, I'm just interested in this stuff) - I was just responding to your initial premise that birth control must be wrong because it thwarts God's will, when that's not really the right way to think about Catholic doctrines around contraception.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


jefficator: The solution is abundantly clear: everyone in the US has a civil union, and those religious institutions that wish to have a sacramental marriage are free to do so.

Oh, please. This entire fight was started by the conservative right in the late 80s in response to the fact that a handful of organizations and judges started giving same-sex partnerships any consideration at all. Statutory acts and later constitutional amendments were forced through in jurisdictions where marriage equality wasn't even on the horizon or considered.

It's not "defense of marriage" at all. The goal of these amendments is to have legal language that can be used to challenge any same-sex union, including private legal and medical power of attorney. "Defense of marriage" language was used this last year in Washington and Kalamazoo where marriage wasn't remotely a consideration.

"Marriage" is the term of art that is in hundreds of laws and prior case law. At some point, you have to say that civil unions are equivalent to "marriage" as a legal term, and that is exactly what conservatives will not accept or tolerate.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:15 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Marriage is, and always has been, a civil matter in the United States. Since we were the colonies, marriage was a contract between two people and the government.

Yep.

For Massachusetts, a chance and a choice (by Peter J. Gomes | February 8, 2004)
"When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, among the first things they did for the well-ordering of their new commonwealth was to institute the Dutch custom of civil marriage with which they had become familiar during their long sojourn in the Netherlands.

The Dutch made civil marriage the law of the land in 1590, and the first marriage in New England, that of Edward Winslow to the widow Susannah White, was performed on May 12, 1621, in Plymouth by Governor William Bradford, in exercise of his office as magistrate.

There would be no clergyman in Plymouth until the arrival of The Rev. Ralph Smith in 1629, but even then marriage would continue to be a civil affair, as these first Puritans opposed the English custom of clerical marriage as unscriptural. Not until 1692, when Plymouth Colony was merged into that of Massachusetts Bay, were the clergy authorized by the new province to solemnize marriages. To this day in this Commonwealth the clergy, including those of the archdiocese, solemnize marriage legally as agents of the Commonwealth and by its civil authority. Chapter 207 of the General Laws of Massachusetts tells who may perform such ceremonies.

This little bit of social and legal history should prove instructive in the current debate concerning marriage in this Commonwealth, and the controversial ruling thereon by the Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health. The petitioners did not address religious issues, and the court's ruling was not premised on religious grounds: Marriage, its definition, rights, and responsibilities, was understood here as a civil matter, as it has been since 1621.

Thus, while the legitimate interests of religious communities in what some of them regard as the sacrament of marriage are worthy of consideration, those interests must not be confused either with the civil law of the Commonwealth or the civil rights of the citizens under its constitution.

No clergy of any denomination are required to wed anyone of whose union they do not approve: There is no civil right to be married in church or with its blessing. The civil law is just that, and the distinction between it and ecclesiastical law is as important as the necessary distinction between church and state. Surely, after two years of protracted debate between church law and civil law in the child-abuse scandals we should appreciate the necessity of these distinctions.

It is to the civil rights of the citizens of Massachusetts that the Supreme Judicial Court responded in the Goodridge case, and this was no attack on the church, nor on religion. It was recognition that the social custom restricting marriage to heterosexuals, a custom long sanctioned by church and society, was no longer to be regarded as consistent with the rights of citizens under the constitution.

We have seen this before. When the courts eventually invalidated long-established laws sanctioned by church and society that forbade interracial marriage, the so-called 'miscegenation' laws that obtained in many parts of this country within living memory, the courts that did this were invariably maligned as interventionist, arbitrary, and usurpatious.

Most now would agree that those laws were wrong, indeed unconstitutional, and that the courts were right in their judgments on behalf of the petitioners
....[more]"*
posted by ericb at 1:16 PM on November 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Over what? Whether a church no one is forced to belong to supports two dudes getting married in that same church?
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:08 PM on November 18


They spend a lot of money making sure two dudes can't can't married in that church, or any place of worship, or at City Hall, or a Justice of the Peace's office. If the Catholic Church said "dudes shouldn't get hitched" and it ended at their enormous gilded doors, I wouldn't care. But the Church and its members fight hard to make sure gays and lesbians have no marriage equality, anywhere, in any way.

Do you understand the difference between a) not allowing gays and lesbians to marry in your church and religion and b) fighting to ensure they can't get married or civilly wed anywhere? If not, can you explain why you don't understand how different these two things are?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Poppa Bear: It stopped being an internal church doctrinal issues when a diocese spent over a half-million dollars fighting against people's civil and religious rights.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2009


It's not part of my personal style, but I can't see how the fabric of society is endangered by sewing on a few sequins.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since the abuse scandal erupted in the USA in 2002, the Vatican has barred seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," and conducted an investigation of seminaries that concluded that "difficulties" related to "homosexual behavior" had been largely "overcome."

*explodes in rage*

I don't know whether I'm more angry on the behalf of homosexuals being unjustly tarred as pedophiles, or on the behalf of the children who will undoubtedly suffer because of the Catholic Church's inability to deal with the institutional failures behind such widespread abuse.

