Saturday, June 25, 2011

A principled reaction

God bless Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who had this to say after last night's travesty in New York (Hat tip: Whispers in the Loggia):
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society.

With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures.

What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship.

In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.

The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex “marriage.” It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness. [Emphasis added: E.M.]
That is a step in the right direction. When so-called "Catholic" politicians are the ones who cast the deciding votes for legislation that brands all their fellow Catholics as "bigots" they should be shunned, dis-invited, ignored, and openly opposed. Too many Catholic-In-Name-Only politicians like to rattle on and on about their "Catholic" memories while helping to destroy religious freedom in this nation. We should make it impossible for these disgusting CINOS to prostitute their fake Catholicism in exchange for Catholic honors--and Catholic votes.

I honestly believe that Andrew Cuomo, at the very least, ought to be publicly declared to be excommunicated. It is scandalous that this man can continue to claim to be Catholic and march up to receive Communion when he is living in sin in what Edward Peters called "public concubinage" which adds the scandal of open adultery for himself and his girlfriend; to this he has added the grave sin and scandal of his support for same-sex sodommarriage. How much more does he have to deviate from the Church before his bishop admits that his relationship with the Church is no longer in good standing?

But that aside, at the very least, no Catholic organization, parish, school, etc. should ever invite Cuomo or his Catholic partners in crime to any event ever again (let alone honor them!) unless they publicly repent for the evil they have foisted onto their fellow Catholics in New York. Let them keep trying to trade on their "Catholicism" for votes when their fellow Catholics see them for what they really are.

39 comments:

John E. said...

Does the public concubinage thing only apply to practicing Catholics, or are - for example - my wife and I (both civilly divorced from our First Spouses) each others Public Concubine in mutual public concubinage?

Also, I thoroughly approve of the Bishop's call for a more thorough separation of Church and State.

Turmarion said...

I honestly believe that Andrew Cuomo, at the very least, ought to be publicly declared to be excommunicated. It is scandalous that this man can continue to claim to be Catholic and march up to receive Communion when he is living in sin in what Edward Peters called "public concubinage" which adds the scandal of open adultery for himself and his girlfriend.... (emphasis added)

This perfectly makes my point from recent threads for me. The Church hasn't made the slightest move to deny Communion to Cuomo, excommunicate him, or as far as I know, even slap him on the wrist. Certainly neither Bishop DiMarzio nor any other hierarch has declared that he should not be allowed to give awards to parish schools, visit them, etc., over his cohabitation.

Now, to your credit, Red, you've said that divorce and cohabitation are as much "evil" as gay relationships. Certainly Governor Cuomo is no poster boy for "family values". Given all this, is not the Church in New York being monumentally hypocritical here? I mean, don't you see? Apparently the Catholic governor of one of the largest and most Catholic states in the union can be divorced with no annulment while cohabiting with a divorced woman (who as far as I know has had no annulment and isn't even Catholic) without hearing a peep from the hierarchy; but God forbid he support gay marriage--now he is banished from Catholic premises!

Do you see why I say that gays (regardless of one's view of gay marriage, etc.) have become whipping boys? Do you see how the Church is undermining itself?

bearing said...

Perhaps I can be faulted for despair.

I don't see this trend turning around. I expect marriage to be legally redefined in most states eventually.

(And I'm of the opinion that this is ultimately the fault of heterosexuals, who already gutted "marriage" of enough of its meaning that same-sex unions are merely the next logical step. But I digress.)

At some point, the Catholic bishops are going to have to give the Catholic faithful some guidance on how to navigate our social and economic lives in a world in which most people, including many of our friends and families, accept same-sex marriage as perfectly normal and right.

Sure, we're fighting for the right of (say) a Catholic wedding photographer to refuse to do business with same-sex unions, etc. But would the bishops advise such a photographer that he must refuse to do so, on pain of sin? This isn't clear to me.

And it seems clear to me that we aren't to attend same-sex "weddings" lest we lend legitimacy by our presence. How far does that go, though? Do we not accept invitations to a party hosted by a same-sex married couple at their home, for example? My inclination might be "yes you should refuse that" but maybe I'm going too far over the "uncharitable" end?

You see what I mean by the kind of clarity I think we need?

Sleeping Beastly said...

@Turmarion: It's not really a whipping-boy issue; it's a current events issue. Yes, I think public adulterers like Cuomo (and Giuliani ...and Gingrich) should be denied Communion until they repent and do penance. But it's not as if anyone was currently advancing a pro-divorce bill in New York.

