I would love to hear from you!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This gay man is deeply appreciative of your efforts to support same sex couples who someday hope to legally marry.
I’ve been struck by a number of comments made elsewhere about the Block Party boycott that state emphatically that no funds raised by the Block Party go to support the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and it’s head, Archbishop John Nienstedt. But these people seem not to understand how the Catholic Church works. (Bear with me, some of this can get boring.) First of all, the Basilica of St. Mary is the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese. That means it’s Archbishop Nienstedt’s other “throne room.” According to the Basilica Block Party website, 95% of funds raised by the Block Party go to the restoration and preservation of the Basilica building. Or to put it another way, 95 % of Block Party net proceeds go to the restoration and preservation of Archbishop Nienstedt’s second cathedral (the first being the Cathedral of St. Paul).
Second, the Basilica functions day to day as a parish church to many thousands of Catholics. But of course the Basilica’s pastor is appointed by Archbishop Nienstedt, who can fire him at will, especially if he says anything contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church about “the poor homosexuals” and their “trials.” Basilica parishioners have absolutely nothing to say about who they’re pastor is or will be. It’s the sole decision of the Archbishop.
Third, as everyone knows, very deep conservative Catholic pockets from inside and outside the state of Minnesota will be contributing big bucks to see that the so-called Marriage amendment to the state’s constitution passes in 2012. To the extent that the Basilica pastor can get (mostly) non-Catholics to buy tickets to the Block Party to keep the Basilica from falling down, he doesn’t have to go to those conservative deep-pocketed Catholics for restoration and preservation donations, which means those deep pocketed conservative Catholics have more money to spend in Minnesota and elsewhere mounting campaigns to halt the progress of lesbian and gay civil rights.
So it’s absolutely false to say that funds raised by the Block Party have nothing to do with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. They’re absolutely linked. And the boycott is a direct way of saying to the Archdiocese and Archbishop Nienstedt: since you seem to have no trouble raising big bucks to throw a roadblock in the path of gays and lesbians who wish to marry, you should have no trouble finding the big bucks you need to keep your Basilica, your co-cathedral. from falling down on your head the next time you’re there.
I think the Block Party boycott stands more of a chance next summer, closer to the election. Thousands of tickets have already been sold for this year’s Party. So I hope a coalition of people will get together earlier next year to mount a boycott that really will have an effect.
The Church does not function quite that way. It is not a corporation. The parish of the Basilica must raise its own funds, and while the Archbishop has the right and duty to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there, he has practically nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the parish nor its building.
He will not “fire” a priest because it is not possible to do so. If a priest has committed an offense, a lengthy and proper Canonical process must ensue before any serious actions are taken. While priests dissenting from truth and Catholic teaching are rare, in such rare occurrences all that typically happens is a private reprimand at most. There is a long precedent for this, and none for what you have stated here. The priesthood is a vocation for life and even those who sometimes request to be laicized do not always get their way. The Church is not a democracy any more than it is a corporation.
Finally, you seem to speak an awful lot about marriage in your post, but never actually say what it is. That would be a good place to start in order to have a civil conversation about it. Those of us on the side of truth and the history of both Western Civilization, as well as that which predates Christianity, know what marriage is. Those who oppose that view have not had much success telling us why.
Thanks, Michael. Not sure you’ll see this – but it’s given me a chance to put some thoughts in order. As I understand it, the Catholic Church is technically, legally, a corporation, and the ordinary of a diocese, the bishop, is the corporation sole. Each priest serves as a helper, or extension, of the bishop, and at his ordination, he promised obedience to his bishop. My use of the word “fire” wasn’t meant to imply that priesthood isn’t for life – in fact, it’s for all eternity. But bishops have been known to immediately remove a priest and/or suspend his faculties – such as Cardinal George recently did in the case of Fr. Michael Pfleger in Chicago – though faculties were ultimately restored. Fr. Geoff Farrow, was immediately suspended as campus minister at a Fresno college after publicly dissenting from his bishop over Prop 8 (he refused to read a pro-Prop 8 letter from the bishop which was to be read at all masses) Farrow also took the opportunity to publicly announce that he was gay. Yes, canon law is weighed heavily on the side of the offending or dissenting priest, as we’ve seen all too often in cases of clergy sex abuse. But a bishop may act and act swiftly if he believes it’s necessary. The Fr. John Corapi case is a current high profile example of a priest being taken off the job, so to speak, while an allegation of impropriety is investigated.
