Bp. Paprocki on Illinois’ absurd “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act”

His Excellency Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, wrote a letter to be read in parishes or put in parish bulletins this weekend. The letter concerns the absurdly titled “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act”. Bp. Paprocki doesn’t pull punches.

Let’s look at the letter with my emphases:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our state’s elected lawmakers will soon consider a bill called “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.” A more fraudulent title for this dangerous measure could not be imagined. The proposed law is, in truth, a grave assault upon both religious liberty and marriage. All people of goodwill, and especially Christ’s faithful committed to my pastoral care in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, should resolutely oppose this bill and make their opinions known to their representatives.

The pending bill would, for the first time in our state’s history, redefine marriage to legally recognize same-sex “marriages.” But neither two men nor two women – nor, for that matter, three or more people – can possibly form a marriage. Our law would be lying if it said they could.

The basic structure of marriage as the exclusive and lasting relationship of a man and a woman, committed to a life which is fulfilled by having children, is given to us in human nature, and thus by nature’s God. Notwithstanding the vanity of human wishes, every society in human history – including every society untouched by Jewish or Christian revelation – has managed to grasp this profound truth about human relationships and happiness: marriage is the union of man and woman.

The bill’s sponsors maintain it would simply extend marriage to some people who have long been arbitrarily excluded from it. They are wrong. The pending bill would not expand the eligibility-roster for marriage. It would radically redefine what marriage is – for everybody.

It would enshrine in our law – and thus in public opinion and practice – three harmful ideas:

  1. What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union. [Ahh... luv.]
  2. Children don’t need both a mother and father.
  3. The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions.

These ideas would deepen the sexual revolution’s harms on all society. After all, if marriage is an emotional union meant for adult satisfactions, why should it be sexually exclusive? Or limited to two? Or pledged to permanence? If children don’t need both their mother and father, why should fathers stick around when romance fades? As marriage is redefined, it becomes harder for people to see the point of these profoundly important marital norms, to live by them, and to encourage others to do the same. The resulting instability hurts spouses, but also – and especially – children, who do best when reared by their committed mother and father.

Indeed, children’s need – and right – to be reared by the mother and father whose union brought them into being explains why our law has recognized marriage as a conjugal partnership – the union of husband and wife – at all. Our lawmakers have understood that marriage is naturally oriented to procreation, to family. Of course, marriage also includes a committed, intimate relationship of a sort which some same-sex couples (or multiple lovers in groups of three or more) could imitate. But our law never recognized and supported marriage in order to regulate intimacy for its own sake. The reason marriage is recognized in civil law at all (as ordinary friendships, or other sacraments, are not) is specific to the committed, intimate relationships of people of opposite-sex couples: they are by nature oriented to having children. Their love-making acts are life-giving acts.

Same-sex relationships lack this unique predicate of state recognition and support. Even the most ideologically blinded legislator cannot change this natural fact: the sexual acts of a same-sex couple (regardless of how one views them morally) are simply not of the type that yield the gift of new life. So they cannot extend a union of hearts by a true bodily union. They cannot turn a friendship into the one-flesh union of marriage. They are not marital. This is not just a Christian idea, but one common to every major religious tradition and our civilization’s great philosophical traditions, beginning with ancient Greece and Rome.

The pending bill is not only a dangerous social experiment about marriage. It is also a lethal attack upon religious liberty. This so-called “religious freedom” would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex “weddings.” It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally “married” to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so “married” from senior leadership positions. Nor would it protect me, the Bishop of Springfield, if I refused to employ someone in a same-sex “marriage” who applied to the Diocese for a position meant to serve my ministry as your bishop. This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois.

These threats do not raise a question about drafting a better law, one with more extensive conscience protections. There is no possible way – none whatsoever – for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an “unfair” view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry – which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment.

The only way to protect religious liberty, and to preserve marriage, is to defeat this perilous proposal. Please make sure our elected representatives understand that and know that they will be held to account.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

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38 Responses to Bp. Paprocki on Illinois’ absurd “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act”

  1. Imrahil says:

    Agree. Totally.

    That is, I would not myself say so quickly that marriage is not a romantic-emotional union. For all true romantic-emotional unions are either marriages or engagements to marriage… (According to law, they are engaged who plan to marriage, and thus most of the disordered relationships of young couples are in reality engagements to marriage on an uncertain date, even though the couple would not consider them such.)

