Ed Peters on SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges

Canonist Ed Peters has comments on SCOTUS decision today.  Read the whole thing over there, but… here:

Two thoughts re the Supreme Court decision on ‘same-sex marriage’


Of course, the Court has not yet reached the end of its marriage line, for yet to come are “marriages” between siblings, parents and children, groups of people, and so on, but come they will, [….]

Anyway, I make here two points especially for Catholics.

First, we need to recall that the State has long recognized as married some persons who are not married, namely, when the State allows divorced persons simply to remarry. We have lived with persons in pseudo-marriage for many decades; so now the pool of such people is larger. [But the new members of the pool are rather like piranha when denied what they demand.] The pastoral challenges in consequence of this latest decision are greater as will be the sacrifices needed to meet them. But so far—and this is a key point—State power has not been applied to try to force Churches or their faithful to treat as married those who, by doctrine or discipline, are not married. [Yet.] This brings me to my next point.

Second, Catholic doctrine and discipline can never, ever, recognize as married two persons of the same sex, and any Catholic who regards “same-sex marriage” as marriage is, beyond question, “opposed to the doctrine for the Church” (Canon 750 § 2). I am sorry so many Catholics apparently think otherwise and I recognize that many who think that Church teaching on marriage can and should change, do so in good faith. But they are still wrong and their error leads them, among other things, to underestimate how non-negotiable is the Church’s opposition to the recognition of same-sex unions as marriage.
The Church (and for that matter our nation) will have great need of Catholics who understand and accept the teaching of Christ and his Church on marriage if the damage done by the Supreme Court today is ever to be repaired. Appreciating the infallible character of this teaching on marriage is the first step.

As for whether we succeed in righting this wrong, that’s not our concern. The question we will be asked at Judgment will be, Did we try?

There’s a challenge for the “New Evangelization”.

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Posted in New Evangelization, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, ¡Hagan lío! | Tagged , , | 60 Comments

USCCB on SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges – “tragic error”

From the USCCB:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decision, June 26, interpreting the U.S. Constitution to require all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage” “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The full statement follows:

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

People today can barely get to 2+2=4.  They will recognize the beauty of millennial teaching in the age of Modern Family, dumbed-down education, multiple screens … panem et circenses?

Yes, I’m upset.

Here’s a phrase that ought to be brought back and applied to more than just this generation of the ordained in these USA: trahison des clercs.

I, for one, would like to know for whom the Catholic clergy of these USA voted for in the last two presidential election cycles.

And, once again, thanks a million to you Catholics who opted to stay home rather than to vote.

Comment moderation is ON.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, Priests and Priesthood, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

SCOTUS Justices on Obergefell v. Hodges

UPDATE: Neil Addison, an outstanding barrister in England, has comments on the opinions.  Given Justice Thomas references to Magna Carta, it is appropriate to link to the esteemed legal scholar.  HERE  He has some great comments.

____ ORIGINAL: Published on: Jun 26, 2015 @ 12:43

I have now read all of the Slip opinions from today’s SCOTUS decision on Obergefell v. Hodges.  HERE

In this post I will add, over time, quotes which interest me from the opinions.

The moderation queue is ON.  You can add quotes.  Be sure to note the Justice and the page of the Slip opinion.  I might allow discussion along the way, but right now I’m interested mostly in a florilegium of quotes.

Many will probably start with Justice Scalia (I get to him along the way… don’t miss it).  I’ll start with the last dissenting opinion from Justice Alito.

He starts out with a statement that the majority’s understanding of “liberty” is “post-modern” (p. 2).

