Doug Kmiec on The Colbert Report

I was alerted to an appearance by Doug Kmiec on The Colbert Report.

The following comment also came in:

I watched it. Bizarre. I don’t understand why anyone watches Colbert; there are funnier programs on and off The Comedy Channel. I don’t understand why Colbert would want to have Kmiec as a guest — he’s not funny. [Someone must have canceled.] And I don’t understand why Kmiec would want to be a guest on Colbert to tout his book when there are plenty of serious venues available for him to do that.

That said, perhaps liberals — who are absolute disasters as radio talk show hosts — can only succeed in the kind of medium that Colbert and Jon Stewart offer, the kind where everything has to be said in a comedy-TV show medium, with plenty of innuendo and tongue-in-cheek.

But then why is Rush Limbaugh seen as dangerous to democracy by liberals, because he is one-sided and prejudiced in their view, while Colbert and Stewart are not seen in the same way. Why do liberals deny the symmetry between Limbaugh and Stewart, for example?

On the argument about separating marriage as a religious institution from civil unions (whether heterosexual or homosexual), Kmiec did not and could not answer Colbert’s point, i.e., that Kmiec’s argument cannot rebut those who would argue for polygamous civil unions.

Spot on.

Colbert having everyone on, of course, but it is amazing how accurate some of his comments were.

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59 Responses to Doug Kmiec on The Colbert Report

  1. Johnny Domer says:

    My personal take is that Colbert is himself not quite as liberal as Stewart, and is much more clever. I think probably he agreed with some of the theses of Kmiec’s book…he’s had numerous guests on his show who have books that put forward a sort of “Religious Left” perspective. However, I gotta hand it to him, he threw Kmiec a great question asking what the difference is between allowing gay marriage and allowing polygamous marriage; Kmiec was clearly reaching.

    Further, I can’t get over how much of a politician Kmiec was…Colbert basically had to shut him up at the end.

  2. Mitch_WA says:

    Colbert sometimes lets his true opinions show through, I think he did a little here, not as much as when that guy who claimed Satan was right in the Garden of Eden came on (man colbert destroyed him).

  3. Joe says:

    From the interviews I have seen, heard and read, Colbert loves his faith. His “persona” ( the MC on his show) is meantto be a rant on the utra conservative types.
    But yet when it comes to his faith, he is always correct and strong.

  4. Papabile says:

    From what I have heard from a friend who happens to be in Colbert’s Parish, Colbert teached CCD and assists in teaching RCIA. He’s also seen regularly at Confession, and is evidently close to a Priest of the Opus Dei.

  5. Giovanni says:

    Colbert is orthodox in his faith. In the show he is playing a role that is shaped as a pseudo Bill Oreilly. Its clever, people cant make sence of him most of the time.

  6. Mitch_WA says:

    Papabile: even more reason to like the man, and he will soon have a space treadmill named after him to boot.

    I think it is telling he doesn’t let his kids watch his show because he doesn’t want them to think of him like that. There is a great video of colbert in a CCD classroom singing “King of Glroy” http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1765300

  7. Jenny Z says:

    I can’t watch this video right now, but from prior Colbert religious-topic guests, you can kinda tell that sometimes he lets his Catholic convictions come out. (Especially this one: http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/04/video-stephen-colbert-defends-christs.html) I’ve also heard that he’s pretty devout.

  8. GordonBOPS says:

    I generally like Colbert, he can get a little close to the line at times (and even cross over it), and some of the positions he seems to take on issue are ones that, even if I was a really funny comedian and could get a laugh out of it (but disagreed with the statement personally), I wouldn’t try joking about. In particular, ironically, his discussion of the same sex issues at other times during his show seems to favor the secular position. This site is an interesting digest regarding Colbert on Catholic Issues: http://catholiccolbert.com/

  9. Dean Herrick says:

    I have to say, I think he’s hysterically funny, and he generally really pins back the ears of his opponents… I mean, guests.

