SCOTUS to hear unnatural “marriage” case. It’s time to do reparation, invoke God with powerful prayers.

So, the Supreme Court will finally have to get into same-sex stuff.   I don’t want to call it marriage.  The best I can do it call it “marriage”.   Whatever the civil, legal terms are used, it it impossible that there should be marriage between members of the same sex.

At ZENIT I read some comments by San Francisco’s Archbp. Cordileone, who is the head of the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

He says:

“It’s hard to imagine how the essential meaning of marriage as between the two sexes, understood in our nation for over 200 years, and consistent with every society throughout all of human history, could be declared illegal. To those arguing for a constitutional redefinition of marriage, one must ask: when did the Constitution suddenly mandate a novel and unfounded definition of marriage? To ask such a question is not a judgment on anyone. It is a matter of justice and truth. The central issue at stake is: what is marriage? The answer is: a bond which unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children who come from their union. Only a man and a woman can unite their bodies in a way that creates a new human being. Marriage is thus a unique and beautiful reality which a society respects to its benefit or ignores to its peril.”

During his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis recently said:

“The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.”

We are facing horrible threats, even existential threats right now, and it seems as if they are coming faster and faster, from every direction.

We must get serious about our Catholic identity and have recourse to the Church’s powerful prayers to avert evils and to do reparation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ACTION ITEM!, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum!, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Priam1184 says:

    Likely what will happen is that the United States Supreme Court will find in favor of the inalienable and constitutional right to sodomite ‘marriage.’ When that happens the jig will be up, maybe not immediately but not long after. Gays are now a protected class in American society and to assert Catholic teaching in this matter will likely be a hate crime very soon, probably within a year or two after the decision.

    So let this be a memo to those who think (or have the idea in the back of their minds) that the United States Constitution was somehow inspired by God and that American society is the pinnacle of all human history: IT IS NOT ANY SUCH THING. This society is a disaster and it was the principles that brought it into being that are responsible.

  2. Agathon says:

    Father, I would be grateful if you might point us to (or compose a separate blogpost containing) some of these prayers you have in mind.

  3. juergensen says:

    Alas, a court that finds a right to butcher babies in the Constitution will easily find a right to sodomite “marriage” too.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    No created being has the authority to redefine marriage.

  5. Robbie says:

    Regrettably, everyone needs to prepare for the worst. This Supreme Court, despite having five Catholic justices who are generally considered conservative jurists, is going to legalize same sex marriage. I say that because, since 2003, the homosexual agenda has won and it has continually won with the support of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic. He is often seen as a Court moderate, but he is actually heterodox. He supports abortion rights and gay rights, but is opposed to affirmative action and Obamacare.

    In cases decided last year, Justice Kennedy sided with the four liberal justices to permit same sex marriage in California and other places. And because of his past votes, dating back to 2003, it’s a near certainty he will once again rule that the Constitution of the United States mandates that homosexual couples can be married.

    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Chief Justice John Roberts, a Catholic, rule in favor of same sex marriage, if for no other reason, so he can assign himself the task of writing the opinion. In theory, that would allow him to narrow the ruling’s scope, but, none the less, same sex marriage will be part of the country. He may see it as a chance to say religions in the US can’t be forced to contort their teachings and marry gay people, but you can bet that challenge is coming in the future.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    This issue is not about redefining a term. It is about equal protection under the law.

  7. ray from mn says:

    It all really got started when a homosexual judge who was in a long term relationship with another man declared California’s Proposition 8 referendum to be unconstitutional. The Prop 8 referendum, adopted by a majority of California voters, declared marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

    But this homosexual judge, who had kept his homosexuality secret, got to decide a case filed after the referendum that claimed that voters had no right to make that decision. He agreed. So one homosexual judge invalidated the votes of 7 million California voters. And the ball started rolling. Most of the other states that have legalized homosexual marriages used judges to make that decision, not voters.

  8. Raymond says:

    @frjim4321: We Catholics don’t believe in reincarnation; but if we did, you would be Robert Drinan, S.J.!

    The U.S.A.–the only country to legalize abortion through judicial fiat rather than through legislative action. Now, with so-called “gay marriage,” history seems to be repeating itself. Come, Lord Jesus!

  9. donato2 says:

    Frjim, every single adult, whether homosexual or not, in the United States has the right to enter into a marriage. It is hard to see an equal protection argument when everyone’s rights are equal. What this is about is not equal rights but redefining a unique institution — marriage — out of existence.

    Western Civilization is collapsing. Charlie Hebdo and the destruction of the family and all the rest are all symptoms of the same profound disease that is afflicting the West. Our days have the feel of Hippo when it was besieged by the Vandals in 430 a.d.

  10. philstudent13 says:

    The use of that acronym makes me, despite several philosophical disagreements, want to nominate Bl. John Duns Scotus as patron saint of the US Supreme Court (and they could definitely use someone in Heaven dedicated to praying for them).

  11. Dennis Martin says:

    Fr. Jim,

    You are correct. It is not merely about redefining a term. Marriage is not a term. It is a thing. A reality. A real thing. Real things are not definable by us but by nature, by reality, by God. Redefining an onion to describe, to “term” it as a horse is not possible.

    You are wrong. It is not about equal protection under the law. Equal protection with regard to marriage applies to those capable of marriage. Only men and women of sound mind and capable of free consent are capable of marriage and enjoy equal protection with regard to marriage. Equal protection regarding marriage cannot, by definition, apply to those incapable of marriage.

    A court issuing a ruling stating that two men or two women can marry has to, first of all, explicitly or implicitly declare two men or two women capable of marriage. That is a moral and metaphysical claim, not merely a legal claim.

    Two men or two women can form a friendship, create a limited liability corporation, run a marathon together, eat in a fancy restaurant. And they should have equal protection under the law in doing so.

    But they cannot marry. And no amount of jawboning, no amount of purely nominalist terminizing can change this reality. Justices who claim they have not engaged in philosophy, religion, metaphysics but merely applied equal protection under the law are mindless fools.

    Which is not to say that they won’t make that declaration. With Fr. Z. we may pray that they prove wise rather than fools.

    Sadly, even if they do the latter, they will eventually simply be ignored by an insane culture. At some point, when the cultural disintegration bottoms out, we will as a whole revert to type, rediscover ourselves as real men and women. But not before ghastly violence unfolds in the name of “equal protection under the law.” All tyrants claim merely that they are serving the cause of Justice.

  12. jhayes says:

    ray from mn wrote: Most of the other states that have legalized homosexual marriages used judges to make that decision, not voters.

    But that’s the reason we have a Constitution. No point in having a Constitution if the Supreme Court cannot tell voters or legislatures that what they have done violates what they agreed to in the Constitution.- and that what they have done isn’t enforceable or must be changed.

    Legislatures and voters can change the Constitution to say anything they want. You could amend the Constitution to prohibit abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage if enough people supported that. From what I have read, not enough people do. So far, the Supreme Court has decided that banning abortion and contraception would violate the Constitution as it stands – and now they will decide on same-sex marriage.

  13. John Grammaticus says:

    Fr Jim

    I really want to illustrate the realities of what happens when the legal definition of marriage is redefined by a godless government, I live in the UK where as of Easter 2014 gay ‘marriage’ is a reality.

    In less than nine months there have been several cases of Christian Schools being either downgraded or threatened with closure by OFSTED (the government school inspectors that visit both state and private schools) simply because they apparently do not teach ‘British values’ which is code name for he politically correct agenda (which of course means that one must ‘celebrate’ the wonderful gifts that gays and lesbians bring to our culture).

    One of these Schools, St Benedicts in Kent rivals the elite private school Eton in its exam results, another headmaster in the city of Sunderland (and this was featured in the local Sunderland Echo as well as the national press) has formally complained after Ofsted inspectors quizzed 11 yr olds on ‘what lesbians do’ (not that I’m interested but you can bet your last dollar that it doesn’t chime with the Church’s teachings). As an ordained Priest and therefore one who is committed to teaching Chastity in according with the teachings of the Church are you not appalled that government inspectors are pressuring Christians to teach that LGTB is ok ? Do you not think that sexual innocence is something that should be preserved at all costs ? Would you not give up your life rather than allow the government to impose Gay-Straight alliances as they have done in Canada.

    I would advise you to watch last week’s (12th -16th) vortex episodes from Church Millitant TV

    Viva Christo Rey


  14. Iacobus M says:

    Well said, Dennis Martin. The Roman Senate couldn’t make Augustus a god, and the U.S. Supreme Court can’t make some other thing into a marriage.

  15. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I sure hope that someone somewhere in the Church is planning for what to do when a priest refuses to perform a “marriage” for a gay couple, and ends up being sued.