* Dear Catholic Church: Institutional was a clue-word, and I don't mean "institutionalize the homosexuals."
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


No jedicus, you're right (well, about the campaigning at least, which I have never experienced but am willing to accept at face value). I actually came back to ammend my statement. I spoke rashly in consideration of the fury Metafilter tends to shower on religions in as a whole, Christianity in particular (and if anyone, Roman Catholicism catches the most rage that I've seen). It's one of the few weak spots apparent in an other wise mature and intelligent community, and it never ceases to disappoint and frustrate me.

I'll do my best to judge my words more carefully in the future.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Catholics Are the New Mormons
"Catholics are strutting around boasting about their role in repealing Maine's gay marriage law. At least they're taking responsibility for it. Catholics are the new Mormons—which sucks for me because I was raised Catholic. Can I unbaptize myself? Can I do it in a hot tub? How many guys will it take?"
October 2009: Maine's Catholic Church donations to anti-gay campaign top $550,000.

Where is the Catholic Church's mystery money for the anti-gay campaign coming from? The Mormons?

The Catholic Church has become an anti-gay political operation in Maine.

"Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Maine continues to close churches while the numbers of both priests and parishioners continues to decline. *
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


No jedicus, you're right (well, about the campaigning at least, which I have never experienced but am willing to accept at face value). I actually came back to ammend my statement. I spoke rashly in consideration of the fury Metafilter tends to shower on religions in as a whole, Christianity in particular (and if anyone, Roman Catholicism catches the most rage that I've seen). It's one of the few weak spots apparent in an other wise mature and intelligent community, and it never ceases to disappoint and frustrate me.

It's not the religion part, it's the mean part. They're unkind, and it hurts people.

That's why people get so pissed about it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:24 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think that being Catholic is what brought me around to opposing the death penalty.
You're aware that the Roman Catholic Church is not opposed to the death penalty?

The strict Catholic teaching is that it's a lawful and just power of the state. A "lawful slaying", it is called, in their terms.

The last pope (John Paul II) expounded upon this, saying that it should only be used in cases when execution is viewed as the only way to protect against the person being executed, and that such cases were rare or possibly even nonexistent today, but still it is fine, at least in theoretic Catholic terms.

Then the current pope loosened it up again: "While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment." Nothing about extreme rarity or possible nonexistence; rather, merely "exercise discretion".

He goes on to say that there can be no valid disagreement among Catholics with regards to abortion or euthanasia, but that there could be with regards to the death penalty.

As the Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The infliction of capital punishment is not contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, and the power of the State to visit upon culprits the penalty of death derives much authority from revelation and from the writings of theologians."
posted by Flunkie at 1:24 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kirk, I'm not sure exactly what your comment means. Please forgive me for my lack of comprehension.

My point is this...and I make this point to my right-wing Christian friends often: you will not always be in the majority, and you will not always have the power to make the decisions. Better to make a decision that is acceptible and amenable to all now and allow it to gain traction. If you keep opposing stringently, then when your opponents have the power, they will lord it over you. And you won't get the power back.

Opinion polls make clear that younger Americans consider gay marriage a non-issue. If the right had foresight, it would allow for unions that were distinct from marriage. The right does not have foresight, and as a result, voters will eventually make marriage an institution for any two people--and the right's power to do anything about that will be gone. Better to compromise now than to suffer later. But they don't listen. People rarely listen when they believe they're doing God's work.
posted by jefficator at 1:28 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I also defend the right of my Church to say "We think this is not good."

I don't think any thinking person begrudges the Church the right to say whatever they want.

The problem is when the Church instigates and meddles and machinates to make their opinion into pubic policy. Our country has tried to avoid this showdown by granting the churches tax-exempt status in exchange for them agreeing that they will not use their pulpit to engage in politics.

The Catholic and Mormon churches, in particular, have insinuated themselves into our civil policy discussions on gay marriage; they have agitated and financed and lobbied like a corporation -not a church.

I say make them put their money where their mouth is.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I make this point to my right-wing Christian friends often: you will not always be in the majority, and you will not always have the power to make the decisions. Better to make a decision that is acceptible and amenable to all now and allow it to gain traction.

Do you really want to be advising them on strategy? Listen, tell them to go big or go home. Tell them they should also advocate for laws that keep women from working. Tell them to go the distance.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to invoke an old Arab proverb here: "The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on."
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:31 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on."

Yeah, but wow, that's a slow form of travel in the modern age.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


They are hugely influential - no question. To dismiss them, is to make a big mistake.

In other words, Catholics pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people. Maybe we should outlaw Catholicism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


jefficator: The entire point of "defense of marriage" is to have a legal hammer to use against both civil unions and piecemeal rights. They won't compromise on civil unions because the very concept of civil unions having any rights is considered an offensive attack on marriage.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:42 PM on November 18, 2009


jefficator: The entire point of "defense of marriage" is to have a legal hammer to use against both civil unions and piecemeal rights. They won't compromise on civil unions because the very concept of civil unions having any rights is considered an offensive attack on marriage.

I understand. And you are correct. I am simply making a point that could be amenable to all sides if they were willing to cease attempting to universalize their position.