For today’s majority, it does not matter that the right to same-sex marriage lacks deep roots or even that it is contrary to long-established tradition. The Justices in the majority claim the authority to confer constitutional pro- tection upon that right simply because they believe that it is fundamental. (p. 3)

As I read in another opinion, Justice Alito also mentions the shift in view of marriage involving “romantic love” (as does C. Justice Roberts p. 7).  Alito, citing his opinion in Windsor:

As I wrote in Windsor:

“The family is an ancient and universal human in- stitution. Family structure reflects the characteristics of a civilization, and changes in family structure and in the popular understanding of marriage and the family can have profound effects. Past changes in the understanding of marriage—for example, the gradual ascendance of the idea that romantic love is a prereq- uisite to marriage—have had far-reaching conse- quences. …” (p. 5)

And, here is something that I am deeply concerned about, Justice Alito wonders what the ramifications of this will be.  Note that he (like Justice Thomas in his dissent) separates this issue from “civil rights”:

Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. [The other dissenting Justices make that point.] The decision will also have other important consequences.

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. E.g., ante, at 11–13. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent. [to the “new orthodoxy”.]

Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reas- sure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. Ante, at 26–27. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. [NB] I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.  [It is interesting that when the majority mentions religious liberty in their “reassurances”, so to speak, they omit the word “exercise” of religion.  Roberts makes that point on p.28.]

The system of federalism established by our Constitu- tion provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex mar- riage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facili- tates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turn- about is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Na- tion will experience bitter and lasting wounds.

Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and im- pose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic sup- porters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.

Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed.

Hard to deny that.

Justice Thomas warns about “the dangerous fiction of treating the Due Process Clause as a font of substantive rights. (p. 2).   The decision, “invites judges to do exactly what the majority has done here—“‘roa[m] at large in the constitu- tional field’ guided only by their personal views” as to the “ ‘fundamental rights’ ” protected by that document. (p. 2).

Thomas has an extended discussion of what “liberty” has always meant, going back to Magna Carta.

In enacting the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the Framers similarly chose to employ the “life, liberty, or property” formulation, though they otherwise deviated substantially from the States’ use of Magna Carta’s lan- guage in the Clause. See Shattuck, The True Meaning of the Term “Liberty” in Those Clauses in the Federal and State Constitutions Which Protect “Life, Liberty, and Property,” 4 Harv. L. Rev. 365, 382 (1890). When read in light of the history of that formulation, it is hard to see how the “liberty” protected by the Clause could be inter- preted to include anything broader than freedom from physical restraint. That was the consistent usage of the time when “liberty” was paired with “life” and “property.” See id., at 375. And that usage avoids rendering superflu- ous those protections for “life” and “property.”

If the Fifth Amendment uses “liberty” in this narrow sense, then the Fourteenth Amendment likely does as well. See Hurtado v. California, 110 U. S. 516, 534–535 (1884). Indeed, this Court has previously commented, “The conclusion is . . . irresistible, that when the same phrase was employed in the Fourteenth Amendment [as was used in the Fifth Amendment], it was used in the same sense and with no greater extent.” Ibid.  (p. 6)

He makes this point, drawing on John Locke:

Even assuming that the “liberty” in those Clauses en- compasses something more than freedom from physical restraint, it would not include the types of rights claimed by the majority. In the American legal tradition, liberty has long been understood as individual freedom from governmental action, not as a right to a particular gov- ernmental entitlement. (p. 7)


Far from being incarcerated or physically re- strained, petitioners have been left alone to order their lives as they see fit.

Nor, under the broader definition, can they claim that the States have restricted their ability to go about their daily lives as they would be able to absent governmental restrictions. Petitioners do not ask this Court to order the States to stop restricting their ability to enter same-sex relationships, to engage in intimate behavior, to make vows to their partners in public ceremonies, to engage in religious wedding ceremonies, to hold themselves out as married, or to raise children. The States have imposed no such restrictions. Nor have the States prevented petition- ers from approximating a number of incidents of marriage through private legal means, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

Instead, the States have refused to grant them govern- mental entitlements. Petitioners claim that as a matter of “liberty,” they are entitled to access privileges and benefits that exist solely because of the government. They want, for example, to receive the State’s imprimatur on their marriages—on state issued marriage licenses, death certif- icates, or other official forms. And they want to receive various monetary benefits, including reduced inheritance taxes upon the death of a spouse, compensation if a spouse dies as a result of a work-related injury, or loss of consor- tium damages in tort suits. But receiving governmental recognition and benefits has nothing to do with any un- derstanding of “liberty” that the Framers would have recognized.