You say that I “speak an awful lot about marriage… but never actually say what it is.” A year or so ago I heard a Catholic theologian offer what to me is the most expansive definition of marriage – a definition that would apply, I believe, to same sex couples:
“Marriage is the paramount form of committed friendship between two sexually attracted persons.”
One lack in the definition is that it doesn’t include a purpose or reason for marriage, such as procreation. But from a Christian perspective, to the extent that marriage leads to human flourishing, and human flourishing implies, among other things, self-transcendence, one could say that the friendship in a marriage mirrors the friendship Christians believe they have with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit, a friendship which, rather than closed in on itself, is open to the world, to others, and to God, and is ultimately self-gift. In other words, the marriage lives in and reflects Trinitarian love. That’s its purpose, regardless of whether there are 10 children or no children.
I realize the Catholic Church teaches that this Trinitarian love is impossible for same-sex couples. However, since most (though not all) scientists now view homosexuality as a naturally occurring variant in the species, one could then ask: is it not better for them, as with heterosexual couples, to form lasting bonds of affection and commitment, which obligate them to society, as well as provide them rights and protections? In my view, that’s all same-sex couples are asking. As St. Paul said, “It’s better to marry than to burn.”
As for knowing what marriage is – as you know, it’s been a lot of things throughout human history, though admittedly marital contracts have, as far as we know, always involved one man and at least one woman. Polygamy, concubinage, and incest have all figured in marriages in the past. But you seem to be saying there is a single truth about what marriage is, which is the Catholic Church’s teaching, a truth that merely reflects what God has inscribed in nature, and you are on the side of that truth. Thus, whatever I or others might say would make no difference to you, since the Church teaches that all homosexual acts are gravely sinful. But the Catholic truth about marriage also includes the indissolubility of marriage, the evil of artificial contraception, the immorality of adultery, cohabitation, and concubinage. And yet these are not against the law in this country, and as far as I can tell, the US bishops are not mounting a campaign to make any of them illegal. Lastly the Catholic truth about marriage is that, for Catholics, it must be sacramental. Of a Catholic man/woman who marries outside of the Church, the Church says that he/she has “attempted” marriage. The marriage of a Catholic or Catholics outside the Catholic Church is not a true marriage. As you probably know, should that “attempted” marriage end in divorce, and should the Catholic partner wish to re-marry, an annulment is not necessary. Since the first marriage “lacked form,” the Marriage Tribunal has a short and simple procedure to take care of it. No (Catholic) form, no marriage.
And then there’s civil marriage. The state sets a very low bar in issuing a marriage license. One may marry on one’s death bed, while serving a life sentence for mass murder, without the slightest marriage preparation class or counseling, and of course as many times in succession as one chooses or can manage. One can marry after a lengthy adulterous affair (Newt Gingrich), after a succession of marriages to younger and younger women (Newt again, but also the 86 year old Hugh Hefner to a woman young enough to be his great-granddaughter), by proxy, and even with one’s legally divorced daughter-in-law. (Yep, it happens.) The state’s sole concern is that the marriage is between one man and one woman who are not related by blood (though one can marry one’s second cousin). That, some paperwork, and maybe a blood test and a waiting period, and you’re free to marry. No questions asked. Nothing presumed. No more required. Over a thousand legal rights and benefits are automatically yours. And even if they’re fertile as hamsters, the couple is not required to say anything about their willingness to welcome children into their lives.
Gay and Lesbian couples I know are seeking the freedom to marry civilly. A few Catholics I know hope that someday their Church will recognize and bless their same-sex relationships. They also realize that this hope borders on the delusional. I myself wish that the movement would have gone in the direction of adopting a term other than “marriage,” as long as it carried all the legal rights and responsibilities afforded heterosexual couples in marriage. I actually like the idea of a distinctive term, since same-sex commitment is different. But, as friends point out to me, a marriage between two 85-year-old nursing home residents is different than the norm too. And such an alternate term – civil union, or holy union, for example – would still be opposed by the U.S. Catholic bishops, who promise to oppose any legalization of same-sex relationships regardless of what it’s called.
So basically it comes down to same sex couples wanting the freedom to enter into a legally binding contract with one another for reasons similar to heterosexual couples. Michael, that’s all same-sex couples want – to live together in love and to proclaim their togetherness in love through marriage, with all the protections and rights it affords them. And rights and protections are crucially important. Just ask any married couple (or yourself, if you’re married.)