America has already embraced divorce. The issue before legislators is whether to expand the legal definition of marriage, and that's what the bishop is responding to.

If you think social cons are unduly focused on the gay marriage question right now, I think you should ask yourselves whether social libs are also unduly focused on the same issue. It's not that we don't care about divorce and pornography and adultery and promiscuity; it's that we've already lost all those battles. Gay marriage is the one remaining battle we haven't lost, although I think the writing's on the wall, and wouldn't be surprised if it were federal law within twelve months.

Red Cardigan said...

Turmarion, I'm not being hypocritical. I'd be fine with Cuomo's situation in re: the Church being clarified due to public manifest grave sin, long before we ever start talking about his scandalous support of gay "marriage."

Bearing--we will need clarity. It could start with some preaching from the pulpit about marriage, what it is, what it isn't, etc.

John E.: I'm no canon lawyer, but here's how I see your situation (as always, subject to clarification by those who know better):

Suppose (not likely, I know) that either you or your wife became a Catholic. The Church would then examine both of your first marriages to see if either one of them had ever been putatively valid.

If neither marriage was valid as the Church understands it (and there are lots of things that would have to be looked at, such as whether either you or your wife had ever been baptized, into what faith, etc.), then the Church would examine your present marriage, determine its validity and decide whether you were both free to convalidate the marriage (that is, receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony from the Church).

Therefore, any denouncement of your present marriage by me or any other lay Catholic as "public concubinage" would be highly improper. I would consider your present marriage *putatively valid or capable of being validated* unless a definitive judgment by the Church made it clear that you are not or can't be validly married.

See, this is why the same-sex thing is so clear-cut. No gay "marriage" anywhere can *ever* be considered putatively valid or capable of being validated by the Church. It is a thing apart, invalid on its face.

You may never subject your marriage to the judgment of the Church, of course, but you *could* do so. No gay "married" pair ever can.

Why is it different to say that Cuomo is in a state of public concubinage? He was married as a Catholic and his first marriage is putatively valid; he has *not* attempted marriage to his girlfriend but is living in sin with her; were he to attempt marriage he would have to do so outside the Church as an act of separation unless he were to claim that his first marriage was somehow invalid, and have evidence of that fact. It is overwhelmingly possible that there isn't any such evidence to begin with (and that's leaving aside his girlfriend's prior marriage).

Sleeping Beastly said...

Incidentally, when I voice my opinion on something and someone responds by asking me why I don't care about other things, it just sounds like a slippery way of telling me to shut up.

Of course I care about other issues, but I can only really address one of them at a time, and if there's an issue out there more worthy of addressing that doesn't mean that the current issue shouldn't be addressed too.

Some charitable folks feed the hungry, and some visit prisoners, and certainly the need to be fed is more immediate than the need for companionship. But just because there are people starving doesn't mean that we are uncharitable for visiting prisoners instead of feeding the hungry. I hope I'm making sense.

Anonymous said...

Excommunication? Denial of communion? Punishing legislators in this fashion will not have the desired effect. Such punishment serves only makes the church leaders seem petty and impotent.

This bishop has bigger fish to fry than crying about a few gay people who love each other.

Turmarion said...

bearing, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and make a prediction.

Assuming that within the next ten years or so gay marriage or some analogue has been legalized in all or most of the states, then I predict that in thirty years the bishops' reaction to gay issues will be like it is to divorce and birth control now, i.e.: "Well, you're not supposed to do that, but, meh, why make a fuss?"

Whether this is good or bad depends on one's perspective, but I think that's what will happen, and in the words of Don Henley, "I may be wrong, but I'm not."

Anyone who thinks the bishops, by and large, have the slightest cojones on any issue where there are no major political parties or agitation groups giving them cover is living in a dream world. When the GOP caves in and starts distancing itself from bishops who fulminate against gay marriage, and the laity make it clear that they don't give a damn, the hierarchs will mostly fall in line. Just watch.

Red, I didn't say you were being hypocritical, I said the Church is. Don't you think?

Sleeping Beastly: But it's not as if anyone was currently advancing a pro-divorce bill in New York. Incidentally, when I voice my opinion on something and someone responds by asking me why I don't care about other things, it just sounds like a slippery way of telling me to shut up.