Sorry about the extra hyphens… btw. But you are smart.

Thomas takes up a phrase in the majority opinion, “better informed understanding”, which I think is going to be as infamous as Douglas’ emanations and penumbras in Griswold v. CT.

In a concession to petitioners’ misconception of liberty, the majority characterizes petitioners’ suit as a quest to “find . . . liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the oppo- site sex.” Ante, at 2. But “liberty” is not lost, nor can it be found in the way petitioners seek. As a philosophical matter, liberty is only freedom from governmental action, not an entitlement to governmental benefits. And as a constitutional matter, it is likely even narrower than that, encompassing only freedom from physical restraint and imprisonment. The majority’s “better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define . . . liberty,” ante, at 19,—better informed, we must assume, than that of the people who ratified the Fourteenth Amendment—runs headlong into the reality that our Constitution is a “collection of ‘Thou shalt nots,’” Reid v. Covert, 354 U. S. 1, 9 (1957) (plurality opinion), not “Thou shalt provides.”

The majority has – like good gnostics – evolved a “better informed understanding” and “new insights”. Despite thousands of years of understanding marriage in a certain way, in every culture on Earth, the majority leans on something else.  (See also Roberts, p. 25)

Concerning the implications of the majority’s decision, Thomas points out consequences for religious liberty:

Numerous amici—even some not supporting the States—have cautioned the Court that its decision here will “have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.” Brief for General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists et al. as Amici Curiae 5. In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Id., at 7. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.

The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph, ante, at 27. And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so ful- filling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Ibid. Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice. (pp. 15-16)

That is the difference between “freedom of religion” and mere “freedom of worship”.  Again, as Alito said, we will be pressured only to “whisper” our views at home.  We will be vilified, even prosecuted, for expressing them in public.

Justice Scalia has a short opinion.  At the end, he doesn’t even both to say, “I dissent” (as he did yesterday to King v. Burwell, p. 21), much less “I respectfully dissent” (as other Justices usually do).  He wrote “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy” (p. 1).

He is uninterested in what the law says about marriage.  He wants to know who “rules” now (p. 2).

Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Consti- tution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected commit- tee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extrav- agant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most im- portant liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

I, for one, do not welcome my black-gowned overlords.

By the way, it is a pleasure to read Scalia, not just because of the occasional acerbic comment.  If you are making notes and following the arguments, you see that each paragraph links to last.   But I digress….

Scalia say that the majority has stripped the people of democratic process, however messy.

The Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect. (p. 4)

And…speaking about learning new meanings, etc….

The “we,” needless to say, is the nine of us. “History and tradition guide and discipline [our] inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” Thus, rather than focusing on the People’s understanding of “liberty”—at the time of ratification or even today—the majority focuses on four “principles and traditions” that, in the majority’s view, prohibit States from defining marriage as an institution consisting of one man and one woman.

This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. (p. 5)

He makes a point about the make up of the Court: “Four of the nine are natives of New York City”. (p. 6)

Fireworks ensue on pp. 6-8:

But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. [German: “sudden revolt to take over government, like the Nazi “Beer Hall Putsch” in 1923.] The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003.20 They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amend- ment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds— minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly— could not. They are certain that the People ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to bestow on them the power to remove questions from the democratic process when that is called for by their “reasoned judgment.” These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago,21 cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate con- curring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so.22 [Here is footnote 22 for your convenience… don’t miss this!: If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie. – I take that as a “No” vote.] Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent. “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.”23 (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. [Which, where I live, it’s pretty easy to do.] Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.) [C’mon, you libs… that’s funny.] Rights, we are told, can “rise . . . from a better informed understanding [infamy!] of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.”24 (Huh? How can a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives [whatever that means] define [whatever that means] an urgent liberty [never mind], give birth to a right?) And we are told that, “[i]n any particular case,” either the Equal Protection or Due Process Clause “may be thought to capture the essence of [a] right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,” than the other, “even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.”25 (What say? What possible “essence” does substantive due process “capture” in an “accurate and comprehensive way”? It stands for nothing whatever, except those freedoms and entitlements that this Court really likes. [Italics in original.]

