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How the Steamroller Will Hit the Church

Homosexual Flag

There have been a lot of suggestions going around that in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage nationally, the Catholic Church in the US should announce that priests will no longer perform civil marriages.In order to be treated as married under the law in the United States, you need to file a witnessed marriage license in your state. The way it worked for us in California was: you go down to your city hall or other government building to pick the license up. The city clerk fills it out but then leaves the final signatures blank. You take the form with you and give it to the priest who is performing your marriage. After the ceremony, the priest signs the form, asserting that he has performed a marriage ceremony for you. It’s then signed by husband, wife, and two witnesses and filed with the state. At that point, the man and woman are considered married in the eyes of the law. Obviously, it’s not just priests that can process a marriage license for the state. Any kind of religious minister (Christian or non) can, as can “non denominational” ministers of their own religion. You can also have a strictly civil ceremony performed by a city official.

The theory among some Catholic circles seems to be that since the priest is performing a civil marriage by signing the marriage license, and since same sex couples can now get civilly married, if priests continue to sign marriage licenses they will set themselves up to be forced to perform same sex marriages.Being penalized for not performing same sex marriages is not the first thing that Catholic organizations need to worry about in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. The first step will be an uptick in suits against Catholic organizations demanding equal treatment of civilly married same sex couples. We’ve already seen this go down with Catholic-run adoption organizations being shut down in places like Massachusetts and Illinois for not placing children with same sex couples. That will increase. A lot. Expect Catholic organizations to be forced pretty quickly to provide spousal benefits to same sex partners, and expect a lot of Catholic charities that get government funds to help with their work to lose their funding in retaliation for not recognizing same sex marriage.

But I do think that there will come a point, though perhaps not for ten years or so, when penalties start to be imposed on churches that do not endorse same sex marriage. And I don’t think that refusing to sign civil marriage certificates will help one bit.

Here’s how I think it will go down: The test case will come at St. Wishy-Washy parish, in a state which has a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. There’s that nice, older, same sex couple that everyone basically knows about, but no one ever says anything rude about — except that nasty rules-obsessed fellow who objects when Father amends the creed to make it more gender inclusive. Pat is a Eucharistic minister. Sam leads the choir at the 5:30 mass and leads the inquiry sessions at RCIA. They’re always there to help out in every big parish activity and everyone likes them. One day, they file paperwork for marriage prep and ask to reserve the church for their wedding and the hall for the reception. Maybe that new secretary accidentally books it and takes a deposit check before realizing. Maybe it’s just believable at first that Fr. Trendy would celebrate the ceremony on his own authority. But of course, it’s not worth the poor man’s retirement to have the bishop find out about this one. He tell them he can’t do it and he returns Pat and Sam’s check to them.

That’s when the lawsuit gets filed. Nothing against Fr. Trendy, of course. They know that he probably would agree with them if he was free to speak his mind. But Christ’s message of love will be held captive by the institutional hierarchy until they’re attacked the only place they understand: their wallets.

The argument: The church is a public accommodation providing marriage services to its members. There are few members of the parish more active than Pat and Sam. Neither has been married before. The only thing preventing St. Wishy Washy from performing the same service for Pat and Sam which it provides for any other couple that shows up wanting the same ceremony and the same reception in the hall is homophobic prejudice. Their lawyer cites scholarly books claiming that same sex marriages were celebrated in the early church, and brings up the cases of Catholic priests who celebrated weddings for same sex couples more recently. Sure, some of these letter were punished by bigoted bishops, but others were not. It is clearly the case that the Catholics can celebrate same sex marriages, they just choose not to because of bigotry.

The court professes itself unable to say what the nature of a sacrament is, and whether or not what the Church says it does when it marries a couple occurs when the same words are said over a same sex couple, but it is clear to the court that the parish is in the business of providing a certain ceremony to couples in the parish who get married, and that they are only refusing to do this for Pat and Sam because of prejudice. The court thus sides with Pat and Sam and imposes heavy financial damages.