    What did attract my attention (and why I write this comment at all): Forgive the pettiness, but one should not sign “The Most Reverend”. “Most Reverend” is a predicate, it is (as is His Grace, His Excellency, etc.) for address by others. The title is Bishop of Springfield in Illinois. (I am sometimes called a Mr, but I do not sign as such.)

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Yes, but the point is that you can have all sorts of true marriage that aren’t romantic, just as you can have all sorts of romantic unions that aren’t marriage. Obviously it’s good to have marriages include romance, but it’s not necessary.

  3. anilwang says:

    Three other aspects of the legalization of same sex “marriage” and liberalized divorced laws have already emerged in places that have them:

    * Fewer children are born (and many aborted), and in some countries there are so few children born that within a hundred years or so, nearly all the population will be gone. Large government incentives to create a baby boom have failed miserably because the root cause is not addressed.

    * Because family bonds are weakened, the state is more likely to take guardianship of children and limits on what children can learn (i.e. anything the state doesn’t like) and requirements of what they must learn (i.e. anything the state deems would weaken opponents) have increased along with state’s taking children from their parents. In the extreme, I foresee a time when the state takes care of all children in some countries and “private ownership” of children are illegal.

    * Anyone who opposes the culture of death is labeled a hate group. It’s already happened in isolated cases (usually WRT education or teaching on contraception) in many countries but it is becoming more blatant. For instance, today’s CNA news has this article: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/white-house-petitioned-to-label-catholic-church-a-hate-group

  4. bookworm says:

    “This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government.”

    Which raises another question for me. I have worked for the State of Illinois for the past 6 years. My job doesn’t directly involve endorsing or facilitating gay marriage, or abortion, or anything else immoral as far as I can tell. In fact I was recently surprised to hear a co-worker who is an Evangelical Protestant praise Bishop Paprocki very highly!

    Still, I worry that simply by working for an entity (the State) that promotes and endorses evil, I might be doing wrong. I also wonder if perhaps faithful Catholics like me ought to consider moving to another state since our own state has now made it clear that it is officially hostile to our beliefs. (Though depending on how SCOTUS rules, if they “Roe” gay marriage nationwide, it won’t matter.) Any thoughts?

  5. bookworm says:

    Anilwang: The headline on the article you linked to is a bit misleading. The White House ITSELF is not “petitioning to label the Catholic Church a hate group”; rather, an outside group is petitioning the White House to do so, via an online petition posted at the White House website. I suppose one could argue that the White House is endorsing the effort merely by hosting the online petition, but if that’s the case then the White House was also “endorsing” all those petitions from residents of Texas and a bunch of other states to secede from the Union as well.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Any thoughts?”

    This may sound like it’s coming from left field, but, sometimes, I wish the South had won the Civil War. Part of the War was a contest between agrarian and industrial principles (slaves were needed on the farm more than factories). People are no longer close to the Earth and cannot so easily recognize the Natural Law. Life has become too, “theoretical,” – one great social, “experiment,” after another. With the rise in technology, I don’t see these issues going away anytime, soon. Every culture that strives to be, “modern,” will, sooner or later, find itself faced with the profound choice of whether or not to live in a world close to the ground or one floating in the clouds. Interestingly, Vatican II had it right in calling one of its documents, “The Church in the Modern World.” The signs were evident fifty years ago. When that document finally gets interpreted properly and the liberal dust settles, I suspect it will have some good answers to the present crisis.

    Bookworm,

    You are probably far enough from any cooperation that there is no sin. It might be a good witness to find another job, but, morally, I doubt you have to, at this time. I and most people in the education field have a similar problem. Not to rashly judge, but how many of my students are involved in immoral behavior that I can neither point out or argue against? It is hard down in the trenches.

    The Chicken

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Praise God for this wonderful bishop. Those of us who have lived or live in Illinois, like myself, call it the Socialist Republic of Illinois. Are we surprised? No. Sadly, the Catholic governor is both pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. The Church is weak in some places as well. Chicago is a huge part of the problem. I have written before about the lavender mafia in the diocese there–still growing strong and still getting their sems into the seminary.