But to me it sounds like when someone says "well, no one's advancing a pro-divorce bill in New York" that it's a slippery way of saying, "I don't care what straights do, and that ship has sailed--I just want to bash gays." If the Church is really, truly sincere in its teaching on divorce, why isn't someone, anyone, pushing to change divorce law? I assume the Church in New York will support some kind of repeal of the law just passed--why not for divorce? And why does the Church in this country process more annulments than all the rest of the world combined, approving 97% of cases brought to tribunal?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'll try to keep this short:

If it is true that Andrew Cuomo is cohabiting with a woman he is not married to, the church has every right to excommunicate him. Some Protestant churches would say, he is welcome at worship, but not as a communicant member.

I distinguish that from excommunication over a political office holder's conduct in office -- which I consider just as great a threat to our republican form of government as kidnapping his daughter and holding her at gunpoint to coerce a vote.

Turmarion reminds me of a Methodist minister who asked a group of men generally unsympathetic to gays, "Booty call isn't part of God's plan either, so what makes you any better?"

I think the bishop is going a little overboard. Its not about an elite lording it over "the people." Its a close call what voters would support. As I've said before, there is no RIGHT to have same-sex couples recognized by a community that doesn't approve or care to endorse, but there is no political reason the community may not do so.

That said, the bishop would be within his rights to implore the community NOT to approve. Still, I don't believe this takes anything away from the family life of each and every heterosexual couple that chooses to enter into a marriage. Gays are a statistical minority, and always will be. It is not learned behavior.

John's question is an interesting one. I would affirm that his marriage is a marriage. I think Deirdre said the Catholic Church would recognize it as such. But the question does remind me of the tangled mess created when a Lutheran man divorced from a Lutheran woman (with one daughter) wanted to marry a Roman Catholic woman, and sought an annulment from the Roman Catholic Church, so he could marry his second wife in said church.

John E. said...

Well, heck, I was kinda hoping for concubinage. I always wanted to be a 'kept man'.

Hector said...

Re: Does the public concubinage thing only apply to practicing Catholics, or are - for example - my wife and I (both civilly divorced from our First Spouses) each others Public Concubine in mutual public concubinage?


John E,

Since you're not Catholic, I don't see why you would care whether the RC Church thinks you're married or not. And since I'm not Head Person in Charge of the United States, I don't see why my opinion, or Erin's opinion of your marriage matters to you either.

By the same token, I suspect that if the RC church decided to excommunicate Cuomo, he would just switch to the Episcopal or Lutheran Churches. Which is probably why they don't try.

John E. said...

Well Hector, mostly because I enjoy watching the logic chopping, especially with respect to the idea that procreative intent is a necessary requirement for marriage.

Hector said...

Well, personally, I've made it clear that I disapprove of all 'marriages' in which the partners have no interest, intent or desire for procreation, I don't consider them 'really and truly marriage', and I don't think they have anything to do with what a marriage really is. There's no logic chopping on my part. None of that applies to couples who are medically unable to have children, of course. I don't know about your situation, but if you're able to have children and choose not to have any, then yes, I disapprove. I'm not sure why my disapproval matters to you, though. I disapprove of a whole h*ll of a lot of things, including most of the American political, economic and social system.

The difference between me and Erin is that I'm not interested in my personal views or values becoming official government policy in The United States of America.

Turmarion said...

Turmarion reminds me of a Methodist minister who asked a group of men generally unsympathetic to gays, "Booty call isn't part of God's plan either, so what makes you any better?"

I love it! ;)

Geoff G. said...

But that aside, at the very least, no Catholic organization, parish, school, etc. should ever invite Cuomo or his Catholic partners in crime to any event ever again

So they shouldn't be invited to defend and debate their positions by Catholic universities? So there is no hope at all that they will ever change their minds? So dialogue much be cut off completely?

This seems a little extreme to me. I agree, the Church should not honor those who do not defend her principles. And perhaps even a sanction like excommunication may be called for (I wouldn't presume to know). But there's a big difference between honoring someone and shutting down debate and dialogue altogether.

It strikes me that this decision is a form of despair, a belief that change will never come that the Church hopes to see. Last I checked, that, too, was a sin.

John E. said...

...but if you're able to have children and choose not to have any, then yes, I disapprove. I'm not sure why my disapproval matters to you, though. I disapprove of a whole h*ll of a lot of things...