  10. Landon says:

    I really like Colbert and think he is a particularly funny Comedian. I’ve heard him interviewed on NPR and he had some great stuff to say.

    The only thing that makes me uncomfortable about his Catholicism is taking the Lord’s name in vain often. I understand he is playing a character, but it has always made me very uncomfortable.

  11. Ron says:

    I was just having a conversation with a friend about Colbert. She was saying he is a good Catholic. Is that true?

  12. A huge gold-framed portrait of Colbert hangs outside the entertainment exhibit at the newly renovated American History museum in DC. wonder why there are no conservative comedians or entertainers anywhere honored there…

    [And BTW the newly renovated History museum is really lame, with a few minor exceptions.]

  13. LCB says:

    I find Colbert just tremendously funny. I will watch his show daily now that it is on hulu.

    He is different from Stewart. Colbert is funny, and Stewart is just mean.

    Folks ask if he is a good Catholic– well that isn’t for us to judge. He doesn’t publicly dissent from the Church. When he teaches in his parish he is, by all accounts, passing on the truth.

    Everything else is between he, his confessor, and his God.

  14. Lindsay says:

    For some reason, if I leave google reader open as I often do, this video plays repeatedly and there is no option for disabling it I can find. Aaaaaaagh! Turn it off!

    Okay, I found something called “loop” that I unchecked. Maybe that will fix it?

  15. RJM says:

    Colbert is a committed Catholic. I’ve heard he even helps with catechesis at his parish. I think he does lean in a liberal direction, especially on social issues.

  16. Timbot says:

    Sir Richard Rich was verily bested by the jester!

  17. tertullian says:

    “But then why is Rush Limbaugh seen as dangerous to democracy by liberals, because he is one-sided and prejudiced in their view, while Colbert and Stewart are not seen in the same way. Why do liberals deny the symmetry between Limbaugh and Stewart, for example?”

    see:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bias-Insider-Exposes-Media-Distort/dp/0895261901

  18. RJM says:

    I thought Colbert did a pretty decent job of showing the incoherency of Kmiec’s arguments. It was much needed, too, b/c Kmiec’s political theory really is an embarrassment. He takes Protestant notions of the separation of Church and state and carries them to radical conclusions that even some Protestants would object to. Kmiec has no conception of the natural law and wants religion to be relegated completely to the private sphere. What he doesn’t realize is the kind of secular reasoning he takes for granted is not morally neutral. It’s not like the public square is this values-free sphere in which we all bond together around certain “obvious” assumptions about the way the world works. No politician, regardless of whether or not they are Catholic, has the right to contravene natural laws, such as protection under the law of innocent life. Along these lines, marriage did not just drop out of the sky one day. It has a specific religious and cultural heritage. If we cut it off from that tradition, marriage becomes unintelligible… or, at least, a different thing altogether. I’m starting to ramble at this point, but I think you all know what I’m getting at.

  19. Paul says:

    According to Wikipedia, Colbert is Catholic, teaches Sunday school, is married with kids, and votes Democrat. Which means you’d think he’d be rooting for Kmiec. But his show is remarkably even handed — he invites people on, asks them obvious softball questions that they should be prepared for, and then lets them hang themselves. Again and again.

    He’s smart enough to know that Kmiec has no happy answer to the question. You can’t take the out of arguing that the State should make no value judgments about what types of relationship are legitimate without accepting all of the consequences that flow from that position. And Kmiec’s attempt to triangulate a position acceptable to Catholic teaching falls apart as soon as he admits that he thinks one thing is okay but not the other.

  20. Father Michael says:

    I’m a big Colbert fan. His interview with the author of “Jesus, Interrupted” is worth watching – Colbert does quite well deconstructing the man’s book/arguments.

  21. Garrett says:

    “But then why is Rush Limbaugh seen as dangerous to democracy by liberals, because he is one-sided and prejudiced in their view, while Colbert and Stewart are not seen in the same way. Why do liberals deny the symmetry between Limbaugh and Stewart, for example?”

