Ed Peters on SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges

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

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


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

Anyway, I make here two points especially for Catholics.

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

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

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

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

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. johnnys says:

    We really need to start referring to doctrine as the teaching of Jesus instead of as the teaching of the Church. A properly catechized Catholic knows them to be the same thing…..

    About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter. – St. Joan of Arc

    I guess I am not so charitable as I do not believe most ‘catholics’ who dissent from a clearly defined teaching of Jesus do so in good faith. It seems to me that they are placing more importance on their political ideology than on the teachings of Jesus. They then look to protestantism in order to find their way to justify their error by separating Jesus Christ from His Church, the Catholic Church in order to say they dissent from ‘Church teaching’. Thereby taking a clear teaching of Jesus and complicating the matter.

  2. Hank_F_M says:


    satire mode/ON

    We are missing a great opportunity. If the state can declare that marriage between two people of the same sex is possible, it can also declare that PI equals 3.00 not that ridiculous 3.14.

    Just think of all the people who would not be able to pass math get into higher level courses and even Engineering School. This can’t cause any problems worse than same sex marriage.

    Non – Catholic Social Justice at it’s best!

    satire mode/OFF

  3. cwillia1 says:

    I would add two thoughts.X and Y are divorced from other parties and marry civilly. The Church makes no judgment regarding their marriage until X and/or Y wish to become Catholic. At that point the validity of prior marriages is assumed until they are proven not to be marriages. Another point: any civilly married couple can become free to marry in the future if events allow it.

    There is no marriage between two people of the same sex. The only facts that matter are their chromosomes. Nothing can make their imitation conjugal life true conjugal life.

    The question for the Church is whether what the state calls marriage is truly marriage. This is a policy question. If the state allowed a man to marry a dog or a brick or a corpse, should we still presume that a man and a woman who obtain a civil marriage are in fact married? And what if the typical man and woman who marry civilly think that divorce is an option if things don’t work out or if they have an “open marriage.”

    At some point the Church is forced to recognize “civil marriage” in our world to be a tax status with no moral implications at all.

    Marriage is a natural phenomenon that exists prior to and apart from the state. The state has redefined marriage to the point that it no longer has the authority to regulate marriage at all.

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    With all due respect to Dr. Peters, the damage will not be repaired, but my Lord has chosen me to stand at the door of the barn and call the horse back home. So be it.

    I will fight with all my being, because I believe that the good people here and throughout the US that hold fast to the Catholic faith are worth fighting for.

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    “The pastoral challenges in consequence of this latest decision…”

    This line stood out to me because I think it provides some useful perspective on how we should think about this ruling.

    The ruling is wrong, and the impression that our nation is running away from truth at an accelerating pace is deeply unsettling.

    However, this is not a momentous, massive defeat of Christ’s Church on this matter. It’s the formal notice that we have failed to convince secular society for the time being that even from a relativist, secular perspective that might stop short of determining right or wrong, homosexual relationships are not comparable to heterosexual relationships.

    The Church remains though. We Catholics still have our parishes, our priests, and open access to the sacraments.

    The main difference for the work of the Church in the US between today and yesterday is that today we deal with an even broader perception than before that marriages are happening which in reality are not. This will make it harder to explain Catholic teaching in a way those who look to human law to shape their view of the world will understand, and harder to lead Catholics to sincere adherence to the faith they profess, but it is not something we should despair over. Although it was far from a piece of cake yesterday, the pastoral challenge is not as significantly more daunting today as I think we tend to perceive.

  6. Legisperitus says:

    We still have reality on our side. Maybe reality has to be forgotten before it can be rediscovered.

  7. Justalurkingfool says:

    When the Catholic Church opened the flood gates to divorce through the incentive that annulments continue to give and by requiring civil divorce as a gateway to annulments it gutted, over time, the credibility of the Catholic Church with respect to marriage. This helped to encourage same sex marriages by undermining marriages as a whole.

    When the Catholic Church in America removed the automatic excommunication for civil divorce and remarriage, it encouraged divorce and undermined marriages.

    This, to me, is a return on the investment but in spades.


  8. Supertradmum says:

    This is about saving souls. Politics do not save souls, but teaching in and out of season the beautiful doctrines of the Church, which are from God for our benefit, does save souls.

  9. CJ6 says:

    Thank you for posting this, Father. Today has been dim, but something about that last sentence has given me courage and bolstered my faith.

  10. mburn16 says:

    I’ve never really bought into the argument of churches being forced to sanction gay marriage, so we move on to the political element of it. God may rule above all, but lets face it, Uncle Sam has a much louder megaphone. Trying to overrule what the state says constitutes marriage is going to be a demanding endeavor for very limited return. We can hope one day humanity will restore some respect for the traditional family model, but the most effective avenue to promote marriage at this point is probably going to be found in the tax code. I hate to type that, but I think its reality.