A wave of copy-cat cases follow, and the church is slowly bled of resources. Some cases win, some lose, but in all too many cases the parishes have made clear that they have no real issue with people living in same sex relationships, and thus arguments that their stand is based on conviction fall flat. It is clear that the “we don’t marry same sex couples” rule is being imposed based on nothing but dusty bigotry.

There’s a group out there which is very, very determined to win cultural and moral legitimacy for homosexual relationships, and to punish those who do not share those beliefs. Currently that group is at the cultural helm. In time, it will crumble and lose its ascendancy simply because it is not compatible with the realities of human nature. However, until that happens, the marriage equality group will not be satisfied by seeing Catholic priests stop signing civil marriage licenses, while continuing to celebrate religious marriage ceremonies only for opposite sex couples.  They’re not stupid, and it’s recognition they want, not getting priests to stop signing a form for straight couples.  Nor would “separating” civil and religious marriage be coherent from a Catholic point of view. Indeed, a non-Catholic couple who get married in front of a city clerk are (absent obstacles such as already being married to someone else or being of the same sex) viewed by the Church as being married, since the Church does not recognize there as being two levels of marriage.  So the idea of “getting out of the civil marriage business” fails to protect us from the looming threat, while at the same time abandoning our Catholic principles as to the nature of marriage.  There is no reason to do it.

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DarwinCatholic

Now an Ohio Catholic!

36 Comments

  1. I think it will happen much sooner and the infrastructure for despotic action exists in, among other things, the income tax. The IRS can unilaterally and without restraint challenge tax status of a religious institutions as it did against Bob Jones University. Your contributions to Church and Church related organizations will not be deductible leading to Catholics and others paying a recusant tax for their beliefs. But note the IRS won’t challenge the tax status of associations similar to CAIR…..the enemy is the Church.

    It will also happen through the despotic administrative regulatory state. All federal monies have now a requirement that in taking money your group does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity and homosexual conduct. The repercussions of this will be almost immediate.

    You will also see the “shaming” from the public square but now with the full support and backing of federal, state and local governments. Where applicable, churches will lose property tax exemptions.

    And finally, when a bishop dare speak up forcefully, he will be summoned before a subcommittee where he will be embarrassed by people like Pelosi for a host of “sims” against the state.

  2. We brought it on ourselves.

    The American Catholic bishops refused for decades to stand up to abortionist politicians. Perhaps, a few or more of these bishops, and their priests, agreed with these so-called Catholic abortionist politicians. Many of the most vocal abortion supporters – the Cuomos, the Kennedys, Durbin, Sebelius, Milkuski, et al, were NEVER confronted by their bishops.

    The priest sex abuse scandal trashed the good name of the American Catholic bishops, or what was left of it. Wrongly labeled pedophiles, these abusers craved pubescent teenage boys and should not have been allowed in seminaries in the first place – let alone ordained as priests.

    The American Catholic bishops’ fealty for the welfare state – and its continued expansion – led in part to Obumblercare. They want to import every poor Latino into the US – never mind we don’t have enough jobs and every state government is stretched to balance its budget and the federal government has drowned the future with red ink.

    We almost never hear about sin. The evils of abortion, artificial birth control, fornication, and pornography are never mentioned. Personal piety is a thing of the past. Pope St. John Paul II emphasized that the home should be the domestic church. How often is it if the man of the house is annoyed with Mass and rarely attends? How many Catholic families look at Mass as something to be squeezed in or skipped but there is always time for entertainment? The entertainment industry HATES the Catholic Church.

    I am by no means the best Catholic who writes or posts here. I point no fingers at you who participate. I like my entertainment – usually documentaries, or shows about cars, or sports. Regular TV programming and movies are wretched and I avoid them.

    I can’t even get my wife to go to Mass with me. this is the residue of being educated by Latin American Jesuits. She prefers sleeping on Sunday mornings so I take my seven year old son with me to the Tridentine Mass and to catechism afterwards – alone. Either I give in to my wife and go to a mediocre Mass with bad music, bad rubrics, etc. and repeat the mistakes of my parents or I do right by my sons – and I choose the latter.

    I have no patience for willing weakness and this is what I have seen in the Church in my lifetime. Homosexuals have rolled over us because we let it happen. Enough is enough.

