Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category


“Enemies of the human race.”

Justice Scalia points out this characterization of faithful Christians, Jews, and Muslims by the majority of the Supreme Court in today’s gay marriage ruling. Not having read the entire decision, if these are indeed the words of Justice Kennedy, then impeachment proceedings are in order, for such demagoguery gives the government ample ammunition to attack churches, synagogues, and mosques. This was precisely the language used by Hitler, and has been a staple of gay activism going back to the 1980′s and the attacks on Cardinal O’Connor .

“Enemies of the human race.”

These are the kinds of words spoken by tyrants who know that they have no moral or legal authority and seek to eliminate the opposition by incarceration, intimidation, and slaughter.

“Enemies of the human race.”

Remember “tolerance” and “diversity” ??

Me neither.

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If today’s Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage were tough to swallow, this post will be even more of a challenge to accept. On the merits of the cases, dissenting Justice Scalia got it exactly right. No argument there. It’s where the blame ultimately lies that separates me from many fellow conservative and orthodox Catholics.

It’s many, if not a majority, of us.

It’s hard for me to blame the gays and lesbians here. They are a tiny minority of the population who have managed to swing some 55% of the nation their way. Today was a hard-won victory for them, in a 5-4 ruling whose split on the Court mirrors the split in the nation. They have fought for years (along with cohabiting heterosexuals) to share in all of the goods and privileges of marriage, and they won them, one at a time while many of us were too busy with work and recreational activities to get politically fired up. By the time the Churches got serious, the game was already over.

Enjoying all of the goods and privileges of marriage: sex, adoption, child-bearing and rearing, shared benefits, etc…, the only thing missing was the piece of paper that labeled the lived reality.


Having permitted non-married persons of same-sex, or heterosexual pairings to cohabit with all of the privileges of married people, we have been reduced to a semantic argument. What to call it?? For a time, “Domestic Partnership” sufficed. But thinking people knew that was just a stop-gap measure. Incrementalism always works that way. So, really, where did the train leave the tracks?

Perhaps married people haven’t appreciated the goods of marriage as such. Perhaps we forgot somewhere along the way that society valued marriage so much because society recognized the complementarity of the sexes and the need of children for both their mother and father living under the same roof. It was always understood that the strength of society required stable children growing into stable adulthood, and the social scientific data have repeatedly borne out this pairing of stability with being raised by one’s mother and father under one roof.

With divorce hovering around 50% for two generations, with sex being dissected and reduced to mere pleasure-seeking through the help of artificial contraception, with children completely commodified, this was bound to happen.

Specifically, on the commodification of children, everyone makes money on them. Need to adopt because you became sterile from abortion, or STD’s, or because you are a homosexual couple? It will cost upward of $40K, often higher than $60K. Want a baby that’s genetically your own, but fall into one of the aforementioned categories, or are infertile for other reasons? There’s in vitro fertilization costing into the tens of thousands of dollars. Too old to use your own eggs? Pay some young woman $10K to juice her body full of hormones to facilitate egg donation. Then pay tens of thousands for IVF; or pay tens of thousands to hire a surrogate mother. Don’t want that baby? Abortions range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The wheeling and dealing over children as a commodity is ghastly, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. That’s because marriage isn’t about them anymore. It’s all about the adults. Were it all about the stability of children, today’s rulings never would have happened. The sad truth is that untold married couples fit into every one of those abusive categories just mentioned. We have made a real hash of marriage.

Instead, today motherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children adopted by homosexual couples.

Instead, today fatherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children born to/adopted by lesbian couples.

But that was just the codification of a lived reality ceded many years ago. So, no, today came as no surprise; no moreso than the diagnosis of lung cancer to the person who has smoked for decades. I was one of those smokers, too busy with work, school, family to get involved. So where do we go from here?

First, we should use great restraint in directing our anger at a tiny fraction of the population, the gays and lesbians. They have sought out recognition of their love as they understand marital love. And they do love each other, many with a greater devotion than many of our failed heterosexual marriages.