    You know it’s coming…

  16. Bea says:

    “This issue is not about redefining a term. It is about equal protection under the law.”
    Sorry, Fr. Jim but it IS about redefining a term.

    Marriage will always be a Marriage between a man and a woman
    A rose is still a rose.
    Marriage is still a marriage.
    Calling a weed a rose, will not make it a rose.
    Calling a gay union a marriage, will not make it a marriage.

    The question is WHY? Why do they insist on calling it a “marriage”
    They can find equal protection under the law if it is called a civil union.

    The big WHY? is that they want to elevate an unnatural life-style into an acceptable life-style.
    Sorry, but they want everyone to accept their sinfulness as virtue, but only a marriage can be that, because God elevated marriage as a Sacrament and a means for man and woman to grow in virtue through fidelity, sacrifice and everything else that makes a true marriage.

    Poor, poor, Father Jim. What seminary did you go to?

  17. pannw says:

    frjim4321 says:
    This issue is not about redefining a term. It is about equal protection under the law.

    So you elevate the laws of sinful men over the Law of God, Father Jim? Do you know what you will say to Our Lord when you kneel before Him in judgment and He asks you why you encouraged His ‘lambs’ to follow the evil laws of man over the Eternal Laws of God and His Church which you vowed to obey and teach?

    I would be curious to hear that defense.

    Matthew 18:6-7.

  18. ofHippo says:

    We are so far behind on naming/helping souls with the root of this. A little slice to illustrate:
    Also- why do we as The Church not talk about the fact that this very evil- was ultimately what lead to St. Paul and St. Peter’s martyrdoms (with Nero in his deviant practices). Why do we pretend that we are evolving on this issue as if it’s new? What era in world history has ever survived this particular societal sin? St. Anthony the Abbot..pray for us!

  19. gramma10 says:

    On Jun. 27, ’14
    Monsignor Charles Pope
    adressed the issue. At his parish he said they call marriage the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
    He said, (an excerpt)….
    “Perhaps, even if we cannot wholly drop the terms “marry,” “marriage” and “married” a more modest form of the proposal is that we at least officially discontinue the use of the word marriage and refer to it as the “Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.”
    I like that personally. It gives the sacrament the respect it deserves. It differentiates it from the common word, and it elevates it to a higher place where
    God wants it anyway.

  20. Suburbanbanshee says:

    So… how long before it’s equal protection for polygamy?

    Equal protection for marrying pre-adolescent children?

    Equal protection for marriage by capture?

    Equal protection for keeping sex slaves?

    Yep, let’s dump all the legal protections the Church won for us, and go for “equal protection” instead. Let’s live like Frankish lords in the year 600, back when the laws were really fair!

  21. Giuseppe says:

    Father Jim is essentially correct in that the Supreme Court will decide the case on 14th amendment grounds (most likely equal protection). They’ve asked attorneys to brief 2 questions:
    1.Does the 14th Amdt require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
    2.Does the 14th Amdt require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

    Number 2 is the easiest for the court (the answer would be ‘yes’ and it could go 6-3 with CJ Roberts as well as Kennedy), but it might not matter, for if 1 is answered in the affirmative, thereby permitting same-sex marriage nationally, then details of how one state recognizes another state’s marriages is not as crucial.

  22. Gratias says:

    Gays and lesbians win and win. They push a destructive worldview on and on. They will of course next push for Gay marriages in Catholic parishes with the excuse of equal protection under the law. Once they achieve this I may give up.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Father, I am sorry to say that most Americans are asleep as to what is happening across all of Western Civilization. What use to be Christendom is rapidly becoming Evildom. I am full of stories from Malta, France and Ireland regarding the current persecution of individual Catholics in Europe, where most Americans think there is religious freedom.

    Satan has had a master plan and it is being worked out with the wills of those who choose to go against Christ and His Church. Yes, we must pray and do reparation. The priests and bishops will be the first to be persecuted, then all those lay persons who support the Church’s teaching, like teachers, bloggers, newspapers, magazines, periodicals. Blessed Titus Brandsma, martyr and patron of the guild of bloggers in England refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and so did St. Maximilian Kolbe.

    Unless lay people wake up and see that there is a global effort to undermine the authority of God both by denying natural law and by undermining the authority of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, these people will wake up one morning and find that there is no Mass, no sacraments, no worship in their area.

    Incest among adults is legal in New Jersey. This horrible type of acceptance will spread. God will punish complacency and compromise.
    I expect a schism over ssm-some good priests and bishops holding the line of Truth, but many defecting.

    Funny how false marriages and lust push the political agendas.

    I suggest praying to Louis and Zelie Martin on this issue of marriage.

    I have a rant and I am asking others to join my rant today….see here

  24. Tim says:

    I agree with frjim about equal protection and would also say that civil marriage is not a religious issue. Here in Belgium the only legal marriage is the obligatory civil ceremony held in the town hall. The faithful are welcome to have a religious ceremony afterwards but it has no legal significance. We have many problems in Belgium but ten years of civil same-sex marriages is not one of them.

  25. PA mom says:

    Know who I would like to see have equal protection under the law?

    Married men and women who said the words, “till death do us part” and MEANT IT.

    I believe that a push back movement to this should come under strengthening marriage by spreading covenant marriage law nationally (apparently only currently available in three states), and having Catholics only offered such marriages within the Church. From what I have read, a covenant marriage requires counseling before any divorce proceedings can be filed.

    This way, people who really mean something like matrimony have more protection from abandonment.

    Got to start somewhere reteaching society what marriage is SUPPOSED to be.

  26. Kerry says:

    “Western society has chosen for itself the organization best suited to its purposes and one I might call legalistic. The limits of human rights and rightness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting, and manipulating law (though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert). Every conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the ultimate solution…

    If one is risen from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be right, and urge self-restraint or a renunciation of these rights, call for sacrifice and selfless risk: this would simply sound absurd. Voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of: everybody strives toward further expansion to the extreme limit of the legal frames…

    I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher fails to take full advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes man’s noblest impulses…

    And it will be simply impossible to bear up to the trials of this threatening century with nothing but the supports of a legalistic structure…

    … destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society has turned out to have scarce defense against the abyss of human decadence, for example against the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. This is all considered to be part of freedom and to be counterbalanced, in theory, by the young people’s right not to look and not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil…

    And yet in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding one thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims…
    Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in the West; a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming ever more materialistic. The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even excess, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer.” Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn,
    A World Split Apart — Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University, June 8, 1978
    (Hugh Hewitt was, I believe, present for this address, and noted that 25 or 30 years later, the speaker was that great Ciceronian orater, Oprah.)

  27. Mike says:

    frjim4321 says: This issue is not about redefining a term. It is about equal protection under the law.

    In such damnably lying cant have Our Lord and His faithful flock been progressively and systematically betrayed by self-styled “liberals” supposedly consecrated to His service — as well as by those of us in the pews, supposedly His confirmed soldiers, who have sat mute through the decades.

    May Almighty God have mercy on all our souls, and through His Holy Spirit may we yet be granted the fortitude to proclaim fearless witness, even if it be trashed from pulpit, convent and chancery.

  28. frjim4321 says:

    Ray to Fr. Jim.: ” We Catholics don’t believe in reincarnation; but if we did, you would be Robert Drinan, S.J.!”

    Thanks for that high honor.

  29. frjim4321 says:

    Historically there have been many iterations of marriage, and even the church distinguishes between various understandings of “marriage.” Canonical, natural, civil, sacramental. Marriage already has many definitions even by the church.

    The marriage equality movement began not as an effort to define a word. It is very unhelpful to frame the discussion in this way, even for opponents such as the prelate in San Francisco.

  30. Facta Non Verba says:

    Father Jim,
    The classic definition of “equal protection” is: similaraly situated people should be treated similarly. it is a matter of state law. In this case, the law complies with equal protection — anyone within the age of consent in the applicable state can marry. What is being changed, or redefined here, is a substantive and not a procedural matter: the gender of who one can marry. And, by the way, those who argue for this change say it is all about who you love. By this argument, wait for the next shoe to drop–polygamy.

  31. Kirk O says:

    Pope Leo XIII pray for us.

  32. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Fr. Jim says: “The marriage equality movement began not as an effort to define a word. It is very unhelpful to frame the discussion in this way, even for opponents such as the prelate in San Francisco.”

    Ah well, how about *this* opponent?

    Pope Francis criticizes gay marriage, backs ban on contraception

    In points he’s made before in other settings, Pope Francis on Friday criticized what he called the “ideological colonization of the family,” language that many took as a reference to gay marriage, and also defended a previous pope who upheld the Church’s ban on contraception.

