Bp. DiMarzio (D. Brooklyn) about Gov. Cuomo, NY legislature, contrary-to-nature unions

H.E. Most. Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, has reacted to the passage of the legislation to redefine marriage so as to equate marriage with contrary-to-nature unions.

My emphases and comments.

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo [I am glad he begins with the name of the most important person in what happened.] and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites [Except for those who agreed.  The others were moral cowards.] and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society.

With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. [What’s next? Will he promote the “marriage” of people with their dogs?  Guinea Pigs?] At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures. [There are stronger possible words to describe this sort of thing.]

What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship.

In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration[And, Your Excellency, what about Holy Communion?]

The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex “marriage.” It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness.

This issue has been framed as upholding marriage equality. This is not the case since one of the principal purposes of marriage is to bring new life into the world. This cannot happen in same-sex marriage. [NB] It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage. Our political leaders do not believe their own rhetoric. If they did, how in good conscience could they carve out any exemption for institutions that would be proponents of bigotry and prejudice?

Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions.

Good and well-expressed.  But there is a missing piece.

Holy Communion?

There may have to be an investigation or process before such a decision is made by a bishop, so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose.   See Dr. Peters piece about this.

The official statement of the whole Conference of New York.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Patti Day says:

    Would the Bishop have to wait for an investigation before having a private conversation with Mr. Cuomo about not receiving Holy Communion? Maybe he already has.

  2. irishgirl says:

    Where’s Thomas Becket or John Fisher when you need ’em?

  3. AnAmericanMother says:


    Shoot, where’s Bishop Odo of Bayeux when you need him?

    Hic Odo Eps Baculu Tenens Confortat Pueros

    Loosely translated — “Here Odo the Bishop, holding a cudgel, encourages the guys.”

  4. Brooklyn says:

    From one who lives in the diocese of Brooklyn, I feel I should make a comment here. Bishop DiMarzio very seldom gets involved in any social issues. There are two abortion clinics literally around the corner from the diocesan offices, and another one right up the block, and yet another one about 6 or 7 blocks away. I have never once heard of or seen the good Bishop praying in front of the abortion clinics. (His predecessor, Bishop Daley, still prays in front of abortion clinics on a regular basis, despite major health problems). I did personally see Bishop DiMarzio going into the building where one of the abortion clinics is, but I think that was for personal reasons as he had heart surgery shortly after that. For him to speak out this much on a social issue is a pretty big deal. But like you, Father, I wonder why he doesn’t say anything about communion. But we have probably dozens and dozens of Catholic politicans throughout the state who are pro abortion (very rare to find a pro life candidate of any stripe in this state), and nothing is ever said to them. Why should it be any different for the destruction of marriage? However, I will give credit to our diocesan newspaper, which named names last week in regard to this issue with the headline “Shame.”

    The Bishops in this area tend to tread very softly when it comes to politicians and political issues. They will be attacked viciously by our pagan culture here (witness Maureen Dowd going after Archbishop Dolan in the NY Times). But I think I would rather be attacked by a pagan, godless culture than stand in front of my Saviour one day and explain why I didn’t defend His Truth.

  5. Part of the problem here is that the state capitol is in Albany (upstate). The upstate bishops are more reluctant to take decisive action than the downstate bishops. I suspect that the bishops of New York State are unable to agree on a united front of action (not just words). If New York State had one archdiocese headed by Archbishop Dolan, or even if the state capitol were in Manhattan, much more severe action would have been taken before it came to this. We’re actually seeing a turf battle among bishops here, sad to say. I like to think that Archbishop Dolan, Bishop DiMarzio, and Bishop Murphy at least are begging Bishop Hubbard in private to join them in some sort of united, concrete sanction. What I see here is that Bishop DiMarzio is biting his tongue, and Bishop Hubbard is unwilling to agree to take further action. Since the state Capitol is in Bishop Hubbard’s jurisdiction, the rest of the state’s bishops really need him on board for anything to have teeth. If the bishops of New York State publicly disagree on what must be done, with sanctions in one diocese and no action at all in Albany, that is a huge problem to say the least. As much as I am disgusted with this whole situation, if they can’t agree it may be better to keep it quiet rather than create a sideshow to distract from the main message that same-sex marriage is idiocy.

  6. Central Valley says:

    The weakness of the Nw York bishops is very similar to what we suffer in California. The citizens of California voted and said marriage is between a man and a woman. In California referendums are very popular because the legislature is week. The California vote for traditional (real) marriage was supported by the Mormans and pushe by evangelicals. The Knights of Columbus did some work but what good is a “catholic” organization when you do not have the support of your priests and bishops? The “catholic” Governor ordered the Attorney General(Jerry Brown – once catholic?) to fight against the will of the people in California. Again the bishops were silent against the “catholic” Governor and any “catholic” legislators.
    Prior to the California referendum the bishops were silent. Only when the polls began showing the will of the people woudl be to grant these pretend marriages did the California bishops attempt to do anything. Before the vote the bishops were concerned with saving spotted owls, whales, opening borders and destroying our national defense. Missing from the bishops actions were the salvation of souls. When was the last time we heard New York or California bishops speak strongly about moral wrongs???????………crickets. Again our shepeds have abandoned the flock to be devoured by the wolves.. Thinking of these weak kneed, limp wristed bishops bring to mind a quote of a great English convert Sir Arnold Lunn: “The Catholic looks out from the walls of his citadel at a world relapsing into that paganism from which Christianity emerged. Once more the Hun is knocking at the gate. It is not only the traditional creed of Europe which is threatened. The new pagans attack with even greater emnity the traditional morality and culture of our race.”…….” Our bishops were guarding the citidel and they were asleep at the gate. God help us.