    Big entertainment, big education and big government have been infested with the Smoke of Satan.
    It will take people with the backbone and inner strength to fight them. My dad didn’t care and my mother still bitches about the nasty old priest who celebrated at my parents’ wedding.

    I may fail,at a lot of things but the abortionist/homosexulaist/socialist thugs aren’t getting my sons. No way.

  3. Hmm, I am thinking the same argument* might work for divorced/want to get married without getting a Declaration of Nullity crowd. Maybe even demanding being admitted to Holy Communion? Isn’t that a “service” of the Church?
    .
    (*edited) The church is a public accommodation providing marriage services to its members. There are few members of the parish more active than Divorcee 1 and Divorcee 2. . . The only thing preventing St. Wishy Washy from performing the same service for Divorce 1 and Divorce 2 which it provides for any other couple that shows up wanting the same ceremony and the same reception in the hall is divorce prejudice.
    .
    I wonder if those wanting polygamy could sue that argument? A lot of respected Biblical personalities were polygamous after all.

  4. Incidentally, here is a good article on why the Church should never, ever accept tax payer dollars. It happened once before. The results were not good.
    .
    http://www.mackinac.org/3461 “Public Money for Private Charity”
    .
    “When President Bush’s controversial “faith-based initiative” was announced last February, it brought to mind something I learned years ago from readings on ancient Roman history.

    After years of being shunned and even persecuted, Christians suddenly enjoyed the official blessing of the Roman state when Emperor Constantine came to power in 324 A.D. For the first time, imperial funds were used to subsidize priests and churches. Christians emerged from hiding in Rome’s catacombs to partake of the state’s largess. . . ”
    (Lawrence W. Reed, author)

  5. The difference would be that roughly half of states currently ban discrimination due to sexual orientation, and in all probability there will be a national ban in the not distant future. Thus, people can sue on the basis of being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

    Divorced people and polygamists are not protected classes.

  6. “We brought it on ourselves.
    The American Catholic bishops refused for decades to stand up to abortionist politicians. ”
    .
    Penguins fan: I think it goes even deeper than that. Even before abortion supporting politicians, the bishops and priests, refused to stand up to those who wanted to use contraception, who did NOT want to abstain from the marital embrace when a baby was “not wanted” (or possibly not wise to have, maybe due to illness or poor finances, etc)
    .
    We will never know what those priests heard in the confessional, how many of them heard the little whispers of doubt inside their own heads: “You aren’t married. You aren’t a parent! You don’t know what it is like to have 4 children under 5 years old!!” I suspect a lot of them buckled, not knowing how to give good counsel or what to say.
    .
    Or perhaps God is simply giving us our freedom to abuse, as He did Adam and Eve, and did not prevent bad people from getting into the seminaries. Would a good and holy priest say “Contraception? Yeah, whatever. Follow your conscience.” Or would a priest who isn’t following the rules himself (because he has girl or boy friend on the side) say that.

  7. DJH—you raise an insight into the steamroller effect. The USCCB domestic policy and peace and justice groups are heavily subsidized by the federalis. A visit to its website to review the legislative agenda is like reading the democratic party platform. It operates as a tool of government and so you can expect collaboration through silence.

  8. Here’s how I think it will go down: The test case will come at St. Wishy-Washy parish, in a state which has a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. There’s that nice, older, same sex couple that everyone basically knows about, but no one ever says anything rude about — except that nasty rules-obsessed fellow who objects when Father amends the creed to make it more gender inclusive. Pat is a Eucharistic minister. Sam leads the choir at the 5:30 mass and leads the inquiry sessions at RCIA. They’re always there to help out in every big parish activity and everyone likes them. One day, they file paperwork for marriage prep and ask to reserve the church for their wedding and the hall for the reception. Maybe that new secretary accidentally books it and takes a deposit check before realizing. Maybe it’s just believable at first that Fr. Trendy would celebrate the ceremony on his own authority. But of course, it’s not worth the poor man’s retirement to have the bishop find out about this one. He tell them he can’t do it and he returns Pat and Sam’s check to them.
    .
    That’s when the lawsuit gets filed. Nothing against Fr. Trendy, of course. They know that he probably would agree with them if he was free to speak his mind. But Christ’s message of love will be held captive by the institutional hierarchy until they’re attacked the only place they understand: their wallets.