    “The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said.

    A Vatican spokesman confirmed Friday evening that, at least in part, the pope had *gay marriage* (sic) in mind.


  33. cajuncath says:

    With all due respect, Fr. Z., you say that we need to get serious about our Catholic identity. But it isn’t the Supreme Court nor President Obama who stand in the way of our getting serious about our Catholic identity. How are we to do that when we ourselves have played with Catholic identity, and refuse to witness to true marriage in its fullness to society at large?

    Let’s not forget that marriage is not just between two opposite-sex people, but is supposed to be a life-long commitment and, for Christians, an indissoluble sacrament. Are we prepared to make a public stand for indissolubility that way we are against same-sex marriage? How can we when the present pope hails Cardinal Kasper’s ideas as profound and serene theology?

    And what about the ends of marriage? The primary end of marriage is the bearing and rearing of children. Are we prepared to make a public stand for that? How can we when even Second Vatican, and our recent popes and catechism now say otherwise?

  34. Elizabeth D says:

    Fr Jim, I think you mean the equating-marriage-with-homosexual-acts movement. It is unjust, insulting to marriage and married people, and insofar as Matrimony is a sacrament, blasphemous to equate these things, only a step away from the sodomistic Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the Trinity. “gay marriage” is an obscene parody of marriage, not something that equals marriage.

  35. DeGaulle says:

    “Come, Lord Jesus!”:

    Raymond, that seems the only appropriate prayer for these bleak times.

  36. Dennis Martin says:

    Jhayes wrote:

    “But that’s the reason we have a Constitution. No point in having a Constitution if the Supreme Court cannot tell voters or legislatures that what they have done violates what they agreed to in the Constitution.- and that what they have done isn’t enforceable or must be changed.”

    Undoubtedly true of some constitutions. But the United States Constitution deliberately left undefined whether any of the three branches had the “last say”. The claim that the Supreme Court had the final say was asserted by the Court in Marbury versus Madison. So the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court a few decades after its ratification says what you say it says.

    The original idea of the Framers was that by not defining who had the final say, the three separated powers would push back against each other and that that, imperfect as it was, was the best way to avoid tyranny. If Congress and the President had pushed back harder against the Supreme Court, things might have been different. Perhaps it would have led to gridlock, perhaps the United States would not have prospered because of the gridlock.

    Or perhaps not. Perhaps the three branches might have found ways to thrive without any one of the three being rendered superior. We’ll never know.

    We don’t know what might have been. We do know what is. Yes, it took about 150 years (to the 1920s or 1940s or 1910s or perhaps even the 1860s?? or pick your precise date) but we now have an oligarchy and we have tyranny. Soft tyranny at the moment, but it will become hard tyranny a lot sooner than the time it took to become soft tyranny. And it’s pretty hard tyranny already for the fire chief of Atlanta or the bakers in Oregon or the photographer in New Mexico or the physician in Los Angeles or the printers in Ontario or Manitoba or the B and B’s in several states who lost their livelihoods or paid heavy fines because of rulings, in some cases by courts, in some cases by Bureaucrat Rulers.

    This was what the founders feared. This was what they tried to avoid in their Constitution. Judicial review (which is what you assert) was not part of the Constitution.

    It was an imperfect system, born out of a Hobbsean disillusionment with human government. The alternative is some form of monarchy, including our papal monarchy as Catholics, which Christ himself framed. It is true that unless someone or some branch of government is designated the final authority, one will have gridlock and confusion. The framers understood that.

    If one has a mon-archy, life will be only as good as the virtue, honesty, self-sacrificing love of duty and truth lived out by the mon-arch. Jesus promised supernatural grace to help his Vicar govern truly. Despite that grace, popes have failed, sometimes egregiously, in governing (“discipline”), though not in teaching (“doctrine”).

    The framers of the US Constitution so mistrusted personal rule, knew so well how power tempts to abuse, that they thought it unwise to vest ultimate authority in one branch. Pessimistically and lacking faith in divine providence to keep a designated final authority on the straight and narrow, they reluctantly put their hopes in mutual pushback by the three branches.

    We destroyed that within a few decades of the ratification of the constitution. We are now reaping what was sown back then. Even today, Congress could pass legislation that was stated to be immune to Supreme Court review. That would be pushback as envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. Sadly, we’ve operated so long now with everyone assuming SCOTUS has power of ultimate review that if Congress tried to take it away (by appealing to originalism), SCOTUS would assert ultimate judicial review and declare the Congress’s pushback unconstitutional. And most members of the Congress don’t even want to pushback–their snouts are in the trough and they benefit from the tyranny.

    So we are doomed to tyranny. Mark Levin thinks we could employ Article 5 state conventions to outflank Congress/SCOTUS. I’m skeptical because for Article 5 conventions to work, their legitimacy and authority would have to be accepted by all. Since SCOTUS has not hesitated to read into the Constitution the most outlandish and evil false interpretations and the populace has largely accepted them (e.g., contraception in Griswold, abortion in Roe, make up your own metaphysics in whatever that 1992 decision was), I don’t see how Article 5 conventions can get any political traction. Levin knows that but he also thinks it’s the only possible way to pushback and he, heroically, is encouraging people to try. He’s probably right about that.


    Unless the populace could be sufficiently educated to see that the mutual pushback (a political, not a jurisprudential activity) was the original intent of the Constitution and was the best (though very doubtful) hope against tyranny. (This seems to be what Chief Justice Roberts had in mind in his decision on the ACA aka Obamacare.) Good luck with educating the populace on originalism, though.

    We will have tyranny. We already do but most of the frogs in the pot don’t yet realize it. They are less free today than serfs on a medieval manor were but they think they think otherwise. Which is exactly where their Rulers want to have them located. Like the mirror image of the Dwarfs in Lewis’s Last Battle who are in Hell in the middle of Heaven, a hell of their own mind-making, we are in hell but tell ourselves we are in the Best of all Possible Worlds.

    When the sheeple finally recognize the tyranny it will be too late. I no longer ask, as I did for 40 years of my life, how Nazism could have taken over Germany and ended in the Holocaust. It happened the same way as tyranny is settling in here.

    So, yes, the SCOTUS has the authority to rule on constitutionality. But no, it was not given SCOTUS by the Constitution. It was usurped and good men did, not nothing, but not enough, to stop them.

  37. mysticalrose says:

    Priam 1147:

    Your comment: “So let this be a memo to those who think (or have the idea in the back of their minds) that the United States Constitution was somehow inspired by God and that American society is the pinnacle of all human history: IT IS NOT ANY SUCH THING. This society is a disaster and it was the principles that brought it into being that are responsible.”

    That seems right on the money to me. Even highly secular, and might I add debauched, societies of Western Europe (France, I’m looking at you!) do not attempt to make same sex partnerships marriage. As post-Christian as these societies are there is still a sort of foundational truth that bleeds through at times. Unfortunately, a different foundational truth is bleeding through here in the USA: John Stuart Mill’s pleasure principle. I think it was St. Thomas who said, an error in the beginning is an error indeed . . .

    Thanks, Fr. Z, for the call to penance. I tend to be a fatalist and want to just throw up my hands. But the battle is not over, until it’s over!

  38. Dennis Martin says:

    Further to JHayes’s comment:
    “Legislatures and voters can change the Constitution to say anything they want. You could amend the Constitution to prohibit abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage if enough people supported that. From what I have read, not enough people do. So far, the Supreme Court has decided that banning abortion and contraception would violate the Constitution as it stands – and now they will decide on same-sex marriage.”

    But that’s exactly what the People did, even in Liberal states like California. They amended their constitution to define marriage as possible only between a man and a woman. Have you not realized that the Courts have repeatedly overturned legislation and constitutional amendments, in state, after state, after state regarding marriage, abortion and so forth?

    The problem is not that not enough people believe in the sanctity of life or marriage between men and women only. On these issues the majority still favors the Truth.
    is being overruled by (often unelected) judges. Unlike Europe, where the abortion laws were legislated. All, and I mean all, of the huge social changes of the last 50 years (secularization of the schools, contraception, abortion–these three alone are the main reasons for the rise of the homosexual-normalization-movement) were court-mandated AGAINST the express will of the elected legislatures.

    That’s why it is not exaggeration to call it tyranny. And that’s why the Constitution, to which you appealed, is effectively now a dead letter. It now means whatever a handful of judges say it means. They no longer need even pretend to base their interpretations on intelligent discernment of the document’s meaning. They have created “meaning” for the Constitution out of thin air. And they have done exactly the same with state constitutions by the dozens, directly turning the people’s amendments on their heads.