  7. Fr. Basil says:

    \\ Will he promote the “marriage” of people with their dogs? Guinea Pigs?] \\

    Assuming they are of the lawful age (18 years or so, if they can live that long), can a guinea pig or dog express consent for marriage? I believe the civil laws require consent.

    This same argument was used against interracial marriage, once upon a time.

    As far as “going against nature,” I heard the same words said in the South in my teens about the civil rights movement and racial integration. People even said, “It’s against the common good and will destabilize society”–the very words I heard on the news by Abp. Dolan today.

    I’m not saying anything in favor of same-sex marriage here, but better arguments are going to have to be used.

  8. LisaP. says:

    Maybe this has come up many times before and I’ve just never seen it, but why doesn’t the Catholic Church divorce itself from the civil marriage process?

    If I get married in a Catholic Church as a Catholic, it’s a sacrament, not a civil contract. The marriage being recognized by the state is simply an add on, right? Why don’t we separate the process? I can receive the sacrament of holy matrimony with my husband. If I additionally want the state to recognize my marriage for reasons of legal access or insurance, whatever, I go get a piece of paper from a judge. But I don’t have to. Maybe by separating the acts we can reinforce the idea that it is God that makes a marriage, through the action of His Church, and not secular legislation?

    Isn’t it maybe about time we recognize that “marriage” as understood by America in general and “marriage” as understood by the Church are two fairly different things?

  9. Mike Morrow says:

    The shameful thing is that most so-called Roman Catholics, laity and clergy and ordinaries, not only in NY but throughout the country (except for the South), vote enthusiastically FOR the those who push this type of legislation. This latest won’t cost any of those votes.

  10. vox borealis says:


    That is already the case in pretty much every state. When one gets married in a church (whatever denomination), one must still apply to the state to have one’s marriage legally recognized. Meanwhile, as the statistics show, more and more Catholics are simply bypassing marriage in the Church and are instead going straight to the court house.

    I think that what you propose is, in fact, backwards. Rather, it is the state that should get out of the marriage business, instead of co-opting it and then twisting its definition. Since the state can no longer be trusted with such institutions, I would rather see it simply no longer recognize any marriage…leave that for individuals and whatever private organizations (including religious denominations) they belong to.

  11. Andrew says:

    Fr. Basil:

    I’m not saying anything in favor of same-sex marriage here, but better arguments are going to have to be used.

    Here is a better argument: a man is not a woman.

    A man cannot be a mother, he cannot conceive, he cannot nurse, he cannot be a wife to another man – for crying out loud, why does one need to say the obvious? Millions of people around the globe and not one of them is the product of two guys playing with each other’s genitalia. It’s time to stop dancing around this issue and tell these idiots how stupid they are. It is not a discrimination to acknowledge that there is a huge difference between a male and a female.

  12. shane says:

    Don’t worry: ‘gay marriage’ will be nothing more than a passing fad. The vast majority of such ‘marriages’ break up within a very short time and the impending demographic/social security crisis in the west will ensure that homosexuality will become frowned upon more and more.

  13. FredM says:

    a. @Fr Basil – I don’t follow your consent comment. How can two men give consent to an impossibility? You could give consent to me to flap my wings and fly but if I jump off a cliff and think I’m a bird we know what the result will be.
    b. I visited a parish in a neighboring town this weekend (Archdiocese of New York). No reference was made to the bishop’s statement. The priest spoke about how the gay marriage thing is all about seeking unity and that is something we all seek. I thought I was in Albany.

  14. mrose says:

    As the folks at Rorate pointed out, it seems weak that the ‘strong’ condemnation comes after the bill is signed into law. Granted, I definitely think that Bp. DiMarzio and Achbp. Dolan worked behind the scenes on this beforehand, and are now airing their thoughts more publicly now that their interventions failed; however, these condemnations ring hollow without concrete actions. Lazy tolerance of sodomy and the attempt to redefine the cornerstone of human civilzation without actual consequences goes nowhere. Additionally, as Andrew points out, Bp. Hubbard seems to be quite unhelpful toward even the efforts of Bp. DiMarzio and Achbp. Dolan, and Bp. Hubbard is the Ordinary of Albany and thus the most logical one to “deal with” Gov. Cuomo. But he doesn’t seem to care at all.

    This is ridiculous that we have “Catholics” voting for these bills and signing them into law. At the very least, they should be handled under Canon 915 (and I am not trying to be some anonymous internet magisterium, but rather going by the example of other Prelates, and canonists such as Dr. Peters). The scandal these “Catholics” cause does damage to the Church and muddies Her witness to the world which seemingly becomes more and more in need of Christ. May God give our Bishops the courage to do something.

  15. aspiringpoet says:

    I share LisaP’s question and don’t feel it has really been answered. If marriage as a sacrament is distinct from marriage as a civil institution, why exactly must state “marriage” or civil union correspond to what Catholics know is correct? Does it have something to do with the need for civil law to be subject to God’s law …? I accept the Church teachings on political involvement but I don’t entirely understand them yet.

