Professor Robert George of Princeton once said on Relevant Radio that the legalization of same-sex marriage would be an unmitigated disaster.
According to the CNA report, Archbishop Tartaglia gives us a few reasons why:
“(The archbishop of Glasgow) predicted that a change in the law could result in employees being fired for opposing same-sex ‘marriage,’ ministers and priests being sued for refusing to allow ‘wedding’ ceremonies to take place in their churches, school children being forced to attend homosexual history lessons, and couples being rejected as foster parents if they oppose the new legislation.”
What to do? Here, I mention short-term measures only. But they are very important nevertheless.
An honest assessment of the past twenty years or so indicates that the Catholic Church, at least in America, has been slow to publicly defend and join alliances with institutions and organizations whose religious liberties have been encroached upon by the State. Perhaps, a policy change is in order. An example that immediately comes to mind is the removal of Justice Roy Moore's monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court in November of 2003. I do not recall Catholics rallying behind him. In reality, the same secular tidal wave that had once swept the Ten Commandments monument out of the Alabama courthouse is now pressing up against Chick-fil-A and the Catholic Church.
It would seem, therefore, at the very least, it would serve the best interest of the Church if she were, in some official capacity, to denounce the Chicago politicians (and other foes of religious liberty) for not only opposing the Christian position on marriage but for attempting to limit free enterprise because of it. We should know by now that if this rising tide, so to speak, is not immediately dealt with--even though Chicago's intolerance of Chick-fil-A does not immediately concern the Catholic Church itself –such a crisis will undoubtedly overflow and do her harm.
Yet, the divine authority of the Catholic Church is still the greatest power on earth. We forget that Christ gave the Church authority to forgive and retain sins; to bind and to loose. But rarely does the Church bind and seldom does she retain sins. To be sure, the Church has so many unused weapons at her disposal. It is time that they be dusted off and used again.
Four short-term measures to consider:
First of all, it is not a bad idea for the Church to develop non-partisan- but politically honest –partnerships with those agencies that are being attacked for their support for Christian marriage such as Chick-fil-A. In hindsight, it is evident that we should have done this long ago.
Secondly, the pulpit on Sundays is a powerful venue for getting the message out. The threats to religious liberty and free enterprise is getting serious enough that Catholics ought to hear more about these threats during Sunday sermons on a routine basis. To be sure, to re-educate Catholics about the connection between socially liberal values politicians hold, and the unfriendly policies to religious liberty that are sure to follow, would be a most beneficial public service.
Third, Pope Leo XIII reminded Catholics in 1896, “Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results.” Unity of voice is but the necessary foundation for the communication of truth. As such, truth will greatly influence the minds of those who consider it. As to this latter point, a media blitz through press conferences by individual bishops within the same time period throughout the country will arguably draw considerable attention to the cause for freedom. And if possible, the media presence by the bishops- making radio and television appearances -will create a stronger impression that the public is in favor of religious liberty. Americans are forgetful. They need frequent reminders as to what is at stake.
Lastly, as alluded to previously, the U.S. Bishops, and Catholics who have a public voice, ought to name names in their indictment against the enemies of religious liberty. To do so is far from being unchristian. St. Paul did it with men who made a “shipwreck of their faith,” such as Hymenaeus and Alexander. St. John the Evangelist publicly drew attention to Diotrephes; a man who did not acknowledge his authority. And St. John the Baptist publicly took King Herod to task for his wrongful marriage. This way, politicians who threaten to close down Catholic agencies for not supporting same-sex marriage will more likely pay a political price; they may even think twice before acting. Furthermore, these same politicians- those who are no friends of religious liberty -ought not be allowed to step foot in a church or cathedral.
Let us learn from St. Ambrose of Milan, a Church Father in the fourth century, who publicly withstood Roman emperor Theodosius II at the cathedral door. It just so happened that the emperor had not yet repented from a serious sin. But after the saintly bishop pushed him away…away from the entrance, the Roman emperor yielded and did public penance.
Some of these short-term tactics are unconventional but they do have precedent in Church history. Catholic clergy and laity will have to think outside the box; and do so quickly. After all, timing is everything. “Resist beginnings; all too late the cure.”
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.