  39. irishpol says:

    Archbishop Cordileone suggests that the error is with homosexual marriages. And, if that’s how you see it, Father, so be it. I don’t. The pope and our progressive bishops and priests have dumbed down the issue to one of homosexual “marriage”; or as they often like to say, “gay” marriage. But no, that is not the issue at all. The issue is the practice of the mortal sin of homosexuality. The issue is the unwillingness of the Catholic popes, priests and bishops to stand up and condemn that sin and many other sins that they’ve refused to acknowledge even exist. Incredibly, not only will these Catholic priests and prelates fearfully refuse to use the term “homosexual”; they refuse to even suggest that the practice of it is a sin. And these men are our priests and bishops? This is surreal.

    The bishops and priests (not all, but virtually all) of the Church since the Second Vatican Council have embraced secular humanism and have moved God to a back of the bus or worse. That is at the heart of the problem. As a result, in spite of the misleading statistics being generated by the USCCB, Catholics are walking away from the Church in droves. In diocese after diocese, the replacement number for priests is smaller than the priests dying off and retiring. With the majority of priests today being over 50, the handwriting is on the wall.

    Many Catholics from my generation (I was an altar boy in the early 40’s) have quit practicing their religion. The Catholics from my children’s generation are much worse––notwithstanding the fact that they might have attended so-called Catholic school. Their children, my grandchildren’s generation, essentially give up the faith when they reach their teenage years. When that generation has children, few will be going to Mass––if there even is a Mass. “Communion Service” presided over by some lovely Vatican II adherent is what is now being offered in place of the daily Holy Sacrifice of the Mass these days in many churches. There are always exceptions to this, but what I have stated is the general rule.

    Priests, like yourself, are few and far between. There are no bishops. Even the “great” ones are actually very weak. I understand that traditional Catholics are heaping great praise on Cardinal Burke for standing up for the faith these days; and, perhaps, he does deserve some praise for at least being the guy out in front who seems to be willing to sound Catholic now and then. But truth be known, Cardinal Burke did not become a Cardinal and an Archbishop by bucking the false teachings of the Council. He, like Cardinal George, Chaput and others, went along to get along. These men in their later years now appear to see what they, by their earlier silence, have allowed to be wrought. The weak tea they now might offer on occasion will not suffice.

  40. albizzi says:

    “It is a matter of justice and truth”
    Justice and Truth no longer are no longer values in the US and elsewhere.

  41. cajuncath says:

    Dennis Martin,

    The problem with you analysis is that it seems to somehow believe there was a pure and basically good constitutional system that has since been subverted and corrupted.

    On the contrary, I think it is fair to say the American system was a liberal, indeed radical, unCatholic jalopy of a pursuit from its very origins and root. The anti-Catholicism of the founders, and the anti-Catholicism of both Lockean and Puritan thought are not accidental irrelevancies to the nature of the country’s creation.

    Not to mention that the creation and ratifying of the original constitution itself was an arguably tyrannical abrogation of the articles of confederation, with a ratification process that excluded a majority of human beings in the republic.

    If you have not done so, I urge you to read Chris Ferrara’s brilliant ‘Liberty: The God that Failed’.

  42. Fr. Jim:

    This issue is not about redefining a term. It is about equal protection under the law.

    I live in a farm community. The appropriate one-word response corresponds to what is spread in the fields hereabouts.

  43. jhayes says:

    Dennis Martin wrote But that’s exactly what the People did, even in Liberal states like California. They amended their constitution to define marriage as possible only between a man and a woman. Have you not realized that the Courts have repeatedly overturned legislation and constitutional amendments, in state, after state, after state regarding marriage, abortion and so forth?

    It would require amending the US Constitution, not state Constitutions.

  44. jhayes says:

    This is from the website of the Supreme Court:

    The Constitution of the United States is a carefully balanced document. It is designed to provide for a national government sufficiently strong and flexible to meet the needs of the republic, yet sufficiently limited and just to protect the guaranteed rights of citizens; it permits a balance between society’s need for order and the individual’s right to freedom. To assure these ends, the Framers of the Constitution created three independent and coequal branches of government. That this Constitution has provided continuous democratic government through the periodic stresses of more than two centuries illustrates the genius of the American system of government.

    The complex role of the Supreme Court in this system derives from its authority to invalidate legislation or executive actions which, in the Court’s considered judgment, conflict with the Constitution. This power of “judicial review” has given the Court a crucial responsibility in assuring individual rights, as well as in maintaining a “living Constitution” whose broad provisions are continually applied to complicated new situations.

    While the function of judicial review is not explicitly provided in the Constitution, it had been anticipated before the adoption of that document. Prior to 1789, state courts had already overturned legislative acts which conflicted with state constitutions. Moreover, many of the Founding Fathers expected the Supreme Court to assume this role in regard to the Constitution; Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, for example, had underlined the importance of judicial review in the Federalist Papers, which urged adoption of the Constitution.

    Hamilton had written that through the practice of judicial review the Court ensured that the will of the whole people, as expressed in their Constitution, would be supreme over the will of a legislature, whose statutes might express only the temporary will of part of the people. And Madison had written that constitutional interpretation must be left to the reasoned judgment of independent judges, rather than to the tumult and conflict of the political process. If every constitutional question were to be decided by public political bargaining, Madison argued, the Constitution would be reduced to a battleground of competing factions, political passion and partisan spirit.

    Despite this background the Court’s power of judicial review was not confirmed until 1803, when it was invoked by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison. In this decision, the Chief Justice asserted that the Supreme Court’s responsibility to overturn unconstitutional legislation was a necessary consequence of its sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. That oath could not be fulfilled any other way. “It is emphatically the province of the judicial department to say what the law is,” he declared.

    In retrospect, it is evident that constitutional interpretation and application were made necessary by the very nature of the Constitution. The Founding Fathers had wisely worded that document in rather general terms leaving it open to future elaboration to meet changing conditions. As Chief Justice Marshall noted in McCulloch v. Maryland, a constitution that attempted to detail every aspect of its own application “would partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. . . . Its nature, therefore, requires that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredients which compose those objects be deduced from the nature of the objects themselves.”

  45. Orphrey says:

    Here’s an article that recently dealt with the issue of same-sex “marriage” in the USA from a Catholic perspective: “Quo Vadis Matrimonium?” (at The Catholic World Report).

  46. Orphrey says:

    It’s one thing for society at large to abandon reason and embrace an erroneous understanding of marriage; it’s another thing for Catholics to do so. Support for same-sex “marriage” within the Church is a dismaying betrayal of martyrs like St. Tomas More and St. John Fisher, who died to defend Our Lord’s teaching on marriage.

    It seems the West really is entering into an unprecedented era, since even the pagan Greek and Roman cultures that may have allowed some kinds of same-sex relationships never recognized same-sex marriage. What will this mean for our society?

  47. New Yorker magazine published an article yesterday about a teenage girl who wants to marry her dad. Dad’s all for it.

    If the Court rules there’s an “equal protection” claim for men to marry men, and women, women; then precisely how does such reasoning exclude this young lady from her “equal protection”? Not to mention those who will demonstrate that restricting marriage to monogamous relationships is not only an “equal protection” violation, but a religious freedom violation as well.

    I don’t doubt that “equal protection” will be the claim, if the Court goes over the cliff. But it’s not only nonsense, it’s stupid nonsense, not terribly persuasive nonsense.

    I will offer a bounty — dollar amount negotiable — if anyone can show, in all the extensive debates about the 14th Amendment when it was being considered, if anyone at all argued against it (there were lots of people who were against it) on the basis of “equal protection” being construed, someday, in anything close to this direction.

    For someone to claim that equal protection applies here, such evidence should be easy to find. It doesn’t have to be “same sex marriage” — only something in the neighborhood, legally speaking.

  48. Kathleen10 says:

    Thanks to all for interesting commentary and also legal perspective.
    As an American, our descent could be seen decades ago. One could point it out as it occurred but one would be told one “worried too much”. America is now living under tyranny, and as Dennis Martin put it, the frogs in the pot don’t realize it yet. Well, ribbit, many of us do but what are we supposed to do about it. If SCOTUS redefines marriage to include same-sex couples (of course it is a redefinition of the reality) then, going by what has happened to Christian dissenters we know we can expect legal punishment and more. Notice all the gay activists have stopped protesting and having rallys? They don’t need it anymore. They won. Now they have SCOTUS to fight for them, and the president and all those unelected judges who have just taken over.
    The American people are often progressives and support abortion, contraception surely, and same-sex marriage. Many don’t, but are too intimidated to say much. But the lion’s share of responsibility for this would have to fall on the Catholic church leadership, the priests, the Bishops, the Cardinals, even the Pope. So little was done to educate the public and encourage church teaching over these many decades. The people had little armament to speak of as things heated up, although we all ought to be familiar with Scripture which makes things plain enough.
    Now we see there are our highest ranking clergy who actually support same-sex marriage, so now it all makes sense, but understanding that only makes it much worse.