    God has a plan, but it will probably be very painful.

  8. PA mom says:

    Now this is plain and clear language that hits at the heart of the issue. I like that he addresses the dishonesty in language.
    Still, circulating this through the parishes is an example of fighting from the trenches. What is needed further is articulate laymen and women willing to take this out into the open air, writing letters to the editor and following up in blog spaces online.
    Public opinion is being shaped in these places and the Bishop is not able to do it himself (he could try, but I think it less effective).
    A state where civil unions is already in effect is the perfect place to point out that reasonable accommodations have been put in place and further measures over and unnecessarily burden the rest of the populace..

  9. disco says:

    Would that all bishops in the US would have the courage to issue a letter such as this. The MSM will probably spin it that he’s angling to replace Cardinal George in Chicago, but I think we know better.

  10. LisaP. says:

    It is very well put but it will not convince, because he is correct in his premise that this is a redefinition of marriage rather than an extension — but the redefinition has already happened and the laws are simply codifying that.

    I am shocked and admiring that American bishops are standing up and speaking bravely and with insight and compassion on this subject. I really, really, really, really wish they’d done so in large numbers years ago when this did not involve homosexuality primarily. Of course, those were other bishops, then. . . .

  11. anilwang says:

    bookworm,

    WRT the link, I know it’s just a petition that will go nowhere, but it is representative of a trend. I live in Ontario and the Education minister has stated that Catholic teachings on abortion and homosexuality are hate speech and Catholic schools must teach that abortion and homosexuality are a positive good. After angry petitions from a handful of people, Courage groups have been disavowed by universities in Quebec because they teach hate speech. The “Human rights” boards in several Canadian provinces have made similar rulings. The RH bill in the Philippines imposes heavy fines and 1-6 months imprisonment for violating their own “contraceptive mandate”. I could go on for another four volumes highlighting the global extent of this problem, but I don’t think I need to. Make no mistake, unless something changes, being a faithful Catholic will become a whole lot harder for our children than us. Thankfully, the Church has woken up from its 1960s hang over and is slowly finding its footing again.

    WRT working for an evil state government. Remember the Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Bible. They worked for the brutal regime of King Neberkenezer which decimated Israel. They served the King, but only to the extent that it did not violate God’s law. That meant sacrifice (they needed to give up on meat since it was sacrificed to idols) and potential martyrdom (being thrown into the fire for not worshiping the idol of the king). Similarly queen Esther was married to a king that chose exterminate her people. She confronted the king (with due humility) even though it might have meant her life. Similarly, Roman soldiers and tax collectors oppressed the Israelites, but neither John the Baptist nor Jesus told them to leave their jobs. They simply said, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

    If all Catholics left Spain during the Muslim conquest or England during the Anglican persecutions, Europe would be Muslim today and England would be devoid of Catholics. A few martyrs and souls with courage and trust in God changed the destiny of Europe. It’s your choice whether you stay or go, but if all faithful Catholics leave government there will be no hope to turn back the tide. The key thing is, are you willing to pay the price for keeping your faith in a place hostile to it? If not, it is better for your own spiritual health, and the Church if you go somewhere safe rather compromise the faith.

  12. Andrew_81 says:

    This is a brilliantly presented message!

    His excellency both points out the fundamental problem with the modern concept of “marriage” (even herterosexual unions), and shows how this proposed law attacks “religious liberty”, but doesn’t patriotically champion “religious liberty” as some panacea.

    A very good, both principled, and practical way of addressing the issue.

    If the USCCB would just take this example (condemning the policies with which Catholics are attacked as fundamentally immoral and an attack on the Church’s freedom), and not try to champion “religious liberty” …

    Even better, the bishop points out the very logical conclusion: if marriage is just a romantic union, and primarily for the satisfaction of the spouses, then there is no problem with divorce, adultery, contraception, abortion, homosexual unions, or unnatural unions of any kind.

    The problem, then, is not this bill, but the way even heterosexuals (perhaps even those who are fundamentally opposed to homosexuality) view marriage. For these it has one end: Mutual help and satisfaction. For the right-minded man, though, marriage has two ends, the first of which is procreation and the proper formation of children, and then the mutual satisfaction and help of the spouses.

    A man worthy of those purple buttons, this one.