  16. AnAmericanMother says:

    Fr Basil,
    Somebody will argue that dogs and horses, at least, are intelligent enough to consent. The shame of my alma mater, Prof. Peter Singer, has argued exactly that.
    But the problem is that that reductio ad absurbum skips the intermediate levels that are sure to follow: lowering the ‘age of consent’, bigamy, polyamory, and incest (and don’t bother arguing the genetics there. The offense of incest includes unrelated persons such as stepparent/stepchild, uncle by marriage/niece, and of course the forbidden degrees include first cousins, which doesn’t have an immediate effect, just over many generations as the pedigree collapses).
    Once you destroy the concept of marriage as one man/one woman, you have opened the door for all sorts of bizarre perversions.

  17. MarkJ says:

    Why deny Communion to pro-death politicians when you can instead almost deny Communion to a 12 year old who decides to kneel before her Lord on the Feast of Corpus Christi? True story, happened today in Seattle, a confrontation with a priest who insisted my daughter stand for Communion. When I intervened for her, the priest said the US Bishops had decreed Communion was to be received standing, so I pointed out that the Vatican had said that we have the right as individuals to kneel. The confrontation went back a forth, and finally I knelt beside my daughter and he gave us both Communion. To the credit of the parish, two women followed us out and told us they were glad we came and they apologized on behalf of the parish. A couple of other people came to thank us afterwards, too. I will be praying for this priest and this parish…

  18. Helena Augusta says:

    The strong condemnation comes now but in the last weeks before the passage of the legislation the Church seems to have been AWOL. The New York Times noted that the Church was the last redoubt for opponents of the legislation, the only organization with the reach and power to stop it (if it was stoppable at that point, which is doubtful). Crucial support came from Wall Street Republicans, who were able to tell the GOP legislators that they would make up for any financial shortfall the legislators faced as a result of their vote. Archbishop Dolan must have decided to save his fire for a fight he could win.

  19. Fr. Basil,

    Perhaps a more realistic scenario is to ask, what if the political tide one day favored polygamy? (This is conceivable at least in theory.) Would public opinion be enough to change the definition of marriage to allow for this? Many people who think of same sex marriage as a matter of fairness recognize polygamy (at least I hope they do) as somehow being opposed to an objective understanding of what marriage is.

    The only part of Bishop DiMarzio’s letter that made me cringe was this:

    At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs

    I don’t like this line of argument because it is a common tactic of liberals to set up such false dichotomies. (I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve read about someone whining about the new Missal saying, “At a time when we have [fill in the blank with the problem of your choice] why are we using time and energy on a new translation?”

    The truth is, even if every single American citizen was gainfully employed and making a bloody fortune in the process it wouldn’t matter – marriage is not subject to redefinition. PERIOD.

  20. EWTN Rocks says:

    I have to say that I don’t get it – I don’t understand how anyone purporting to be Catholic can agree to or accept the concept of same-sex marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo states he is Catholic – maybe he has fallen away from the church as I had and forgotten Sacred Scripture and Catechism of the Catholic Church. As a revert, I am once again studying Sacred Scripture and Catechism. Both make clear that God intended the nature of marriage be that of man and woman – not man and man or woman and woman. God created male and female in the image and likeness of himself, blessed them, and said “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1,22). Opposition to same-sex marriage is clearly not about discrimination or denial of equal rights.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Marriage is a natural institution that has been sanctified by Christ. Thus: Although the Sacrament of Marriage is not the same as a civil contract, nevertheless, they both embrace the sharing of goods.

  22. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Perhaps a more realistic scenario is to ask, what if the political tide one day favored polygamy? \\

    Many societies DO favor polygamy, or to be precise, polygyny (a man having more than one wife). It would be very difficult to condemn it on the basis of the Bible.

    In any case, we already have serial polygamy allowed in civil law. What is the Church doing to make this illegal? How many sermons or speeches have you heard from church leaders about throwing support behind legislation to make divorce difficult, and remarriage afterwards nearly impossible?

  23. My point, Fr. Basil, is that many of the same Americans who think that the majority’s idea of “fairness” is all it takes to define (redefine) marriage to include same sex couples, when presented with the idea of polygamy becoming legal (a man with many wives or vice versa or both) for the same reason would bristle at the idea. This is at least a first step in helping them to recognize that the institution of marriage is not simply subjective. This, of course, is what Fr. Z was getting at – the redefinition of marriage taken to a far enough extreme would cause darn near everyone to object; i.e. to come to terms with the fact that the definition of marriage is not subject to public opinion after all.

  24. EXCHIEF says:

    From the comments often posted under the name Fr Basil I am beginning to wonder if the poster really is a Priest. Having siad that I continually wonder why most Bishops lack the spine needed to be Good Shephards of the faithful. They all seem to be well versed in political correctness, many have proven adept at ducking the abuse issue, and most seem more concerned about the diocesan financial balance sheet than the ultimate balance sheet–i.e. how many of their flock go to Heaven vs hell.
    If Cuomo isn’t publicly held accountable (including being banned from Holy Communion) the message to the average Catholic will not be a good one. Man up Bishops–it is long overdue in most parts of this country. The Catholic Heirarchy in this nation is about as disingenuous as the current presidential administration.