  49. Kathleen10 says:

    And I know zip, zero, about law, but it never made sense to me that equal protection under the law could be used as an argument since no one limits the right of homosexual people to marry. That would be a civil rights violation, but it does not occur. They are free to marry.
    Anyway, if this happens then what needs to be answered next would seem to be, can churches be exempt from forcing clergy to marry people if they fall outside of the one man, one woman, configuration? But as we have seen from this White House, they won’t even give an exemption from the health care mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor, they are unlikely to allow religious entities to be exempt since forcing them to comply is a big part of the goal.

  50. robtbrown says:

    Dennis Martin,

    What you say is interesting and in a certain sense true. The problem, however, goes beyond the relevant power of the three branches of the Fed govt. IMHO, the founders would have such matters as homosexual “marriage” to be decided by each state individually.

  51. Traductora says:

    In his excellent homily on abortion (among other things) this morning, the priest said that Catholics were having to fight back against dangerous threats – and “the bizarre.” That’s what makes all of this so hard. The fact that we are even discussing whether two persons of the same sex can marry is simply bizarre. Not to mention the fact that the gender racket gets more and more bizarre every day, with everyone applauding parents who sign their five-year-olds up for “sex change” surgery or encourage them to believe they are of the opposite sex. It’s getting so bizarre that I think it’s finally got to stop, having run out of bizarreness, but it never does. And the bizarre is piling on faster and faster.

  52. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Historically there have been many iterations of marriage, and even the church distinguishes between various understandings of “marriage.” Canonical, natural, civil, sacramental. Marriage already has many definitions even by the church.

    Some things never change: You write something. Then someone replies saying why you are wrong. You never respond–then months later you write the same thing. Rinse. Repeat.

  53. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Dennis Martin:
    Being in England I read your comments with great interest. We have a similar problem with our Supreme Court. Recently they decided that doing the administrative work around an abortion was not participating in an abortion and therefore a conscientious objection to participating in abortion did not arise. What struck me as a lawyer was that the Judges gave no reason whatsoever for coming to that conclusion. They just made the ruling like any despot. I can only explain it by assuming that the rightness of abortion, gay marriage etc are taken as a given to such an extent that it does not even occur to most people to think otherwise and they would be quite surprised to hear that anyone except nutters thinks otherwise.

    Here we have a monarchy but no written constitution. Unfortunately most people regard the House of Commons as being sovereign – expressing the will of the people a la Rousseau – and that the monarch has no role whatsoever. Yet the monarch does take certain oaths at the coronation and there are various symbolic aspects like the sword of justice etc. It is therefore possible to think of the monarch as holding up certain immutable basic values which not even the House of Commons can override. It is possible therefore to think of a monarch as holding up or just representing certain basic values regardless of whether the monarch is personally good or bad. In practice it has not worked terribly well as we have same-sex marriage and abortion which hardly square with the Protestant religion which the monarch swore to uphold. Still she does make her Christian religion genuinely clear each Christmas in her speech to the nation and apparently she did jib as knighting Mick Jagger getting someone else to do it!

    Father Aidan Nichols O.P. has written on this in “The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England”.

  54. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I think Fr Jim doesn’t understand the meaning of “define”.

  55. Mike says:

    Those various iterations of marriage always concerned one man and one woman. Full stop.

  56. frjim4321 says:

    Robert, I work on Sundays as you might realize.

    I don’t see the point in arguing, I am simply stating my opinion. What is the value of going around in a circle. I am a proponent of the “equal protection” stance with regard to this issue.

    I don’t think it is a sufficient answer to say that gay men and women have an equal right to enter into an opposite-sex marriage. Why would they want to? I think it’s a cynical argument.

    Civil marriage provides certain legal protections and benefits to couples. Denying such protections and benefits to same-sex couples is inherently unfair in my view.

    We can have a discussion about how gay adults might strive to live holy and moral lives according to Catholic teaching, but that is a separate discussion from that which is about civil rights for everyone, including those who do not ascribe to the religious stance taken by a minority of citizens.

  57. Mike says:

    I will send you your favorite bottle of your favorite drink if you can show us that is wrong.

  58. Mike says:

    In the normal course of things, same sex couples don’t produce a child by their intimate acts. Opposite sex couples do. Hence, is it wrong for society, whose very future depends on children, to recognize this unique reality?

    Yes, once you jettison the reality in the first sentence, and back it up with gender theories that are ideologies originating from 1-2% of the population.

  59. Fr. Jim: “I don’t think it is a sufficient answer to say that gay men and women have an equal right to enter into an opposite-sex marriage. Why would they want to? I think it’s a cynical argument.”

    Ah, but it’s not cynical at all to opt for claiming two things that are not the same, now are, in order to get to the “equal protection” argument. In order to make the “equal protection” claim, Fr. Jim has to maintain that two men (or two women) together is the same as a man and a woman. Don’t miss this move; because without that, the equal-protection argument falls.

    Well, that’s factually false. Manifestly false. The only way you can even approach rendering it true is to reduce marriage to nothing more than a personal union with legal consequences.

    No? Then what more is it, in a world where M+M = F+F = M+F? What else is it?

    And in that world, M(father) + M(son) = M(f) +F(s) = F+F+F = . . . I can’t type all the permutations. Because they are all personal unions with legal consequences.

    And we haven’t even delved into the absurdities now permitted where same-sex “marriage” has been legalized or imposed: that of two heterosexual males or females “marrying.” Why not? If marriage, now, is merely a personal union with legal consequences? And, therefore — according for Fr. Jim — one personal union must be given legal equal protection with another.

    While a crafty legal argument may be in the offing preventing polygamous marriages from being due equal protection, it’s impossible to see how an incestuous union can be prohibited under the equal protection nonsense.

    At least real b.s. makes crops grow.

  60. Allan S. says:

    Two short observations: first, the timing of the Supreme Court’s proposed handling reveals the pre-ordained result: arguments in April, ruling released in June – just in perfect time for “pride” parades. The decision is written.

    Looking at our world, I’m starting to believe the 144,000 should be understood literally. Or, to paraphrase Fr. Barron, ‘while we must believe heaven exists, because justice and free will admit the possibility of salvation, we can be reasonably sure that no one goes there.’

    God help us all.

  61. Mike says:


    Post hoc, propter hoc.

    I seriously doubt the Supremes were thinking of that when you took the case. That’s roughly their schedule EVERY year!

  62. Mike says:

    Sorry, “they” took the case!

  63. DeGaulle says:

    I wonder who Frjim4321 works for on a Sunday.

    I am beginning to think there is little hope for Western Civ. and that the process of collapse is far too advanced for any hope of reversal. It was blown to smithereens once abortion on demand became commonplace. Our society, which is no longer a civilisation, in industrially murdering the unborn, is guilty of the greatest sin of Man, exceeding the murder of our God because the Lord could at least make the excuse they didn’t know what they were doing. When that sort of thing happens, worse as it is than the abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah, the limit may only be bounded by the deepest circle of Hell.

  64. Priam1184 says:

    I hope and pray very much that this country can be converted and saved, but that may not be the will of God. I think that it is our responsibility, those of us who are citizens of the United States, to do as Father asks: prayers and and reparation for the salvation and conversion of these United States.

    However I think also that we need to start looking beyond the United States for our future. I don’t know what precisely that means at the moment but it is inconceivable to me that big changes aren’t coming in our world, and most likely sooner rather than later. We have to be prepared for them and prepared to endure these things for whatever the length of time God asks us to do so. I hope that this society is converted because it will save many souls, not because I any longer have a real interest in the continuing existence of the United States of America. In any case we won’t stand before Almighty God at our Judgement as Americans, but as Catholics, and we will be judged by Him solely by the criteria of the Gospel i.e. the Teaching of the Catholic Church and nothing else.

  65. acardnal says:

    Immoral behavior that violates both Divine Law and the Natural Law has no legal rights.

  66. jameeka says:

    OK, Father Z, how do we stay on offense?
    This movement/ upcoming decision, as Archbishop Cordileone says, is trying to destroy Beauty, so it must be from the devil. As far as I know, we can’t fight the devil without recourse to Jesus Christ and His Church–so, what is the next step?

  67. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I suggest prayers to the Uganda Martyrs, a group of Christians killed by a king who, among other things, tried to force many of them into homosexual relations. The feast day is June 3. The feast is celebrated in Waltham, Mass., where there is a large Ugandan community.