The genius of the United States was originally in advocating no position such that individuals were free to advocate any position. This has been systematically dismantled since day one.
posted by jefficator at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2009


The only fabric they are threatening is tulle.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:49 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, do you guys remember back in the like, 1300s or 1400s when some Catholic sects got really upset at how worldy the Pope and his Cardinals and Bishops were getting? Because they had lots of money and were starting to throw their political weight around? And then these sects started heavy-preaching the whole "poverty" thing, which threatened the Church so they started like, burning them or hanging them or whatever? And then eventually the Church agreed to stop assassinating the sect leaders if the sect leaders would stop, you know, pointing out that Jesus preached a message about like poverty and the world-to-come, rather than amassing Big Fucking Riches and dethroning kings and stuff?

Yeah, those were probably some pretty fun times.
posted by muddgirl at 1:56 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Laugh at them the way one might laugh at a child. We can watch their power evaporate if enough of us laughed at their pathetic little reports. No more matching hate for hate with me. I'm going to laugh loud and long at the next person who tries to discuss anti-marriage politics, or the primacy of any church with me.
posted by Classic Diner at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2009


Man, do you guys remember back in the like, 1300s or 1400s when some Catholic sects got really upset at how worldy the Pope and his Cardinals and Bishops were getting?

Oh that reminds me to get Assassin's Creed II.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're aware that the Roman Catholic Church is not opposed to the death penalty?

Not to that level of detail, no I wasn't. But there are a lot of anti-death penalty Catholics, and being around them and listening to them helped me figure out a better viewpoint for me on that issue. It really wasn't the Church's teaching, per se, but being around a culture like that that changed my mind. That and my wife (who is Catholic from way back).

The problem is when the Church instigates and meddles and machinates to make their opinion into pubic policy


I also instigate, meddle and machinate to make my opinion into pubic policy. Lots of people and organizations do. I'll allow that maybe Churches shouldn't be tax-exempt, but I don't have a philosophical problem with a Church trying to influence policy any moreso that I do the ACLU or the AFL-CIO, or the AARP.
posted by Shohn at 2:26 PM on November 18, 2009


In related news: ChurchOuting.org
"This site was created to provide you with an outlet to save LGBT children from the hypocrisy of priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who engage in romantic and sexual relationships, and yet stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against all LGBT children of God. If you know that one of the priests in the Archdiocese is gay, or having a heterosexual affair, please share your story."
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2009


Man, do you guys remember back in the like, 1300s or 1400s when some Catholic sects got really upset at how worldy the Pope and his Cardinals and Bishops were getting? Because they had lots of money and were starting to throw their political weight around? And then these sects started heavy-preaching the whole "poverty" thing, which threatened the Church so they started like, burning them or hanging them or whatever? And then eventually the Church agreed to stop assassinating the sect leaders if the sect leaders would stop, you know, pointing out that Jesus preached a message about like poverty and the world-to-come, rather than amassing Big Fucking Riches and dethroning kings and stuff?

Actually, no. I can't figure out if you're talking about the Cathars, who were earlier, or the Protestants, who were later.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2009


"If you know that one of the priests in the Archdiocese is gay, or having a heterosexual affair, please share your story."

That's really creepy.

It should be "if you know that one of the priests...is having a gay or heterosexual affair," I would think.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:32 PM on November 18, 2009


Actually I was talking about the early Franciscans, but you're right, I'm a little late for the beginnings of the doctrine of Evangelical poverty.

Is this where I admit that (a) everything I know about early Catholic history I learned from Umberto Eco and (b) I always forget that 14th century and 1400s aren't the same thing?
posted by muddgirl at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2009


Guys, I was engaged, ready to get married to my fiancée in her family's church, and had reconciled myself to it.

If there's anything really great about the amazing life trainwreck I went through when the relationship completely fell apart and I had to pick up the different pieces of my life and move, it's that I have absolutely no reason to sympathize or deal with the Catholic church as an institution at all. Hooray.
posted by mikeh at 2:47 PM on November 18, 2009


In related news: ChurchOuting.org
"This site was created to provide you with an outlet to save LGBT children from the hypocrisy of priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who engage in romantic and sexual relationships, and yet stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against all LGBT children of God. If you know that one of the priests in the Archdiocese is gay, or having a heterosexual affair, please share your story."



FWIW, just to make clear, I looked at that ready to should my outrage to the skies but it does NOT seem to be officially associated with, or approved by, any Roman Catholic leadership. I am not saying it isn't, but I wanted to jump in and say that as offensive as I find it (and I do), it is not "official" (as far as I can tell).
posted by bunnycup at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2009


[comments removed - boy/butt jokes not sp great actually, meta is your option]
posted by jessamyn at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It IS unfair discrimination to make participation in a religious ceremony the basis of a legal contractual relationship between two people. I say we cut marriage out of the equasion all together. Its time we had civil unions for all and those that want to get married can find a church to do it in outside of the scope of the government purview.

This seems to come up so much that I really must ask, are you unaware of how marriages work? Going to a church and having a marriage ceremony is completely unrelated to the legal paperwork that you also must do. While these two things often happen at or about the same time, it is not a requirement or in any way related in an official capacity.

It's already been explained above, but I want to reiterate it because it's so frequently brought up, and this is already how things work. You can already get "church married" and skip the legal requirements.

What's specifically going on here is that religious groups are attempting to fight the LEGAL marriage definition, which is again, COMPLETELY outside of their realm, and would NOT AFFECT their church-marriages at all.
posted by odinsdream at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2009


Is this where I admit that (a) everything I know about early Catholic history I learned from Umberto Eco and (b) I always forget that 14th century and 1400s aren't the same thing?

