If you want to know what’s really at stake in the gay marriage battle, read Cardinal George’s latest column.
With his typical candor, the Chicago archbishop cuts through the clutter and identifies at least five key concerns that the gay marriage issue raises for Catholics:
1. On the prospect of legal gay marriage:
“[Gay marriage] is not inevitable. Cultural change can be redirected so that the long road to obtain respect that has been traveled by many homosexually oriented persons can be maintained without destroying the institution of natural marriage. Since the difference between men and women is different from racial difference, same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue. A newly invented civil right cannot be used to destroy a moral good, lest society itself go into decline.”
2. On the decline of fatherhood and its tragic consequences:
“The upcoming celebration of Fathers’ Day might serve as the occasion to appreciate anew the distinctive role of men in family and society. We all know that parents are not interchangeable. Fatherless families contribute to the violence that plagues us. An honest discussion of violence would take us beyond laws on gun control, important though that discussion is, to the disappearance of men from the institutions that develop their sense of responsibility and their desire to protect rather than destroy women and children.”
3. On the State overreaching its proper authority:
“We should be concerned as well about the State overreaching its proper authority, which is limited to the civil order. Neither the church nor the state “own” the institution of marriage. The state has a right to supervise but not to redefine an institution it did not create. This tendency for the government to claim for itself authority over all areas of human experience flows from the secularization of our culture. If God cannot be part of public life, then the state itself plays God. There are many paths to total state control of life — fascism, totalitarianism, communism. In the United States, the path is labeled ‘protection of individual rights.’ “
4. On the role of Catholic politicians and the future plight of Catholics in society:
“Are we to have a religious test for public office that excludes Catholics serious about their faith from appointment to federal judgeships? Are Catholics who will not perform abortions to be excluded from medical school? Are Catholics to be unwelcome in the editorial offices of major newspapers, in the entertainment world, or on university faculties unless they put their faith aside? In short, what began as a political device to get elected to office in a Protestant society can be used more broadly to exclude Catholics from any position of influence in public life. If Catholics are to be closeted and marginalized in a secularized society, Catholic parents should prepare their children to be farmers, carpenters and craftsmen, small business people and workers in service industries, honorable occupations that do not, however, immediately impact public opinion. Is this the future? That’s a concern.”
5. On the lessons we can learn from history:
“We are now remembering Pope John XXIII 50 years after his death. Pope John was a good man who experienced a conversion of mind and heart because he talked to a rabbi from France. The rabbi explained to the pope the consequences of “the teaching of contempt” for the Jewish people. While official doctrine condemned overt persecution, Jews had suffered terribly from a contempt embedded for many generations in much of European culture. Its full consequence was the exclusion of Jews from public life in Germany and then their extermination in the Holocaust. The pope understood what the rabbi told him, and the relation between Catholics and Jews was given a new start. Today, listening to the public discussion on talk shows, watching television series and movies, overhearing influential conversations in offices and universities, which groups are most often discussed with open contempt? That, too, is a concern.”
Read the entire piece by Cardinal George here.