  68. Kathleen10 says:

    Again, I know nothing about law, but really, what possible benefits and protections are only possible through marriage and could not be constructed through regular legal remedies? I doubt there is any situation conceived between two adults requiring a fix that could not be adequately addressed by some attorney somewhere. Insurance, visitation in hospitals, adoptions, want to leave your dog to somebody, whatever, these are all legally correctable so using the argument marriage is needed for that seems silly, but I am interested if that is not the case. What little I know of law is that it works exceedingly well for those with the funds to pay for it, especially high quality representation, and since salary levels are typically higher for gay individuals than heterosexual, they have the money. This is not about that, surely.
    There are probably very few people on the fence about this and minds are not often changed except in the young, which is why they are aggressively being indoctrinated into believing same-sex marriage is right and good.

  69. Dennis Martin says:

    Cajuncath wrote, in response to me,

    “The problem with you analysis is that it seems to somehow believe there was a pure and basically good constitutional system that has since been subverted and corrupted.”

    Well, there was an original Constitution. I don’t think that is arguable. Was it pure? Did I say it was? Was it good? Its framers would merely have said that it was better than the alternatives. All of them were deeply pessimistic about the likelihood of it lasting very long. Did they think it was divine or from heaven or Catholic or pure? No. I did mention that they were pessimists, did I not? (Yes, one may distinguish degrees of pessimism–Adams compared to Jefferson, for instance.)

    It was a mechanism. They did not see it as anything more than a mechanism. They thought it was a better mechanism than previous mechanisms. They all thought that in order for any mechanism to succeed virtuous and intelligent people had to implement and keep implementing it.

    You may confuse me with some who do believe the US Constitution dropped from heaven. I don’t think that nor did anything I wrote suggest that.

    But that there was an original document is, I think, not disputable. That the original document would need interpretation, was clear to the framers and I think I was clear in assuming that.

    All I said was that they assumed the best mechanism for interpreting the document was not to invest ultimate authority of interpretation in one of the three branches but to invest interpretation in all three simultaneously with the mutual push-back the best means to avoid the tyranny of ultimate power aggregating in one branch.

    Were they right? I don’t know, we don’t know, we can’t know. Because the pushback mechanism very early was abandoned.

    Cajuncath also wrote:

    “On the contrary, I think it is fair to say the American system was a liberal, indeed radical, unCatholic jalopy of a pursuit from its very origins and root. The anti-Catholicism of the founders, and the anti-Catholicism of both Lockean and Puritan thought are not accidental irrelevancies to the nature of the country’s creation.”

    Did I say the US Constitution was Catholic? Last time I studied Catholic social teaching, it still stated that Catholicism is compatible with a variety of mechanisms of political organization, among them being monarchy and representative republics. All mechanisms of government will be only as good or as bad as the virtue of the people carrying them out. Some mechanisms of government are incompatible with Catholic faith, among them communism and French Jacobinism, I would say.

    I am very aware of the claim by some Catholics that the American framers were Jacobins and anti-Catholic. Sorry, I don’t buy it. One could argue that their pessimism was un-Catholic. One certainly could argue that they had no right, under Catholic principles, to revolt against established authority. Yet some of them were in fact Catholics and do not seem to have been Jacobins (the Carrolls of Carrollton).

    Influenced by Locke? For sure. Influenced by a host of thinkers. I do not endorse any of them without reservation. But the one thing I think we, in fairness (as Catholics we are obligated to place a charitable construction on people’s ideas, wherever possible), should grant to them is that they had very circumscribed hopes. They did not see this Constitution as divinely dropped from heaven or the salvation of the Whole World. They thought it was a prudent mechanism to avoid some of the pitfalls observed in past history. Later generations of Americans may have turned the American Dream into a pseudo-religion, into an idol to be worshipped. But the founders, as far as I can see, were pretty darn modest in their claims: a negotiated practical mechanism to safeguard responsible liberty and the common good. They did not expect it to last very long because they were very much aware of human sin and greed and self-aggrandizement. But they hoped against hope that it might last. That sounds a tad Catholic to me: hoping that man, God’s beloved yet sinful creature might learn from past mistakes and do things better, for once, but fully prepared to see the experiment fail. Which it has. But not because the mechanism was doomed from the start. Mechanisms are instruments in the hands of men. They succeed or fail because of the virtue or vice of those employing them. That’s also a rather Catholic principle. And it was shared by the founders. The mechanism of monarchy can succeed. Or fail. The mechanism of oligarchy can succeed, or fail. None of the these mechanisms is “Catholic” in se. All of them can be Catholic when wielded by virtuous Catholics. All of them can become tyranny, even when wielded by non-virtuous Catholics.

    Please keep in mind that my original comment was simply a statement about courts as the ultimate authority, about judicial review. I did not at any point assert that the United States ever was pure and holy or Catholic or beyond criticism. To have asserted such would have been absurd.

  70. Raymond says:

    Dennis Martin:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong–the U.S. judiciary has no enforcement power of its own. Law enforcement, the state national guards, and the U.S. military are under the command of the executive branch. Therefore, would it be possible, in a hypothetical situation, for a President or a state Governor (with substantial support of the electorate and legislators) to tell his people not to obey or enforce a particular SCOTUS decision? In effect, telling the judges to shove it up their a**!

    I know we’re supposed to be a country of laws. Nonetheless, we already have selective enforcement of laws, anyway. Two examples that come to mind are speed limits and immigration laws.

  71. transparent2one says:

    100% agree with the very first comment by Priam1184

  72. Gail F says:

    “We are facing horrible threats, even existential threats right now, and it seems as if they are coming faster and faster, from every direction.”

    thank you for writing that. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one who notices. I may be the only one I know who notices — or one of hte few – but it’s good to just see it written sometimes.

  73. Gail F says:

    Fr. Jim:

    “Stat rosa pristina nomine; nomina nuda tenemus.” What good does it do to have the NAME of marriage, if you don’t actually have marriage?

    Marriage can’t mean what you say it can, because it is a thing. While it’s true that there have been different sorts of marriages in different cultures and over time, every single one of them has been a marriage between a man and a woman. You can call a hand a foot, but you can’t make it one. Gay marriage” is wrong because it’s a lie. Doesn’t truth matter any more? I remember who said, “What is truth?”

    And your comment that “equal protection” for opposite-sex marriage doesn’t apply to gay people because they don’t want one is spurious. People are protected by a law whether or not they want to do the thing they have the right to do. Most of us, I hope, don’t want to draw obscene and blasphemous cartoons — but a free press protects our right to do so whether we want to or not. Women have the right to drive in our country whether they ever get behind the wheel of a car or not. No one, whatever one’s sexual preferences, can marry a person of the same sex because it is not possible to do so. Moreover, saying that people of the same sex can marry creates the bizarre situation that ANY two unrelated (for now) people of the same sex can marry, because no court can tell if the have wrongly ordered desires or not.

    I think the Supreme Court will probably declare it legal, which means mandatory, which means the end of religious teaching that says it’s wrong. I don’t know how we are supposed to prepare for that. But the reason it’s wrong has nothing to do with the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith merely recognizes that it’s wrong.

  74. jhayes says:

    It’s probably worth keeping in mind that the issue in the upcoming Supreme Court same-sex marriage case does not relate to the original Constitution adopted in 1788, but hinges on the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution adopted in 1868. Section 1 of that Amendment says:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    In accepting the case. The Court defined the two questions the lawyers must argue:

    The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of
    certiorari are granted limited to the following questions: 1)
    Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a
    marriage between two people of the same sex?
    2) Does the
    Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage
    between two people of the same sex when their marriage was
    lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

  75. Andrew says:


    The error of your thinking seems to be based on the premise that society can function on some kind of a morally neutral basis. You write: “We can have a discussion about how [others] might strive to live holy and moral lives … but that is a separate discussion from that which is about civil rights for everyone …”

    That’s where I disagree. It is not a separate discussion. Why? Because the so called “equal protection” which you espouse is not morally neutral. What other example could you provide where “equal protection” is promoted for something that is considered harmful? Or is it harmful only for Catholics? I don’t understand your logic.

  76. John H. Graney says:

    The chief trouble here is that, no matter what the ruling is on this case, the Supreme Court does not have the competence to discern the essence of marriage, whether natural or sacramental.