There is no shame in either of those things: I was honestly confused, not being snarky.

Yeah, the whole "Church hierarchy v. Franciscans" is not one of the shining moments in Catholic history.

I always forget that 14th century and 1400s aren't the same thing

It is more confusing because they are in Italian, but not in French, and if you're reading a bunch of sources and some of them refer to the same century as the quattrocento and some to the quinzième siècle, your brain starts to hurt really badly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:13 PM on November 18, 2009


Going to a church and having a marriage ceremony is completely unrelated to the legal paperwork that you also must do.

This is not true in my state (Massachusetts), where the celebrant signs your marriage license, and the "celebrant" here can be either a clergyperson or a Justice of the Peace, and both are treated with equal authority in signing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2009


odinsdream and Pollomacho: That's right. "Marriage" is the term that's used in thousands of legal documents and case law the governs civil unions. You can't duck around the issue by calling it "civil unions" at some point, you are going to have to say those civil unions are legally equivalent, and at that point, as the Supreme Court of California ruled, there is no legal justification for obfuscate the law by using two separate terms for the same set of rights.

Churches can have their own rules regarding the sacrament of marriage, including requiring marriage counseling, refusing to recognize interfaith unions, or refusing to recognize second marriages.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:19 PM on November 18, 2009


Going to a church and having a marriage ceremony is completely unrelated to the legal paperwork that you also must do.

This is untrue in most states. In most of the country--perhaps all?-- a minister is given the authority of the state concomitant with the authority of justices of the peace to perform marriages.

Read: the state uses ministers as state functionaries. The ubiquity and the commonality are the reasons this has never been challenged on constitutional grounds.
posted by jefficator at 3:20 PM on November 18, 2009


This is not true in my state (Massachusetts), where the celebrant signs your marriage license, and the "celebrant" here can be either a clergyperson or a Justice of the Peace, and both are treated with equal authority in signing.

I believe this is actually true in majority of states. Also, many states are even more restrictive and state that the clergyperson has to have a congregation and be registered with the state or county clerk's office.
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on November 18, 2009


jefficator and muddgirl: True, but people who would not be served by a religious celebrant can always be served by a judge or court official. Furthermore, it's entirely possible to completely separate the two ceremonies. I know people who married in the eyes of their congregation but not the state, and people who legally married without the religious sacrament.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2009


True, but people who would not be served by a religious celebrant can always be served by a judge or court official.

Yes, absolutely. This is why the Catholic Church position paper is a giant steaming hypocritical bullshit heap.

A church or temple or synagogue or mosque or meeting house or any religious group doesn't have to marry people who aren't members in good standing. I can't waltz over to my local Church of Scientology and demand that the auditors (or whoever it is) marry me to my husband.

So the Catholic Church isn't defending its own rights--it's trying to restrict other people's rights.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2009


Theoretically yes, but in all practicality most couples are forced to make a pretty difficult decision - do they sacrifice their desire for a secular wedding in the interest of having a ceremony close to what they want, in the location that they want it? Or do they stick to their guns and be forced to have a legal ceremony at City Hall followed by whatever other celebration they'd like to have? In many localities it is nearly impossible to find a JoP that will travel to your wedding.

I know first-hand how hard it is to have a completely-secular ceremony, even in the great state of California. I do think it's discriminatory that people who desire a secular wedding must jump through loopholes when a secular wedding should be the norm, not the exception.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2009


jump through loopholes? I need to get some sleep.
posted by muddgirl at 3:36 PM on November 18, 2009


To state it more simply than odinsdream:

You are married ONLY if you have the government-issued civil contract, signed and registered.

You are not married if all you have is a church ceremony.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:40 PM on November 18, 2009


I don't have a philosophical problem with a Church trying to influence policy any moreso that I do the ACLU or the AFL-CIO, or the AARP.

The Church is injecting its creepy theology into a constitutional issue. I don't say "creepy theology" as a personal dig at you, I say it as the thing that basically forced me to realize that I could no longer associate with the Church. There is no policy ground other than "we think it's a sin" that justifies the Catholic Church's meddling in secular affairs, and that makes it different from your other examples.

I have no problem with Church leaders opposing homosexuality in general terms. Hell, I wish they'd be a little more direct about it so that more people could know what they're really about. What I have a problem with is their trying to use that general opposition to homosexuality to deny fundamental rights to people who would rather not have anything to do with the Church in the first place.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 3:46 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have a philosophical problem with a Church trying to influence policy any moreso that I do the ACLU or the AFL-CIO, or the AARP.

If they weren't tax exempt, I'd be willing to consider that, but it still seems like Jessamyn's Anti_moustache club trying to pass laws against moustaches. Like it's confusing one's own personal domain with the larger public domain and how much it's okay to meddle with it.

no offense intended against moustaches
posted by jessamyn at 3:50 PM on November 18, 2009


Yes, I'm not going to make Joe Lieberman eat a bacon cheeseburger, but he better not try to pass laws against them.

Similarly, I promise not to make anyone in the Catholic Church hierarchy marry anyone else in the Catholic Church hierarchy, but they can stay the fuck out of my friends' and family members' business.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It may be a little No True Scotsman-y, but if it isn't about faith, then I would say it isn't a religion, it's a philosophy.

