Monday, July 11, 2011

"Yes, we have a big catechetical challenge..."

The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, reflects on further on the New York legislature's re-definition of marriage in his blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age. Note especially his reminder of something the media and proponents of this change keep steering us away from, that marriage is "at the very foundation of civilization, which the state has the duty to defend and protect, not to mutate." That sort of statement ought not surprise any of my readers. Archbishop Dolan says a lot more, and I encourage you to ponder his words -- all of them.

Hat tip to Touchstone's
Mere Comments.

Some Afterthoughts

Almost two weeks ago — hauntingly, on the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, whom King Herod would behead because the saint dared to defend the God-given truth about marriage — our state sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage. Is there anything left to say?


For one, thanks to those courageous millions who valiantly fought this unfortunate project of social engineering. You can hold your heads high. Sanely, civilly, thoughtfully, vigorously . . . you did not cave-in. The forces on the other side were a Goliath indeed — with tons of money, “glitterati” from entertainment circles, political powerbrokers, and the media — but you proved a worthy David.

You will understand my special word of gratitude to people of faith — evangelicals, Mennonites, Jews, Moslem, Catholics, Amish, and so many more, led often by African-American and Latino believers — who simply believe that marriage is a given, at the very foundation of civilization, which the state has the duty to defend and protect, not to mutate.

My brother bishops of New York were particularly prophetic. When I arrived here a little over two-years ago, they told me realistically that we faced a looming battle over the defense of marriage. They advised me that the odds were not in our favor, and that some experts were even suggesting that we give-in and not put up a fight.

But they were also resolute in their conviction that such would have been a dereliction of duty. As Blessed John Paul II often commented, the Church is “counter-cultural,” like Jesus, often at odds with what passes as chic, enlightened, and progressive. In their writings, sermons, personal lobbying, interviews, and our common statements — backed up by indefatigable efforts by our New York State Catholic Conference, bolstered by ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation, and, especially, supported by countless thousands of our faithful Catholic people (one legislator told me he received 47,000 e-mails against the measure from the Catholic Advocacy Network) — the bishops were on the frontiers. We have been bloodied, and bruised, and, yes, for the moment, we have been defeated. But, we’re used to that. So was the Founder of our Church.

Two, the Church neither has nor wants political “clout.” As Cardinal John O’Connor commented, “The only ‘clout’ the Church really has is God’s Truth, the assurance of His grace, and the simple yet sincere conviction of our people.” Blessed John Paul II again reminds us that “The Church never imposes, she only proposes.” And as our current Holy Father has often observed, all the Church wants is its freedom to serve humanity by bringing the light of the gospel to the world.

But, three, we do worry indeed about this freedom of religion. Editorials already call for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty, with crusaders calling for people of faith to be coerced to acceptance of this redefinition. If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.

Four, the real forces of “intolerance” were unmasked here. The caricature, of course, is that those defending traditional marriage were the right-wing bigots and bullies. However, as one out-of-state journalist, who was following the debate closely, commented to me, “From my read of the columns, blogs, and rhetoric, it’s not your side that’s lobbing the grenades.” A Catholic who wrote to criticize me for my defense of marriage still conceded, “But I must confess that I am sickened by the amount of anti-Catholic venom that has surfaced in this debate.” As one respected columnist has observed, the problem is not homophobia but theophobia — a hatred by some of God, faith, religion, and the Church.

Five, though, if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay. But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, “Yes: I love you. Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being. I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message. If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.

Point six, the Church has always stood-up for marriage — one man and one woman, united in lifelong and faithful love, leading to new life in children – whenever and wherever it was in danger. Veterans my age and over can remember sixty years ago when we fought widespread, no-fault divorce, convinced it would lead to a cheapening of the marriage bond and harm our kids (as, of course, scholarly studies now report has, indeed, happened). Recall how the Church resisted the “contraceptive mentality,” fearing it would rupture the sacred bond between love and the procreation of children. Then, remember how the Church sounded the alarm over rising rates of promiscuity, adultery, pre-marital sex, and cohabitation prior to or instead of marriage. And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity. If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called “nonmonogamy.” Apparently, “nonmonogamy” is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!

Let me say it again. None of this is anti-anybody, but simply pro marriage.

(By the way, as Professor Robert George at Princeton University eloquently points out, in warning about promiscuity, divorce, cohabitation instead of marriage, adultery, and “same-sex marriage,” the Church is hardly some shrill, bitter, reactionary, naysaying prude, but actually prophetically right-on-target. Recent studies by people such as Myron Magnet and Kay Hymowitz show that the weakening of stable marriage and families is the cause of most social and cultural woes, especially burdensome on poor women and children.)

Finally, last point, for us in the Church, not much changes. We continue to hold fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality. Yes, we have a big catechetical challenge, in that we have to admit that quite a few people no longer hold to this timeless moral truth. (Although I still believe most people do; thus the fear of a referendum on the issue by those who still claim this is a “grassroots movement” sweeping the nation.) Yes, we do have our work cut out for us, as even some Catholics, and, scandalously, even political leaders who claim to be Catholic, tell us the Church is “out of it,” and has no claim on truth.

So, we try our best to witness to the truth, encouraging our married couples and their kids to be loving, radiant, “lights to the world.” We acknowledge that, as St. Augustine taught, if something is wrong, even if everybody else is doing it, it’s still wrong; and, if something is right, even if nobody else is doing it anymore, it’s still right. Like St. Thomas More, we’re willing to take the heat and even lose our head from following a conscience properly formed by God’s revelation and the teaching of His Church, even if it is politically incorrect, and clashes with the King’s demands to re-define marriage.
This entry was posted
on Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Thank you, Archbishop Dolan, for your continued forthright teaching.

Monday, July 04, 2011

What Today Is About

A re-post from 2 years ago today on this blog and 4 years ago on my other blog. This is still an important read for those of us living in these United States, and it ought to make you think about what has changed in us Americans over 235 years.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.