  13. Andrew_81 says:

    It is very well put but it will not convince …

    As someone said of the great Cardinal Pie: He was sent not just to convince men to convert from Liberalism, but to give those who refused no excuse when they met their Judge.

    God’s justice and mercy are done by telling the truth, not necessarily by being “successful” in bringing people to that Truth.

    If men receive the grace and do not reject it, they will convert. If they refuse it, they will have no excuse. God’s Mercy and Justice are shown either way.

    We need to tailor the message to our time and society, yes, but such tailoring cannot support false ideas to try to “win converts”. “Success” is not our goal … God is.

    We will fail — is the servant greater than the Master? — but after Good Friday comes Easter Sunday.

  14. wanda says:

    The weekend before the Nov. elections, we got a talk about finances. I was flat out stunned. Nothing about the referendum for same-sex marriage, nothing about not voting for a pro-abortion candidate, nothing. My state, as supertradmum puts it so well, has become the people’s republic of Maryland. Our catholic Governor, Martin O’Malley pushed for same-sex marriage here, too. He has designs on the White House for 2016 – run, do not walk, if you see his name on a ballot.

  15. raitchi2 says:

    I appreciate the Bishop pointing out the three points the law enshrines. I wonder if he had any inspiration from the Book of Common prayer, which before marriage requires the minister to state the purposes of marriage:

    “First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
    Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
    Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. “

  16. LisaP. says:

    Andrew 81,
    I agree, you do what is right even if it makes not a ripple. You do what is right even when you know you will lose. You tell the truth even if it doesn’t persuade a soul.

    But I do think that if you are trying to tell the truth so that people will hear it (because if they don’t hear it, they will still be able to reject it because of lack of understanding instead of free full choice), statements such as these are in some ways still not getting there. I don’t fault the bishop one bit, he’s done his part, he’s golden. But on the overall question — which I guess would not be “how do you talk people over to our side” but “how do you explain the issue so that all understand and can freely choose good or evil” I think the fact that we have let the culture go where it is in so many places and are trying to hold the line here makes that very complicated. You can speak clearly enough without being clear because of the medium your voice is traveling through. The culture is absolutely saturated with one way of viewing marriage and relationships and human beings — a perspective most Christians are immersed in also. It’s the water we’re all swimming in, how do you explain dry land to a fish? We have now had several generations of children born without what the Church would call a family, huge numbers of Americans don’t know what family means, and we’re telling them we need to preserve the family. It’s Greek. It’s worse, because it’s not just that they don’t know what we mean when we say “family”, they hear the word and apply a different definition. It’s like if I told you to go brush your teeth and you were taught all your life that teeth meant dog, I could hardly fault you when I found you brushing the dog. And all the explanation in the world might only get you brushing the dog’s teeth. It’s really hard to catch up on decades of negligence, not just by bishops but by all of us.

  17. Cantor says:

    Would that there were more bishops such as this! If every bishop in the country spoke out as forcefully it might create a noteworthy disturbance. But when it is one bishop here and another there, or even the Conference of Bishops speaking as one, it really is one voice crying in a wilderness.

    In eight years in my diocese I’ve seen zero letters from our bishop, aside from explanations of ‘this Sunday’s second collection’. He seems to be hiding, and, from what I see in other places, he’s not alone.

    Bishop Paprocki seems a man afire. That’s a wonderful candle in the darkness. What we need is a conflagration.

  18. Cathy says:

    Bookworm, I think you hit an issue all faithful Catholics sit in wonder of. I keep wondering at what point do I sin when the just burdens of both taxes and labor are topped off with the burden of acknowledgement that both make the individual complicit, even if remotely, in the support of intrinsic and grave evil. All kudos to the bishops for courageous statements, the last time Bishop Paprocki issued a letter in regards the election, our associate pastor based his homily on the letter.
    Yesterday, I read in our secular paper, a glowing obituary of a Catholic woman, lauding her political activity in the campaign for John Kerry for president and her very public support of both Bob Kerry for senator and Barak Obama for president. She will have a funeral mass for the repose of her soul this week. Lord, have mercy!
    Sometimes I have the temptation to declare that the worst thing that happened in the political life in the US is the election of Catholics in political life. The suggestion that one may serve in political office without regard and adherence to Catholic teaching is the suggestion that once elected to political office, one becomes fatherless in their faith. In an odd way, our country has a greater resemblance to the Lord of the Flies than a representative constitutional republic.
    With all the great and commendable speeches by our bishops, I don’t understand why individual bishops don’t stand up to be fathers to these people who declare themselves Catholic. Sometimes the greatest, hardest and most courageous act of even natural fathers is to discipline a child. Sometimes this discipline can include get out of my house. Sometimes as heartbreaking as this is, and for a father, I can’t think of anything harder, it is necessary lest the other children learn from precedence and example that they can, in turn, rule and beat their father.