Well, that's ridiculous of course. Lots of religions don't require "faith", just the religions you're most familiar with.
posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions," the letter says. "These unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people."

I should think it works the other way around.

The way I have figured, there are only two grounds upon which one can oppose the legal recognition of same sex marriages, both of which are far more of a threat to, as the letter puts it, "the fabric of society."

The first is that it is against your religious beliefs. This is clearly contradictory to the First Amendment. Now, I'm not saying this because I'm anti-religion, but there are many good reason that the two should be separate, and it works both ways; nobody can force the Catholic Church, or any church, to perform or recognize same-sex marriages (or, for that matter, pay taxes.)

The second is ... well, you just hate gay people. You have wrong, backward ideas about what homosexuality is, and conflate it with child sexual abuse, bestiality, paraphilias, and whatever other purple bullshit your repressed, depraved little mind can think up. You just can't stand the idea that somebody, somewhere, might be having Teh Buttsecks. You oppose it on the grounds that you think that if two mutually consenting equal adults who love each other gain the same legal status and protections under the law that you receive, they will start recruiting and the whole world will suddenly turn into Gaywad Gaysville, and they will probably make you wear a dress. The whole idea that faggots, queers, lesbos, and gays homosexuals are human beings just sicks you out.

Neither of those are basis for denying someone equal rights and protections under the law. And both threaten the majority of society more than legalizing same sex marriage.

Basing laws in religious principle (which I do realize is common practice) enshrines one person's religion in law, and some day some someone is going to wake up to that and religious establishments will be given the same status as businesses and taxed and regulated accordingly, which would not be a good outcome for either church or state.

And basing laws on hatred is a terrible idea for reasons that should be really obvious.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:09 PM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


We're talking about a religion that constricts its priests to be celibate, stunting the sexual maturity of said priests and/or attracting sexually immature men to become priests, where they fit right in. Like attracts like. Sexually immature priests will be, on a sexual level, like a pubescent child. Of course not in all cases, but in many.

And the Church hierarchy has made great efforts, in many, many areas to hide the truth of sexual abuse, to shuffle priests to to dioceses (where they may likely continue to abuse kids), to lie and deny abuse in the first place. In many cases the Church hierarchy actively defends the actions of these pedophiles.

But at the end of the day, the Catholic Church can say whatever the hell they want. That's their right. They don't like gay marriage, fine. Catholics, you have rights, too. You can, for example, choose to put your faith in a religion that does all the above behavior, and thereby approve it, or you can use your reason (yeah, let's say God gave that to you, too, so it's not evil) and never darken the Church's door ever again, and especially never give money to such an enterprise.
posted by zardoz at 4:21 PM on November 18, 2009


Here's another policy of the Roman Catholic Church: If clergy rapes a child, tell the child to keep silent and move the clergy to a new parish. At least according to the BBC, that rabid fringe kook website. Good thing the current Pope has recognized and disavowed that policy. No, make that recognized and confirmed that policy.

When a child rape ring so large it gets diplomatic immunity (really!) makes a moral pronouncement on something, I tend to ignore that pronouncement.

Religion hardens hearts and softens minds.
posted by eccnineten at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Religion hardens hearts and softens minds.

In some cases religion also hardens other bodily organs.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on November 18, 2009


I was going to ask why it is so hard to have a completely secular ceremony in Calif, when in Florida you can be married by a notary public. Then I looked on Wikipedia and discovered that Florida is one of only three states (ME, SC) that allows notaries to marry. Other people, I mean. To each other. Which sucks, because it's a sweet deal here. Costs about $90 and read a pamphlet (most of the money is for your bond), and then you can go around marrying people and swearing and affirming and whatnot for like five years.
Also, on the point of your minister of (insert faith here) has to have a real flock in order to marry you in certain/most states - yes, that's true, but it's not like they check. We were married in Tennessee by a friend who bought himself a Universal Life Church certificate ($free, I think you get a .pdf certificate and choice of title). Tennessee does say your minister has to have a real church and congregation, so I guess if we have to get divorced or otherwise prove our marriage, someone or other may be in for a big surprise.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:33 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do these assholes always claim something or other is a threat to the fabric of society?

Like there is only one fabric and it's itchy wool and gay marriage is like machine washing.

Well let me tell you the fabric of my society is velour. And it feels ...mmmmmm... DELICIOUS.
posted by tkchrist at 5:39 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


That notary thing is a damn fine idea. Other states should look into that. Huh, today's the day I found out that California should take a page outa Florida's book. Well I'll be the Pope's outhouse.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:40 PM on November 18, 2009


It's a right shame that none of the gay marriage initiatives had yet passed, but it does tend to show that the real revolution is likely to start with a US Supreme Court decision overturning the ridiculously unconstitutional DOMA (a blatant statutory exception to Full Faith & Credit). Then everyone will soon pretend they were always for marriage equality, much like politicians catching up with reality on miscegenation laws after Loving. In the meantime, I'd love to see this document as an exhibit to the IRS's brief in the case justifying the loss of the Catholic Church's tax exemption.
posted by norm at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2009


The solution is abundantly clear: everyone in the US has a civil union, and those religious institutions that wish to have a sacramental marriage are free to do so.

No the decent people will have marriages in all they diversity and if some people want a "religious union" to go along with their actual, state sponsored marriage, then well bless their hearts, they should go right ahead.
posted by shothotbot at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2009



Simply put: living things EVOLVE.