  25. Maltese says:

    Eternal separation from God can, indeed, be a grind!

    Well, there are many who hold the banner, “I’m Catholic”, flapping as it does in the wind, but are diametrically opposed to the Church they think they belong to. Keep flapping your banners, but get some sunscreen for what’s to come!

    St. John Chrysostom said, “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops”, might we add “politicians”?

  26. The Astronomer says:

    This letter is closing the barn doors after the horses are gone….2 little too late. Bp. Hubbard won’t do a thing that may merit a dis-invite from an elite Albany cocktail party.

  27. Denis says:

    “What’s next? Will he promote the “marriage” of people with their dogs? Guinea Pigs?”

    Oh Father, haven’t you been through your deprogramming session yet? Don’t you know that that’s not a good argument because….because it’s not.

    Someone might object: it’s a bad argument because a dog can’t say ‘I do.’! But aren’t they just prejudicing the argument in favor of the speciesist restriction of marriage to human couples? Aren’t they begging the question? What right do they have to insist on rationality as a criterion for entering the sacred bond of marriage, where all that really matters is that two or more individuals wuv each other vewy vewy much? Can there be a purer, more selfless form of wuv than that of man and dog?

    But maybe even mutual feelings are prejudicing things too much. After all, there’s the guy who recently came out of the closet and confessed his love of cars. Yes…that kind of love. I am glad that the article spared us the details of the conjugal act, of the ‘one flesh’ union of man and honda, but the point is the guy’s serious: he is erotically and romantically attracted to cars. Why is his love any less valuable than that of human couples and man-dog couples? Why can’t he marry his car? Of course, visitation rights aren’t going to be much of an issue, but, isn’t it important that the state recognize this form of love, too, by attaching this sacred word, “marriage” to it?

  28. jfm says:

    The Bible is a bad place to look if you want examples of marriage as a holy institution. Only a few in the Bible really are. Marriage has been a mess since Creation. I am sure Eve married Adam because no other guys were around. He’d spend all day naming species and exerting dominion over creatures, and you know she’d want to relax under the tree and talk all night with him about the state of their relationship. They must have been proud of their first two sons. We all know how that turned out. Then we have Hagar, patron saint of all of the surrogate mothers for gay couples.

    I know gay marriage is supposed to be a catastrophe. I take this as an article of faith, since I do not see the evidence for it. I also think the NY bishops didn’t seem to be too worried about this. They saw it as an inevitability and decided to fight other battles. If Archbishop Dolan really wanted to nix this, he would have been able to do so with massive excommunications/communion refusals/public condemnations to scare a few on the fence. (Although those who would have been excommunicated don’t go to church much anyway, so it probably wouldn’t have made much of a political difference, but it would have generated a heck of a lot of press.)

  29. Helena Augusta says:

    It’s unlikely that excommunications and refusals of communion could have made a difference here and I’m sure Archbishop Dolan was well aware of that. Resorting to such measures against politicians who want to look heroic and aren’t afraid of danger to their campaign chests would have been unwise, to say the least. You don’t want to hurl a thunderbolt and have it dissolve ineffectually into the atmosphere. Yes, it would have generated press – bad press.

  30. Lurker 59 says:

    There are multiple areas where bishops should be doing something but in fact are doing nothing beyond issuing rather weakly worded statements that no one really reads or pays attention to.

    The thing that concerns me the most is how this attitude of the bishops is promoting despair amongst the laity. Look over threads like this one and see just how many comments indicate people who have given up hope in the bishops. Too many people believe in the faith fully and completely but have no hope that the bishops will protect them from the wolves and not stand from a distance occasionally issuing a softly spoken statement. This doesn’t mean that the bishops have to be in the business of issuing excommunications, just that they should do more than issue statements after the fact. Call a news conference before the vote and say “It is against the Catholic faith to support same sex marriage and our Catholic legislators who are supporting this should be ashamed of themselves.”

    The letter of H.E. Most. Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio is not really a good letter because it is not really setting forth a clear and succinct teaching on the subject, not correctly identifying the cause of the successful vote, not calling people to repentance, and not separating those who have abandoned the Church and providing for them a path back to communion.

    How hard is it really to write the following

    Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who himself is a Catholic along with other members of the state legislature, signed into law a bill legalizing same sex marriage. This bill, which is now law, is gravely contrary not only to the Catholic Faith which comes to us from Jesus Christ Himself, but is also repugnant to the natural law. The Catholic Church stands in unity with people of other beliefs; non-Catholic Christians, Jews, and Muslims, in decrying this travesty. When a human society believes that it can create laws and instructions that run counter to that august institution of marriage, which has been established by God and that which has been further elevated and transformed into the august sacrament that is a type of the very relationship between Jesus and His Church, such a society has indicated to the world that it has begun to slid backwards into moral equivalency and no longer seeks after the common good but rather after the privations and appetites of those in power.

    The blame that the state of New York should be so lead by Catholic leaders, who truly should know better as the position of God in this matter has been clearly laid out by the Church, can only be laid at the feet of us bishops. We, who are the chief teachers and catechists for our diocese have for too long failed to uphold our sacred duty to preach the Gospel authentically, with clarity, and with vigor to our flock and the world. We have been charged with protecting innocence and purity. We failed the People of God in the sexual abuse crisis and we have failed here again to raise up good Catholic politicians who truly seek after the common good and seek to uphold the sanctity of marriage by protecting the august institution from the moral decay of homosexuality. We ask for forgiveness here for our failings and we pledge before God to be more truly the teachers which He has called us to be.