Well, I've thought about that for a while, and what I've come up with is that knowing that there are people out there who disapprove of this relationship - which has brought me more joy and happiness than anything else in my life for these past twelve years - and that this disapproval is based on strictly philosophical grounds and not because it affects them personally in any way - makes that joy and happiness even sweeter.

Kind of a 'forbidden love' or 'our love against the world' sort of thing. Silly eh?

So thanks for that, Hector.

Hector said...

I don't disapprove of your marriage as a whole, I disapprove of your choice (and the deliberate choice of any other married couple) not to have children. I don't go about telling people out of the blue that they should be having children, especially since I have a lot of family and friends who have made that lifestyle choice, but you did ask, so I answered.

I believe that you can be friends, cordial associates, etc. with a person without approving of all their choices.

I'm glad you're happy in your marriage, for what it's worth. Nobody's perfect, and I'm a sinner as well.

John E. said...

Well thanks Hector, and I hope you find the philosophically compatible woman of your dreams.

Sleeping Beastly said...

@Turmarion: But to me it sounds like when someone says "well, no one's advancing a pro-divorce bill in New York" that it's a slippery way of saying, "I don't care what straights do, and that ship has sailed--I just want to bash gays." If the Church is really, truly sincere in its teaching on divorce, why isn't someone, anyone, pushing to change divorce law?

Essentially because Protestant America isn't with us on the issue. It's the same reason we can push for anti-abortion legislation but not anti-contraception legislation. Protestant America is with us on abortion but not on contraception, just like they're with us on gay marriage but not on divorce.

It's not a matter of bashing anyone or of not caring what straight people do; it's just fruitless to spend hours and dollars pushing for legislation that has no chance of being adopted.

Geoff G. said...

Essentially because Protestant America isn't with us on the issue. It's the same reason we can push for anti-abortion legislation but not anti-contraception legislation. Protestant America is with us on abortion but not on contraception, just like they're with us on gay marriage but not on divorce.

You're forgetting your history: prior to the 1970s, Protestant America didn't care very much about abortion either, and it was activism from Catholics that got them to change their views and get involved in the pro-life side. And I think you'll find that there are very many conservative Protestants who are indeed concerned about divorce. Hence, for example, the presence of covenant marriages in some conservative states like Louisiana and Arkansas.

Besides, there's a difference between the active lobbying on an issue you know is legislatively dead and not speaking out at all.

For instance, there's a certain organization that is ostensibly pro-traditional marriage and is run by a certain Catholic. You'd think they might at least put something in a mission statement about opposing divorce or contraception, even if they don't spend any money lobbying on it. But they don't. That's why I think they're not a pro-marriage group, they're an anti-gay group. (That and the fact that they do get involved in gay rights issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with marriage, like military service)

Moreover, legislators introduce bills that they know are going nowhere all the time. It's a symbolic gesture and a means of hopefully getting a little attention on a particular issue. So why not do it on this one?

I think it's because social conservatives know they would lose whatever support they have among independents and moderates as soon as it became clear that their agenda involves legislation that would have a direct bearing on straights as well as gays. Most straight people don't care too much about same sex marriage either way. They care very much about government intrusions into their own families.

That and there are a fair number of religious activists who do act out of anti-gay prejudice (just as there are people on my side who are anti-religious; human beings seem prone to prejudice, alas).

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Hector, if you look in the archives at Alexandria, circa June/August 2009, I think it was John E. who posted about why his dear wife April wants a certain doctor's balls in a jar on her desk, due to blatant malpractice bordering on the malicious. The question of concern to you does not apply to his marriage.

I do wonder, if marriage is something more than a mere child-producing machine, why you would imply that two people who share tender emotions should NOT marry. In fact, if heterosexuals must intend to have children, in order to have a true marriage, why would you even consider allowing for same-sex couples to marry? Just chopping the logic here.

Speaking of Protestant America... before Roe v. Wade, my Republican mother's fellow Planned Parenthood volunteers, many of them Democrats, used to moan about how the influence of the Roman Catholic Church prevented loosening the abortion laws of the state in which we lived. My mother tartly pointed out that all the abortion laws on the books were passed by thoroughly Protestant-dominated state legislators in the mid to late 19th century. The same was true of laws allowing little option for divorce.

I also recall the Jerry Falwell types were coming out sharply against abortion just as fast as the Roman Catholic Church, only, at first nobody thought they amounted to much.