    I would imagine that that they don’t see the symmetry for the same reasons that conservatives don’t see the symmetry: pre-existing agendas bias our viewpoints as human beings.

    I think it’s quite clear that liberals find Limbaugh and others like him dangerous to society because in their minds, right or wrong, Limbaugh would deny them free speech and expression if he were able. The same can be said of why conservatives think liberals are dangerous. The sad thing is, both sides are probably right!

  22. Miguel says:

    I think Giovanni is right. You have to view what Colbert is doing as a persona. And whether or not you agree with him, you can’t deny that he can be an excellent interviewer:

    –> with Bart Ehrman, NT textual critic:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224128/april-09-2009/bart-ehrman

    –> with Philip Zimbardo, psychologist [inappropriate language at the end of the video]:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/149094/february-11-2008/philip-zimbardo

    –> with Lori Lippman Brown, director of Secular Coalition for America:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/180127/august-29-2008/better-know-a-lobby—atheism

    –> with Fr. James Martin:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/102804/september-13-2007/father-james-martin

  23. JohnE says:

    Is this the same Steven Colbert, liturgical dancer?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXGhjOwvnNQ

  24. Charlie says:

    Colbert is excellent; sure, he’s a little left leaning – but I think he’s way more moderate than anything else. And he’s a devout Catholic.

  25. Andie says:

    I don’t think the assumption that because Colbert is on Comedy Central and pals around with John Stewart, he is a certain way, is fair (though it is certainly inderstandable). I am surprised by the apparent assumption that because he reportedly leans Democrat, he would not be a faithful Catholic. Catholicism doen’t fit into either major party, but broadly speaking, if we intend to vote we must pick one or the other.

    Everything I’ve heard about Colbert supports him being a faithful Catholic. I’ve never *heard* of him having a dissenting view, though of course that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. As a regular viewer of his show, I am often delighted by how unflinchingly he speaks and defends the teaching of the Chruch. My only concern is that such pronouncements often get lumped with his comedic persona, but at the same time he often speaks with such clarity and rationality in those instances it’s hard to brush off.

    Two of my favorite Cobert-trounces-heretic moments:

    “Perhaps Jesus is an elephant…” http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224128/april-09-2009/bart-ehrman

    “I TEACH Sunday School!” (bleeped crude language)
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/149094/february-11-2008/philip-zimbardo

  26. Breier says:

    From a transcript taken of Colbert’s appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air:

    “”GROSS: Now the Catholic Church opposes birth control, which…

    Mr. COLBERT: They do.

    GROSS: …I presume you do not and…

    Mr. COLBERT: Presume away.

    GROSS: …so how do you deal with contradictions between, like, the church and the way you live your life, which is something that a lot of people in the Catholic Church have to deal with?

    Mr. COLBERT: Well, sure. You know, that’s the hallmark of an American Catholic, is the individuation of America and the homogenation of the church; homogenation in terms of dogma. I love my church and I don’t think that it actually makes zombies or unquestioning people. I think it’s actually a church that values intellectualism, but certainly, it can become very dogmatically rigid.

    Somebody once asked me, `How do you be a father’–’cause I’m a father of three children–`and be anti-authoritarian?’ And I said, `Well, that’s not nearly as hard as being anti-authoritarian and being a Roman Catholic,’ you know? That’s really patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. I don’t know. You know, I don’t believe that I can’t disagree with my church and I’ll leave it at that.”

    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2006/01/colbert-and-dissonance-between.html

  27. Jim says:

    Why does everyone pay so much attention to Kmieck? Nobody will remember him 50 years from now! I prefer to let him fade into the mists of history.

  28. Mark says:

    There are thousands of religiously organized groups in our country, encompassing a wide range of views on what constitutes a family. If the state adopts a laissez-faire attitude toward all such beliefs, then undoubtedly we’ll have legally sanctioned polygamy, polyamory, and whatever else, recognized under a class of “marriage”. Surely Mr. Kmiec can easily connect these dots.