    Make no mistake though, the vote for this bill and its signature is a grievous and inglorious sin. It causes scandal, and doubly so that so many Catholics have voted for it and our governor, who is a Catholic, has signed it into law. Our Bishops Convergence has gone to lengths, involving many private conversations, to educate and pursued our legislators to seek after the common good and protect the sanctity of marriage, but it has been to no avail. Because this vote was so public and this law has such a sweeping effect upon the public lives of the people of New York, we are left with no choice as bishops but to give a public response. We here by call Gov. Cuomo and those other leaders who have supported the passage of this bill to repentance: to repudiate the law and seek the passage of a new law that overturns it. We offer our services as teachers to help these educators more fully understand their responsibilities to the common good and the need to act in accordance with the natural law.

    To those Catholic leaders who have supported this new law, including Gov. Cuomo, we must, with heavy heart, recognize the situation that they have caused for themselves and the distance that they have put between them and Christ and His Church. They have, in a real sense, broken communion with us. We therefore ask that until such a time as they seek sacramental forgiveness for the injury that they have brought upon the public at large, that they do not present themselves to receive communion in any parish in New York. We further instruct our brother priests to withhold the Eucharist from those that would so present themselves.

    We hope and pray for reconciliation with Gov. Cuomo and the other legislatures. We further know that it is often a difficult thing to seek forgiveness as pride often gets in the way, and doubly more so when one is called to repent publically for a public sin. It is often easier to do wrong than it is to correct oneself from that wrong, but the path of Christ is easy and we are here to help those of our flock, as well as those who are not, come to understand the truth of what we have preached about the sanctity of marriage, a truth that comes not from our learning but which comes down to us from the Apostles from the Word of God.

  31. Kerry says:

    If others here are unfamiliar with Jennifer Roback Morse and her Ruth Institute, go hither there. Her arguments are spot on, lucid and relentlessly logical. She makes the point that we should say ‘They are redefining marriage. Not ending the homosexual ban or legalizing homosexual marriage. They are changing the definition.’ She gets better from there.

  32. ContraMundum says:

    @Fr. Basil

    If you have to ask the question, you won’t understand the answer.

    I don’t think anyone is in real, honest doubt about the nature of marriage; it’s not a problem with reason, so appealing to reason will not work. “Gay marriage” is comparable to proclaiming the emperor as a living god; it was prima facie nonsense.

  33. benedetta says:

    jfm, Actually I think the quite limited examples from Scripture you cite, combined with Jesus’ words about marriage as well as the fact that God chose to be born to a woman in a family all point towards a supernatural reality that is still well worth aiming for and living, though the media and the press and so many have taught that it is better to give up on it altogether.

    I just know that most children of divorce, liberal, conservative, faith or no faith will tell you that it seriously scarred them. That alone is reason enough and relevancy even if you would like to selectively quote scripture to establish that marriage is worthless. I think that the bible is filled with numerous “failures” that in the attempting to live loyally to commandments God found much to bless. Of course those who attack all religion point toward the sin, failings and hypocrisy of its members as the reason why not to believe or profess a faith. But that is not reason enough to deter from faith is it. And that should not disqualify the Church from participation and speaking out for the good of children and the family even as you say it will be misunderstood by the media or turned into something else. And of course the fact that there aren’t excommunications shows that while the media is self-absorbed and wants a good fight always especially with the Church, the Church sees little value in such spectacles as evangelizing method. There was a time when Catholics could proudly profess that they did not believe what the Church taught and that they were still Catholics anyway but increasingly it will be seen as an empty gesture having little to do with faith. If people do not put themselves out there in courageous ways for the faith, visibly, then it will just be registered that they are phony and simply do not believe. If one regards communion for the political value, the press photo, the statement and the appearance and little more, then I guess that will be the self limiting communion one receives.

  34. PostCatholic says:

    Huh. Until the Bishop pointed it out, I had never realized I was a “powerful political elite.” I always thought of myself as a middle class American whose access to political power consisted of the vote, the email and the postage stamp. I’ll have to ask my friends who also supported New York’s marriage equality vote if they’re a part of the “powerful political elite” and have been modest about it all this time.

  35. irishgirl says:

    Lurker 59-what you said in the ‘shaded area’ of your comment! If only Bishop DiMarzio wrote that instead of what he did write!

  36. Malateste says:

    The best point I’ve seen made on this issue was in the comments here, somewhere: that this battle was lost decades and decades ago, with the advent of easy, widely accepted no-fault divorces. That was the moment the American culture as a whole signed onto the idea of marriage not as a sacrament or the bedrock of a nuclear family, but as a purely volitional arrangement centred in romantic and sexual attachment, not accountable to God, one’s children or anything else but the dictates of one’s heart.

    Any attempt to argue that some starlet’s fifth drunken Vegas wedding deserves legal recognition, while a loving union between two stable, monogamous gay men doesn’t, is inevitably going to founder, and justly so; the only real distinction there is not between valid sacramental marriage and false, lustful union (since both fall into the latter category), but between types of couplings that make us squeamish, and types that don’t (that’s the problem with the “marriage-with-dogs” argument, too: it confuses the real point of difference). By remaining silent while the first sort of marriage crept into the lawbooks, I suspect we’ve lost our right to object to the second, and the left at this point is just calling us on the failure of our own logic.