But it is true, in a democratic republic, that if you have a majority of voters (of whatever mix of faiths) with you on one issue, and not on another, no amount of righteous fervor will get you the law (or repeal) you are committed to.

John E. said...

@Geoff Most straight people don't care too much about same sex marriage either way. They care very much about government intrusions into their own families.

Except that - I'd wager - most straight people these days know and care about at least one gay person among their immediate circle of friends and relatives.

Because of that, the thought processes of a non-trivial number of people turn towards such lines as, "Why shouldn't cousin Alice and that nice girl she's been living with for the past ten years be able to get married? That doesn't seem right."

So this non-trivial number of people start asking, "Yeah, why can't these folks get married?"

To which the three most popular answers are:

God doesn't like it
It has always been this way
Marriage is for having kids and gays can't have kids

Now, for better or worse, the first two argument don't hold a lot of sway in today's America.

And, for better or worse, the main reason a non-trivial number of couples marry in the US is not for having kids, but because they love each other, want to spend their lives together, and getting married makes the day-to-day paperwork of life easier to manage.

So when the argument against gay marriage becomes, "marriage is for having kids," and a non-trivial segment respond with, "well, we got married but didn't want kids" or "sure, we want/had kids, but that wasn't why we got married - we got married because we loved each other", then the "anti's" arguments become a lot less compelling in the face of the "pro's" argument of "we love each other and want to spend our lives together - just like you folks get to do."


@Siarlys
Thanks for the shout out...

I was struck by the felicitous turn of phrase here:

"The question of concern to you does not apply to his marriage."

Which leads me to wonder why the concerns of anyone - besides the people getting married - should be relevant at all.

Sleeping Beastly said...

@Geoff: You're forgetting your history: prior to the 1970s, Protestant America didn't care very much about abortion either, and it was activism from Catholics that got them to change their views and get involved in the pro-life side. And I think you'll find that there are very many conservative Protestants who are indeed concerned about divorce.

Catholic activism may have brought Protestants on board the anti-abortion bandwagon (although I suspect it was less a matter of making them change their views than of giving them something with which to get involved) but I was talking about legislature. If you’re suggesting that some form of anti-divorce or anti-contraception activism would bring enough Protestants on board to give legs to anti-contraception or anti-divorce legislation, I’d love to hear your idea, although you may have already shared it.

Yes, some Protestants are already concerned about divorce but I don’t think enough of them are ready to commit to legislation that, say, forbids divorce-and-remarriage altogether. Some might be, but again lobbying for legislation like that to change the national legal definition of marriage would be pointless.

Thanks for the link to covenant marriage, though; I think that is a fantastic idea. The national definition of marriage gets defined into nothingness, so we create another legal category that better fits the true nature of marriage. I like it a lot. Very Ueshiba. While restricting divorce nationwide might be too difficult to promote, covenant marriage as an alternative might not. I can see getting behind a legislative push for a covenant marriage option. If that was your idea for getting Protestants on board with anti-divorce legislation, then I think it’s a good one and the time has come to promote it.

Besides, there's a difference between the active lobbying on an issue you know is legislatively dead and not speaking out at all.

True. Are you saying Catholics don’t speak out at all? Or just that you don’t see them doing it on your local news affiliate when you turn on the TV? I can’t speak to the “certain organization” you mention, but I can point to plenty of anti-divorce pastors, programs, and individuals, and I hear people speak out against abortion just about every time I turn on the local EWTN station.

Moreover, legislators introduce bills that they know are going nowhere all the time. It's a symbolic gesture and a means of hopefully getting a little attention on a particular issue. So why not do it on this one?

Doesn’t that say more about the character of our legislators than it does about the characters of members of the public?

I think it's because social conservatives know they would lose whatever support they have among independents and moderates as soon as it became clear that their agenda involves legislation that would have a direct bearing on straights as well as gays. Most straight people don't care too much about same sex marriage either way. They care very much about government intrusions into their own families.

You may be right that most secular straight folks would balk at anti-divorce and anti-contraception legislation. Fair enough. The point is still that there isn’t enough support to give legs to such legislation and that’s why you don’t see a big push for it. But I think you’re wrong in saying that most straight people don’t care about gay marriage. Every time the issue is put to a popular vote, gay marriage loses.

That and there are a fair number of religious activists who do act out of anti-gay prejudice (just as there are people on my side who are anti-religious; human beings seem prone to prejudice, alas).