    I think you give Father Trendy and Mrs. Ditzy too much credit in your scenario, in the sense that I doubt they’ll be unwitting participants in the events leading up to the lawsuit getting filed. Father Trendy seems particularly culpable for allowing Pat and Sam to perform such public, ministerial roles in the parish.

    I guess that makes me the nasty rules-obsessed fellow.

  9. In Scotland, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, provides that marriages between persons of the same sex can be solemnised only by a district registrar or assistant registrar (these are Crown appointments).

    A “religious or belief body”(RBB) may request permission from the Scottish Ministers to celebrate SSMs and nominate the persons to be authorised to celebrate them. Section 12 provides that not only is no RBB obliged to request permission to solemnise SSMs or to nominate a celebrant but that “nothing in the Act… imposes a duty on any person who is an approved celebrant in relation to marriages between persons of the same sex to solemnise such marriages.”

    In short (1) no RBB can solemnise an SSM unless it obtains permission from the Scottish Ministers to do so (2) it is under no duty to seek permission or to nominate celebrants and (3) even if it does, no individual minister, even though authorised to do so, is legally obliged to perform one. This is known as the “triple lock.”

  10. It’s time to separate Sacramental Marriage from a civil marriage – theer has to be a difference in the eyes of God.

  11. This is much like debating which path Christ will be forced to follow to Golgotha, rather than why he was betrayed. The damage and agenda for all this was established many years ago–and sadly–it was hardly covertly accomplished.

    It is our culture of license and privilege being abused systematically in every institution since at least the great revolution against all moral authority of the sixties. Those “Catholic” politicians, priests and bishop were allowed to get softened up by the Church which rushed to open its doors to the world instead of doubling down on that sacred trust which is the only way that could have provided a means of resisting the secularism that was unleashed by the powers and principalities.

    Better to be disliked, but untainted and strong of faith until the end, than to share in our own destruction by turning away from the Church’s God-given mission of salvation just to play footsie with the Godless world for the diabolically distorted mission of “social justice.

    No small wonder we now have church leaders embracing worldly hammer and sickle crucifixes.

  12. “Divorced people and polygamists are not protected classes.”

    You do not have to be in a protected class to bring an equal protection claim. (One could of course argue that the whole concept of protected classes is an equal protection violation, at least as to how the concept has played out in practice.)

  13. Don L.

    Agreed. Seems the tasteless salt is being propagated.

    If men can be tested in the crucible, like gold in the fire, why not the Holy Catholic Church?
    That might be what’s going on.
    The impurities must “rise first” before being obliterated in the furnace.

    Just wondering.

  14. Don’t blame me. I never voted for a democrat.
    .

    It’s bat-crap crazy out there. Get used to it. Or else, what are you prepared to do?
    .

    Of course, the same-pervert couple can walk across the street and find an Episkie priestess, or whatever from the thousands of US cults, to “marry” them . . . [BARF]
    .
    What we will experience are gay gestapo attacks or Church raids viciously demanding that priests perform for them marriage rites. The priests may need to do it.

    .
    Here is a modest proposal. The bishop should be present. He steps forward and intones the Rite of Excommunication *(Bell, Book and Candle) over the public sinners. Americans (only) have the right to worship! Liberal air-heads exploding . . .

  15. I’m waiting to see which of the liberal priests will first sanction and preside over a same-sex marital contract ceremony (what we call matrimony).

  16. (T. Shaw Here is a modest proposal. The bishop should be present. He steps forward and intones the Rite of Excommunication *(Bell, Book and Candle) over the public sinners. Americans (only) have the right to worship! Liberal air-heads exploding . . .)

    The problem might be in finding someone to do that to the many bishops that also need purification…

  17. An answer?

    Cardinal Burke resurrected The Holy League, http://www.holyleague.com , and our parish recently climbed on board. May was our first meeting.
    Just over forty men joined in. We meet every month. Guest speakers, dinner, then adoration with confessional’s ( two ) operational.