    At this point, it seems as though the most productive thing any of us could do is switch from offense to defense, by limiting the extent to which these state-sanctioned definitions of marriage can be actively imposed onto religious groups. I know some lawyers comment here: anyone have any wise words on how we can work to protect our freedom of belief over the coming years?

  37. guatadopt says:

    Fr Basil actually makes a decent point. If I had to list the “greatest threats” to marriage, homosexual unions would be on the list but far under divorce and heterosexual cohabitation. It seems somewhat disingenuous of the bishops (and others) to fight this, but not legalized cohabitaion (common law marriage in most states) and divorce. Realistically, the vast majority of “catholics” are living together outside of marriage or did so before their marriage and/or are divorced and remarried. Why aren’t the bishops fighting to make divorce illegal? Where is the constitutional ammendment that bans cohabitation? I read that there are an estimated 42,000 homosexual couples that may be in the “running” for marriage in NY state. This out of what? 8,000,000 households? Meanwhile, most priests turn the other way on cohabitation and divorce. It seems hypocritical. I also read that nearly 35% of married Catholics who attend mass regularly have also been previously married (Pew Research).

    When I got married 7 years ago, my priest just assumed I was cohabitating (I was 22 at the time). Meanwhile my then future wife and I were saving ourselves for marriage…best decision I ever made. Until the bishops and others fighting this homosexual marriage start to make the same noise about these bigger threats, their arguments fail to bear any weight. My guess is that since the majority of “catholics” are themselves threats to marriage, the bishops won’t speak out.

    This begs the question…which is worse? A priest who knows that most of his couples preparing for marriage are cohabitating and does nothing about it? Or Cuomo signing a bill that allows a small fraction of homosexual couples to sign a piece of paper?

  38. tealady24 says:

    Robert Kennedy, Cuomo’s I & II, Hillary, Chuckie Schumer, Anthony Weiner, those 4 pols who held out to the end, Bloomberg, Guiliani, and others I can’t think of momentarily; for these oh Lord, I thank thee, that I don’t live in New York State! (Pennsylvania ain’t much better, or NJ).
    Right on Father, it IS all about Cuomo setting himself up for 2016!!!

  39. Andrew says:


    Your argument is faulty. Here is why.
    While it is true that some marriages (too many) fall short of the ideal, it needs to be emphasized that great many marriages are still exemplary in every way and most importantly, that the ‘job’ of propagating and educating future generations remains to be handled by families. Homosexual unions cannot produce offspring and they have no chance of making a contribution to family life.

    So the two models, even a weak family unit made up of a mother and a father, and a homosexual ‘couple’ of two guys are not comparable, and should not be equated.

    It is a good idea to encourage family units to greater fidelity, but to issue a sweeping condemnation of married life and to equate it with this travesty is not constructive at all.

  40. AvantiBev says:

    Well, Malatesta, contrary to your cyber name, I don’t think you have a “bad head” on your shoulders. I agree with you for the most part. I work for lawyers who do a ton of divorce, child custody and paternity suits and many, many of our clients are Catholic or other Christians. Many of my Catholic relatives and friends have shacked up, hooked up, divorced and remarried. In fact, as an actor myself, I can tell you that you don’t need to reach for a “starlet” example to talk about serial marriages and a lack of commitment. You “civilians” [*lol ] are just as likely to view marriage as a contract rather than as a sacrament and sacred covenant.

    Back in June, 1969 when the NYC Stonewall Bar homosexual patrons first rioted to protest police harassment of their very-non-committed lifestyle, heterosexual adults were already embracing the Sexual Revolution, agitating for its false freedoms such as abortion and no-fault divorce to be recognized in law, and many a straight guy was assuring his girlfriend that: “We don’t need a piece of paper, baby, to cement our love.”.

    Gays may have walked through this door on Saturday but we straights held it open for them with our behavior and attitudes toward marriage.

  41. benedetta says:

    AvantiBev, What you say is true enough regarding divorce and the rest of it. But I do think there was then and is still an elitism that drives such notions and yes I agree that the example of the rich and famous set a tone that is widely committed to for that reason alone that it appears to suit them. What the fine print reveals though is that the impact of divorce on mothers and children, as well as children born to single mothers living in poverty or even at the lower sort of side of middle class existence is obviously that even with the supports extended via outreach, not for profit, charter and other model schools, scholarships, and the social services programs, still the quality of life is greatly diminished for those families affected from material experience to every area of life. That is fact, it is demonstrated through data as well as anecdotal study over and over again. It has been a long time in coming and the culture, the secularists and many in the Church abandoned supporting the family in favor of the idealism (not practicality) and the selfishness (not social justice) of free love and sexual expression outside of committed relationship. From whatever angle you look at it, children are affected and it is not only those (large in number) coming from the odd “broken family”, since it is generational in its effects (and there are quite a few others this generation is saddled with as well) it is suffered and borne out by all regardless of the ones affected the most acutely right at their hearts. Undoubtedly their peers, their schools, their places of worship, all relationships, the ability to trust itself is affected and needs to be cared for. But that aspect of social justice seems very far from the politicos. Sure they argue about social service supports, there is the annual doling out of the cash to the schools and the skirmishes, and a few in the Church still try to do what is needed but what comes through overwhelmingly is the necessity to have abortion in order to enable uncommitted free love and sexual expression, no matter who gets hurt in the aftermath, that ideal is paramount and seems blind to reality really. Some in the Church recognize the issues but seem not blind but resigned, and by neglect condemn the consequences anyway. For all of this the generation with the most “freedom” are not in fact healthy. It seems in many ways that an empowered demographic had its heart set on something back in the day and has chased it down in policy, education, religion, media, in practically every way possible trying to portray its appearances as fabulous and irresistible, yet so long as this is satisfied what occurs in its wake is totally ignored, as if, that’s tough, kid, you pick up the pieces. It may be well and good for them and totally gratifying, and the very picture of eternal youth for them, maybe, but to ignore the needs of young people coming after, well I can’t see really how greater violence could be done to Catholic social justice teaching, to pretend that it is best for everyone, no matter what, and not even consider the reams of data, statistics, anecdotal evidence. So much for relevance and being current with the times.

