Right on schedule, Nancy Pelosi tries to do what Ted Kennedy and Mario Cuomo have done before her: give talking points to Catholics who wish to hop on to policy that flies in the face of church teaching.
You’ll recall it was Kennedy (and later Cuomo) who gave voice to the corkscrew notion that one could be “personally opposed” to abortion but too broad-minded to “impose my views on others.”
Because, as you know, modern-day liberals would never presume to impose their views on others, not at all. The HHS Mandate? Pffffft!…it’s not imposing anything on Catholic institutions! It’s just making them do the right thing!
Kennedy’s duplicitous language was effective, though. It informed whole generations of very cowardly Catholic politicians and others.
[It] sounded so reasonable and tolerant that it simplified the abortion debate for people who did not care to consider how nonsensical it was. Being “personally opposed” to the death penalty, would Kennedy have tried not to “impose those views” on states, had he the chance? Had he been “personally opposed” to slavery 150 years ago, would he not certainly have tried to “impose” his views on others?
In this case, Mrs. Pelosi is attempting to impose her views, and the views of the NY Times on others, but she’s not “personally opposed”, so she can’t mush-mouth like Mario; instead, she tries to suggest — in the face of the entire teaching body of the church and thousands of years of understanding and reason, that say differently — that her Catholicism compels it.
“My religion has, compels me–and I love it for it–to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider this a form of discrimination. I think it’s unconstitutional on top of that.
You know, I don’t think Dorothy Day — who was a lot smarter than Pelosi — would have agreed. Day was both a social-teaching zealot and — by her own admission — “an obedient daughter of the church.” She might have seen the incredible political theater of the past week as “. . . a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion.”
Day would be right.
Oh, I know, you’re about to tell me that gay marriage is not about forcing anyone to do anything. But we all know that’s not true, because we’ve already seen that gay marriage very quickly becomes all about forcing churches (or small business owners) to betray their own consciences or face civil lawsuits, activist judges, huge settlements, quite possibly civil fines and so forth. That’s certainly “force and compulsion.” Which is why I wrote back in 2008:
“. . . the churches should reconsider their roles in authenticating marriage. Governments issue birth certificates; churches issue baptismal certificates. Governments issue death certificates; churches pray the funerals. Governments issue divorces; Churches annul. Both work within their separate and necessary spheres, serving the corporeal and the spiritual. It is only in the issue of marriage that church and state have commingled authority. That should perhaps change, and soon. Let the government certify and the churches sanctify according to their rites and sacraments.”
The handwriting was on the wall, even then. At the very least, those churches who will not capitulate and permit gay marriages in their buildings (or recognize them in their institutions) will be forced out into the periphery of the public square, as the HHS Mandate is already trying to do.
Worst case scenario? Well, I get yelled at when I say this but the worst-case scenario — and I think it’s inevitable — will be a schism and the creation of an American Catholic Church, one that works very closely with the government to “do the right thing” and reaps its worldly rewards, both material and elitist. It will claim apostolic succession as I have no doubt at all that some bishop in the US will be willing to act as titular head, and it will likely — with the help of the government (via fines, settlements, levies) — quickly lay claim to (or be awarded) Roman Catholic properties.
You think this cannot happen? Why not? It’s happened before:
. . .their resentment builds; they mark every sin within the church, all of its human faults and deep failings, and slowly they convince themselves that their ardent desiring is not objectionable, but the sin-riddled church clearly is. And so they break away. With astonishing speed, a new church is formed in authority, trained in tolerance, unified in purpose and installed within sacred structures confiscated by law, while the disgraced and rigid old church and her clergy are hounded underground.
. . .consider that such a scenario has already taken place in history — right down to the confiscation of properties and the hiding of clergy — and is in fact considered . . .to be one of King Henry VIII’s great “achievements.” . . . All of this speaks to our own era of material abundance, instant gratification and what our good Pope Benedict XVI calls “the dictatorship of relativism,” wherein we create our truths and then drown them in a syrup of sentiment disguised as justice: I like her and she wants to be a priest, so she should be. Divorce doesn’t matter. They’re so nice, why shouldn’t they marry? It’s not fair; the Church is cruel! [As with Henry]…Personal autonomy seeks greater freedom and worldly wisdom encourages self-actualization above all.
The American Catholic Church will quickly become mainstream because it will be seen as victorious over that stuffy old Roman church, and people want to be on the side with the “winner.” It will look a little different than Henry’s, but not by much:
. . .rites, rituals, “sacraments” etc, and it will even have the imprimatur of the government insofar as it may – and it will be a church that the majority flock to . . . People will go on Oprah and say “I always loved God but I never felt accepted, but this enlightened American Catholic Church tells me what I need to hear, that God loves me and that divorce, abortion and all that stuff doesn’t matter as long as I am a good person, and I AM a good person, Oprah, I AM, and now I am accepted, and (weep, weep) I feel like God finally makes sense in the world!”
“That’s right,” Oprah will declare, “there is no sin, except the sinfulness of not loving the self! God doesn’t make junk!”
Applause, applause. The only ideal that matters is the one that makes you happy and doesn’t challenge the status quo . . .and the church of Rome will probably be sued into seeming non-existance, too, for one political point after another. The church will be declared in extremis. And that is when the remnant will kick in.
I read something I really liked this week, by a writer named Margaret Rose Realy, who is a master gardener; she has a wonderful way of taking what she’s learned amid the turned earth and seeds and applying it well. In line with our stormy times, Margaret writes:
All storms end and after the big ones there is usually the fall-out and debris of broken branches littering the street and lawns. The weakest limbs, those that have declined from the lack of nourishment, have snapped off during the turbulent downpour. It is usually those branches that had grown farthest away from the trunk that have fallen away.
Energy was not drawn up from the root; the branch no longer has life within it. It is no longer able to withstand the storms. A pretty clear analogy of how I should live: Drawing life from His strong roots, developing a living faith so I won’t break apart in the turbulent storms that come.
A good analogy, too of how things will fallout within our church and our country. And, too, how the church will remain who and what it is. As she is tossed, she will draw energy from her root. And when all of the movers and shakers have had their way and perished, she will remain. And she will still be the most radically counter-cultural entity the world has ever known.
UPDATE: Francis Beckwith thoughts on Obama, Jesus and the Golden Rule
So does: Msr. Charles Pope
NOTE: I am traveling and unable to monitor comments. Writing late last night I forgot to close comments, so some have been released. They are closed, now -admin