    One day we’ll get an explanation for why Christians today are given such a harder time than, say, Christians in the 1950s.

  11. DD says:

    It saddens me to see on FB that so many of our Catholic school students– some with 12 years of Catholic education– celebrate this ruling and completely misunderstand the issue. To be fair to them, though, they link to Jesuits who think the same way and fault the Church’s position.

  12. JARay says:

    I have just received my usual letter from Dr. Robert Moynihan about affairs at the Vatican His latest is entitled “On this Day”. He goes on to relate what Cardinal Carlo Caffara (Archbishop of Bologna) said when he had celebrated Mass in 2008. The Cardinal tells of receiving a letter from Sister Lucy in which she says that the Final confrontation between God and Satan will come over Marriage and the Family. Now, if this indeed is to be the final confrontation between God and Satan then what does that tell us about the future?
    I have a very strong feeling that things are going to happen at the end of this year after the October Synod in the Vatican. I also have a very strong feeling that what is going to happen will have earth shattering consequences for us all.

  13. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    If civil marriage is and always has been a constitutional right, then why do people need marriage “licenses” from a government office?

  14. Pingback: Reactions Legalizing So-Called Same-Sex Marriage

  15. tramtrist says:

    Presently the Church has rules which people must adhere to and requirements they must meet before allowing them to be recognized by the Church to be married IN the Church.
    They must both be practicing Catholics. They must belong to a parish. They must both be ready to raise their Children in the Church. One person must be a man and one person must be a woman….. and so on.

    Fornicating homosexual couples cannot meet any of these requirements therefor I’d expect them to be as successful at suing the Church to be married in the Church as two heterosexual Jews or Muslims… For this reason I’m optimistic it will never happen.

  16. Magash says:

    The problem, tramtrist, is that they will claim to be Catholic. Considering how messed up some parishes are they may even openly attend Mass and receive Communion. They may even be members of the parish council or Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Of course they won’t present themselves at that parish, because its even possible that some dissident priest or deacon might quietly “marry” them there, and that is not what they are seeking.
    No they will go to a parents more devout parish and present themselves to the good and holy priest there. He will of course explain to them that what they ask is impossible. They will then go to the media and the courts.

  17. eyeclinic says:

    “God’s ways are not our ways.” How often we prove this to be true…

  18. Ben Kenobi says:

    I have heard from a priest already that the separation is between the Church as a civic institution vs the Church as a religious institution. This is fatal. The Church is a civic institution by virtue of Christ’s establishment here on Earth. We are called to engage in the world. This is why we lost here on gay marriage, half the people on our side were saying that the best thing was to, “get the Church out of marriage. This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the Church and her purpose.

    Sadly, I expect as a Catholic to be told by the priest to ‘get a marriage certificate’. Will be a sad occasion. It’s also a futile gesture. Persecution is imminent. There is nothing we can do to avoid it, we might delay it but it won’t go away. Ever. That is the reality. I hope when the time comes I will still be able to find a priest who does real marriage still. :(

  19. DonL says:

    Christ told Pilate that He came “to bring the truth.” Our modern Church has elevated social justice over it’s God-given mission of salvation by converting sinners to repent.
    It has been at best, pitifully weak in teaching and defending moral truths, called its own faithful, obsessive–when they cry out against evil, and sowed confusion and enabled grave sin when it publicly provides soft haloes for sodomy by saying, “who am I to judge and “come on in” to the unrepentant celebrants of evil.
    Satan is not only out of the closet, but he has clearly entered the tabernacle

  20. Raymond says:

    As others have posted on this blog before, many countries (France, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, etc.) already separate civil marriage from religious marriage. And these happened long before this so-called gay marriage trend. In these countries you sign your civil contract first in court and then proceed to the church for the religious wedding ceremony. It’s that simple–really.

  21. tramtrist says:

    Magash I agree but that has more to do with the complete failure of the Church to police its own ranks than it does this newly established ‘right’. Ratzinger’s “small” church prediction couldn’t come fast enough. The fallout from this ruling may even expedite this process one might image…

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It is true that ideally the Church should be able to do civic marriage. It is more in keeping with showing the Church’s full meaning. But the Church did not have the power for civic weddings in St. Valentine’s time, either.

  23. SanSan says:

    JARay…..I believe too that the October Synod will not go well……Marriage and Family IS the basis of the Church…..that is crumbling (beginning contraception and no fault divorce)……sodomite unions become Constitutional because Justice Kennedy is worried about the children in those unions not feeling “lesser” or “different” than other families? Will the Synod members go the same reasoning w/o faith as their wisdom?