Well, I can’t read minds, but I do think that the gay marriage issue necessarily leaves a huge chunk of the public feeling discriminated against, and not necessarily because of prejudice.

Sleeping Beastly said...

@John: Which leads me to wonder why the concerns of anyone - besides the people getting married - should be relevant at all.

Because marriage is a public act. When two people get married, they ask that the event be witnessed publicly. When they ask that the event be recorded at City Hall and ask that courts and employers and businesses and friends and neighbors now treat them differently because of their new marital status, they have very little grounds on which to insist that it's a purely private matter that doesn't concern anyone else.

John E. said...

@Beastly - I think you misunderstand, I am asking why anyone thinks that two people, of legal age, mentally sound, and not genetically related to a degree of dangerous consanguinity, needs society's approval to get married.

From the point of view of The State, marriage is just another business agreement.

We don't go around saying that only these types of adults can open a business together - why should The State treat marriage differently?

Sleeping Beastly said...

@John: The analogy with business doesn't really fit. Marriage is not "just another business agreement" in the eyes of the state. Just ask a family law specialist.

It us interesting that you have no problem prohibiting two brothers from contracting marriage; why is that? They can open a business together, can't they?

And why not allow three people to get married? They can open a business together too, right?

And why not allow someone already in a marriage to get married to someone else? If I had opened a business with my wife, there's no reason I can't also open another business with someone else, right?

Why should anyone care? Why should I need society's approval to get married? Because that's what marriage is! When you ask society to recognize your marriage, you're asking for society's approval!

Why should the state treat marriage and business differently? One word: children. That's the reason the institution exists in the first place, and the reason why I say that Americans signed Marriage's death warrant when they embraced contraception. Without children in the picture, marriage is meaningless. If children grew on trees rather than from the sexual union of a man and a woman, marriage would never even have been, um, conceived.

Turmarion said...

Geoff G.: I think it's because social conservatives know they would lose whatever support they have among independents and moderates as soon as it became clear that their agenda involves legislation that would have a direct bearing on straights as well as gays. Most straight people don't care too much about same sex marriage either way. They care very much about government intrusions into their own families.

Excellent, Geoff--my point exactly. Thanks for doing some of the heavy lifting in this post, too! :)

To add a little bit, the late Francis Schaeffer was heavily involved in jump-starting the pro-life movement; as Geoff rightly points out (and which I can confirm, having been old enough to remember at the time), most Protestants weren't too exercised about the matter at the time. Schaeffer had ties to presuppositionalist and Christian Reconstructionist thought, both of which have very radical themes and agendas, especially the latter. Scaeffer's son, Frank, while still a pro-life Christian, has written books (this and this, for example) in which he strongly repudiates his father's politics, theological approach, and activism.

Sleeping Beastly: Are you saying Catholics don’t speak out at all?

I am Catholic, have attended five different parishes for extended periods of time and visited many, many others; I read and have read extensively in the Catholic press; I spend a lot of time in the Catholic blogosphere; I occasionally watch EWTN; and I am willing to state that the mainseream Church, in fact, with very few exceptions, says almost nothing about divorce, cohabitation, or contraception (even in parishes with conservative priests), except for a few weak promos of NFP during pre-Cana. So much the opposite, I have heard even conservative priests plugging the diocesan tribunal for divorced and remarried Catholics, and at my pre-Cana when someone asked about couples who cohabited before marriage, the priest said, "Well, all the more reason to get 'em through the process and married!"

I come back to Cuomo--if the Church was really all that fired up about family values, it wouldn't have waited until he came out for gay marriage to ban him from schools and such. As Geoff said, the religious conservatives don't want to tee off straights, who almost universally accept contraception, cohabitation, etc. Gays are still easy targets. However, as I said, when gay marriage becomes prevalent, and when the laity is as blasé about it as it is about contraception now, the hierarchy will shut up. Which is the exact type of hypocrisy that Jesus condemned (he didn't worry to much about the masses' morality), and which gives the lie to the bishops' vaunted claims to be guardians of societal morality.

Hector said...