Some of the phrases in the majority opinion are likely to become as famous as the “emanations” line.  And surely this “better informed understanding” and “new insights” and that B as in B S as in S has eclipsed Justice Stewart’s famous “I know it when I see it” line.

Near the end:

If the opinion is correct that the two clauses “converge in the identification and definition of [a] right,” that is only because the majority’s likes and dislikes are predictably compatible.) I could go on. The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational pop-philosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.


Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”26 With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

Thus, Scalia.

Chief Justice Roberts has the main, longer, dissenting opinion, which JJ. Scalia, Thomas and Alito joined.

More on that later.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Pò sì jiù, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

It’s time to kneel down and pray for our nation

The Supreme Court came down in favor of same-sex marriage today.  The Slip opinions are HERE.

Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. Pp. 3–28.


KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA, J., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined.

There is no provision for any state which has its own laws limiting marriage to two sexes.  Thus, this is now the “law of the land” in all 50 states.

Who wins?  Not society.  Perhaps divorce lawyers.

It may be that this was as inevitable as the night which follows the day.  I had hoped not, but with only a little hope.

We now await cases that test the bounds of religious freedom.  I’m not sanguine.

Get ready for the onslaught.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 178 Comments

Wherein Fr. Blake hits a century

No, he’s not 100 years old.

My friend Fr. Ray Blake, PP of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton, has a great post on his blog.  HERE

A friend of mine reports this conversation:
“Father, my boyfriend is depressed; I want you to talk to him”.
“Okay, can you tell me a bit more?”
“Yes, he left his wife and children to move in with me and now he feels guilty”
“So, what are you asking?”

This not so unusual a request. It is significant that it is a young man. I invariably get depressed young men, sometimes suicidal young men who want to speak to me about some spiritual problem, ‘I can’t pray’ or ‘I want to return to the sacraments’ or even sometimes, ‘I think I want to be a priest but…’ and then when one gets below the surface there is a whole series of broken relationships, sometimes even of children from discarded relationships. I suspect if you heard their confession none of this would figure, maybe simply, ‘Bless me for I have sinned, it has been X years since my last Confession in that time I have missed Mass over a number of years, I have been dishonest and I have been unkind at times’, maybe even I have wasted food or some other eco-sin. [Yep.]

What is often neglected, is any mention of sins against the 6th and 9th Commandment, [among others] that could be because of embarrassment, or simply as I suspect just sheer ignorance that these are totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus. In fact I have rarely married a couple which is not co-habiting, nor experienced embarrassment when they give a shared address. Admittedly a few couples are living together simply because it is impossible to buy a flat without two incomes, and some, a tiny number are trying to live chastely.

We believe in the Natural Law: sex and procreation outside of marriage, aberrant sexual behaviour, pornography, sexual fantasy, coupled with drug and alcohol use and hedonism, in general are chickens which must come home to roost. Again as the Holy Father has been saying recently the misery that so many children experience, because their parents are continually rowing or because of an absent father and in the case of boys the absence of an effective male role model, only add to feelings of guilt many young men live with. Brighton has a very high rate of male suicide, someone suggested to me recently one of the problems is those who might give help are feminised, which only adds to problem.

I get a bit concerned when priests of a certain age (which they are mostly) say, ‘we must be merciful’. The problem is that for the last 60 years we have done nothing else but be so ‘merciful’ that we have failed to be truly merciful and proclaim Jesus’ teaching, which is the ultimate and only real mercy, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] or as Pope Francis says, ‘God’s final word is called Jesus’. For many young people, men especially, it is that they simply don’t know how to live.

Maybe someone needs to sit down and write a simple ‘Rule of Life’, I suspect such a document will not come out of the Synod! [Probably not.]

Fr. Z kudos to Fr. Blake.

Posted in HONORED GUESTS, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The Church in Madison is alive! VIDEO

Tomorrow, 26 June, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, will ordain 6 men to the holy priesthood.