  19. Gregory DiPippo says:

    “This was the level to which Venice had sunk within a month of the republic’s end, the level of … those empty, flatulent slogans so beloved of totalitarian governments of today… There is, or seems to be, a law of politics whereby the degree of freedom and democracy actually enjoyed by a given state, varies in inverse ratio to the vehemence and volume with which it is proclaimed.” John Julius Norwich, A History of Venice, epilogue

  20. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Until I came here this morning, I didn’t know about Bishop Paprocki’s statement. I’m glad for it. Cardinal George has also written about this, and I was reading his statement last night.

    May God grant these bishops the gift of fortitude, and may Catholics up and down the country rally to the cause. Teach our children well. Offer up our sufferings. Love God more every day.

    That raises a question: Fr. Zuhlsdorf, would it be proper to offer a Mass for the intention of the conversion of, say, Mr. Obama – or the legislators of Illinois or….. ? [Sure. Why not?]

  21. Peggy R says:

    Please pray for us in Illinois and our bishops. Even the IL GOP chairman, Pat Brady, a Catholic, is now advocating for the same-sex “marriage” law. It is likely to be pursued by this lame duck legislature. They’ve passed tax increases and civil unions on their last night in the past.

    The Political Establishment in IL poo-poohs social conservatives and their values and faith immensely. Card. George needs great prayer. He was even mocked by our Lt. Governor, Sheila Simon. George said that the legal construct of same-sex marriage can’t really replicate natural order (something like that). She came back with, the legal construct of adoption isn’t natural either. So there. George even talked about adoption and its connection to natural law in his letter.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m puzzled by all this. I keep going back to think about the ancient Church, not because I’m a revisionist or anything, but because that’s the real last time the Church found itself surrounded by unschooled pagans in the West, like we we are now. How did we grow to this size in the first place? Did we do it by telling everyone they were wrong and just expecting them to listen, or did we do it by inspiring them with our selflessness, our commitment and our holiness? Is this a fair comparison? If not, why not?

  23. jbosco88 says:

    While I applaud the courage of Bishops that speak out on this matter, I must ask what are we actually DOING? All very well writing letters but something must manifest physically. Something people will notice.

    Alas, I do not have any suggestions and am looking to the Bishops for suggestions…

  24. Laura98 says:

    Cutting to the chase… this law, like the HHS Mandate (and a dozen? hundred? other laws), is meant as an attack on our Religious Freedom. It is meant as an attack on our First Amendment Rights. To be more specific, it is meant as an attack on the Catholic Church.

    It won’t be the Unitarians who’ll be accused of being intolerant and hateful for refusing to open halls up to gay couples for gay wedding receptions – let the lawsuits begin! And I’m sure this is just the first step. Once the Supreme Court makes a decision on “Gay Marriage” I’d expect a whole new can of worms to open up…

  25. Knittycat says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I applaud and support anybody standing up and speaking the doctrine of the Church. I just see that some of the spouting off going on is too late.
    Bravo Bp. Paprocki for speaking out! But he’s attacking the tail of the serpent! He’s attacking the result instead of the cause! Our leaders have been silent for too long. They have kept their peace, and even spoke out in *support* of intrinsic evils too often.
    Abp Fulton Sheen’s facebook page had a very applicable quote about an hour ago.
    “A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. If a time ever comes when the religious Jews, Protestants and Catholics ever have to suffer under a totalitarian state, which would deny to them the right to worship God according to the light of their conscience, it will be because for years they thought it made no difference what kind of people represented them in Congress, and because they abandoned the spiritual in the realm of the temporal.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Catholic Hour)
    So congratulations to Bp. Paprocki for recognizing the evil and saying something! Now, follow the tail of the serpent all the way back to the head, and start attacking that.
    Save the Liturgy, Save the World.