    The decisive and final confrontation between God and Satan will come over Marriage and the Family.

  24. Scott W. says:

    Last week’s Mass reading seems especially prescient:

    With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

    Now it seems there is a lot of talk to the effect that the storm itself is the Apostle’s fault. That if they had only seen the gathering clouds, they could have steered to avoid it. But that is not the case I think. As the Church Militant, we reside on a boat on a treacherous sea and this particular storm would have threatened us eventually anyway.

    I have a reason for thinking that the Pervertarian Empire will not force the Church to directly perform the legal fiction of same-sex “marriage”, and that is due to the inherent lie in liberal democracy: it makes highly discriminatory judgements about the Good while at the same time denying it is doing so. Therefore, at least in the short run, they will leave the Church’s interior alone to keep up the conceit.

    Outside the boat however is a different story. Any attempt by the Church to reach out to pull drowning people into the boat will be hacked off mercilessly. Everything outside the Church will be a chaotic maelstrom of PC gibberish demanding acquiescense at first then full-throated approval. It’s a given because Our Lord and His Church is a sign of contradiction. But no matter how bad the storm gets have faith and have no fear.

  25. Ben Kenobi says:

    “It’s that simple–really.”

    Which raises the question – where did the civic officials obtain the authority to perform marriage in the first place? Ask yourself, what if the priest told you to get a baptismal register from the civic official?

  26. Sue says:

    I agree with the very first comment, from Johnnys. I have wondered for so long now why we say “As Catholics, we believe….”. If I weren’t Catholic, my first thought would be “So? I’m a (fill in blank) and we believe…” But when we say “Christ taught that…” we narrow the focus and the alternatives.

  27. mburn16 says:

    “As others have posted on this blog before, many countries (France, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, etc.) already separate civil marriage from religious marriage”

    Also, in many cases, countries where marriage is in even more dire straits than it is in the US. In many ways, I think the close association we’ve had in this country between civil and religious marriage has been an example of the government ‘bringing people to church’.

  28. cajuncath says:

    Some of Ed Peters’ comments and those of others cause me to realize that this would be an opportune, grace-filled moment for us to take a hard look at ourselves, rather than rail against the modern homosexual movement.

    At least it has to be said that many, if not most, of these phony homosexual marriages won’t involve any adultery. More than can be said for many Christian heterosexuals who divorce and remarry.

    So why is it that that does not bother us? The state allows it and recognizes them as marriages. Where’s our outrage? Where are our protests? Where is the USCCB, 0ur bishops, our priests, publicly demanding the state forbid divorced Christians from entering into legally recognized relationships that are effectively adulterous? And enacting effective restraints against even non-Christians from divorcing. So why do we not care?

    We turn a blind eye to any number of contraventions against our Holy Catholic faith, but then console ourselves that we have the requisite Catholic bona fides because we’re against the homosexuals, or the latest Obama initiative, or supporting some GOP divorcee for president, and that we’re assuredly superior to all those unwashed Muslims on the other side of the planet.

    No. Let us take this time to look at ourselves and what we have become. Because what we have become is not wholly unrelated to the sinful developments we witness in these times.

  29. Orphrey says:

    Yesterday’s SCOTUS decision raises so many issues for society…

    * What is the endgame of the SCOTUS decision? I suspect it is the evisceration of marriage. Doesn’t Kennedy’s finding of a “right to marriage” mean that anyone can marry anyone else? What limits can be placed on this “right”?

    * Can it be that expressing support for traditional marriage will become criminal hate speech?

    * I find it helpful to remember that both St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas More died for marriage.

    * A final observation: I am no Bible exegete, but it seems to me that St. Paul in Romans 1 can be taken as a description of Sodom and Gomorrah, and also as a relevant critique of the pagan Roman society in which he evangelized. It is so disturbing how well his words now describe the USA and the West in general:

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

    They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

  30. benedetta says:

    The ugly fact is that even from Justices of the Supreme Court in this line of decisions there has been a grounding in thought and articulation with recourse to stereotype of religious adherents (which of course encompasses not only Catholic Christians but many other belief systems as well), which is plainly abhorrent to the institution of the Court and anathema to the democratic process in a plurality. That much is grounded even on that level on that basis does seem foreboding for the future of reason and good faith debate with others whom one disagrees within an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and respect.

    That said we can understand the recent history and how things have been articulated from on high from the corridors of wealth and power to engineer a culturally expressed hatred against virtually all religious adherents, as well as the inherent beauty and goodness of family life, for many decades. In this respect even though one presumes that Justices of the Supreme Court, if any place exists where it is possible to refrain from bigoted attacks based in intolerance and articulate reason and good faith to one’s fellows, would be the last mouthpieces for hatred towards the obvious, natural, and ancient beauty of family life and fidelity to that, this historical event is altogether unsurprising.