    Are we ready to debate the merits of polygamy and polyamory, as we are debating the homosexual unions now? Or are our still operative bourgeois values making us uncomfortable with this subject?

  29. Phil Steinacker says:

    Garrett,

    It appears you are making gross generalizations without citation of any evidence one way or the other. There is nothing Limbaugh has ever said that would indicate he’d shut down free speech for the left, even if he were able. Can you document clear positions on Limbaugh’s part to this effect? I don’t believe you can while remaining honest.

    In fact, I am unaware of any orientation to deny leftwing free speech by the conservative movement on the macro or on the individual level, but I can certainly see it on the part of the left – both as a movement and on the part of individuals.

    Tom Tancredo was recently forced to leave another college campus without giving a speech on illegal aliens because 300 left-wing students not only shouted him down but created a tussle with campus police. Tancredo left rather than see trouble break out, a nice sentiment on his part, but the intimidation worked, didn’t it? This is the latest in a long-time trend on college campuses – those Democrat-controlled bastions of free speech in America.

    While you ponder that question, tell me the last time a group of 300 right-wing students shut down a lefty speaker on campus in that same, exact manner. Furthermore, can you cite a pattern (or even singular instances) of such actions by the right)? I’d like to see that list.

    This is a discussion of principle, so it has nothing to do with whether you like Limbaugh or Tancredo. If not, that’s OK, but a paranoid fear they’d shut you down if they could is not the same as having evidence or strong indications they’d endorse a move towards that. Frankly, Limbaugh would (quite rightly) be insulted by your suggestion.

    I don’t know your political/spiritual leanings, but whenever I see folks offering overly-simplistic comparisons of right vs. left (R vs. D; lib vs. cons) in which they’re portrayed as being equally guilty of whatever negative characteristic is under discussion, it’s usually a case of political naïveté by a confused moderate neophyte or a relatively inexperienced lefty who sees some political advantage to be gained by accusing the right of actual wrongs routinely conceived, proposed, and executed by the left.

    This approach shifts the focus from the guilty parties to the other side by attempting to “equalize” them in the minds of others. The purpose is to associate the alleged “wrongdoing” with the victims in the minds of a public even more politically unsophisticated than the purveyor of this tactic.

  30. Paul says:

    The NPR interview linked by Althouse has him arguing that pharmacists who refuse to sell birth control are inherently hypocritical because (a) birth control prevents abortion and (b) the same people sell Viagra. Not to question his faith, but I wouldn’t call him a spokesperson for orthodoxy.

  31. Nathan says:

    Jim: “Why does everyone pay so much attention to Kmiec?”

    I tend to agree. I’ve seen lots of people involved in Washington politics play this role–place themselves in order to get lots of attention without actual influcence over the decision-making of an Administration. And honestly, for every one that makes the national stage such as Kimiec, there are a dozen who play the same role in more specialized fields. I don’t think Mr. Kimiec has either the resources or the connections in the US Catholic heirarchy or in Washington to do much to further his new patron’s agenda, other than to provide distraction and keep the political right looking at him.

    While we shouldn’t underestimate the scandal that someone of Kimiec’s ilk may give to unwary Catholics, it seems to be a bit of a sideshow and diversion from the actual policies and politics going on.

    In Christ,

  32. Girgadis says:

    I don’t see Stewart as symetrical to Limbaugh at all. Stewart will go on just
    about anyone else’s show and will interview those with whom he disagrees. I
    have never seen Limbaugh interviewed nor have I heard him have a left-leaning
    guest on his show and engage in debate. But it’s been a long time since I’ve
    listened so I’ll allow that I could be wrong about this.

  33. Joe says:

    I have watched Colbert do other interviews and found him to be very accurate and knowledgeable. I don’t understand why we have to use terms like liberal and conservative to describe anybody. For one thing, the present pope used to be considered a liberal, and I STILL consider him to be theologically liberal.

    America’s popular political labels don’t have an ounce of accuracy in them for innumerable reasons. Colbert is obviously one of them.