Next, we must put our own house in order; strengthening our marriages and churches, subordinating our marriages to God’s wise design. Only when that is done can we, or will we be in a position to evangelize others and change this course we have been on for decades. That won’t happen anytime soon. And what of prayer? Many have said we need to pray for a miracle.

I don’t see that happening. It hasn’t happened with forty years of abortion.

As my grandmother used to admonish: God helps those who help themselves. We, in the aggregate, have been asleep at the switch for decades. A miracle Supreme Court decision only compounds that laziness. In working to redeem marriage we grow as individuals, as churches, and as a society. Just as Adam and Eve would have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow, so it will be with abortion and marriage.

The redemption of lives and marriage itself will have to be the result of an awakening in society, or else it is cheap grace that will not endure.

Time to get to work.

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Canon Lawyer Eward Peters on Governor Cuomo in the wake of the Gay Marriage Bill signing:

“Among the many persons laboring in New York to accord same-sex unions the civil legal status of marriage, no one played a more important, and indeed a constitutionally essential, role than did the governor of the Empire State, Andrew Cuomo, a Roman Catholic. Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign touted his strong support for “gay marriage”, he used his enormous influence to push key legislators into voting for New York’s “gay marriage” bill, and he signed that bill into law hardly an hour after it was passed…

“First, Cuomo’s long pattern of conduct in regard to “gay marriage” warrants, in my opinion, a canonical investigation under Canon 1717 into whether he has “in a public show or speech, published writings, or in other uses of the instruments of social communications … gravely injure[d] good morals…” and on that account is to be punished (puniatur) with a just penalty per Canon 1369

“Cuomo’s concubinage gives prominent bad example against marriage, but his official actions in regard to “gay marriage” have changed the very definition of marriage in the populous state under his care; Cuomo’s living arrangements are of immediate canonical concern to only two of New York’s eight arch/bishops, but his political actions in regard to “gay marriage” negatively impact the pastoral mission of every Catholic bishop, parish priest, deacon, and lay minister throughout the Province of New York; finally, while most of the bishops of New York said little or nothing about Cuomo’s living with a woman not his wife, his long-standing actions in regard to “gay marriage” were challenged repeatedly, directly, and forcefully by the Archbishop of New York and by all his seven suffragans.

“In light of the foregoing, I see no way, absent a public reversal of his public conduct, that Andrew Cuomo may present himself for holy Communion (per Canon 916), and, if he does present himself, I see no way that a minister of holy Communion may administer the sacrament to him (per Canon 915). Indeed, the only question in my mind is whether the ordinaries of New York should lift from the shoulders of individual ministers the burden of reaching this decision, by making a determination to this effect themselves and, assuming they do reach this conclusion, whether they should announce it publicly or in a personal letter to Cuomo. (Personally, I think a public announcement more befits the markedly public character of Cuomo’s conduct and responds better to the danger of scandal presented to the faithful by his actions).

Read the rest here.

H/T Deacon Greg Kandra

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Every Day A Cana

Tonight as we were sitting with the children and showing them our wedding album and discussing the events of 18 years ago today, we came to the picture that was never taken, the one I’m so sorry was missed, the one of the angel sent to remind Regina and me of our mission as a married couple. The angle’s name was Dottie, and she was a familiar fixture in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

She was homeless, and as is so often the case, weathered and aged beyond her years. How she came to be there at Saint Vincent Ferrer in New York, I cannot say–save for the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Regina and I put a great deal into the Mass: the music, the musicians, the readings, the three priests and deacon who were so close to us, our family and friends’ participation. We spent more time on the Mass than the rest of the day’s events, by far. It was glorious.

Then after Mass, as we were halfway down that very long aisle, past most of our family and friends, it happened.

Dottie appeared out of nowhere, directly in front of us.

She grabbed my arm and told me how beautiful Regina looked, how beautiful we looked, how happy she was for us both, how our wedding was the most beautiful she ever attended. Then she inclined forward to kiss me. And so we did. In a long intimate moment in the aisle she kept assuring us that we had God’s very special blessing and that we would have a good marriage. Regina and I took it in stride, and actually enjoyed the warmth and spontaneity of the moment. After working with homeless youth for seven years, it was as natural as walking.