    Just as the pro gay marriage movement has many times queried how legalisation of homosexual marriage denies or changes heterosexual marriage, it may be worthwhile to take stock of the relentless forms of cultural harassment, hatred and bitterness expressed towards families just attempting to live in peace, get by, who in fact have nothing to do with opposing these policies, longstanding, in myriad forms, including from those within the Church and in places of teaching and publishing in power as well as academia, popular culture, ensconced 1%ers. One may well ask, well, what is the locus of one’s resentment towards the nuclear family?

    If indeed the goodness of the natural family is no threat to homosexual unions, one would presume that political organizers, movements, cultural movers and shakers, academic powerhouses would only wish to draw upon the virtues of enlightenment, reason, and tolerance to stat the case for the desired policy goals without color of animus, resentment, bitterness, wishing harm towards and encouraging others to harm, those who abstain, peacefully.

    I think that families of all belief systems who are tired of the harassment and menacing, who have registered deep wounds to their attempt at peaceful daily existence while this war has waged, are well within their human rights, recognized by all in the international developed and even undeveloped world, to say fully that this harassment and intolerance with locus in hatred will resisted, completely.

    And I think that all citizens who respect the rule of order and law are well within their rights and human dignity to ask whether in fact now that this milestone has been reached, if the surveillance, harassment and torture and harm in various and myriad forms, to some (many?) who have peacefully lived as Christian families (and in some cases even supported in various ways the agendas and policies now achieved) can in fact be ended. One would think this to be a certainty, without question or reservation, given the virtues of tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue, freedom and liberty which this country has always held dear in pluralism, and if indeed this legal ruling is the fruit of reason and our system of rights and tolerant analysis. For a movement to attempt to continue an onslaught towards others, innocents, over this will of course not reflect well on our mutual powers of enlightened rational discussion but will indicate that the investment is in, for the long term, something barbaric which has no place in any civilized society in the 21st century. For citizens who do not hate anyone but only wish to be permitted to live in peace, Kyrie Eleison.

  31. Scott W. says:

    At least it has to be said that many, if not most, of these phony homosexual marriages won’t involve any adultery.

    You do realize that the lack of adultery is by technicality rather than moral uprightness right? It’s kinda like saying at least a quadriplegic mafia hit-man won’t involve any garrotting.

    Ultimately this is barking up the wrong tree because the marital status of normal man-female pairings are not usually manifest evils whereas same-sex “marriages” are.

  32. ejcmartin says:

    Meanwhile in the news:
    “Young heterosexual couple decide to get married”
    Young heterosexual couple Tammy and Lamar have decided unlike all their heterosexual friends to get married. After attending protests for the last few years in the push for gay marriage Tammy states “we knew all our gay friends wanted to get married but not a single one of our heterosexual friends even gave it a thought. We started to wonder what all the fuss was about. Like if we’re fighting for it, it’s got to be good, right? “We thought we would give it a try, maybe some of hetero friends might follow suit, who knows?” Stated Lamar. Asked how their wedding plans were going Tammy stated “great except for finding a cake. It appears that all the bakers who were willing to bake heterosexual wedding cakes are no longer in business.”

  33. Elizabeth M says:

    I think some people are missing the point here. For the majority of Americans this is about “people who luv each other” and who are we to stand in the way of “luv”. They do not understand what marriage IS. Why is that? It’s our own (meaning we Catholics) fault.
    The Long One is deceptive – change a word or two, don’t worry, it will be alright.
    I’m referring to the change in wording of the primary definition of marriage in Code of Canon. The secondary became the primary and therefor, feelings win out.

    I have several Catholic (attend church every Sunday, involved in parish, pray, send their kids to Catholic schools) friends who quickly changed their profile pics to rainbows. I want to shout out to them “Don’t you know what you’re doing to your soul?” but I cannot. I feel unarmed. I’m not a scholar or theologian. Maybe that’s another temptation because we are truly armed with the Holy Spirit.

    We laity need a quick, concise reply to people that will make clear to them Truth. Whether they except that Truth depends on them & the Grace of God.

    The devil is working quickly now, he knows his time is running out. Pray, fast, keep your wits about you. This spiritual war is unlike before.

  34. frjim4321 says:

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


    There is no data to support this.

  35. mrshopey says:

    You don’t need data nor to be the sharpest crayon in the box to know what Dr. Peters said, predicted, will come. There is already established the Man/boy lovers society. They have been in the shadows for awhile now. The others will come forward because you have no reason, now that marriage is redefined, to not allow it.