    This is a great start!

    Please check it out.
    Our future is bright… we’re just in the storm at the moment.

    PS. This is men only fellowship.
    Strong Men!

  18. The real diagnosis implicitly acknowledged by this article is that the Catholic Church has lost its faith. The majority of the institutions and even churches and parishes which call themselves Catholic are nothing but — I’m sorry to say — rotting corpses. Scenarios like the one described above could never happen in a SSPX parish. Essentially an SSPX parish is nothing but what a normal Catholic parish once was, before Vatican II. We are facing a catastrophe because we have let the enemy in. The biggest problem is not the neo-fascist gay movement, it is the completely accepted laxity in faith and morals in the Church, to the point that propagandists of sexual immorality are not only not expelled but actually protected by the hierarchy, the Pope himself included. This will not change, unless a “gang” of determined “warriors” arise who are prepared to use “rough” and unconvential methodes to rid the Church from this despicable sissies and pleasers.

  19. R. Sevenster.

    The gang of rough warriors to rid the Freemason’s out of Holy Church is going to likely be a divine assault. A cleansing that comes from above. Two lightning strikes that followed the announcement of Pope Emeritus retirement was not coincidentally timed. Not in my opinion. It was a reminder of the one Who Is, Was and Is to come again. He will clean house when ready.

  20. It seems to me that we may need to get used to foregoing taxpayer money to run our charitable programs. But that is just a start. Perhaps we can make the assets of the Church “un-get-at-able” by our rogue government. I believe that morally, this would be the same as hiding our assets, as the deacon Saint Lawrence did when he hid the golden chalices and patens that the early Christians were using for the celebrations of the Eucharist, together with the coin which had been raised to assist the poor. When Caesar’s henchmen demanded that Lawrence turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence pretended to acquiesce. Instead of presenting the golden vessels and the money, however, Saint Lawrence gathered together some of the destitute old and sick and presented these persons to the henchmen. “These,” Lawrence proclaimed, “are the treasures of the Church.” Which may be said to be true in a very highly spiritualized sort of sense, but Saint Lawrence knew perfectly well that these were not even close to what the henchmen were looking for, and the henchmen knew he knew.

    And so Lawrence ended up being roasted alive on a grill.

    Those of us who would be willing to be roasted to death as Saint Lawrence was rather than to see the presence of the Church disappear from our neighborhood streets and from our cities, might support a method that draws its inspiration from Saint Lawrence. (The disappearance, as we all know, would be caused by being driven into bankruptcy by lawsuits from the Dark Side as well as fines from the Dark Side using the powers of the government.) One solution would be to get together very clever lawyers and accountants, and to put the Church property in the name of some series of shell corporations (ABC Holdings Corp. dba DEF Corp. a wholly owned subsidiary of GHI Corp. JKL Corp. holds overall ownership, etc. etc.) And let the corporate owners listed be the mothers of U.S. priests, but the mothers are citizens and residents of Belgium or Costa Rica or the Philippines. Off-shore: can’t get at ’em. The same with the houses, and vehicles, and lawn-mowing equipment, and computers, and desk and chairs for the school – titled off-shore. Can’t get at ’em. And the cash goes into the vaults of a financial institution on the Canary Islands, or Saint Kitts, or the Hebrides, or wherever has a good financial system, but doesn’t allow agents of the Dark Side using the power of the U.S. government to seize customer assets.

    Off-shore, off-shore, off-shore. I say put all the paperwork and the paper money off-shore now. And let the accountants and the lawyers be the sharpest and cleverest and the most experienced we can afford because agents of the Dark Side will be coming after us hard sooner or later. And as we also know, the master of the Dark Side is very clever.

  21. I’m looking forward to how the church is going to respond pastorally to her own. Mother Church does not neglect her own.

  22. In other countries like France, couples go to the local magestrate and obtain a civil marriage. then the couple comes back to the Church for a “con- validation.Maybe this could work in the United States.