  26. anilwang says:

    catholicmidwest says: “How did we grow to this size in the first place? Did we do it by telling everyone they were wrong .., or did we do it by inspiring them with our ….our holiness? ”

    Both for an example of the first, look at St Ambrose’ rebuke of the Emperor. For an example of the second, look at the Martyrs of the early Church.

    But if you had to pick one, I’d say it was personal holiness. If we can’t get our own houses in order will not be able to get anyone else’s houses in order. If we say that others have to have a high moral stance that we ourselves do not attain, they will not listen.

    Without saints, the Church has lost its witness and lost all moral authority and to the outside world, Church doctrines are just a grab bag of rules and beliefs, some “good” and some “bad” (from the more “enlightened secular view”) that have no value or binding effect on anyone, even Catholics.

  27. MichaelJ says:

    catholicmidwest , I’m not sure what you are suggesting with what I assume is a rhetorical question You seem to be saying that Bp. Paprocki should have inspired others with his selflessness, commitment and holiness, but otherwise should have kept his mouth shut.

    To answer your question though, I would say that the early Church grew because it was willing to unashamedly and directly proclaim the Truth, just as Bishop Paprocki has done here, and was willing to accept the consequences even to the point of martyrdom. So yes, indirecly at least, it did tell others that they were wrong.

  28. Andrew_81 says:

    Cutting to the chase… this law, like the HHS Mandate (and a dozen? hundred? other laws), is meant as an attack on our Religious Freedom. It is meant as an attack on our First Amendment Rights.

    Not really.

    To be more specific, it is meant as an attack on the Catholic Church

    This one.

    Saying such things are an “attack on religious freedom” makes a nice sound bite, but really, there’s nothing religious about any of this, except that the Church is in the cross hairs (but not because of its religious doctrine).

    Homosexual marriage (along with divorce, abortion, euthanasia, adultery, and copious other sins) are not wrong because the Catholic Church says they is. The Catholic Church says they are wrong, because they are wrong.

    People who draft these attacks either have a warped conscience and are, on principle, attacking what they see as an injustice, or, they are systematically trying to accustom people to unnatural immorality, and this is just one of many prongs of the attack. More than likely the hoi polloi are in the first category, and the powers that be are in the second.

    But either way, this isn’t an issue of religion or religious freedom.

  29. Bishop Paprocki is bang-on-target in isolating the three major underlying ideas beneath the proposed legislation:

    What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union.
    Children don’t need both a mother and father.
    The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions.

    It would be hard to imagine a more clearly worded analysis. And yet, as I ruminated, I couldn’t escape the thought that these excellent arguments are likely to “bounce off” the very people who need most to be convinced.
    But why?
    What kind of a mind would hold those three ideas as self-evident truths?
    Answer: exactly the same as the mentality behind the “Ordain A Lady” music video discussed elsewhere on this blog. For once again…
    (cue up Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All”)…
    It’s all about ME. If I am attracted to another (regardless of sex), I should be able to act on those feelings as I choose to secure a sense of fulfillment for myself, not only without fear of punishment but with public approval and support. With YOUR approval and support. Don’t talk to me about the needs of my child or the needs of Society. I had a baby because I wanted to be a parent and the baby exists to give me that experience. And Society is a Big Fat Meanie when it comes to love. If you don’t believe me just read any novel written in the last 200 years. I have a right to total individual freedom of action without having to endure the discomfort of your disapproval. Until I get that, then society has to change.
    Who thinks like this?
    An adolescent.
    It takes an adult to apprehend the reality of something outside of himself (a child or a society) and put the good of that something ahead of his own personal fulfillment.
    Bishop Paprocki’s arguments will ring true with the adults in his audience, but adolescents of all ages are likely to dismiss him as just another Big Meanie.
    Obama’s America is a nation where adults are in the minority.
    Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child.