Uh ohhh. Someone is going to hell.
posted by notreally at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2009


about the campaigning at least, which I have never experienced but am willing to accept at face value

Try hanging out around Catholic elected officials and you'll experience it pretty quick.
posted by naoko at 8:04 PM on November 18, 2009


Do same sex marriages take place on Flatland?

Upside: catering is a lot cheaper in two dimensions.
posted by zippy at 8:30 PM on November 18, 2009


Now THAT'S epic trolling, bishops. Well played. Now give us the real pastoral.
posted by drowsy at 9:34 PM on November 18, 2009


everyone in the US has a civil union, and those religious institutions that wish to have a sacramental marriage are free to do so.

Boy, separate but equal has such a great track record, too. I'm sure I wouldn't mind my marriage being rendered second-class unless I can find an imaginary friend to endorse it!
posted by rodgerd at 9:55 PM on November 18, 2009


Why do these assholes always claim something or other is a threat to the fabric of society?

It's a shitty metaphor anyway. It drives me up the wall for a number of reasons, and is a sign of either extreme intellectual laziness or cynically-applied rhetoric.

For example:

- it implies that there is only one 'fabric'
- it implies that this fabric is currently cohesive, eg in structure or design
- it implies design (and purpose)
- it suggests that it can be torn (or otherwise destroyed) but not necessarily repaired
- it resists the concept of alterations (eg my metaphor of sewing sequins onto it)...how often do people modify existing fabric?
- "Fabric" is, by nature, a very static kind of concept, and downplays the evolving nature of society & social relations
- it's essentially two-dimensional, so downplays any possibility of further dimensions beyond its own narrow definition
- it implies an inter-woven-ness of all members of society (or races, or communities, or classes, or genders etc) that doesn't necessarily exist
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:07 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every once in a while, I remember why I'm a recovering Catholic and not a practicing Catholic.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:16 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's one of the few weak spots apparent in an other wise mature and intelligent community, and it never ceases to disappoint and frustrate me.

Yeah, well, the Catholic Church disappoints me a whole lot more.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:35 PM on November 18, 2009


It's a shitty metaphor anyway. It drives me up the wall for a number of reasons, and is a sign of either extreme intellectual laziness or cynically-applied rhetoric.

For example:


- it implies the fabric isn't already torn to shreds by 2000+ years of them spouting off nonsense that their minions then took up as a cause.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:09 PM on November 18, 2009


Yes, yes, I do know the Catholic church is not really 2000+ years old. Their claim is unceasing existence since the Apostle Peter.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:12 PM on November 18, 2009


I've noticed that recovering Catholics seldom become fully recovered, i.e. to the point they no longer need to say they are recovering. What a wickedly deep mark that church must leave on your psyche!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:49 PM on November 18, 2009


What a wickedly deep mark that church must leave on your psyche!

Buddy, you've got no idea.

Also, Shohn, do you believe that homosexuals can engage in fulfilling sexual expression without condemning their souls? I'm genuinely curious on this point, and if you feel uncomfortable answering that question publicly, I understand and won't begrudge your refusal to do so. Most Catholics are uncomfortable on this point, so much so that I've never received a straight answer to that question.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:35 AM on November 19, 2009


Simply put: living things EVOLVE.

Uh ohhh. Someone is going to hell.


Just to keep our snark relevant -- the catholic church has no problem with Darwin's theory.
posted by the bricabrac man at 3:19 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes, I do know the Catholic church is not really 2000+ years old. Their claim is unceasing existence since the Apostle Peter.

That's not a solely Roman Catholic claim. Apostolic succession is found in any denomination with a historical episcopate (Orthodox, Episcopalians/Anglicans, Moravians, Old-Catholics, Eastern Rite Catholics, Evangelical Lutherans, Mar Thoma, etc.).
posted by Pollomacho at 5:34 AM on November 19, 2009


Also, Shohn, do you believe that homosexuals can engage in fulfilling sexual expression without condemning their souls? I'm genuinely curious on this point, and if you feel uncomfortable answering that question publicly, I understand and won't begrudge your refusal to do so. Most Catholics are uncomfortable on this point, so much so that I've never received a straight answer to that question.

Let me give you the straightest (ha) answer I can, even though it may not satisfy you:

I don't know. I really don't. I know that the Church teaches that sexual acts outside marriage are sinful, and gravely so. That would include homosexual sex as well as heterosexual sex outside of marriage.

In that sense, given my history, I'm guilty of mortal sin because I knew I was sinning and did it anyway. That makes it worse, in the Church's eyes.

I'm really conflicted on this issue, and it's been hard to comment in a manner that seems consistent.

But I really believe that God loves everybody. And I believe that he is compassionate. I don't want anyone's soul to be condemned. But I have to leave that up to God to decide. I can't know his mind. God can put up a big tent, so to speak, and I don't think that there's one and only one right way to experience God. The Catholic Church works really well for me.

I know it sounds like I'm trying to have it both ways, and maybe I am. But maybe I can. I don't want to tell my gay friends that they're condemned, or that they're wrong. They're still people, they're still my friends, I still love them.

Maybe I'm copping out and trying to weasel out of taking a stand, but I've thought about this a lot, and I'm unfortunately no closer to having the definitive answer to anything. If I ever do, MetaFilter will be the first to know.