  23. Somewhat OT but I spent a lovely day with 6 ladies at a flea market on Saturday. One of them I’ve known all my life, 2 I just met that day, the other 4 I know to varying degrees. We had a wonderful day – talking, laughing & shopping and we ended up 8 hours later at a delightful restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, the talk turned to the Supreme Court SSM ruling. I wasn’t surprised that it got heated but even the cynic in me was taken aback that 4 of these ‘nice’ women stated without irony that the Roman Catholic faith was going to have to change to accommodate SSM! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

  24. I like Phillip’s solution and
    I also think a solution is embedded in Penguins Fan’s “we brought it on ourselves comment:
    ” bad music, bad rubrics, etc. It would help if we turn around – and get back to worshipping God in a manner befitting Him.

  25. This is confusing, because the Church recognizes civil and non-Catholic marriages as valid, but Catholic couples who marry outside the church are not recognized by the Church, and there is a special ceremony called Convalidation. Would they be forced to convalidate same sex couples?

  26. Would they be forced to convalidate same sex couples?

    Hard to say what Justice Kennedy’s muse will tell him. Historically, for the most part, government is constrained from telling you what to believe, but you are constrained in the ways you can act on your beliefs (egregious e.g., if you’re an Aztec, no human sacrificing for you, but feel to believe the gods demand it or no more sunshine; less egregious e.g., you can believe that the OT legitimates plural wives, but polygamy is still against the law –for now). Increasingly, however, government is moving away from telling you what you can’t do to telling you what you must do. Thus far the coercion is hidden behind a sort of Hobson’s Choice (you don’t have to buy this ridiculously expensive health insurance plan, you’re free to choose to pay the obscenely expensive fee/penalty/tax), so how much longer before certain wrong beliefs/symbols are no longer protected because they’re implicated by beliefs about other wrong beliefs/symbols?
    .
    We’d have to ask the Sons of Confederate Veterans I think.

    (Full Disclosure, I’m going off of what I remember of Con Law from the Political Science half of my double major from 20 years ago. For the most part I’m a historian by training, so grain of salt and all that.)

  27. Bit confused by the last paragraph; in France e.g., and Italy I think also, you must have a civil marriage and (if a Catholic) a separate Church marriage. Seems to me that though not perfect from Church’s point of view it solves the problem unless, of course, the State were to become pro-active and outlaw any form of sacramental (addition) or act that looked like a marriage.

  28. This might also bring a second exodus of homosexual priests and nuns to leave the Church since Vatican II in order to get married.

  29. After Obergerfell v. Hodges, how long will it be before we see Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice v. Hodges? How long after that will we see Fido v. Hodges? P.E.T.A. will pick up the attorney fees, of course.

  30. Deacon Mike Chesley and Skypilot
    France has had mandatory civil marriage (le mariage civil obligatoire)since 9 November 1791. It is illegal for a minister of religion “habitually” to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple not already legally married (Code Pénal Art 433-21) “Habitually” provides an exception for death-bed marriages and “marriages of conscience.”
    For Catholics, the chief importance of the civil marriage is the registration of the marriage settlement, in which the parties elect one of the matrimonial régimes provided under the Code Civil – community of property, community of acquisitions only, separation of property, conjunct usufructs &c and also the settlement of property on the issue. Remember that French law knows nothing of trusts.
    Wedding invitations usually refer to the two ceremonies as « le mariage » and « La bénédiction nuptiale » the marriage and the nuptial blessing. Not a few Canonists have argued over the years that the Church should revert to the pre-Tridentate law and recognise the civil marriage as sufficient for validity, but “solemnisation in the face of the Church” as a grave religious obligation – the position before 1563. Tametsi was aimed at “clandestine marriages,” but the Civil Register now provides a public and accessible record, which adequately addresses that problem.

  31. A little more than a year ago 100,000 conservative French people marched through Paris on behalf of traditional marriage and family. I think conservatism is on the rise.

  32. “authentic reform must be grounded in organic development” .

    I think that’s a quote from B16 but it applies to our Western Culture, and to our American politics too.
    Conservatives evangelize the culture when we don’t form circular firing squads. Also we have to pay attention to the signs of hope around us (even if they seem rare ) and build on them

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