Sorry for going on. I wrote this not in the hope of changing your mind, but to give you some insight into at least one person’s thoughts about same-sex marriage, in the spirit of as you say, civil conversation..
“Marriage is the paramount form of committed friendship between two sexually attracted persons” So, if one where to accept this, how would one defend it against those who A.) Ask why it should be limited to two person and B.) Why does sexual attraction matter? If one cannot defend these, then it is all simply arbitrary. The true definition of marriage is a conjugal one. False ones are easily dismissed. Same sex relationships do not hold up to this test.
Ah, the slippery slope to polygamy or, as a Catholic prelate in Latin America said, “this will lead to bestiality.”
You say “the true definition of marriage is a conjugal one.” But who’s definition of “conjugal?” Conjugal merely means to be joined in marriage. It seems to be most commonly used to speak of conjugal rights, and conjugal visits (i.e., an opportunity for an incarcerated person to meet privately with his/her spouse, primarily for sex).
Perhaps by “conjugal” you mean the following – it’s the definition of marriage put forth by the proponents of Prop 8 in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger:
“The central and defining purpose of the institution of marriage, what it has always been, is to promote procreation and to channel narrowly procreative sexual activities between men and women into stable, enduring unions.”
If, as you say, definitions of marriage are “easily dismissed,” one wonders why the above lengthy court case costing a huge sum of money, was necessary.
As for sexual attraction, as I said in my post, the state sets a very low bar for marriage. Some people marry for purely economic reasons. It’s not against the law. But gosh, Michael, ask five random couples whether they were sexually attracted to each other before they married. (And no fair asking Hugh Hefner’s wives.)
As long as we’re talking definitions, here’s Margaret Hoover in a recent New York Daily News op ed:
“The marital bond provides a nongovernmental social safety net, whereby individuals care for one another and anchor civil society in self-sufficiency.”
It’s from an op ed in which she argues that supporting same-sex marriage is a Republican value.
I wrote all this – and, Michael, this is my last post in reply to you – not to attempt to change your mind about same-sex marriage but to offer some ideas about the issue from the perspective of someone who supports it. Only after I’d written my lengthy comment the other day did I notice your terse challenge to Nicole that whatever definition of marriage she puts up on her blog must be “defensible.” I think your words were: “the definition must be defensible.”
From reading your comments, “defensible” seems to mean that it must pass Michael’s “truth” test, and that nothing anyone could say would cause you to respond in any way othen that to say it’s “false.” You didn’t even take the time nor have the courtesy to comment on the part of the definition I offered on marriage that defined it as “committed friendship.” I wonder if that’s because it’s suspiciously close to what recent Popes have said about marriage. It seems you’re interested merely in scoring points, rather than having a conversation. Whether that’s your intention, that’s how it comes across to me.
Michael, how do you defend someone that asks why is marriage limited between that of only a man and a woman? You cannot “defend” marriage between heterosexual couples against these rules any more either. The truth is marriage is a civil liberty, one that all of our citizens should get to enjoy.
Michael, remember this blog’s focus on my mission for marriage equality, and I want to keep the energy here positive, so I can focus on that mission.
First we have to ask how we define marriage. We use the conjugal model, which essentially means that the complementarity of the sexes is intrinsic to the definition. A man and a woman have complementary organs, that when joined, form a single system ordered toward procreation (whether it occurs or not does not negate the existence of the system). Just as the organs of one’s digestive system work together to provide nutrition to the body, and can be done within one’s own body (and does not cease to exist when it fails to accomplish its natural goal – which is the case during illness), the organs of the reproductive system, which cannot be done by man or woman alone-work together to procreate. The system, which only occurs within conjugal union of complementary sexes, still exists even if its ordered purpose is not achieved. This is at the heart of marriage. While two, three, or more men or women may have a close, intimate friendship involving the union of hearts and minds, only one man and one woman can unite in an organic bodily union, making the comprehensive union of hearts, minds, and bodies that is only possible in marriage.
Now, to say this is not so requires one to say what it is instead. With the conjugal definition above, we provide the logical and rational basis as to why marriage can only be limited to one man and one woman joined together. We thus defend why it can only be this way, and not another. If one says that this is not the case, and suggests that other forms may exist, then one must give a rational reason as to any limitations placed upon it. For example, as Thor suggests above, marriage to him can be any sexual relationship between any two people. But this is disputed by polyamorous individuals as well as those who seek similar State recognition between themselves and another person they are not sexually intimate with, or even related to. If you are going to limit marriage to two persons in sexual intimacy, you must A.) give a defensible and logical reason why only two people are allowed, and B.) you must give a reason why sexual intimacy is a requirement. You must be able to state why only two can do this, when others think that is not the case, and why sex is required, when siblings and other people would like to have the same benefits of marriage without such a requirement.