But I also don't have a problem with a Church publicly announcing its beliefs about any issue, and working to influence policy. A lot of tax-exempt organizations do this, and no one bats an eye.
posted by Shohn at 6:10 AM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I want to jump back in and say something, after sleeping on my comment above. Just like I have some bizarro-world Catholic relatives, I also have very many kind, caring, loving people in my life who have used their faith (Roman Catholic and others) as a touchstone for giving love and support. I would be a lot happier if we acknowledged that although the RC Church has a horrible record on human rights leadership and their stance on same sex marriage (and other social issues) is bigoted and offensive, not every single Catholic shares that stance. I hate to see the direction take the turn of "if you practice an organized religion like Catholicism you are obviously stupid and a bigot". I for one have a whole long list of folks in my life who challenge that theory, who do not let packs of Bishops make all their moral decisions for them, who think for themselves and understand shades of gray.

Sure, they might be "bad Catholics" in the eyes of RC leadership, but many "good people" are Catholic too.

/the end
posted by bunnycup at 6:29 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


California is one of the states that seems to recognize ULC ministers, but as our chosen officiant was Jewish, and ULC is still, you know, a church, we decided to do the whole "Deputy Commissioner of Wedding" thing.

It was a pain. Much more of a pain than faking it with ULC or just biting our tongues and hiring an "interfaith/non-denominational" officiant. No matter who the officiant is, the couple still has to get the license from a clerk - so why require a specific officiant? It basically encourages people to break the law, as I read so often about people using ULC in states that specifically forbid it. Just let people get the license, sign it themselves, and that's a marriage. Or hell, people who get domestic partnerships just mail in some forms.

OK, this is getting real off-topic and is verging on "Wah it sucks to try to be completely secular in America!!!!", which is really beside the point.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2009


muddgirl: Or like dozens of similar legal documents, signed in the presence of witnesses and certified by notary, which is the role the officiant serves.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:33 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a really fair answer, Shon, and I gotta admire you for at least taking me seriously and not simply calling me an anti-Catholic bigot. I'm not one of those. I'm mostly related to Catholics.

But the problem is that although you're guilty of mortal sin, you can get forgiveness and then achieve some form of moral sexual expression within the bounds of marriage. That's not an option for your gay friends. They get the choice between fornication and celibacy, and that's no kind of choice at all.

But whatever, the Catholic Church can teach what it wants at take its lumps like any other church. The problem is that they have no rational reason to foist the perverse choice they force on their own gay members onto the rest of the gay population that doesn't share their beliefs beyond "we just don't like it." That's not a good enough reason in the arena of public policy. You have to show some kind of good done or some kind of harm avoided.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:52 AM on November 19, 2009


It's things like this that make baffled that my liberal, free-thinking, granola crunching, kumbaya singing mother converted TO Catholicism.

So, I know that there are liberal, free-thinking, granola crunching, kumbaya singing Catholics out there - but their PR is being run by a bunch of assholes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:34 AM on November 19, 2009


I've noticed that recovering Catholics seldom become fully recovered, i.e. to the point they no longer need to say they are recovering.

I use the term "apostate Catholic", mostly just because I like the word "apostate". I'm appropriating apostasy for all us apostates.

Although, to be fair, the Bishops do have a point. As a Canadian, I have to say that ever since gay marriage became legal, it has been really hard putting up with the awful racket of civilization crashing down around me, not to mention the constant agonized and lachrymose wailing of a nation abandoned by God.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:01 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


the awful racket of civilization crashing down around me, not to mention the constant agonized and lachrymose wailing of a nation abandoned by God.

That's how I feel in Olive Garden.

I'm sorry.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:19 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: "In other words, Catholics pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people. Maybe we should outlaw Catholicism."

"I would tell these guys to go fuck themselves in the ass, but I suspect that many of them would actually like that sort of thing."


"Fuck them, and fuck every person who props this obsolete hate group up with their financial support."

Really metafilter? Really? I don't much care for the Catholic Church, its teachings, or its hierarchy, but I thought better of the blue.

I for one hold the Catholic Church's ability to support causes it believes are just (and to put its money where its mouth is) to be as sacred as my ability to support and donate to largely opposite causes. This kind of bullshit is undemocratic and dark road to walk down.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:38 PM on November 21, 2009




"Fuck them, and fuck every person who props this obsolete hate group up with their financial support."

I for one hold the Catholic Church's ability to support causes it believes are just (and to put its money where its mouth is) to be as sacred as my ability to support and donate to largely opposite causes. This kind of bullshit is undemocratic and dark road to walk down.


Since my statement was one of those you quoted, I feel the need to defend myself. I'd like to know exactly what was undemocratic about my statement. Note that I didn't suggest that the Catholic bishops not have the right to express the vile hatred in their statement, nor did I suggest that the people who fund their activities of hate be silenced in any way.

What people (including you) need to understand is that the freedom of speech that we, as Americans still (nominally) enjoy does not also include the freedom from being criticized for what we say.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:02 PM on November 21, 2009


deadmessenger:

I thoroughly enjoy the longstanding American tradition of telling my friends, neighbors, and loved ones that their deeply held religious beliefs are more wrong and immoral than mine. I try to practice it daily.