Then, a friend leaned out and ushered her into the pew with him, and we were off to the steps for photos. Dottie stayed out front, waving at us in the limo. I never saw her again.

Eighteen years have presented us with a great many challenges. Making two into one has had its better moments, and some we’d rather forget. But just as Jesus came to the rescue at Cana, He has made us new many times over, each time perfecting in us some element of ourselves that needed the covenantal love of marriage and its attendant graces in order to grow.

With our son’s autism came a whole new dimension of vocation as a married couple. Though Regina as a pediatric nurse, and I in ministry to the homeless worked at our pro-life convictions, Joseph’s autism would open entirely new vistas in working within the movement to rebuild a Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love. The plight of the handicapped, the abortions of 93% of all Down Syndrome children have become very personal. It has seasoned us both for dedicating our marriage to furthering the Gospel of Life, for advocating for the poor and the least among us.

Dottie’s apparition in the aisle was no mere fluke. It was a prophetic call to a young newly married couple. The beauty of the radiant bride that gently received the loving wishes of the weathered old woman without a home; uninvited, yet warmly and lovingly received. It has become the metaphor for our marriage, replete with the many who laughed with scorn at the moment–missing its import and beauty.

I think of Dottie whenever we take out the wedding album. I’ll never forget her face, her voice, that moment in the aisle. She was the first to greet us as a newly married couple, to kiss me and wish her blessings on us. She was elevated, as Jesus promised:

“The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Today one man, one homosexual judge, has decided for a nation that the people of a state do not have the right to conserve ancient societal institutions such as marriage. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative, passed by the voters in 2008, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Doubtless a river of ink will be spilled over this ruling and its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The questions, the searing questions for Christians are these: What was actually at stake? What, if anything, was lost today?

Was it the name of marriage, its definition, or its fundamental lived reality?

Certainly the definition of what constitutes marriage was dealt a deadly blow in one judicial ruling. But then, the very identity of marriage has been suffering death by a thousand cuts for decades. Marriage was always understood to reserve certain goods for heterosexual couples who promised their lives to one another in sacred oath.

Sexual activity, the procreating of children, adoption, rights of inheritance, rights of visitation, joint ownerships and contracts, joint rental leases, tax benefits, spousal coverage on insurance, have all been goods of marriage. One by one, each has been given away over the past few decades to cohabiting couples, both heterosexual and homosexual/lesbian.

Gays and lesbians may adopt children, whom society has decided do not need both a mother and a father for optimal healthy development.

Sodomy laws have been struck down.

Cohabitation outside of marriage is the norm.

Same-sex partners may share health benefits and have full hospital visitation rights.

Same-sex partners may cosign leases and mortgages.

Same-sex couples have domestic partnerships, quasi-marriage.

The list goes on and on. One by one the goods reserved to marriage have been given away without a firestorm of protest. The result is that gays and lesbians now have marriage in everything but name only. If we have not formally redefined marriage up to this point, we have done so operationally. Anger over Vaughn’s decision, while understandable, is a little like closing the barn door after the horses have gone.

Assuming the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Vaughn and restores the right of the people to define marriage, this will be a very small victory for marriage. No-fault divorce has done more to destroy marriage than all of the gay weddings times a thousand. We heterosexuals have been poor custodians of God’s great institution. Assuming a Supreme Court victory for traditionalists, what then?

Do we then turn our sights on cheap and easy divorces? Do we dare attempt to reclaim the goods of marriage and reserve them to heterosexual married couples only? Are we ready for that series of battles?

Or do we simply claim victory in a semantic skirmish and concede the war?

We have become too comfortable for far too long. Perhaps we dared not oppose the systematic surrender of marriage’s goods because of guilt over our rampant use of porn, rampant rates of adultery and divorce. Perhaps we were too busy with other pursuits, material acquisition and easy living, to man the barricades.

In his first homily as Pope, Benedict XVI reminded the Church that we were not made for comfort, but for greatness. Our collective shrug at the systematic looting of marriage’s goods points to our need to heed the Holy Father’s call to reorient ourselves toward greatness, and not a moment too soon.

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