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June 12, 2004


Rod Dreher

A born-again Protestant who happens to be the President of the United States has to beg the No. 2 official in the Vatican to get the American bishops to support him in trying to head off gay marriage, and on other culture of life issues. That official, Cardinal Sodano, is, the press reports, silent.

What a sad commentary on the state of the Church.


Why in the world would the Vatican want to advance the political agenda of the likes of George W. Bush?

Oengus Moonbones

Jim: "Why in the world would the Vatican want to advance the political agenda of the likes of George W. Bush?"

Astonishing! Do Catholics believe that opposing the sodomite redefinition of "marriage" is somehow coterminous with the Bush political agenda?

Apparently some Catholics do.


'Not all the American bishops are with me'. End of Bush quote according to Allen. A factual statement. The rest is interpretation. A spin. The bishops aren't even with each other. Now that last might have been a zinger quip.


And no doubt the Vatican will want to make sure that Bush comes to realize that it is not the American bishops job to be with Bush. There may be a great deal of agreement between the Pope and the President on many culture of life issues, but at the end of the day, the Pope views these issues through a much larger Catholic vision of society that the Bush Administration does not share at all: the Pope appears to remain very skeptical at best about much (though not all) of the administration's socio-economic and foreign policies, over which the President has more leverage than over culture. The war on terrorism does not have the same resonance at the Vatican as the war against totalitarianism. And the Pope is unlikely to allow himself to be used as a kind of electoral trump card by the President.

Jimmy Mac

Hey, moonhead:

If you don't call me a sodomite, I won't call you a f***ing breeder, OK?


It's expected to be the other way around. The Pope is supposed to plead with the President of the materialistic secular superpower that is America, to get in line on moral issues. This flip-flop is like saying it's snowing at the Equator.

Oengus Moonbones

Hmmh. Let me see if I understand the logic of things:

(1) Bush opposes the sodomite redefinition of marriage.

(2) But to oppose the sodomite redefinition implies favoring Bush.

(3) Bush is pure evil and must be opposed.

(4) Catholics must oppose evil and so must oppose all that Bush proposes, for Bush is evil.

(5) Therefore, Catholics must oppose the opposition to the sodomite redefinition of marriage.

(6) To oppose the opposition of something is tantamount to the favoring of that something.

(7) Therefore, Catholics must favor the sodomite redefinition of marriage.


Jimmy Mac,
Try to humor Onanistic Moonbeam. He can't say "Christ Killer" in polite company any more.


Does this mean the President will fire the pro-choice folks who work in his administration (e.g., Tom Ridge)? Or maybe just the pro-choice Catholics, if he is asked to by the Pope or the Bishop of Bupkiss.

Does this mean that the President will fire his "sodomite" staff members who are in committed same-sex relationships?

Of course not.

So this is another partisan gambit being played on the Church. The President can't let Kerry get any more Catholic votes than Gore got in 2000 (we split about evenly), or he loses.

Of course, if our President had followed our Pope's advice about invading Iraq, he wouldn't be in this political mess.


To deny that the President probably has some political aim might be naive. But even if the President's intentions are entirely political, it shouldn't matter. Speaking out against same-sex "marriages" would seem to be the bishops' duty, even if they don't like what outcomes that may have in the political sphere. Unless you want to tell me I'm reading this wrong.

I'm also confused as to why some people have a problem with calling a spade a spade, but that might be neither here nor there.


The FMA is going nowhere because of folks in the GOP in Congress, not because the American bishops have failed to get behind Bush. And for secular reasons: a lot of conservatives, it appears according to polls, do not want to have the federal constitution touch the traditionally state-governed issue of marriage. That is not an aspect of the debate on which the bishops would have any influence.

Charles M. de Nunzio

Rather than push for a constitutional amendment, why don't the defenders of marriage pressure the executive and legislative branches to use the other checks against the judiciary that do exist: restrict the jurisdiction of the Federal courts by legislation, and for the Executive branch, simply refuse to enforce unjust decisions?

Are we supposed to believe that there are supposed to be NO checks or balances upon the judiciary???

Oengus Moonbones

Ignatius: "He can't say "Christ Killer" in polite company any more."

If this was meant as an insult then it's very puzzling, considering that I am unashamedly pro-Zionist.

Charles M. de Nunzio: restrict the jurisdiction of the Federal courts by legislation, and for the Executive branch, simply refuse to enforce unjust decisions?

It's not a bad idea to do something now about the judicial tyrants in black robes, whose egos are so colossal that they wish to overturn and rule the cosmos. Moreover, my big criticism of Bush is that he's not doing near enough anything about it.

But will the bishops in the Catholic church in America ever get some real backbone about defending marriage from being "redefined"? Do they think it important enough to defend? Do any Catholics here think it important enough? Or has everyone sunk into some sort of Hate-Bush-No-Matter-What Syndrome? Just because President Bush brushes his teeth, does that mean you should knock out your own?

Maclin Horton


Are we supposed to believe that there are supposed to be NO checks or balances upon the judiciary???

If you remove the "supposed to be" from your sentence above, you'll have something that is scarily close to the real state of affairs. It seems to me that when you sort out all the long-term problems facing the U.S. this ranks pretty near the top. The May issue of The New Criterion carried an article by Robert Bork describing the situation. Unfortunately the text is not online but it's worth seeking out. He is not optimistic.

Jimmy Mac--

Feel free to apply to me the epithet with which you threatened Oengus. I don't know about Oengus but in reference to me it is perfectly accurate, and though it may be vulgar it's not an insult.

