Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Catholics in conflict in Maine

As the race for Question 1 in Maine continues to be very close, the Bangor Daily News reports that the Catholic Church is working hard to raise more money and even asking people to fast to "save" marriage.
A recorded message from Bishop Malone was played during the St. Matthews service on Sunday asking church members to do four things — pray that “marriage as we know it” prevails, financially support the campaign, volunteer in support of the campaign and vote yes on Question 1...

“Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that many of us believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole,” he said. “Children need the love of a mother and a father.”
(Aside: don't you get tired of that? They think if they ban same sex marriage, then we will stop having children and suddenly all children will have 2 heterosexual parents? How willfully blind can they be?)

Thankfully, many Catholics are starting to speak out against this civil intolerance. A new Maine group, Catholics for Marriage Equality, has released the following:
As faithful Roman Catholics and citizens of the State of Maine, we believe that the right of every citizen to practice freedom of religion is based on the principle of respect for the dignity of each individual. Without that guarantee, the danger of one religious tradition or doctrine dominating another threatens all and protects none. Making the equality of citizens not only an ideal but a living truth, we affirm the May 6, 2009 act of the Maine Legislature to end marriage discrimination by granting civil marriage for same-sex couples. Our declaration of conscience is based on the following:

The American principle of the separation of Church and State was enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that no particular religious perspective would be imposed on our pluralistic society.

Catholic teaching on social justice has been central to the building of a just society, creating awareness of diversity in the human family, calling us to lives of respect for one another, and not only tolerance.

We remember that Roman Catholics were once denied civil rights, treated with suspicion, ridiculed because of our sacred rituals, and questioned as to our allegiance to “foreign authorities.” Memory challenges us to remain vigilant whenever bigotry and injustice enters into public discourse.

Same-sex civil marriage does not in any way coerce any religious faith or tradition to change its beliefs or doctrine or alter its traditional marriage practices.....

As Roman Catholics, we differentiate between sacramental marriage and civil marriage. Therefore, we perceive that same-sex civil marriage poses no threat to our Church. While we respect the authority and integrity of the Church in matters of faith, our prayers and discernment have brought us to a new openness on this issue. We do not ask the Church to perform same-sex marriages. We do implore the Church to honor the State’s prerogative to authorize civil marriages for our gay and lesbian family and friends.

Grateful for the gift of our faith and the ways that we have been nourished by faith throughout our lives, and also grateful for our citizenship in America and in this State, we sign this statement as Roman Catholic citizens of Maine.
Check it out! (Emphasis mine) And support equality in Maine: vote NO on Question 1, and protect Maine equality.


TheraP said...

I understand this group wants to distinguish between civil and sacramental marriage. But as I understand Catholic teaching, when 2 people marry, the couple confer the sacrament on each other. Thus, it would seem to me that even a civil marriage between 2 people of a spiritual bent is a true sacramental marriage. (For the record, IT, I believe yours and BP's is such a marriage.)

Naturally, people of good faith can differ on these points, but my view is one I have held for well over 40 years. So efforts to persuade me otherwise are probably doomed.

Good to see you staying on this IT. You're likely earning a halo - even if you don't believe in them! ;)

Paul M said...

The distinction between civil and sacramental marriage is an important one for this discussion. Catholics do not recognize remarriage after divorce (unless an annulment is obtained) but have not interfered with civil recognition of divorce and remarriage. Nor do they object to civil marriages between non-Catholics, or other ceremonies where a Catholic priest did not preside. This is a model by which Catholics could follow their own beliefs while leaving room in the public square for others who disagree.

I don't think any of this is at odds with your understanding of the sacrament. A good Catholic might simply observe that there are some unions which God does not bless. Not my view at all, but I am sure the official doctrine is something along those lines. Personally I like the idea that the two parties confer the sacrament on each other. It takes some of the power out of clerical hands and some of the "hocus pocus" out of the sacrament.

IT said...

The take-home is that the RC church already recognizes a distinction between sacramentally valid marriages, and civil marriages that do not meet that theological measure.

But they are still attacking GLBT Americans in the civil sphere with insulting lies.

Good on the righteous Maine Catholics for disagreeing with the Old Men!

(THanks for the kind words, TheraP)

TheraP said...

Ok, I agree that the Pope and his cohort may not believe the "sacrament" is conferred unless it happens before a priest. But if indeed the couple confers the sacrament on each other.... (and that's what I was taught in a Catholic College - back in the 60's), it's very hard for me to believe that God does not bless the couple who are blessing each other. If God is Love, then .... seems to me God is IN love and OF love and WITH love, BY, FOR... you name it!

PS, I consider myself a "good" Catholic - even if the Pope might not. (And to me "good" is in accord with "loving".)

Peace and Love be with ALL!

James said...

Okay, if the RC doesn't believe that a marriage exists as a sacrament unless it is witnessed/performed/blessed by a priest, then why does a couple married civilly STILL need to apply for an annulment in the RC church when their marriage is ended by the state if they wish to be married in a RC church?

Pete said...

After reading during the recent Proposition 8 campaign here in California about all the same sex couples who have been happily together for decades...I reflected on the 60% current failure rate of heterosexual marriages here in California.

Earlier in my legal career I trudged across the street to Divorce Court almost every day to enter the fray of battle between parents mostly fighting over children. Earlier as a Deputy District Attorney I reprented the minor children in Child Protective Services battles with unfit parents.

So tell me again...how are marriages between a man and a women working out for us?

IT said...

Oh, Pete, but it's all the fault of Teh Gay!

scotte said...

James, a canonically valid marriage requires church intervention per canon law (I will spare you the cites) Through the centuries where the church had the power to set everyone's rules that came to mean ANY valid marriage. On the other hand, TheraP is quite correct about the sacramental theology (or at least we had the same incorrect teachers back then :).

So we are distinguishing between religious and civil marriage. Determinations on sacramental marriage are above our pay grade and I can't see where it has anything to do with the gender of the couple (but then again, I'm one of those people who thinks the whole current RC "complementarity" argument comes from still buying into Aquinas's false perception of women as ontologically different from men).

Of course such a theology would make seriously undertaken commitment ceremonies sacramental marriages. Friends of mine are headed to Vermont next month to get a marriage license to go with their five year old civil union cert but no one who knows them thinks its because they're not married now (in the sacramental sense).

- scotte