In the last decade or so, since Bp. Morlino has been in Madison, a fairly rural diocese, the number of men in formation has grown from 6 to 35, nearly all of them home boys.  HERE

What a difference a bishop makes!

Here is a short video about the ordination tomorrow.

His Excellency will use the portable throne which the TMSM built for Pontifical Masses. Also, tomorrow we will see in use custom made linen manutergia, made by a reader here!

To make a donation to the Diocese of Madison and to earmark it for seminarians, click HERE.

Once you click the “one time” or “monthly” button, you’ll get a menu. The St. Joseph Fund is for seminarians. Otherwise, there is a diocesan fundraising project going on that Part 1 of the WSJ article explains. Thanks in advance!

Posted in Just Too Cool, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries | 10 Comments

ASK FATHER: Our Episcopal priest recently became a nun….

This was so quirky, that I had to post it. I asked a priest friend to write a response.

From a reader…


Our Episcopal [?] priest recently became a nun. She insists on wearing her habit when serving mass. Is this proper or even allowed under canon 284?. She is causing a split in our parish. We hired a priest, not a nun. Most of us are happy that she has found another calling, but we feel that when she is working (ministering) as a priest and serving God as a priest she should look like a priest, not a nun. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.


Anglicanorum coetibus!


As a child, playing make believe was never ending fun. When I was younger, the family across the street had a large box in their garage, full of cast-off clothing. As children, we would occasionally root through the box and dress up, pretending to be adults. There was a white shirt with french cuffs in the box. At that time, the only one I knew who wore french cuffs was our family doctor. So, I would put on that shirt, and pretend to be a doctor. The other kids would come into my “office,” I would listen to their heartbeat, take their pulse, look into their mouth and invariably prescribe two or three pieces of candy that substituted for pills. It made for an enjoyable afternoon. One day, the shirt was missing. Rooting through the box, I found another white shirt and put it on, but it did not have french cuffs. My friends and I were disappointed. We couldn’t play doctor’s office without the proper shirt. It just wasn’t the same. I think we probably ended up playing “Mother May I,” or frozen tag instead.

So I know how you feel, having had a parallel experience. You’re expecting one sort of outfit, that seems to be the essential factor – and that outfit has changed. It must be disappointing.

Oh, and I wasn’t really a doctor either. I suppose the difference between our experiences is that all of my friends new I wasn’t really a doctor and wasn’t really prescribing pills. We knew we were just play-acting.

Posted in ASK FATHER Question Box, HONORED GUESTS, Lighter fare | Tagged | 31 Comments

ASK FATHER: Petrine Privilege or usual “annulment” procedure? Help!

From a reader…


Is it a better option for us to seek a Petrine Privilege rather than go through the usual annulment procedure if my husband was not baptized for his 1st marriage or his marriage to me? His 1st wife was baptized but not religious or monogamous. I have recently converted to Catholicism, and he will allow me to practice my faith without hindrance. We have been “married” for 31 years & have been living as brother/sister for 14 months. The pressure on our relationship is extraordinary. Please help! My priest suggested I contact you with this question.

Your question brings up a difficult pastoral point that comes up with some regularity.

Reverend Fathers: Before baptizing someone, or receiving them into the Church, make sure their marital status is clear!  If you have questions, call the local tribunal or a trusted canonist.  We mustn’t guide people into difficult situations, and we shouldn’t baptize or receive an adult into the Church and then, later, try to straighten out a problematic marriage situation. Get the marriage situation regularized FIRST!  Then proceed with the baptism/profession of faith/confirmation/reception.

Now to the question.

A Petrine privilege, or privilege of the faith, is an indult whereby the Holy Father intervenes, using his authority as Vicar of Christ, to dissolve a non-sacramental marriage so that one of the parties can marry in the Church.

Most Tribunals recommend that people in situations like this pursue a declaration of nullity first. There are both practical and theological reasons for this.

Practically, the process of determining whether a marriage could be declared null takes place locally. Usually, this can be done in about 18 months. A privilege of the faith case, on the other hand, can be more complex.  It involves sending the documentation over to the Holy See.  It can take longer.