  77. benedetta says:

    Well hey the Supremes are going to do what they’re going to do. However as to this from our Constitution:

    “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Everything based upon this language after the magical and fictitious Roe holding which the Warren Court delusion-like hatched out of whole cloth can only by extension then have as its basis a complete and total legal fiction. So long as this court maintains the utter lie that has led to a genocide in some parts of the country of one sort of a baby, and the elimination of tens of millions now tortured and slaughtered pursuant to a total breakdown in reason, acknowledgement of basic science, devoid of any humanism or concern for future generations, and orderly rule of law in a democracy, really what can they possibly credibly “rule” on or have to say which can be taken as meaningful with regard to the question of how we as citizens in the US are to go about ordering our lives with one another?

  78. Gratias says:

    Frjim4321 is a priest but mostly an agent provocateur, as they say in French. I was glad he left a blog called California Catholic Daily, but people here should not fall for this agitator’s stratagems. Fr. Jim is probably making Saul Alinsky smile down under.

  79. Flavius Hesychius says:

    Raymond at 3:55:

    There’s a (most likely apocryphal) story that Andrew Jackson’s response to Worcester v. Georgia was, ‘John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!’

    But I too have wondered how SCOTUS would respond if the executive refused to enforce the court’s rulings.

  80. jhayes says:

    Flavius Hesychius wrote But I too have wondered how SCOTUS would respond if the executive refused to enforce the court’s rulings.

    It’s only the President who could frustrate the implementation of a Supreme Court decision.

    I think it’s unlikely simply because there’s a general recognition that someone has to have the authority to make final decisions. That’s why the Court’s decisions have beeen implemented for the last two-hundred years and more.

    Normally, a federal district court would order the state to comply and, if it didn’t, would eventually charge people (including the governor) with contempt of court if they persisted in not complying. The U.S. Marshal’s Service would carry out the court’s order to arrest and imprison them.

    The most memorable case of non-compliance by a state is that President Eisenhower sent in the National Guard when Governor Faubus refused to carry out a court order.

    Three years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which officially ended public-school segregation, a federal court ordered Little Rock to comply.
    When Faubus did not restore order, President Eisenhower dispatched 101st Airborne Division paratroopers to Little Rock and put the Arkansas National Guard under federal command. By 3 a.m., soldiers surrounded the school, bayonets fixed.

    Under federal protection, the “Little Rock Nine” finished out the school year.

    In Worcester v. Johnson, things never got to that point and Georgia did comply, eventually. There never was anything that President Jackson had control over.

  81. Giuseppe says:

    Same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states, DC, and 21 tribal jurisdictions. 70% of the US population lives somewhere were same-sex marriage is already legal.

    There is discussion that it would be better for the Republican Party if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. (Even Justice Scalia’s dissents in Lawrence and Windsor, predicting the logical sequelae of Justice Kennedy’s opinions, are used by district court judges to support legalizing gay marriage.) I think the ruling is inevitable. I then takes it off the table as a political issue (which has already started to divide Republicans by age, and which is viewed by the chattering classes as an increasingly losing issue.) If the court does somehow rule in favor of traditional marriage, what will be the status of all of the same-sex marriages performed already? The court opened the floodgates, and it seems to me it would be hard to close them now.

    But if were good at predicting the future, I would have predicted last week’s Mega Millions numbers and could retire, so take all with a grain of salt.

  82. Bea says:

    DeGaulle says:
    18 January 2015 at 1:28 pm
    “I wonder who Frjim4321 works for on a Sunday.”

    I suspect he works for the same being as Fr. Drinan whom he seems to admire so much and believes it to be a “high honor” to be compared to him.
    “High honor” indeed: Fr. Drinan, who was consulted by the Kennedy’s in order to retain the vote and popularity during the pro-abortion onset when Drinan and others advised him to use the phrase “Personally I’m against…..”.
    The art of double-speak AKA duplicity. If this is “high honor” then I’m the queen of Sheba.

  83. govmatt says:

    The way the Court has drawn the issues in this case is not favorable to a traditional marriage win.

    The two issues are (distilled): 1. Is there a constitutional right for homosexuals to marry (14th Amendment) and, 2. Without regard to (1), do states have to recognize marriages performed in other states?

    This may seem to at least present a level playing field, but here’s why it doesn’t:
    If “yes” is the answer to (1), then (2) is irrelevant and gay marriage is the law of the land.
    If “no” or waffling on (1), and “yes” to (2), then gay marriage is de facto legalized and recognized in every state.
    “Yes” to (1) and “no” to (2) can’t exist.
    “No” to (1) and “no” to (2) is what traditionalists hope is the outcome. This would render several appellate decisions invalid and return this matter to the States. This outcome would not end gay marriage, it would only overturn the court orders that overturned bans on gay marriage on equal protection grounds. See, States can provide more “protection” than Federal law. If the State votes to permit gay marriage, a decision from the Supreme Court answering “no” to both questions would do nothing and provide no ammunition for challenging those laws.

    So, at the outset, only one of the possible four outcomes can be seen as favorable to the traditional marriage position. Combined with this is the reality that Justice Kennedy, who has written several pro-gay marriage opinions will likely be the swing vote on the court.

    My prediction, though don’t hold me to it, unless the Court kicks this case (though it’s actually several cases consolidated) out after argument for some procedural issue, will be a decidedly straightforward “yes” answer to (1) with a vote of 5-4 and a “yes” answer to (2) with a vote of 6-3 (the Chief Justice will join in this group).

    I could absolutely be wrong and there may be a long, multi-part meandering plurality opinion without really any guidance whatsoever on the matter. However, the way the Court has framed the issues lends itself to the thought that the Court has decided to settle the issue definitively.

  84. Nicolas Bellord says:

    I would be surprised if the SCOTUS had no means to enforce its decisions. Here in England we have the Tipstaff (i.e. someone who carries a truncheon, baton or what I believe the Americans call a night-stick) who is authorised to execute the decisions of the High Court and has the power to call on anybody (including the police) to assist.

  85. Supertradmum says:

    Do we here need to be reminded of the four sins which cry out to God for vengeance?

    CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,139 the sin of the Sodomites,140 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,141 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,142 injustice to the wage earner.143

  86. jhayes says:

    Nicholas Bellord wrote I would be surprised if the SCOTUS had no means to enforce its decisions

    A typical SCOTUS opinion ends with a line saying that the case is “remanded for further procedings in accordance with this opinion” which means that it goes back to the lower court where it originated for any action (including enforcement) that is necessary. The enforcement arm of the lower courts is the US Marshals Service, founded by the first President, George Washington. Federal law provides:

    It is the primary role and mission of the United States Marshals Service to provide for the security and to obey, execute, and enforce all orders of the United States District Courts, the United States Courts of Appeals, the Court of International Trade, and the United States Tax Court, as provided by law.

    US Marshals take orders directly from federal judges. Since the US Marshals Service is part of the Executive Branch, it’s theoretically possible that the President could order them not to enforce a specific court order, but no President has ever done that, to the best of my knowledge.

  87. cajuncath says:

    Dennis Martin,

    My regrets to the extent I may have mischaracterized your position. While I read and was aware of your qualifications and general description of balance of powers offsetting each other, it seemed to me to qualify as an exposition on behalf of something that could be construed by you as basically good.

    Pure simply means there was an original text and authentic way [or ways] of how to interpret it.

    I think you are on much shakier ground with your claims about Catholicism and statecraft, and may want to carefully review your Catholic social teaching again.

    Yes, monarchy, oligarchy, and republican forms of governance can all be acceptable. But they are truly acceptable when they officially affirm Catholicism as the one true faith as Catholic confessional monarchies, oligarchies, and republics. Failing to recognize Catholicism as the true faith, failing to conduct government policy in conformance with Catholic truth, and instituting separation of church and state barriers is certainly not what Catholic social teaching has classically taught. You should carefully review the authoritative Catholic values of the ages that have been explicitly codified in the aftermath of the American and French revolutions by popes such as Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X.

    The fact that some group of people were not Jacobins, Bolsheviks or Nazis doesn’t prove they were not ungodly, unjust, scandalous, and flat out wrong in a host of ways in which they thought and acted. Yes, we can say without hesitation that the American founding, in of itself at the time, was a radical undertaking suffused with a multitude of serious errors. We should not be surprised at all with what has unfolded since. Regardless of who the bogeyman de jour is in American history [Hamilton, Lincoln, TR, FDR, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton, Obama] they all form a neat continuum of liberal error unfolding in greater depth, merely unpacking what was already nascent in 1776.

    And there is plenty of evidence, from Lock to Jefferson, of anti-Catholic animosity. Which is one of the reasons for the animosity toward King George III, given his relatively benign attitude toward the Catholics of Quebec.

  88. Flavius Hesychius says:

    But I too have wondered how SCOTUS would respond if the executive refused to enforce the court’s rulings.

