Catholic Thoughts About Proposition 8
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 16, 2008 at 01:24:15 PM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Seventy-two
In the wake of the passage of California's Proposition 8, I was left wondering how such a forward-thinking state could simultaneously help propel an African-American to the White House while denying gay people the dignity of marriage equality. I was also left wondering about the misplaced priorities of a vocal and increasingly belligerent faction of the hierarchy, and how that faction and its allies are adversely affecting both American Catholicism and the greater society.
The hierarchy along with the prominent assistance of the Knights of Columbus did more than its share to roll back marriage equality in California. But among the reform minded Catholics that spoke out against Prop. 8, was the independent Catholic lay group Call to Action.

On Friday afternoon I asked a friend of mine at Call to Action about the role played by Catholic organizations in trying to get Proposition 8 passed. She told me that U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops invested $200,000 in the cause while the  Knights of Columbus threw in a whopping $1.4 million dollars and has vowed to provide millions more for anti-gay marriage ballot measures all over the United States for the next three years.

All this causes me to again consider the Church's priorities. As I recently wrote, Catholic schools such as my son's former school, are closing nationwide due to financial constraints (due in no small part to court settlements resulting from the role of many in the hierarchy who played shell games, moving pedophile priests around the country).  It seems to me those millions of dollars would be much better spent keeping Catholic schools open -- instead of fighting the civil rights advances of LGTB people.

Even more frustrating to me is that these vast amounts of financial resources were expended in the name of defending the "tradition of marriage being between one man and one woman."

Tradition? What exactly is tradition? Upon closer examination we discover that it is a concept that is far less static than either the bishops or K of C could ever imagine. Traditions of morality evolve throughout history. In the days of Moses, marriage was more of a property concept, with love and passion playing a much smaller role than today. Beyond that, marriage was often not about "one man and one woman," but often about one man and several women.

Our concept of morality has evolved to the point where marriage in Western society is now built upon a foundation of love and companionship more than being a contract about property. Moreover, we have learned from medical science that homosexuality is a healthy mental state and not the aberration of natural law that many of us once believed it to be. I think it is difficult to argue that allowing a marriage between two gay people who love each other does not fit the modern moral definition of marriage -- although I know that there are those who will do so anyway, and that we have a long contentious argument ahead of us.

That is why I want to put in a good word here for Call to Action -- which is by far of most courageous of any Catholic lay group that defines itself liberal or progressive. During the Proposition 8 campaign, they didn't just make namby-pamby let's-all-get-along comments about this unjust initiative. Instead, they boldly challenged Church teaching -- and said that voting yes was dead wrong. As one of  their petition put it:

As Catholics and citizens of California, we believe the right of each person to freedom of religion is based on respect for the dignity of each person. Without that basis, we would all stand in danger of being subjugated to beliefs or practices to which we do not subscribe. Fairness and equality must be living truths in a just society; therefore we oppose the proposal to amend the California Constitution to ban same-gender marriage.

As well as:

Civil marriage of same-gender couples does not coerce anyone to change his or her religious beliefs; nor does it coerce any religious organization to change its own teachings or beliefs.

You can be certain that when independent Catholics win any battle against their theocratic-minded co-religionists, you will find Call to Action leading the charge (and not very likely such timid liberals as E. J. Dionne).   Call to Action is the one Catholic organization that is doing what is necessary to stand up for religious pluralism -- and against those who want to impose the most unyielding forms of traditionalist Catholic theology on everyone else -- including American Catholics.

They display the courage that is too rare but so necessary.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Nov 16, 2008 at 01:27:20 PM EST

That is why the bishops ignore them, and Bruskewitz declared his own excommunication against them. They have the guts to stand up to the hierarchy.

by khughes1963 on Sun Nov 16, 2008 at 06:24:18 PM EST

in talking about the Catholic church's roll in these amendments, is that many catholics say that K of C  is just an interest group and doesn't represent the church, and the bishops involved are not acting on direct orders from Rome.  So they all can be dismissed as freelancers, and Rome is off the hook always and forever without accountability.  How can one counter such blindness from RCC members?

by Laurel on Sun Nov 16, 2008 at 07:20:14 PM EST

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