  36. AGA says:

    Dr. Peter’s comparison of homosexual pseudo-marriage with heterosexual pseudo-marriage does not make sense.

    The Catholic Church had a long tradition of accommodating (even if not accepting) concubinage. “Catholic” men of power and prestige kept concubines and even their offspring inherited prominent state roles (and high-level Church positions too).

    Accommodating heterosexual sin is not comparable to modern accommodation of homosexual sin.

    There are four sins which cry out to Heaven for vengeance and heterosexual concubinage is not one of them.

    The distinction matters to God. It has mattered to the Church. It should matter to us.

  37. Orphrey says:

    frjim4321: “There is no data to support this.”

    There is data to support this. For years, there have been polyamory and polygamy advocates who correctly argue that there is no logical objection to their “right to marry” under the “reasoning” of yesterday’s Kennedy decision. The whole point of the SSM movement is “love” and “equality for all” and “no discrimination,” and doesn’t this apply to “sexual minorities” other than gays and lesbians? “Intergenerational love” advocates (i.e., pedophiles) have also been pushing for their “right” to “love” to be legalized. In Australia, two straight buddies got married recently to qualify for a radio sweepstakes to go to the rugby world cup. Thus, there is plenty of data and also logic on the side of those who promote incest, polygamy, pedophilia, and other sorts of abominations.

  38. Rouxfus says:

    The Act of Faith, a traditional prayer of the Church, asserts:

    Domine Deus, firma fide credo et confiteor omnia et singula quae sancta ecclesia Catholica proponit, quia tu, Deus, ea omnia revelasti, qui es aeterna veritas et sapientia quae nec fallere nec falli potest. In hac fide vivere et mori statuo. Amen.


    O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.

    A person applying to be married in the Church claiming to be Catholic cannot make this Act of Faith in good conscience, because by their act of desiring marriage to a person of the same sex, they are contradicting an Apostolic teaching of the Church.

    Cardinal Gibbons wrote in 1876, in The Faith of Our Fathers: Being a Plain Exposition and Vindication of the Church Founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ in the chapter discussing the Unity of the Church, the first of the four marks of the Church mentioned in the Credo, that anyone who denied a single article of what the Church proposes for our belief and salvation would be “cut off like a withered branch” and is no longer considered a Catholic:

    The number of Catholics in the world is computed at three hundred millions. They have all “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” one creed. They receive the same sacraments, they worship at the same altar, and pay spiritual allegiance to one common Head. Should a Catholic be so unfortunate as contumaciously to deny a single article of faith, or withdraw from the communion of his legitimate pastors, he ceases to be a member of the Church, and is cut off like a withered branch. The Church had rather sever her right hand than allow any member to corrode her vitals. It was thus she excommunicated Henry VIII because he persisted in violating the sacred law of marriage, although she foresaw that the lustful monarch would involve a nation in his spiritual ruin.

    Then there are the Precepts of the Church, which seem to be a de minimus definition of what the requirements to being a “practicing Catholic”. From the Roman Missal (1962) — Number 6: Not to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times; nor to marry persons within the forbidden degrees of kindred, or otherwise prohibited by the Church, nor secretly.”

    So the Precepts might be another objective criterion with which the Church could defend itself from a so-called “Catholic” demanding to marry someone of the same-sex, if it came to that. I’m sure Canon Law would provide even more specific objective criterion.

  39. kelleyb says:

    I seldom see anything in WAPO worth passing along regarding Religion. But I found the following article worth doing so. It is an opinion piece written by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church. Baptists I know initially blanch at the idea that they share beliefs with the Catholic Church. My husband and I, when appropriate talk about our shared faith. For example, I now have Baptist friends who say the Rosary. Since it is rooted in the Bible they accepted this devotion to Our Lord’s Mother.

    “Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage”
    By Russell Moore
    “As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?

    First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom.

    Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures.”

    “Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

    We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.”

    “We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

    Some Christians will be tempted to anger, lashing out at the world around us with a narrative of decline. That temptation is wrong. God decided when we would be born, and when we would be born again. We have the Spirit and the gospel. To think that we deserve to live in different times is to tell God that we deserve a better mission field than the one he has given us. Let’s joyfully march to Zion.”

  40. Cavaliere says:

    @cajuncath At least it has to be said that many, if not most, of these phony homosexual marriages won’t involve any adultery. More than can be said for many Christian heterosexuals who divorce and remarry.

    That is not so. Do not believe that media hype for a second about monogamy among homosexual couples. Promiscuity amongst homosexual couples is far more prevalent then you would think.

  41. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Many people came to the US to escape religious persecution in other parts of the world. Perhaps it is time to explore a move.