  42. Sam Schmitt says:


    Didn’t hear about President Obama speaking at a gay fundraiser in NYC last week? I can’t think of any other group making up less than 5% of the population that has its own fundraiser for the most powerful man on the planet. Then Cuomo went way out of his way, spending considerable time, effort, and political capital to get this bill passed in an extended session, after-hours vote. This for an issue that has failed in referendum 30 states, deals with 2-3% of the population and is not even supported by a majority of the voters in New York state. But there’s no political agenda here, nosiree!

    If you believe this is all because of the votes Cuomo got and letters he received from concerned voters like yourself, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in buying . . .

  43. JuliB says:

    Fr. Basil and others – one thing I learned during my 25 years of atheism is that unless one truly seeks answers, one really doesn’t mean it when one ‘questions’. I would direct you to an incredibly long post at Ace of Spades where the article and posters make great points about why gay marriage is a bad idea. http://minx.cc/?post=318044 And to be fair, there are some solid counterpoints.

    Also – the NY legis didn’t give it a full 72 hours, instead, they decided to pass it under rules allowing emergency votes.

  44. Deimater says:

    “Catholic priest compares gays and lesbians to dogs and guinea pigs.” Lovely headline for the mainstream press. So much for the Church’s respect and love for homosexuals.

  45. PostCatholic says:

    And if you think just 5% of the vote is enough to any politician in America, I’m happy to sell you a bridge a little further upstream, Sam.

  46. Dove says:

    Lisa, you are absolutely right. In addition to performing the marriage ceremony, our priests are doing a service for the legal system. They are doing the paperwork that attests to the marriage. In many countries, e.g. Mexico and many European countries, there are 2 ceremonies: the civil ceremony and the religious ceremony. If our bishops all took the position that they were no longer going to do the civil ceremony, people could go to city hall and get it. Then marriage as we know it would not be threatened. You can be sure that the next thing the gays are going to want to do is to get married in a church. Before that happens, our priests have to stop performing the civil service.

  47. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says

    And if you think just 5% of the vote is enough to any politician in America, I’m happy to sell you a bridge a little further upstream, Sam.

    The key word in his comment was “fundraiser”–that 5% of the vote has a lot of money.

  48. benedetta says:

    guatadopt, Actually in most places over the last fifteen or so years there has been much more pastoral emphasis on discouraging cohabitation before marriage. This is likely because of demand from laity who see the stats that say that cohabitation correlates with very high divorce rates and with good reason wish to support young couples starting out. And there is also much outreach to couples with children who are not wed.
    If it is only about this small number as you say then one can understand why people would not want what happens necessarily as the next step which is for kindergartners to be taught that this is a valid choice which is normative. If it is not a choice then the best approach for educating young people in terms of peace and tolerance would look very, very different than the curricular and cultural artifacts encountered from preschool to college level institution. If for all of that children were actually more tolerant, more respectful, better adjusted and healthier, one could discuss it better however that is simply not the case though there is widespread celebration in academia and media, schools. But the very insidious thing is that one cannot even have a discussion of this as one gets immediately labeled ignorant, phobic, bigoted with great anger and vehemence although the very point is all about what is best for everyone. There does not seem to be a mechanism within the gay community, even in Church circles, for discussion and addressing the legitimate needs and questions, even when bigotry and phobia are not the assumptions by people taking part in the discussion, and, what’s even more troubling is that the very questioning or attempt to sort through hype and trend and fashion as perpetuated by mass media from healthy sexuality, integrated sexuality, spirituality, is attacked, sometimes with the harshest possible means. I think that is what is most disturbing. If this sort of spirit meant well for everyone and all children everywhere then it should not be so very problematic to engage in any sort of discussion. It seems itself not to want to recognize the numbers you put forth but rather seems militant, autocratic, even violent, in a “rule the world” fashion. Even in the struggle for civil rights in the days of government imposed segregation, one could have a reasonable discussion about the merits of a Black Panther type mentality versus a Martin Luther King approach.

  49. LisaP. says:

    I actually think the perfect “solution” would be for the state to get out of the marriage business. But that’s not going to happen, because it has too much invested in being the authority of social conduct through legislation.

    So just as I would suggest to a married woman that she cannot change her spouse, she can only change her own behavior and what choices she makes in response to his, I’d suggest the Church wash its hands of any involvement with civil marriage.