Julianne Wiley

Hey Maclin Horton---

Me, too! F***ing breeder. I like it! I may make a button. (Though where would I wear it?) It's not often we Catholic housewives get to enjoy some of that Rebel Girl elan.

Here's another button proposal: QUESTION SCEPTICISM.


Are we supposed to believe that there are supposed to be NO checks or balances upon the judiciary???

In Massachusetts, the process of amending the MA constitution has already begun; if enough of the population wants to, they'll eventually overturn the MA Supreme Court decision.

In Oregon and California, gay marriages, initiated by elected officials, have been halted by judicial decree. I bet you didn't complain about the lack of power the legislative has over the judiciary in those cases, right?

And, of course, it's the executive and legislative that decide who the new judges will be. That's an enourmously powerful check and balance, even though it's not one that operates instantly.

But then again, it's not like the checks and balances on the other branches operate instantly, either. When the legislature passes an unconstitutional law, it may take years for the courts to overturn it. IF the executive oversteps his authority, it can take a year or two for the legislature to slap down the executive (for instance, by limiting funding). Checks and balances do exist; but they were not designed to operate instantly.


Corrections to Ampersand:

1. In Massachusetts, the public is being given a chance to (partially) undue the lawless mayhem wrought by 4 justices of the Supreme Judicial Court -- and only IF a supermajority of the public votes to do so. The burden has thus been shifted away from those who favor a ridiculous reinterpretation of existing law and placed on those who simply wish to retain the status quo. That is emphatically NOT the way separation of powers works, either at the federal level or in Massachusetts. Since the Court's decision was directly contrary to the written laws of the state, it doesn't merit serious argument in rebuttal and shouldn't require a significant political movement to overturn. The correct response would have been (and still could be) for the Governor to announce that the Court's decision will be enforced with respect to the specific parties before the court -- but no others. If the Court wants to impose "gay" "marriage", let them do so case by case by case - forever - and be unable to do anything else. One or two governors responding that way would put the brakes on social engineering by the courts for decades, and rightly so.

2. California and Oregon courts simply stopped local elected officials from acting ultra vires, contrary to the written laws of those states. Doing so should never be controversial and does not in any way impair the power of the legislature.


Actually, constitutional law in Massachusetts has a different precedential history than the federal constitution. The SJC itself upheld the immediate abolition of slavery (and, even more astonishing, compensation not to the slaveholders but to the slaves for unpaid labor) within a couple of years of the adoption of the state constitution (largely drafted by John Adams), without any warrant other than the liberty clause thereof and despite the evident intent therein not to disturb chattel slavery. The state legislature, which had been mulling over the gradual emancipation of slaves a la Pennyslvania, functionally conceded the SJC's point and power by eventually abandoning its project. Thus Massachusetts was the only state in the 1790 federal census to enumerate no slaves.

The legal culture of Massachusetts in the late 1700s and 1800s gave a fairly large role to the judiciary. Jeffersonian strict constructionism was not the order of the day, and that is not surprising given the nature of the Puritan commonwealth in the colonial period.

People so often chew on the stuff of federal constitutional law that they forget that some states have distinctive legal traditions of their own. That's not to settle the question of the Goodridge case, only to focus the legal context a little more locally.


Perhaps someone could help me understand what was meant by a "sodomite redefinition of marriage".

I always thought that the Church did not recognize civil ceremonies as sacramental marriages-even if the couple is Catholic. It is merely a legal contract between two individuals that confer civil rights/responsibilities regarding how a couple is taxed, is able to hold property, is entitled to hospital visitation etc… Although the same word 'marriage' is used in both case, it seems to me they really are two different concepts. In fact in some countries, like Germany, Catholics get 'married' twice: once by the state to receive civil rights and by the Church to receive the Sacrament.

States have always defined civil unions in a way that is not consistent with Canon Law. In fact the Lord Himself is descendant from unions that would certainly not qualify as sacramentally valid - i.e. Kings David and Solomon.

How can you 'redefine' civil unions in a way that makes them unacceptable in the eyes of the Church when they were never acceptable in the first place?

BTW: married heterosexual couples are equally capable of sodomy as gay couples and infinitely more capable of it than lesbian couples. I'm not sure the "sodomite' is the correct word to describe the situation.

Oengus Moonbones

While people split hairs over the usage of words, or whether "marriage" is civil or sacramental, the house is burning down. Does anyone care? Perhaps not.

Before there ever was a "church" or "sacraments", there was marriage. See Genesis. But I guess Catholics don't believe what is written in Genesis, even though XP kept quoting from it, at least according to the Gospels. But then again do Catholics believe the Gospels? Or has the "assurded results of scholarly criticism" done away with that as well?

Don't assume that things are nicely going to stop at the threshold of your churches. The Basilisk that kills everything will be breaking down your doors to be let in.


And before monogamous marriage there was polygamous marriage, and, well, ad hoc concubinage (Hagar, anyone?). I think John asked a legitimate question. What is the link between civil and religious marriage such that this practice -- gay civil marriage -- would be particularly disruptive to religious marriage (or heterosexual marriage that isn't sacramental, if this is also what you are worried about). I can posit answers, but it would be speculation. I think he deserves a serious answer.

Oengus Moonbones

"before monogamous marriage there was polygamous marriage…"

Oh. I guess when God created man, he provided suitable helpmeets for him. Consequently, Adam was married to Eve and Lilith and Lola and Capri and Kiki and Sophia.

My apologies for bothering you Catholics. I guess I mistook you for a people who actually cared about preventing things ever reaching the point where we have a nice little Hell On Earth. So sorry. I guess Rod Dreher may be the only exception. I wish him well.

But at least I got noticed here, or indirectly so, for the response I elicted.

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