  42. Traductora says:

    From a civil point of view, the priest in a Catholic marriage is the witness to the vows of the couple and authenticates or certifies them, but from a Catholic point of view, he is the witness representing the Church and through whom the marriage is sacramentalized.

    Can we do two separate sets of marriages? Yes, because essentially you got the marriage license from City Hall, met all of their requirements, and then had to present this when you went to the church for the ceremony. The priest would not – and still will not – marry you without it.

    So I think the solution for the moment would be to look at how we can separate ourselves from the state. Catholic couples might still have to be civilly “married” by the state to get the state benefits of marriage, but they could be married in the church before or after for it to count as a real Christian marriage. And as Justice Thomas said, the Constitution guarantees to no one the right to receive government benefits (which is what the gays were seeking). So maybe we have to do some creative thinking to preserve Christian marriage.

    As for running away, forget it. You can go off to the woods but with modern technology, it’s not going to help. I was thinking of the deserts of New Mexico, personally, but now the Pope has appointed a San Francisco-born and reared Archbishop to Santa Fe who is glowingly described as the “protégé of John Quinn,” one of the worst bishops San Francisco ever had. There’s no place they can’t find you and where the official Church won’t be weak or even treasonous when push comes to shove.

  43. discens says:

    As a faithful Catholic I must be 100% behind this decision by SCOTUS. It massively reinforces Church teaching about marriage, and the whole of such teaching, because it has exposed civil marriage for what it is: a total farce. But civil marriage was a farce as soon as remarriage, contraception, abortion etc. were allowed, which is by now a very long time. The Church in the US should heed the message and wholly separate itself from anything to do with civil marriage (which it should have done decades ago anyway). Stick entirely to sacramental marriages; refuse to recognize within the spiritual realm any marriage that is not sacramental or at least natural. If couples who have sacramental marriages want the legal advantages of the civil contract as well, let that be their own concern and none of the Church’s. The Church should altogether wash its hands of the civil contract and priests should refuse or return all state licenses to perform marriages. It’s time for the Church to get serious. Canonist Ed Peters, God bless him, is missing the point and the opportunity. The Church can do everything right now, all by itself, to expose the farce of civil marriage. There is no fear of trying and failing here. We try and at once we succeed, for trying simply means dissociating the Church from everything to do with civil marriage. The US Bishops can do that simply as a matter of diocesan decree. Let’s have done with the moans and groans and laments, which are just defeatist. The Church has won. The Church has long said what marriage is and civil marriage has long not been what the Church says. But people have been able to kid themselves that temporary, contraceptive, multi-partner, heterosexual sexual liaisons were marriage. Now because of SCOTUS we can’t pretend anymore. The mask has been ripped away. Let’s celebrate, let’s dance, let’s summon the whole country back to the bosom of the Church where alone they’ll get real marriage. For they sure aren’t going to get it anywhere else.

  44. mlmc says:

    1)as mentioned by others- SSM typically aren’t monogamous as understood by most- they are mostly monogamous (ie regular straying is accepted). Marriage as an institution has already been severely damaged by the modern spirit of personal autonomy & autonomous self definition/gnosticism. This is another step backwards for the institution but mostly a symptom not the disease. Homosexuals aren’t the enemy-it is an aggressively secular world view that has a (disordered) view of human nature.
    2)the prevalent secular definition of marriage will certainly make catachesis more difficult. We will need great efforts to educate the young in the Catholic vision of marriage & stress that isn’t motivated by hate but by a deeply rooted vision of human nature & flourishing. We do a poor job at present of teaching this, & need to be understanding of those that have a different vision while remaining firm in our own(=the TRUTH).
    3)the real danger of the ruling is its utter lawlessness- that the SCOTUS can redefine the constitution to mean whatever they prefer implies that guarantees of the free exercise of religion are no guarantee at all- if Justice Kennedy wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Most states were probably going to allow SSM, so in that sense the ruling wasn’t big- BUT given the fact that the constitution is but putty in the hands of elite sentiments we need to fear for our religious freedoms. Tax Exemptions, accreditation and Eichism will be next on the plate for the more radical out there.

  45. Charlie says:

    As disturbing as the “supreme” court’s ruling is, I find it far more troubling that some clergy (in particular those at America Magazine), and a good chunk of lay people, are celebrating this debacle with even more vigor than that of our secular brothers and sisters.
    Clearly, the culture is ill. But even more disturbing is the illness festering inside the Church – I’m speaking not only of the abuse crises, but also of the apathy with which we now practice or faith (in reality we should live our faith, not practice it). Judging (if I may) from what I’ve read, most American Catholics are of the conviction that the Church exists for themselves like some political party or birthright, that they can interpret Christ sans the magisterium. And sadly, some clergymen support these heresies amongst laity by presenting a Christ without the price of the cross, a Christ that is concerned only with human happiness, especially sexual happiness. With these paradigms we become slaves of a wounded culture, not the field nurses it needs us to be.
    To counter this we must put the ban out on our own sin, pray, pray, pray some more, and take part in the Sacraments above all other earthly obligations. I haven’t offerred anything new – it’s what Christ (and hence, the Church) demands.