In truth, the conjugal definition provides the rational argument as to why it must be limited to two (because only one man and one woman can for the comprehensive union that is ordered toward procreation) and why it must involve sexual intimacy (the conjugual union of the bodies). An alternative definition, that takes from the conjugal the idea of “two persons” and “sex” must provide a similar rational argument as to why it is limited to just that.
If it cannot, and we believe it cannot, then there is no rational basis as to why marriage cannot also exist between three or more persons, between siblings, or between those who are not sexually intimate but committed to a loving, non-sexual friendship that may even involve children. In this case, marriage ceases to mean anything and the State no longer has an interest in recognizing it, since it all becomes a matter of friendship and nothing else. The conjugal union of marriage involves more than friendship – it involves the complete bodily union of complementary organs in a system ordered toward procreation – which is only possible between a man and a woman. That is the reality of nature.
Now, this is what marriage is, but it is not a critique or slight against homosexuals. This is because truth cannot “harm” anyone. It is what it simply is. Homosexuals deserve the same respect and dignity as anyone else, and their friendships can be recognized by the State to have certain rights and privileges as defined by legal contract. But because they are not able to form a truly comprehensive conjugal union, they cannot be “married”. You cannot deny something to someone who can never have it. Similarly, I cannot be denied the ability to give birth, because I cannot (in reality) do that – I am male.
I hope this shows that the argument for marriage is not a religious one, nor a bigoted one. It is a matter of reason and truth. One is certainly free to disagree, but by doing so, one must be able to provide a defensible and logical argument.
You gave this definition: “The marital bond provides a nongovernmental social safety net, whereby individuals care for one another and anchor civil society in self-sufficiency.”
To which I reply: A.) How many individuals? B.) How is this different than friendship? C.) How is this different from family members living together?
With this vague definition, which does not really mean anything, you cannot logically nor legally deny any groups, friends, or family members from obtaining a marriage. To suggest otherwise, based solely on this definition, is to be arbitrary and discriminatory. This definition, due to its extreme weakness, does not pass the test for keeping marriage between only two persons and of a sexual nature. In fact, it does not pass the test of preventing anyone, regardless of number, sex, or familial relation, from getting married. This has the effect of rendering marriage meaningless.
Now, if it is your goal to render marriage meaningless by leaving it open to anyone, regardless of number, relation, etc, then you have succeeded. If, however, your goal is to provide a defensible alternative definition to marriage than the conjugal definition I described (not yours), then you have not been successful.
I ask, in all charity once more, what is marriage?
Sorry Michael, in my opinion, you’ve not provided a “defensible” reason why civil marriage should not be available for two people of the same sex. Because in the end, I don’t agree with you, and nothing you can say will be considered by me to be defensible.
But I do like the way you use the word “defensible” rather than credible. It conjurs up an image of a white knight on a horse, defending something that’s being attacked. Your choice of words at the start of this conversation made it clear to me what your position on the issue was, and I knew that no argument anyone else could present would change your mind.
Jerry, if “nothing” can be said to change your mind, then are you saying that you are the arbiter of truth?
Either you are, or there are two other options: 1.) Truth exists outside of your mind, and the minds of everyone else, because it is an objective reality (i.e., a rock is a rock whether we say so or not) or 2.) Truth is relative to whatever one wants it to be (i.e., you say potato and I say potatomortz and no one can convince us otherwise). If it is number 2 that you ascribe to, then your statement about what is right and wrong does not matter, for we both are right since truth does not exist outside our minds. We understand that truth is not relative, and there are truths that exist outside the mind. They are objective truths, and marriage is one of them. We do not say what marriage is. It is only what it is, and nothing describes it better than I have above. This definition is defensible if one believes that truth is not whatever we say it is (because tomorrow, the “truth” about marriage could include siblings and multiple partners). In that regard, our definition is defensible. Thus far, I have not seen any attempts to refute it with another definition.
All that said, I noticed you have not answered my questions. I asked them with all sincerity and honesty, and I would like to know where you stand.
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