  34. Paul says:

    Joe,

    Actually, I agree with you. I think what I’m taking issue with here is the idea that there’s a secret, “conservative” Colbert behind the mask, playing some kind of double double game. He’s just a smart comedian who happens to be Catholic in a way that many people are Catholic in America.

  35. Joe says:

    Personally, I think anyone who understands the Catholic faith very well (as Colbert obviously does) is going to possess more “liberality” in their personality than anyone else. This would explain why some of the greatest ARTISTS have been thoroughly Catholic in the way they look at reality (not necessarily in their ability to practice all the moral disciplines to which Catholics are bound).

  36. elmo says:

    He’s got a good point about the same pharmacists dispensing viagra refusing to fill scrips for the pill. No it’s not quite parallel to birth control, but the existence of viagra does kind of point in a similar direction as BC in terms of turning the marital act into something other than what was presumably intended by God.

    Unfortunately, Catholics haven’t been very consistent on bioethics. We do (and I have) protest outside of abortion clinics but look the other way on IVF. No wonder so many Catholics are confused.

  37. Chris says:

    He votes Democrat. Sorry. The DNC platform promotes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etc. There’s nothing more infuriating than a Catholic who knows his faith, then opts for the thirty pieces of silver…

  38. Jay says:

    As somone who has watched the show fairly closely since it came out (and watched Colbert\’s segments on the daily-show before that) I would say that he has in fact grown more orthodox in his faith as the years go by, people pointing out that NPR interview and some of the comments there (which, let\’s face it, aren\’t ideal but it could have been a LOT worse) should consider that like all of his, for Colbert, faith is a journey, sometimes we stumble.

    I think the basics to keep in mind

    1-His show has some great moments in which the \”real\” Colbert shines through and says something great about our Faith and this is quite bold considering the comedy central audiance. He does not use his show at a platform for dissent.

    2-From all accounts he attends Mass weekly and confession regularly.

    3-He is active in his parish and is raising his kids in the faith.

  39. William H. Phelan says:

    When Kmiec says the various churches will establish their own marriage norms, he is obviously reflecting forty years of ecumenism. One reading of Dominus Jesus will confirm there is only ONE FAITH and the others are all just “communities”. having no real value whatsoever. In fact, DJ also states that salvation is almost impossible in them. We are living in the time of Babel, when the members of the community awoke and realized that GOD had cursed them by making them incomprehensible to each other as they spoke in different tongues!

  40. Garrett says:

    Phil,

    I’m afraid you have really done yourself a disservice. Your post is for naught. If you go back and read more carefully what I actually wrote, you will see that *I was not saying that Limbaugh has any inclination to shut down free speech.* What I said was that *there are liberals out there who believe this to be true.* Unless you cannot detect the difference between liberals believing something to be true and something actually being true, then I assume you now have a firmer grasp of what I said.

    And for the record, I am a twenty-two year old convert to Catholicism from United Methodism and place my faith fully in the infallible Teaching of the Holy Church and her Magisterium. Just so you know.

  41. Joe bis says:

    Mr Colbert might be a fine Catholic in private life, but that’s a description we’ve heard before of (say) politicians. The Church used to have canons that made having been an actor an impediment to ordination, and acting was discouraged for Christsians.

    LCB said “Folks ask if he is a good Catholic—well that isn’t for us to judge. He doesn’t publicly dissent from the Church. When he teaches in his parish he is, by all accounts, passing on the truth.
    Everything else is between he, his confessor, and his God.” Well, not exactly. He is responsible for any scandal his public “acting” persona might cause, just like any politician.

  42. Elmo:

    Viagra is not in the same category as birth control. Viagra can help a married couple engage in marital acts; a pill that would enable a couple to do so is no more immoral than an operation would be. Birth control, on the other hand, is only licit in rare cases — i.e., supposedly women not engaged in sexual relations can benefit from it for hormonal balance. I have no idea if that’s true–but if it were true, it wouldn’t be an immoral use of such a pill.