However, and maybe its just me, I see a difference between freedom from criticism and freedom from threats of legal consequences for matters of conscience, threats of sexual humiliation (even with the justification that of course you are just so into that), and the ability to live without dehumanization. I haven't expect this from the Catholic Church since I was old enough to know better, but I did expect it from the blue and, for what little its worth, I'm disappointed.

Thank you Shohn for sticking with this thread and telling us how you mix its contents with your faith.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:15 AM on November 22, 2009


Really metafilter? Really? I don't much care for the Catholic Church, its teachings, or its hierarchy, but I thought better of the blue.

I for one hold the Catholic Church's ability to support causes it believes are just (and to put its money where its mouth is) to be as sacred as my ability to support and donate to largely opposite causes. This kind of bullshit is undemocratic and dark road to walk down.


Before I get all huffy and puffy and disappointed and "I thought more of you", I try to make sure that my huffing and puffing is not based on ludicrous misunderstandings.

So you see this:

"In other words, Catholics pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people. Maybe we should outlaw Catholicism."

as a threat of legal consequences? "I see a difference between freedom from criticism and freedom from threats of legal consequences for matters of conscience."

I don't want to speak for BP, but it seems to me your interpretation is rather boneheaded. What BP was doing, is using IRONY. He wasn't seriously advocating "outlawing Catholicism" - he was doing a play on the Churche's words and positions. The Church claimed that gay unions are "a serious threat to the fabric of society" and therefore it was OK to outlaw them - BP pointed out that since the RCC can be seen as "being a serious threat to society" would they like the same justification used to outlaw them? He's pointing out - in an ironic way - how the RCC justifications can be used against them. It's a rhetorical device, and you have to be pretty thick not to see it. You got all hot and bothered for nothing.

Metafilter is just fine when it comes to the RCC. Every website, including this one, can stand to be improved, but this particular complaint is without merit.
posted by VikingSword at 12:15 PM on November 22, 2009


VikingSword,

Looking back again it obviously isn't a serious suggestion, though I didn't see your line of reasoning relating to irony, I have long learned to trust people who tell me something is meant ironically. I don't always see it.

However, even if that is the case, it doesn't change the essential nature of my post. I am still not sure why it is okay to paint 1.2 billion diverse people with the same hostile brush or why this community hasn't jumped on it like so much other trolling.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:44 PM on November 23, 2009


However, even if that is the case, it doesn't change the essential nature of my post. I am still not sure why it is okay to paint 1.2 billion diverse people with the same hostile brush or why this community hasn't jumped on it like so much other trolling.

Maybe because, yet again, you are not quite accurate in your perceptions. I am not aware of a mass movement on metafilter to demonize lay Catholics ("paint 1.2 billion diverse people with the same hostile brush") - in fact, I see multiple efforts by even harsh critics of the RCC to say that the criticism does not apply to all Catholics or even all Catholic clergy. Typical example (by bunnycup) from just a few posts above:

"Just like I have some bizarro-world Catholic relatives, I also have very many kind, caring, loving people in my life who have used their faith (Roman Catholic and others) as a touchstone for giving love and support. I would be a lot happier if we acknowledged that although the RC Church has a horrible record on human rights leadership and their stance on same sex marriage (and other social issues) is bigoted and offensive, not every single Catholic shares that stance. I hate to see the direction take the turn of "if you practice an organized religion like Catholicism you are obviously stupid and a bigot". I for one have a whole long list of folks in my life who challenge that theory, who do not let packs of Bishops make all their moral decisions for them, who think for themselves and understand shades of gray.

Sure, they might be "bad Catholics" in the eyes of RC leadership, but many "good people" are Catholic too.
"

And it is hardly "trolling" to discuss a pastoral letter freely distributed by the RCC itself. By the way, my entire FPP is composed entirely of quotes, without any additions from me at all - if the material is risible and causes outrage, then I suggest it is in the nature of the material itself, and shooting the messenger does nothing to alter the material. American Catholic Bishops composed and published it, and that's who is responsible for the content.
posted by VikingSword at 2:52 PM on November 24, 2009


Like it or not, the global Catholic church is a top-down hierarchy. It is increasingly clear that the lay population of the church is much more mainstream than the upper echelons, but it is not the laity that sets the policy. This isn't something that we critics can fix. I don't even know if the laity can fix it, but you can certainly refuse, for example, to tithe to an organization that is using your money for political purposes that you (apparently) don't support.
posted by muddgirl at 2:57 PM on November 24, 2009


And here I thought I might be huffing and puffing at shadows...

VikingSword, I thoroughly enjoyed your FPP, I thought it was it was timely, well put together, and well presented. Thank you for it.

I am also not aware and any mass movement on metafilter to demonize Catholics, what I was bemoaning was what appeared to be a uncharacteristic tolerance for a few who were. I'm saying that its bizzare that it could even need stating that 1.2 billion people don't all think alike.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:54 PM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're right: it's as bizarre as thinking that the uncharacteristic few are convinced all 1.2 billion people think alike.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2009


if the material is risible and causes outrage, then I suggest it is in the nature of the material itself, and shooting the messenger does nothing to alter the material.

The messenger chooses which quotations to include and disinclude. There are ways to write posts that piss people off and ways to write posts that encourage people to have reasonable discussions about the topics presented. These ways overlap, but often not by much.
posted by jessamyn at 10:54 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


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