  46. SMC-BC says:

    I hope Father Z let’s me post this video. It’s a message from Brian Lilley of The Rebel Media a Canadian news source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcGf_yOlai8

  47. Supertradmum says:

    Father, one thing which has not been discussed is the gross silence of the clergy from the pulpit. Father, thank you so much for allowing us to discuss these issues online. Priests in parishes give no opportunity for discussing these serious issues, so the laity remained both ignorant and confused.

    Thank you.

  48. AVL says:

    I agree with Supertradmum. There is barely a mention from the pulpit. Its like we’ve voluntarily adopted Canada’s hate speech laws and priests are afraid of being arrested. Maybe they are afraid of losing their flock and “offending” people. But if we lost the attendance of all those Catholics who were offended, I’d say things would be easier for us on at least one front – there would be less people out there who identify themselves as “catholic” telling the world that homosexual actions are ok.

    Granted I am not a member of the clergy so I am sure there are other pastoral concerns for why so little is said from the pulpit. But it would be great if you could shed light upon what those concerns are and why many priests say little on the matter…

  49. jhayes says:

    In last week’s bulletin (before the Obergefall decision), our pastor reviewed calamities around the world during the past week and made a plea for keeping everything in perspective:

    And our reflection on our relative peace and wellbeing should also help us put into perspective issues that seem to generate a great deal more angst than they deserve. Last week the question of gay marriage was before the Supreme Court. For some, this is regarded as the civil rights issue of our day and for some others, the legalization of same sex marriage is portrayed as the end of civil society as we have known it. Whatever the outcome, we should keep in mind that this cannot hold a candle to the cataclysmic events of this past week. Thirty seven states already recognize marriage equality and the odds are that all 50 states will eventually follow suit.

    Perspective is a wonderful thing and helps us to navigate life. Whatever might be our individual concerns today, for most of us these pale in comparison to all that is taking place around us. May the Wisdom of God guide our Supreme Court; and may God’s grace help us to keep all of life in proper perspective.

    Msgr ________

  50. capchoirgirl says:

    I’m really hoping that, as someone who attends a Dominican parish, that the friars will talk about this tomorrow. They can usually be counted on to talk about important issues, and this definitely counts.

  51. Maltese says:

    They had a big “love is love” festival here in Santa Fe, NM, today. In the brief time I happened upon it by accident, one person was hauled-away by the EMT (probably an overdose). They gay lifestyle is, ultimately, a sad one. I don’t judge them; we only judge the sin.

    That said, I told my sister who was with me, “Gay “marriage” is only glorified civil union.” It has no more effect than any other pseudo-sacrament.

    Really, the decision on Friday was nothing more than a whisper in the wind. People have steered the Court, from Dred Scott to Roe. The Court is as influenced by society as the sand is to tide. As Catholics, we know our Faith transcends societal trends.

    That said, I think all of us here know that the Sacrament of marriage is a specific thing. That is what makes us so Blessed to have Christ’s Church. In a sense, we should be rejoicing today, because our Faith against the world’s “wisdom” is vindicated yet again!

  52. Daniel W says:

    Dr Ed, as usual makes some forceful points, the best of which are the comments about incestuous marriage! However, Ed Peters does not seem to understand the severity of the problem of same-sex-marridge when he compares recognizing same-sex-marridge with recognizing divorce.

    The Catholic Church will under some circumstances allow a Catholic in a consummated marriage to divorce their spouse and then marry another person – we call it the Pauline Privilege for those married to a non-Christian who gives the Catholic reason to divorce. The fact that states have recognized divorce is therefore a very poor comparison to the current insanity.

    A better comparison to same-sex-marridge would be the state recognizing an explicitly temporal commitment, ie a relationship set to end at a time fixed from the start. Just as we insist on having a fixed-term for our politicians, with a maximum of eight years for our President, the state could redefine marriage so that we could change our spouses as often as we change our politicians. Such a redefinition of marriage goes directly against the definition of matrimony and is comparible to the insanity of thinking two men or two women can enter into Matrimony: Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the WHOLE OF LIFE and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring …

    Allowing divorce and remarriage in certain very restricted circumstances therefore does not go against the definition of matrimony (Dr Ed Peters seems unaware of canons1142-1150 where the Church allows validly married Catholics to enter into a new marriage even while the previous spouse is alive).