  30. bookworm says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. The funny thing is that several very positive things happened at my job today which made me suspect that God was trying to tell me something… namely, NOT to quit because I was exactly where He wanted me to be, at least right now. For one thing, I might be in a position to help prevent or reduce the harm created by laws such as these, even if in a very small way.
    Also, it’s worth noting that as recently as the late 1990s the Diocese of Springfield had a terrible reputation among Catholics of traditional/orthodox persuasion and was led by a now-retired bishop (who shall remain nameless) who — if even half of what I’ve heard is true (I didn’t live here at the time) — was one of the worst in the country and corrupt in more ways than one. Things sure have turned around….

  31. Elizabeth M says:

    Well, we did it to ourselves. When marriage was taught that it’s first objective was children and second focus was “romantic-emotional union” the faithful understood why homosexuals were not to be married. As soon as the focus was changed to love first, then children, it began a domino effect. Why should we be surprised that today’s society basis marriage on feelings? Divorce is based on feelings. The devil simply started destroying the family and marriage by physically separating the spouses. Now he tries to destroy marriage by directly attacking God’s plan for man and woman. Sure, same sex couples are able to adopt. But in the future there will be a tipping point. I think some people are “amazed” at how quickly we run to ruin because they fail to look at how much time the evil one has been making his plan. Past generations did not listen to Our Lady and pray. Now we must pray, fast, and suffer to remain Catholic.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    Elizabeth M,
    At the very most, 25% of this country is even nominally Catholic, and 80% of those don’t bother to go to mass weekly. And of that 25%, I would bet that the overwhelming majority have no idea what the Church teaches about marriage. Put that with the other 75% who aren’t Catholic, and it can safely be said that most people in this country are completely oblivious to what the Church says about marriage. Honest. So it’s not the case that anything we said had anything to do with most of what’s going on with the definition of marriage. For most people, what we say about it one way or the other is not an issue at all. I know from the standpoint of someone who’s always been in the Church and always heard about what the Church teaches that sounds incredible, but it’s completely true.

  33. LisaP. says:

    I don’t think we should discount that the move to support marriage of homosexuals is, in a confused way, often a move towards a traditionalism huge swaths of modern Americans do not understand but do long for. They live in a post-hook up world, where people are used and discarded in nanoseconds, and the idea that there is a group out there that actually wants to sign up to have its members stay together in love for life is very, very appealing. Much of the movement is even sold on the basis of parenthood, that homosexuals want to be able to stay together monogamously and perpetually and raise children in a stable household, that’s why they want marriage. Sure, it’s a false fantasy, but think how well it plays with young people today who were raised in houses that have often broken up over and over, or never actually were whole to begin with, who have repeatedly been given the message that as children they were drains on world resources or accessories to be tossed in the drawer when no longer in fashion. Look at the appeal of the two men adopting a child in “Modern Family” — it’s Ozzie and Harriet remixed.

  34. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lisa P.,

    while I appreciate your optimism, in this case I very much doubt the campaign for homosexual marriage has any other end besides fighting the traditional marriage concept (the good point being that the latter is still at least recognized as such).

    It has been said (by people favorable to homosexual marriage): “Homosexuals do not want to get married to each other… They do want, though, to be able to do so.”

  35. bookworm says:

    Pleased to report that this letter was read, in its entirety, at the end of the Mass I attended this evening, and was greeted with applause from a majority (I’d say at least 2/3) of the congregation!

  36. LisaP. says:

    Imrahil,
    I am referring to those supporting the legislation in the general population, not to the originators. It’s not the purpose of the law I’m talking about, but its appeal.
    I would be very curious to see a study or poll looking at whether these laws are significantly more strongly supported by Americans who themselves grew up in households where the parents were not married or were divorced before they were grown.

  37. bookworm says:

    Didn’t the mantra of the sexual revolutionaries used to be “We don’t need a piece of paper to prove we love each other?” Now they want that “piece of paper” at all costs, even if it means extorting it from people who don’t want to give it to them…

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    Lisa P,

    I think you are 100% correct. A good 1/2 of all high school kids come from broken families or families with real functional issues. Some of them have seen, or even participated, in some horrendous things. As a result, young people look at anything that looks like affection with domestic peace and stability as a good thing. This is a huge driver for their social views.

    Also most young people, even those whose parents are or have been Christian, have not been properly schooled in Christianity, so for them Christian teachings are simply not an issue in the matter. If they don’t know what they are, they don’t matter; if they do know what they are, they seem irrelevant to many modern kids because they can point to all these broken marriages that have happened anyway.