Re: and I am willing to state that the mainseream Church, in fact, with very few exceptions, says almost nothing about divorce, cohabitation, or contraception

I've attended a fair number of Catholic masses (as a non-communicant, of course, since I'm Anglican), and I attended a Mass one Sunday in the fall, when the assigned reading for the day was from Mark 10, about divorce. I was actually quite curious to hear what the priest would say about the divorce passage, and I was looking forward to a rousing, compelling defence of the indissolubility of marriage. Whether or not you agree with it, a very strong and compelling case can be made for the RC position against divorce. He actually didn't end up saying ANYTHING about divorce, even though it was the whole topic of the passage! He talked a bit about the beauty of marriage, and then finished by lamely saying, 'And that's why we don't believe in divorce'. That was the extent of his dealing with the passage, and the extent of his non-defence of the Roman Catholic teaching.

I went to my Episcopal church the same day for an evening service, to see what they would make of the passage. The priest actually wrestled with the passage, and with the difficult moral issues involved in divorce. They ended up coming down firmly in favour of the liberal, present-day Episcopalian view of divorce: that it's sometimes the lesser evil, and an acceptable concession to human weakness. But whether or not you agree with my Episcopal priest, they at least defended their view and made a case for it, even if it was the wrong case. I have to say I respect that more than I do a priest who just tries to avoid the issue.

In short, Turmarion, I agree with you.

John E. said...

@Sleeping - good catch on the two brothers, I should have been more specific.

Actually, I don't have any objections to what you listed, or even to the consanguineously suspect cases as long as the people involved are sterile. Or to numbers greater than two.

But I'm probably more on the radically individualist end of the spectrum than most.

Turmarion said...

Funny about coincidences. I was just goofing around and ran across this article over at Commonweal (via the Daily Dish).

Sleeping Beastly said...

@John: Here's another question then: We don't have laws against a brother and sister screwing and having a dozen web-toed kids, which seems to be your only concern in denying them marital privileges. So why do we allow them to procreate but not give state sanction to their union?

Think about that one for a few minutes and then answer me this: If marital privileges are not specifically designed to support child-rearing, what point is there in enshrining them in law at all? Why give a certain relationship a different status from other relationships? Why allow two people to contract a specific marital relationship that gives them privileges and duties that even lifelong friends are not given by law?

Sleeping Beastly said...

@Turmarion: I hear what you’re saying. I don’t know that the problem is quite as widespread as you seem to think; I’ve heard some very strong sermons about divorce and contraception - in three different cities, including one from the archbishop of Denver. I’ve also read some very strong words from our priests and bishops online and in print.

They don’t get the same press as Abp. Dolan’s words about gay marriage but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being spoken. But then, if you’re as old as you say you are, you should be familiar with how the media operate by now. I can say that there are plenty of orthodox priests, religious, and bishops who are not afraid to speak out against contraception every bit as loudly as they speak out against gay marriage, if not more so - the secular press just isn’t nearly as interested when they do. As far as the Times and CNN are concerned, the battles for divorce and The Pill have already been won, and no one cares what some old man in a mitre has to say about them.

Should Dolan have taken stronger public steps to correct Cuomo (and, while we’re at it, Giuliani)? I absolutely think so. But I’m not sure you can explain his behavior away by calling it prejudice. I’d be more likely to blame cowardice and complacency.

That’s probably because I myself am a complacent coward. I am much more likely to speak out against contraception than against gay marriage, at least among my own friends and colleagues. The reason, if I’m being honest, is that (at least among the people I know) if I voice opposition to contraception almost no one even takes me seriously, whereas if I voice opposition to gay marriage people react as though I had just suggested we finish the job Hitler started.

The one view could earn me a reputation for being eccentric, but the other could cost me my livelihood and ensure that a good chunk of my colleagues and acquaintances refuse to speak to me. That’s the kind of reaction I should be willing to accept, but when you live in a comfortable nation like ours, where all but the most destitute can at least afford a chicken in the pot and the minimum payments on the heating bill, it’s easy to get cowardly and complacent and be afraid of losing what you have.

That’s not a sign that Church teaching is changing, just a sign that American Catholics are getting soft.

But you will admit, at least, that some priests and bishops and many speakers on EWTN do speak out loudly and frequently against divorce, cohabitation, and contraception? Enough do that I don't really have an excuse for my own cowardice.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Sleeping Beastly:

Every state has laws against incest, and federal courts have turned down the argument that if two men or two women have a constitutional right to engage in mutually consenting sexual activity, then by the same token there is no reason a brother and sister should not settle down to raise a family.

National Review tried to moot such an argument. I number myself among the many who say through the poor logic.

http://siarlysjenkins.blogspot.com/2005/08/no-virginia-there-is-not.html

Sleeping Beastly said...