Theologically, it is best before asking the Holy Father if he is willing to wield the awesome Power of the Keys (remember that this is a privilege we’re asking for not a right – the Holy Father can, for various reasons, deny the request), to see if the marriage can be proven to be null. If it’s a null marriage, then the Pope need not dissolve it: it was never established in the first place.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Ed Peters on Pope Francis’ remarks about “separation” of spouses

Distinguished canonist Ed Peters has comments at his fine blog In The Light Of The Law. He doesn’t have a combox, but he doesn’t mind discussion of his stuff over here. Be sure to check his other posts.

The pope’s comments on ‘separation’ make canonical sense

Granting that Pope Francis has made some imprudent statements (e.g., mentioning Catholic families and rabbits breeding in the same breath) and some imprecise ones (e.g., asserting that air-conditioning is a ‘clear example’ of consumerist disregard for the common good), and granting that such comments comfort those trying to make the Church look incoherent while distressing those who value prudence and precision in ecclesiastical commentary, nevertheless, [NB] Francis’ recent comments about the need, at times, for married couples to separate are neither imprudent nor imprecise and they should provide no solace to foes of right thinking nor occasion concern among the faithful. Francis is, I suggest, simply re-stating standard moral theology and indeed canon law in his remarks on marriage. I’ll draw chiefly on canon law in showing how this is true (for moral theology see, e.g. Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology, IV: 228-230, or Häring, Law of Christ, III: 319-320, or Palazzini, “Separatio coniugum”, DMC IV: 263-266).

Canon 1151 directly states that “spouses have the duty and the right to preserve conjugal living”. Canon 1135 underscores that “each spouse has an equal duty and right to those things which belong the partnership of the conjugal life”. And the foundational Canon 1055 defines marriage as, among other things, “a partnership of the whole of life”. In these norms the 1983 Code is setting out what common sense and human nature already tend toward, namely, valuing the cohabitation of married couples.

But, that said, neither canon law or nor human nature demand the impossible. If, under certain circumstances, it becomes impossible (physically or morally) for a couple to cohabit, they are permitted to separate. Canon 1151, cited above as directing cohabitation, includes the proviso “unless a legitimate cause excuses them”, and Canon 1153 (capping a canonical tradition that reaches back at least to Gratian) expressly acknowledges the risk of “grave mental or physical danger to [a] spouse or children” as justifying the separation of spouses. Thus, Francis’ comments on the need, at times, for separation in marriage fall squarely within the parameters of canon law.

Of course, say “separation” these days and the world hears “divorce”; mention “divorce” and the world immediately assumes a “right to remarriage”. Francis, however, mentions neither divorce nor remarriage. He could have, if he so chose, reminded his audience that even civil divorce (which does not destroy a natural marriage bond, let alone a sacramental one!) is a morally licit option under certain circumstances (see, e.g., CCC 2383), but he would never has suggested a divorced person’s simply proceeding to remarriage, for such would be contrary to the plain teaching of Christ. But civil divorce and remarriage are complex topics that do not lend themselves to adequate presentation to a crowd of pilgrims standing under the hot summer sun.

In short, when Francis says “separation” he means separation, not necessarily civil divorce (though it might be licit under some circumstances) and certainly not simple “remarriage” (which is not an option for Catholics). Persons reading apocalyptic divorce and remarriage overtones into the pope’s comments on separation are, well, going apocalyptic.

So, everyone, breathe.

Posted in HONORED GUESTS, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

POLL: SCOTUS upheld ObamaCare subsidies in states

For the second time, the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare. They ruled in favor of subsidies in states that did not set up their own health care exchanges.

This decision was 6-3.  HERE

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s liberals to support of the law. He thought the phrase in question was ambiguous and that it had to be interpreted in the larger context.

Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion is stinging. He wrote that now we ought to call it SCOTUSCare.

Let’s have a poll.

Chose your best answer. The combox is open. THINK before posting.

What think you about SCOTUS upholding ObamaCare subsidies in states?

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Posted in The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, You must be joking! | Tagged , , , , , | 83 Comments