    Thank you, Dove, for the information on the way the Church operates elsewhere. It seems to me this is the best route to follow, not just regarding gay unions but to combat the conflation of seemingly dissolveable, contract-based, non-sacramental unions with the holy sacrament of matrimony.

  50. oldCatholigirl says:

    To compare formal approval of same-sex “marriage” with formal approval of “marriage” to a pet is not disrespectful to the people who have inclinations to such uses of their sexuality, it is disrespectful to the acts which would thus be approved.

  51. Helena Augusta says:

    robtbrown says:
    ‘The key word in his comment was “fundraiser”–that 5% of the vote has a lot of money.’

    Not only that, but as mentioned above the involvement of Republican Wall Streeters was crucial in the passage of this bill. These men aren’t necessarily gay themselves but like many rich Republicans, they have long regarded the marriage issue as a monkey on the back of the party in states like New York.

  52. Heather says:

    Are we ever going to see any formal excommunications or are those just reserved for trads and womyn priestesses?

    Bring on the bell, book and candle!

  53. benedetta says:

    As much as I very well recognize the very great destruction that occurs from public scandal, I just am not certain that it is the right way to go, excommunication of politicos or others. We all know how it plays out, it just becomes a media circus, and it is still pretty standard in the political world that even bad press is valuable, it is visibility and it only confirms the going media assumption which is anti-Catholic, feeds those who despise the Church. Would it have the effect of bringing back those who have left the faith, it is doubtful. One could simply say, forget about that but, the reality is that false teaching has been widespread, especially in places where leadership has not been strong but it has occurred in places that are more encouraging as well. If people have been taught, something contrary to the faith as perfectly good, through no fault of their own, can it be said that they have chosen it? Now some may say, oh I choose it. But even then, I wonder. Even then what is really going on is that people have, entertained debate in their minds, let’s say, on certain “hot button” issues, and intellectually come down on one side to the total exclusion of another, they have become convinced in their heads as to the righteousness of an intellectual proposition. But is that faith, is it assent to the faith of the Church, truly? It still is not yet necessarily faith. Faith of course includes intellect, mind, and heart, reason together with the affective responses, but necessarily includes some components of risk, of trust, even danger, of being unsettled, of having to balance, or to fall into the arms of God. And even if we are not discussing the topics that seem to most concern Americans still in any area of the live of faith sacrifice of some sort is required, even if it is to sacrifice being one hundred percent certain, to sacrifice one’s own powers and means towards control. There is still mystery, God’s ways are finally not our ways. No amount of reasoning power, enlightenment, awareness of current needs will ever substitute for reliance upon God. I am just not sure that the great majority of people who support dissent (this is apart from folks who teach it) have been involved in much different from an extended debate in one’s own mind sort of the way one views current affairs and regards the government. An excommunication would not be understood either by the majority of media writers who cover the Church (who notoriously do not seem to comprehend basic Catholic teaching) or by Catholics who attend Mass occasionally and have reasoned themselves into a corner of doubt, undermining, discouragement and look to the usual methods to supply a semblance of the sacred. I just don’t think that average people ought to be punished by extension for the misdeeds and poor example of others, to be even more disinclined to look into what the Church really teaches after poor teaching, anti-Catholicism and sources of information which do not even get the basics right. And with those who give the scandal it really often seems that they specifically seek a big media showdown with the Church, for whatever reasons. I have read that movie marketers do capitalize on anti-Catholic sentiments quite explicitly and calculatedly in terms of financial return by way of focus groups and the like. Politicians market themselves using the same methods and must be well aware of what they would tap into if the Church were to come down on them.
    But I think the days of presenting one’s self for communion on special occasions for the media all cute and smug as if doing something naughty or getting away with something will be drawing to a close. We are reaching the saturation point of irony. It doesn’t look heroic or renegade or considerate, toward communion or toward believers. An immature faith just heads on up because everyone else is or seems to get to. But does it seem to reflect, genuine belief? I think Catholics would in fact find more maturity and reflection if he abstained for the various reasons which would convey that he did actually believe and signal an authentic process of faith in coming to terms in his life and the expectations as to the magnitude of communion. Once you find one good excuse to go away from the Church, others are bound to come right along with that. Whereas to struggle to assent to the faith with one’s whole being, knowing that not everything fits into neat packages always, I should think that the more one attempts to commit to it, even in failing or difficulty, the more reasons one discovers for persevering.
    Many who dissent or decide not to attend Mass anyway not only do not know fully what the Church teaches and why but also have never really given living the faith a good attempt on its terms. In the spirit of “trying everything” and experimentation it is very interesting how a life of faith is one sort of lifestyle that people are content to hear all the reasons against and content themselves with that alone and not attempt it just on the opinions of others. But still some would , regardless of how it turns out, rather live their lives on their own experiences rather than according to one pundit or theologian or another. And then of course in many areas the liturgy has been stripped of the sacred and the transcendent so people really often wonder why they ought to bother. But the dissenting voice really hasn’t been able to connect up its theology or philosophies with practical experience except for in a few rarified places so people convinced on intellectual terms of their ideas have no way of connecting up their lives to the sacred and the beautiful and to concrete acts of mercy and prayer and so just abandon the faith and look to participate from afar by supporting or not supporting something, still in a debate but not really in it fully.

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