@John: You're not more radical, just more logically consistent. Although if you're going to start slapping legal sanctions on sibling couples because of the risks of birth defects, you're going to have either do the same to people with a higher-than-normal chance of passing on genetic deformities of any kind (like, for instance, Ashkenazi Jews) or give a logically consistent reason for not doing so. Something more compelling than a simple fear of being labeled a Nazi. :)

@Siarlys: Not every state has laws against incest between consenting adults, and I would guess that those arguing from an individual rights perspective (like our friend John) would view such laws precisely as they view laws against sodomy: as vestigial remnants of a less liberal and enlightened time.

Such laws would, I assume be as applicable to sterile siblings as they are to their fertile counterparts, no?

If you have a logically consistent reason why we should expand the definition of marriage to include gay partners but still exclude siblings, I would be very interested to read it.

John E. said...

@SB:
If marital privileges are not specifically designed to support child-rearing, what point is there in enshrining them in law at all? Why give a certain relationship a different status from other relationships? Why allow two people to contract a specific marital relationship that gives them privileges and duties that even lifelong friends are not given by law?

For one reason only - it simplifies and reduces the paperwork that governments and corporations would have to deal with.

Everything covered by civil family law could be duplicated by private contractual agreements, but that would kill a million trees and take up a huge load of filing cabinets.

The default civil marriage laws provide a basic 'default' set of regulations.

You're not more radical, just more logically consistent.

That's the nicest thing I've heard so far today!

Although if you're going to start slapping legal sanctions on sibling couples because of the risks of birth defects, you're going to have either do the same to people with a higher-than-normal chance of passing on genetic deformities of any kind (like, for instance, Ashkenazi Jews) or give a logically consistent reason for not doing so.

Does the general genetic risk among any random m/f pair of Ashkenazim Jews match that of the general genetic risk of any random brother/sister mother/son father/daughter pair?

If so, I agree with your statement.

If not, I'd say that the risk doesn't meet what I'd think of as rising to the level of justifying State interference.

After all, most States allow first-cousin marriages.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Beastly, please name the states that have no law prohibiting incest. Also please specify which states have actually granted marriage licenses to incestuous couples. I realize that allowing cohabitation by brother and sister (it is certainly a felony in Wisconsin, as you would know if you followed the link I offered) is different from issuing a license.

I don't entirely agree with John about the reasons for having marriage at all, even if there will be no children. I am in love with a woman who had a complete hysterectomy some years back. She hasn't decided if I am worthy of marrying her, but I see an intrinsic good in making solemn promises before God and everybody. It is a mutual commitment not to be lightly abandoned. "For better or for worse" means something.

Again, you could have read my logically consistent position at the link I provided, and moved this discussion along by responding to it, instead of remaining mired in the same question you already posed. There actually is no Supreme Court ruling about gay marriage, only about the right of adult individuals to be free of police interference in private consensual acts.

There has been no similar consideration of incest.

Sleeping Beastly said...

@Siarlys: Beastly, please name the states that have no law prohibiting incest. Also please specify which states have actually granted marriage licenses to incestuous couples.

Kindly show me where I said anything about states granting marriage licenses to incestuous couples. Or where I made a blanket statement that incest is not prohibited (in some form) everywhere. If you reread my comment you might notice the phrase "consenting adults." New Jersey has no laws against such acts.

I read half of your linked post before deciding it made too little sense to spend any more time on it. Sorry. The attention span of Gen Xers. Whatchagonnado.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

New Jersey has no law against incest between adult brother and sister?

Seems unlikely. Researching the NJ code is not high on my priority list, but I'll see what I can find.

You did say "Not every state has laws against incest between consenting adults." That is precisely what I questioned. Please don't blame everyone your age for your own laziness.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Actually, it didn't take too long to find this:

New Jersey

37:1-1. Certain marriages prohibited
A man shall not marry any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sister, or the daughter of his brother or sister, or the sister of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood. A woman shall not marry any of her ancestors or descendants, or her brother, or the son of her brother or sister, or the brother of her father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood. A marriage in violation of any of the foregoing provisions shall be absolutely void.

That, per se, is provides no criminal penalties, but it is a prohibition. I infer you relied on the Wikipedia article. Even Gen-Xers should be able to figure out that Wikipedia is a starting point, at best, not authority for anything. I could have edited that article five minutes ago to read however I pleased.