St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Catholic college guide + objective truth

1) Happy Birthday to our pastor, Fr. Mike!!

2) Someone sent me information about a college guide for Catholics. If you or someone you know could benefit from this help in choosing a Catholic college, please click on the title of this post.
Recently, there was a spirited discussion here in response to the Maryland bishops’ letter on marriage. Here are some of the comments made by “Anon”; I am assuming they are all from the same Anon:

“Why is the church so upset by what lawmakers might do to civil law? If Maryland starts to allow civil unions or even gay marriage (much less likely though) the law would not require the church to start marrying two men or two women. No law could ever be passed that would do that. And since the church doesn't recognize marriages not performed by the church itself, why is anyone worried about what an unrecognized Justice of the Peace does?”

“…the church doesn't recognize civil marriages either, yet it's actively campaigning against any sorts of change to them. The church doesn't recognize divorce, and stays silent on the matter. The overall decline of marriage in this country can be blamed on a few different things, but homosexuality isn't one of them. It just isn't. Speaking out about gay people entering into unions the church doesn't even recognize is a waste of time, since the church won't ever have to recognize them. In my opinion the opposition is also rooted in bigotry, unless you can come up with a different explanation which shows how the recognition of a civil practice can for the first time ever be mandated by law as a sacrament whether the church wants to recognize it or not?”

Anon, I appreciate your comments and your passion, but you are missing the general point of all of this. The general point you miss is that it’s a matter of principle with the Church. Even if the Church won’t be required to perform same-sex “marriages” or civil unions, she has an obligation to speak out against them as the moral authority on Earth. There are many issues which don’t directly involve the (governing, teaching, or sanctifying bodies of the) Church but she still speaks out vehemently against them - abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, contraception, euthanasia, etc.

One of the best teachers that I’ve ever had taught about this one day in a philosophy class. She was teaching about objective truth. She used the example of rape to make a powerful point. She said that all rational people agree that rape is objectively wrong. There is never a time or situation which would justify rape. She asked the class if men could speak out against rape even if they would most likely never be the victim of rape. Everyone agreed that men should speak out against rape, of course. She had made the point that we should speak out against things that are objectively wrong even if we won’t be subjectively affected by them. (By the way, she brilliantly concluded the point by saying that men should speak out against abortion even though they will never become pregnant).

Now, even if “the Church” won’t be directly involved with civil unions or any of these issues, her members will. We all make up the Church, which is the Body of Christ. When the Church teaches on different issues, it is for the good of all mankind. she is defending objective Truth and all that is good (from God) while fighting against errors and all the evils of the world (not from God). Same-sex “marriages”, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc. are not from God, they are from man. The Church has a mandate from Christ to “teach all nations” (Mt 28:19); it is a mandate to teach the whole world what is objectively true and to oppose what is objectively in error.

Your comments about how the Church is “silent on the matter” of divorce are based in ignorance. The Magisterium of the Church has addressed divorce – e.g., the Catechism clearly condemns it, as Fran noted in her post. Priests like me are continually defending the permanent aspect of marriage with their parishioners who want to get out of troubled marriages; many times we are the only ones not telling them to get a divorce. Maybe the Church isn’t speaking out against divorce as much as you would like, but I hope you realize that she is continually defending marriage universally and locally.


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