    The difference in the scale of the problem presented by the new definition of marridge is very important in terms of educating future spouses: A person who enters a marriage with the intention of forming a life-long partnership, but thinking that it is okay to seek a divorce if things don’t work out could still have sufficient intention to enter into a valid marriage. However, a man and women who enter into a covenant that they think is the equivalent to a same-sex union DO NOT have sufficient intention to form a valid marriage!

    In fact, I seriously doubt the validity of the marriages of ALL my friends who agree with same-sex-marridge, just as I would also doubt the validity of the marriage of a person who thought that a “fixed-term” union was equivalent to their marriage. Both obviously do not understand matrimony at a rudimental level. However, I do not immediately doubt the validity of a person who thinks that divorce and remarriage is permissible in some circumstances – after all so does the Church!

  53. Justalurkingfool says:

    I attended Mass late this afternoon with my daughter and two grandsons. The priest as Mass mentioned this recent Supreme Court decision soberly and succinctly. I could find nothing that he said with which I did not wholeheartedly agree.

    We are in for very difficult days ahead. Among most Catholics ignorance of the long standing teachings of the Catholic Church is the rule; it is not the exception. I have experienced this among both the laity and among the clergy. There is little if any desire to teach or to face the truth. It seems too challenging. It is far easier to rationalize that “it wouldn’t make a difference any way”.

    Any attempt by the Church to actually teach truth in these matters would likely result in many people who call themselves Catholics doing whatever they can get away with to ignore, undermine, inhibit, disrupt or eliminate the truth from even being taught.

    It is that bad. It is only going to get worse. Study how the Nazi’s went after the Jews. The information is there if you care to seek the already established blueprints! Been there, done that! This did not happen overnight. Many Catholics have supported the longstanding choices, behaviors and policies which have paved the way for this. It should not be surprising.

    I would never have believed that this could happen in America, when I was growing up but over the last twenty years the signs and symptoms became too obvious, at least for me, to see. This is not about civil rights, this is a pogram! Open your eyes, kids.


  54. Supertradmum says:

    In my parish, still, as of Sunday morning, scandalous silence from three priests.

  55. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The priest this morning didn’t speak as unambiguously as he could have done, but he was a lot more straightforward about Church teaching than he could have been. His usual politics are liberal, so I got the feeling he’s finding some of his “Facebook friends” not so friendly to a faithful Catholic.

    Pray for our priests!

  56. Orphrey says:

    I just saw on Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s Facebook page that he links to what he calls a “beautiful article” by a fellow Jesuit, about that Jesuit’s apparently lesbian grandmother and her partner. It really raises the issue of what “love” is. Fr. Martin describes the author as a scholastic. And yet the article’s author doesn’t seem to be concerned about the eternal destiny of the lesbians’ souls. I am not trying to badmouth Fr. Martin. All I mean is that it is confusing to me as a simple layman to witness priests praising such same-sex relationships as “beautiful.” Isn’t he concerned about God’s law, the truth, and these peoples’ souls?

  57. mlmc says:

    Fr Barron has a great talk about marriage & that marriage/relationships only endure when the partners love most a transcendent 3rd- God. Love is needed but not sufficient.

  58. AvantiBev says:

    The New Evangelization will not come until women of the West begin a counter-Sexual Revolt saying a big NO THANKS to all the evil fruits of the Sexual Revolution of the past 50 years. Shacking up, hooking up, serial monogamy, abortion, starter marriages, divorcing and re-divorcing; we heteros have a lot of work to do in our own backyard. Had we not devalued and demoted marriage from a covenant to a mere contract — one which could then be exited at any time and for any reason — we would not have made “modern” marriage so attractive for gay activists.

  59. mpmaron says:

    frjim4321 – entropy needs no proof

    A professor of mine would habitually preface his remarks “Any high school dropout can see…”

    Any high school dropout can see where these developments trend.

  60. Daniel W says:

    Ed Peters complains about Scalia’s statement that “It is not of special important to me what the law says about marriage,” claiming that “a Catholic may never, under any circumstances, say that marriage is not the permanent union of a man and woman.”

    Personally I think Scalia is way in front of Peters intellectually. Scalia reminds me of St Thomas More, who was able to agree with Henry VIII as head of the Church in England according the the law of Christ. Lawyers are good with words. On the chopping block, or better still if a member of my family were on the chopping block, I could be pressured to say marriage can be between two men.

    It is matrimony that is clearly defined by Church doctrine, not marriage. I will defend that term with my life.

    Friends who agree with ssm have often changed there mind when I point out the etymology of matrimony – the task of motherhood. Calling an agreement of two homosexuals “the task of motherhood” is an insult to you mother and mine. Even my friends in homosexual relationships won’t go that far!

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