    About Kmiec’s argument about marriage…

    It seems to me we ought to be careful not to fall into the trap he and others set of saying marriage is a religious institution.
    It is, in fact, a natural institution, the origin of which no one can account for, but must be inferred.

    If we sought to explain it without any reference to religion, we would say: somewhere in the misty past, a man and a woman responded to natural impulses, met, got acquainted, and–somewhere along the line, sexual relations happened.

    Sooner or later, a child came along. And somewhere, someone involved realized the value of this couple being obligated to each other. Whether it was one of the couple, or a parent, or a chieftain who wanted to avert conflict, we can only guess.

    Now, of course, a believer in the Bible will offer commentary on this account–my point is to refute Kmiec’s claim that marriage is of religious origin, and that’s just false. If so, which religion? Please cite any evidence of a religion introducing the idea of marriage to a society that previously had no concept of it. And more substantially–note that every religion known to man has marriage in some form.

    Now, what is religiously based is monogamy–specifically, based on Judaism and Christianity, and I suppose Greco-Roman paganism if that has standing anymore. Islam and old-school Mormonism, to name two, do not teach monogamy; and I imagine other religions can be cited.

    So notice, the one thing Kmiec (and others) insist on staying in the law is the one part that is derived from religion. And while I’m not a lawyer, I would think if we go his way on this, down the road, an enterprising advocate is going to make that argument, and very possibly win.

  43. mpm says:

    I think that Colbert (of the Colbert “rapport”, as he pronounces it), cleverly
    got Kmiec where he belonged — on Comedy Central, where his “oh so scholarly”
    opinions were torn to shreds.

    More effective than a debate. I love a good sense of humor, with just a dollop of irony.

    Good job!

  44. V says:

    I remember when Colbert was interviewing Sam Harris, he didn’t quite challenge him(Harris), when he claimed that the Catholic Church was responsible for a sort of civilizational genocide of Africa by not promoting condoms for AIDS(which is, of course, untrue and can be demonstrated via simple logic ), indeed he let Harris’ point stand which judging by the fact that Colbert challenged him on other points leads me to believe that Colbert agreed with Harris on this point.

  45. elmo says:

    Fr. Martin:

    I think I acknowledged that the viagra and the pill were not exactly the parallel in my initial post. Judging from the salacious ads in my email junk folder, viagra is not used or marketed mainly as a marital aide so I think my initial point is still valid.

    There’s still the question of the double standard on IVF. The church needs to do some catechizing on this.

  46. Warren says:

    Colbert is making use of a stereotype (ranting conservative…) that gives him a forum in which he can play a role that his wider audience (especially liberals) expect will conform to certain preconceived notions (about rightwingers…). Openminded liberals (are there such things?) will get a dose of reality as Colbert does an end run around their biases and misconceptions. He shrewdly and deftly slips in comments that deconstruct (i.e., trash) various fallacious arguments. Colbert can attack directly or counterpunch, all under the guise of a “comedy” show. The amusing thing is… his guests become (for the most part) unwitting partners in dismantling the puerile philosophies and prurient behavior of our times.

    Colbert knows how to pick and choose his battles. Archbishop Chaput has good things to say (in “Render Unto Caesar”) about Colbert’s role and rapport with the American audience.

  47. Daniel A. says:

    This is not a comment about Colbert, and has probably been said before, but even if I were a Catholic who was writing a book in support of Obama, I would certainly not give it the creepy Obamessianic title “Can a Catholic Support Him?” Why isn’t it just “Can a Catholic Support Barack Obama?” or something like that?

  48. Phil Steinacker says:

    Garrett said:

    I think it’s quite clear that liberals find Limbaugh and others like him dangerous to society because in their minds, right or wrong, Limbaugh would deny them free speech and expression if he were able. The same can be said of why conservatives think liberals are dangerous. The sad thing is, both sides are probably right!