    About the same as Congress has responded when the executive has refused to enforce the laws. To do so would infer that men and women of good will were involved; in this current environment, the ‘good will’ is lacking, and personal aggrandisement and petulance rules.

    What we have here is a legal fiction that, IMHO, has combined the Church’s acting as an agent of the state in ratifying a civil construct (“marriage” as a legal contract between 2 adults) and Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman, raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.

    In doing so, we’ve positioned ourselves for being the target (and don’t think it’s not coming) where standing for our principles and beliefs in regards to marriage becomes the focus of civil action when a priest (well, maybe not some priests) or deacon refuses to celebrate an attempted homosexual ‘marriage’ in one of our church buildings. Your business can already be destroyed for not baking a cake for Adam and Steve…what do you think will happen when Fr Rockstarwannabe down at the St. Urbane Catholic Community Worship Center refuses to ‘marry’ Eve and Linda? I have some folding greenbacks if anyone wants to take that bet against my prediction that sometime in the next 5 years there will be a court case against, specifically, a Catholic priest and parish and diocese for refusing to do just that.

    As much as I hate to say it, the Church and its institutions (schools, hospitals, social service agencies, you name it) have to climb out of the sewer of lying in bed with the government and divorce themselves from acting, either directly or indirectly, as agents of the state. You lie with dogs, you get fleas. And in this case, I think the hierarchy has to come to grips with their toadying attitude towards trying to out-politic the secular politicians. I’m certain many of them will readily kowtow to the ruling class (go along to get along? We see that oh so often on the East Coast)…but, it may be time to decide whether the Church is actually what She says she is or is nothing more than just another NGO with a great story to tell.

    As long as the Church continues to act as the agent of the state…we will have this problem. I believe that the US system is too far gone at this point, through the exercise of free will, to be worth saving. So, like Lot…maybe it is time to leave it to its own destruction and seek refuge in the Church.

  89. Dennis Martin says:

    Dear Cajuncath,

    Since you persist in responding to distinctions I made with globalizing non-distinctions, we have very little to converse about. You are arguing with a phantom who you think is an apologist for the whole sweep of American history and you do so out of, apparently, a quasi-Integralist perspective. I wish you success in finding an interlocutor who believes that which you target. It ain’t me.

  90. Giuseppe says:

    My take yesterday on predicting the Supreme Court ruling is similar to yours, although you do a much better job in fleshing out the options.

    You are correct that most Supreme Court opinions remand the case to the lower court. However, who enforces the decisions of state v. state?

  91. benedetta says:

    And yet none of the above amounts to a hill of beans or matters one iota in the only scheme of things that in fact matters when all of the SCOTUS’ rulings in this general area stem from the travesty which started with Roe and continued to maintain and “uphold” a gross and utterly depraved deception devoid of humanism. Namely, that it is perfectly fine to take another’s life essentially whenever the victim is totally innocent, totally vulnerable, and in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a moral house of cards, and regardless of who says what and so on and so forth bouncing up and down the system of courts and executive and judicial and legislative blah blah blah. The “basis” is profound, instantly recognizable, putrid, objective injustice from the get go. Who would want to go about assigning human rights under a scheme based on such as that?

  92. jhayes says:

    Giuseppe wrote You are correct that most Supreme Court opinions remand the case to the lower court. However, who enforces the decisions of state v. state?

    Controversies between states are the only ones where the Supreme Court has both original and exclusive jurisdiction. Those I know of have to do with disputed land or water boundaries.

    As I understand it, the Marshals of the Supreme Court are employees of the Court and not the Executive Branch and deal only with the security of the Courthouse and the individual Justices. Since there are no Marshals of the US Marshals Service at the disposition of the Court, I assume that if one of the states refused to carry out the Court’s order to jointly mark a border as decided by the Court, the Court would refer the matter to the Department of Justice or directly to the President for enforcement.

    I’m guessing. It’s not something I have had to think through before.

  93. benedetta says:

    The spectacle of using US Marshals in such as situation grounded upon the sick and morally bankrupt, anti-humanist line of cases descending from Roe and its progeny and the “penumbra” is at best an indicator of the totalitarian times we are already experiencing in the US with respect to the government’s enforcement of the throwaway culture of death. Completely Orwellian…

  94. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Most of the principles of both Locke and Burke (who were on opposite sides) were ripped off from the principles of St. Robert Bellarmine. This was something one didn’t say in England, but it’s pretty obvious if you read Bellarmine’s political arguments against the oppressive stuff pulled by the English crown. People like John Adams were forthright enough to admit this, even if most of US history is comfortable forgetting it.

    Most of the principles of US natural law were ripped off from the Spanish Dominican profs over in Salamanca. Most of the principles of US common law were ripped off from medieval Catholic lawmakers and medieval Catholic customs.

    The rest of the stuff we do comes from all kinds of sources (including Franklin’s strictly theoretical knowledge of how the Iroquois system of government managed things) like classical Rome and Greece, Puritanism in England and Scotland, and English guild management practices. But most of the basic stuff is Catholic, and I’m sorry you’re unaware of it.

  95. jhayes says:

    SCOTUS rules unanimously in favor of religious freedom:

    Last fall, the Court heard oral arguments in Holt v. Hobbs, an Arkansas prisoner’s challenge to a state prison policy that prohibits him from growing the beard that he believes his religion – Islam – requires. It’s an interesting case, but it drew even more attention because of the close parallels to last year’s high-profile decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that businesses provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to birth control. Would a Muslim inmate serving a life sentence for slitting his ex-girlfriend’s throat fare as well with the Roberts Court as the devout Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby and believed that obeying the ACA’s birth-control mandate would cause them to violate their religious beliefs?

    In an opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito, who wrote the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court answered that question with a resounding (and, unlike Hobby Lobby, unanimous) yes.

    The Court easily agreed with inmate Gregory Holt that the Arkansas policy prevents him from exercising his religion. Put simply, the prison will not allow him to follow the tenets of his religion and grow a beard. And it didn’t matter, the Court explained, that he could practice his religion in other ways, such as by observing Muslim holidays and having a prayer rug.


  96. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Legislatures and voters can change the Constitution to say anything they want. You could amend the Constitution to prohibit abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage if enough people supported that. From what I have read, not enough people do. So far, the Supreme Court has decided that banning abortion and contraception would violate the Constitution as it stands – and now they will decide on same-sex marriage.”

    I believe that’s what many states actually did. All it took was one justice to rubbish these bans in the bin. It is facetious to argue, “it takes the rule of the people” to change the law – when it has taken nothing of the sort to change the law away from traditional marriage.

    One can no longer argue that it takes the people – all it takes is one black robed justice who agrees with you. Is this democracy? The Constitution says nothing about gay marriage, and yet you would have us believe that it can be ‘found’ because people want it to read what it does not.

    What then is stopping them from rubbishing anything the constitution says if it is contrary to the will of the Almighty State?

  97. benedetta says:

    Amazing isn’t it that facial hair can garner a unanimous decision from the SCOTUS but issues relating to human life get the scorn, trash and ridicule treatment.

  98. Ben Kenobi says:

    “acting, either directly or indirectly, as agents of the state. ”

    This – more than anything else has been the most corrosive argument in the entire debate. Yes, the priest should be able to marry Catholics officially. People fought and died many years for that privilege and the boomer squad says, “this is hard, we should give this up”.

    I personally find this *incredibly* offensive. You are condemning every Catholic who isn’t married and stripping something from all of us. Thanks. Why not pull up the ladder from us?

    What is the argument behind marriage as an institution of the State? Look up Reynolds vs the USA. Yes, marriage is important, and yes, it is an enumerated power of the constitution – your enemies aren’t going to care if you pull out. They will be enormously happy because now you’ve consigned your fate in a Catholic ghetto.

    And what will the result of that? Hint – not a pretty one. We have just one battle – and that’s to fight for the preservation of marriage between one man and one woman.

    Read Reynolds. Come away from that decision and tell me that the Catholic church should argue to strip and concede a right very hard won. In England – we were not permitted to marry. In the USA we had that freedom, and people fought and died for it.

    And look at you, “let’s give that up” for temporal expediency. It won’t preserve us. This is the battle, and we have to fight it here.

    If you had been working on marriage 5, 10, 20 years ago, perhaps we’d not be fighting this battle here, but you weren’t because, “if it’s not hurting anyone it’s ok”. Yes, it is hurting people, especially the folks who are not married who will not have the option to get what you got. Or were bequeathed by the blood of the patriots.

  99. jhayes says:

    Ben Kenobi wrote I believe that’s what many states actually did

    They didn’t amend the federal Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment says “nor shall any state …deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” That is what would have to be overcome by an Amendment to the US Constitution.

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