26 January 2013

Why Is The Catholic Church Fighting Gay Marriage?

I'm sure you've read--or heard-- Queen Gertrude's observation in Hamlet: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." 

It's often misquited:  People often move "methinks" from the end to the beginning of that line.  But more important, most people misuse the quote. "Protest", in Shakespeare's time, meant "avow" or "affirm" rather than "object" or "deny".  

Whether it's used as intended or misused, the quote is apt for at least one current situation. Once again, the Catholic Church is spending lots of money and other resources to oppose same-sex marriage.   In fact, earlier this month, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago launched a last-ditch effort to convince the lame-duck Illinois legislature not to legalize unions between people of the same gender. Whether or not his efforts were a factor, the vote in the Land of Lincoln has been delayed and the bill will be re-introduced after the new legislature is seated.

Why do you think the Church is so adamant in its opposition to gay marriage? Well, some will say that it's a matter of Church doctrine.  As it's hardly an area of my expertise--and because I'm sure that my reading of the Bible is very different from that of any member of the College of Cardinals--I'm not going to discuss that.  Those anti-gay priests may well be motivated by what they believe to be divinely-inspired tenets of the faith.

Being a, shall we say, very lapsed Catholic, my view is a bit different.  You might say it's more cynical.  Here goes:  Much of the Church's opposition to same-sex unions is, I believe, a smokescreen.  They have far, far more serious problems to consider right now, including the elephant in the Vatican chambers:  pedophile priests.  

The damage they've done is incalculable.  You begin to realize that when you hear people talking--for the first time--about they experienced two and three decades earlier. When you're a small child, you simply don't have the language or frame of reference to tell anybody about such an ordeal.  I know this from my own life:  I was well into my thirties before I talked about the sexual molestation I experienced as a child.  

For most children--especially altar boys--being sexually abused by a priest  has to be even more devastating than molestation by anyone else because many kids are taught to trust men of the collar even more than they trust any other adult, save perhaps for their own parents.  Even if nobody tells them they should hold priests in such esteem, a lot of kids learn to do so through implication and osmosis.  That is to be expected when you realize that young children are capable of believing and trusting more completely in God or anyone who is supposed to represent Him.

I don't know how many children have been so damaged by priests, but I'm sure that for every one we hear about, there are many, many more.  I don't think the Church will ever die out completely, but I wouldn't be surprised to see dioceses in the United States (and, possibly other countries) go bankrupt and parishes close because of lawsuits on behalf of the victims.  Plus, the church is in trouble in other ways:  It's in decline in much of Europe because the populations of such predominantly-Catholic countries as Spain, France and Italy aren't growing--or, if there is growth, it's in non-Catholic populations.  Plus, people in those countries and the US aren't attending church, or sending their kids to Catholic schools, nearly as much as they have even in the recent past.

And the Church is spending its spending its money to fight gay marriage?

You know what they say about gay marriage:  If you don't believe in it, don't marry a gay person.  Likewise, all the Church has to do is what it's done for 2000 years. More precisely, it doesn't have to start doing what it hasn't done in that time:  perform gay marriages.  Let Illinois and Rhode Island and other states join New York, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and the other states that have legalized gay marriage.  As those states are still part of the United States, they still have (at least in law) a separation between Church and State.  So, no matter what laws are passed in those or any other states, no Catholic priest is going to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies--not in the confines of a consecrated church building, anyway.


Anonymous said...

Justine, just found your blog and I'm starting at the beginning and working my way forwards. What an extraordinary resource, what an extraordinary story, and what great writing.

I know that blogging can be a lonely task, and I hope you read this and know that there are people out there who truly appreciate what you're publishing. For those of us just beginning the long journey upon which you're far ahead (me?), it's comforting to know that there are those who have gone before and who are willing to share their insight.

Justine Valinotti said...

Thank you for your compliments and insights. If you want to talk about your own journey, or ask questions, please e-mail me at justineisadream@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

I will do, and I appreciate the offer. I'm still trying to sort everything out in my head - there's so much to unravel at this point, and it's a process that will take years and years (on top of the thirty years that I've already gone through where I have known that there is something not quite right.)

But it doesn't have to be solved overnight, and there's plenty of time to think this through properly, not matter what the outcome - I'm just glad to read the story of someone going through this close to my age.