    Later, Garrett said:

    If you go back and read more carefully what I actually wrote, you will see that I was not saying that Limbaugh has any inclination to shut down free speech. What I said was that there are liberals out there who believe this to be true. Unless you cannot detect the difference between liberals believing something to be true and something actually being true, then I assume you now have a firmer grasp of what I said.

    Garrett, I’d be happy to apologize that I misunderstood you when you said this is merely a matter of of what both sides believe, but then your last sentence in the first cut (above) clinches for me that you, in fact, DO equalize the two sides’ positions as I stated.

  49. shadrach says:

    ‘America’s popular political labels don’t have an ounce of accuracy in them for innumerable reasons.’

    Absolutely. Well put. Right and Left here are both transient myths of coherence; allegiance to either tends to idolatry. The Faith transcends both, subsumes the best of both and repudiates the worst of both.

  50. Luke says:

    I have previously stood up for more “liberal” ideas here in the past, and I think I will be treading down that road again, because I am in support of Kmiec’s idea. Make them all civil unions. If someone wants to get married, get married in the Catholic Church (preferably) or the Episcopalian Church or whatever club you want to be recognized in.

    While that may seem to be a matter of semantics, it’s not if you truly believe marriage to be a Sacrament between a man and a woman and God.

  51. Luke says:

    I think I have to make something clear. If you believe marriage to be a Sacrament between a man and a woman and God then you really don’t care if two gay men or women get their civil unions and call it marriage. You know that it’s not, at least, a Sacrament, because it wasn’t blessed by a priest. So what’s it matter? Both sides are happy. The Catholic still has sacred marriage, and the gay couple have their recognition and are able to see each other at hospital visits, which is only the decent thing to do.

    So when I say you truly believe marriage to be a Sacrament between man and woman and God, that doesn’t mean I’m saying “so fight against non-Catholic unions” it just means allow them to have what they want, and we go forth knowing our beliefs are protected and separated from broad governmental definitions. That’s why civil unions should be made all inclusive.

  52. Luke says:

    Well…I don’t know. I guess I can see a lot of flaws in the position, but then there seems to be flaws in the current one to some people. I see it as being more pragmatic than anything else. But I guess it’s not realy the Church’s or any representative of the Church like our priests to be pragmatic if it means compromising what they view as the position of God and the Church.

  53. Leo White says:

    Someone created a website that compiles Colbert’s manifestly Catholic moments: see http://catholiccolbert.com/

  54. Michael says:

    I think Colbert is like a lot of Catholics. Politically he is probably a moderate with a left lean on social issues. His character is a send-up of a right-wing pundit, but Colbert doesn’t use the character to simply mock the right-wingers. You often see him using the character to tweak the left-wingers. That dynamic is compelling, since you can’t always be sure where the comedy ends and the seriousness begins. I get the feeling that Colbert uses the character to express his own inner debates. And, I wonder if anyone has as many inner debates as a Catholic, given the rich complexity of our faith?

  55. Perhaps Kmiec can only find outlets like this to sell his intellectual-wares? After all, they [b][i]are[/i][/b] a joke.

  56. Luke, you ask a really good question, and it requires a good answer. I’ll do my best, but I’m sure better answers can be given.

    You said: “If you believe marriage to be a Sacrament between a man and a woman and God then you really don’t care if two gay men or women get their civil unions and call it marriage. You know that it’s not, at least, a Sacrament, because it wasn’t blessed by a priest. So what’s it matter? Both sides are happy. The Catholic still has sacred marriage, and the gay couple have their recognition and are able to see each other at hospital visits, which is only the decent thing to do.”

    Some responses:

    > I have no issue with making it possible for people who are in hospitals to get visited, for folks to have understandings about property, inheritance, power-of-attorney, and so forth. My sense is that if that were all we were talking about, well over 90% of Americans would say “sure,” regardless of sexual orientation questions.

    > I also have no issue with a couple going into a church, synagogue, mosque or what-have-you and someone says, “you are married.” I mean, more precisely, I do not seek to make any laws on the subject, nor am I even going to be unpleasant about it. Again, I think almost everyone who objects to “gay marriage” would say the same. Clearly I have my own views about that, but as a matter of a society living together, that is immaterial to those seeking marriage in that fashion.

    > The issue is rather about a social structure, a social sanction. Marriage is simply not a “private” matter. As I mentioned, in my earlier post, if you sought to explain the origin of marriage purely naturalistically, you’d probably say that it evolved either because one party (more likely the woman) insisted, or because someone in the broader community insisted: a family member, or a chieftain, who acted on behalf of the community’s needs.

    > We might ask, just why is it important to a gay couple to say, we want the state to say we’re married? No one really cares if the couple says they are. When the state says it, that means we all say it. It’s about social sanction; and the moment you ask for social sanction, you cannot, at the same time, say, “this is our purely private matter.” We Catholics don’t ask the society–via the state–to affirm the dogma of transubstantiation; but we do ask
    society to allow us to affirm it.

    > As I mentioned above, this isn’t about the sacrament of marriage–i.e., the religious aspect of marriage–but the question of what marriage is. Just what is marriage? You have to define marriage a certain way–contrary to the entirety of human experience to the present–in order to have it apply to two men or two women. But as law, such a newly defined reality stands for all. Who comes next to say, “under this definition, we, too, can be married–you can’t stop us.” For example: on what legitimate basis do we insist two “married” people (under this new definition) must have sexual intimacy? Why cannot two brothers be “married”? Two women who have zero sexual feeling for each other, but who see benefit to it–and they love each other? So what if it doesn’t fit your definition of marriage?

    > At some point, it becomes no longer a recognition of something arising from human nature, but rather an arbitrary exercise of power. Marriage is what we say it is, based on who lobbied the politicians–or who sued, successfully, in court. And if marriage is simply a free partnership of “love” (procreation no longer being part of it) between two people…why only two? And how can incest be forbidden–under law?

    > The word “definition” means…by definition…setting a boundary: this is this and not that. A definition that destroys boundaries is nothing. When marriage can be anything, it’s nothing.

    > The social question is, since human society, somehow arrived at this institution–worldwide, long before God called Abraham–oughtn’t we to have some humility about utterly dismantling it–as a social institution.

    > What I mean is this: not that marriage properly understood will cease; it will not; but it will cease to be as central to our society. Another way to put it: this marks a dissolution of a common society, and the further fragmentation into overlapping societies. The fewer commonalities we have, the less meaningful it is to say “we” are a society.

    You say: “So when I say you truly believe marriage to be a Sacrament between man and woman and God, that doesn’t mean I’m saying “so fight against non-Catholic unions” it just means allow them to have what they want, and we go forth knowing our beliefs are protected and separated from broad governmental definitions. That’s why civil unions should be made all inclusive.”

    Well…I’ll say “maybe” for now, depending on just what “civil union” means.

    But I’ll also say this: you may be rather sunny in your outlook if you think we will be safe from being told, as Catholics, how to maintain marriage as we believe.

    The state has already reached to interfere with our hospitals keeping our idea of what health care is.

    I would say we have a 40% chance at least, that somewhat down the road, some state will revoke the licenses of ministers such as Catholic clergy to solemnize marriages–because they “discriminate.” Less certain is whether there would be a cause of civil action because a church refused a wedding to a homosexual couple.

  57. “Many’s the true word is spoken in jest”!!! Good on ya Colbert. – Rene

  58. Theresa says:

    Elmo,
    The Church has always and everywhere condemned the practice of IVF (its current obvious consequences being the use of these “unwanted” tiny persons to be used for scientific research). If you were unaware of the Church’s tachings, I am not sure that that is the Church’s fault – it is perhaps not your fault, either, I don’t know. One thing people do not realize, both those who support embryonic stem cell research and those who do not: there has NEVER BEEN federal funding for IVF research. The reason? Too controversial. So perhaps many Catholics have not realized the evil of IVF, but enough politicans and their consituents have — or at least once did, in the not-so-distant past.
    Theresa