Are Catholic bishops really the final authority on the faith?

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with young people on September 22, 2013 in Cagliari, Italy. Pope Francis … Continued

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with young people on September 22, 2013 in Cagliari, Italy. Pope Francis heads to Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia for a pastoral visit that includes celebrating mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois recently leveled charges of blasphemy against a group of Catholic advocates for gay rights who were planning to pray in the cathedral before a 5:15 pm Mass. These members of the Rainbow Sash Movement intended to wear the colorful sashes and pray a rosary in protest against the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage. The bishop, however, with the backing of law enforcement, prohibited anyone with sashes from entering the cathedral. In a statement given the morning before the planned protest, Bishop Paprocki said, “People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.”

For those familiar with the gay rights movement in the Roman Catholic Church, Paprocki’s response is far from unique. Time and time again, those publicly trying to raise questions about gay rights have been stopped from entering churches, often under the threat of violence, or denied Communion, an explicit condemnation of their advocacy. The bishops’ message is unambiguous: the church is no place for political statements or doctrinal challenges. Public displays of dissent are not permitted.

Outsiders to the Catholic Church may wonder at the bishops’ strong reactions to the Rainbow Sash Movement. What causes such heavy-handed responses to the questions raised by members of their own religious communities? What is so dangerous about dialogue? Paprocki, in his statement, explains the high stakes: “It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy,” the bishop says. “Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.”  For Paprocki and other bishops, speaking against church teaching on gay marriage is akin to speaking against God.

Strong rhetoric has long been used by bishops to counter perceived threats to Christianity. Dissent within the church, after all, has a long and illustrious tradition. For as long as there has been a faith, believers have expressed their differences over doctrines and practices. Bishops, concerned as leaders for the church’s unity and the preservation of Gospel tradition, often respond to these differences by claiming that opposition to their own authority is opposition to God’s established law. Those who rebel against the church’s interpretation of faith, they say, rebel against God.

Cyprian of Carthage, for example, a bishop writing on baptismal controversies in the mid-third century, claimed his opponent degraded the faith and shared in the spirit of the antichrist.  Cyprian writes, “If we are in Christ, and have Christ in us, if we abide in the truth, and the truth abides in us, let us keep fast to those things that are true. But it happens, by a love of presumption and of obstinacy, that (my opponent) would rather maintain his own evil and false position, than agree in the right and true which belongs to another.”  Using rhetoric similar to Bishop Paprocki’s words, Cyprian charged that his opponent, who had expressed a different belief, was separated from Christ by holding a theological position contrary to God’s revealed truth. Ironically, in Cyprian’s case, his opponent was Stephen, the Bishop of Rome and pope, whose position on the matter at hand would later become the normative belief of the church. Still, Cyprian’s rhetoric easily characterized the pope as a heretic intentionally deviating from Christian faith.

A cursory knowledge of Christian history reveals how bishops and inquisitors have consistently used biting rhetoric against “rebels” or “dissenters” in the church. In 357, Pope Liberius condemned and excommunicated St. Athanasius, the church father who would later be considered a chief architect of the Nicene Creed and called the “father of orthodoxy.”  In 1277, Bishop Etienne Tempier condemned the works of St. Thomas Aquinas by claiming that the angelic doctor’s appropriation of Aristotelian philosophy was inimical to Christian truth. In 1431, Bishop Pierre Cauchon led a trial against St. Joan of Arc, which ended in her execution based on charges of heresy and involvement with demonic powers. In 1871, Bishop Laurence Sheil excommunicated St. Mary MacKillop, an Australian nun, for insubordination to his episcopal authority. In the 1980s, Pope Benedict, when he was head of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, condemned theologies of liberation such as those put forward by Gustavo Gutierrez. More recently, Gutierrez’s work is undergoing a renaissance of popularity and acceptance under Pope Francis. Clearly, the boundary separating sainthood from blasphemy or heresy from orthodox truth is never so clear as some episcopal rhetoric presumes. Even if it takes much time, perspectives that differ from accepted teachings and traditions often become the later rule of faith.

For Catholic supporters of gay marriage, history proves that their dissent, along with the corresponding criticisms and condemnations from bishops, is part of a long tradition of dialogue within the body of faith. Often the condemned minority becomes the accepted majority, and church teaching evolves. Christianity is not a static set of rules and doctrines, but a living practice of faith within a community that includes both laity and hierarchy guided by the Holy Spirit. In order for this community to function in accord with the Holy Spirit’s moving, it is vital that all believers have the freedom to express themselves and be heard. At a moment in time when church participation and confessional belief seem to be in sharp decline, the concern that the Rainbow Sash Movement shows for the church’s spiritual health and relevancy in society is a provocative force within the rich and diverse Catholic tradition.

For the bishops, allowing dialogue to take place within the church may allow room for the Holy Spirit to work. New beliefs and practices, which with time take on the force of more established traditions, often start through movements of dissent. Though the bishops are wise to exercise caution in what they perceive to be innovations, or even threats, to the faith, the discernment of these questions must take place within the entire community of belief. Christian religion rightly evolves slowly, allowing time for the testing of new ideas in dialogue with tradition, but it does, in fact, evolve. The way that faith is practiced today is far different than the way it was practiced at the time of the apostles. These accepted changes are not the negation of the Gospel, but rather the confirmation that God is still active in the church and guiding believers through their interactions with the world.

Jason Steidl is a second year PhD student in systematic theology at Fordham University.

 

About

Jason Steidl Jason Steidl is a second-year PhD student in systematic theology at Fordham University in the Bronx. His academic interests focus on the relationship between culture, faith, and the church in contemporary society.
  • Rhogan1244

    But I presume the pedophiles are still welcome in Church.

    What I can’t understand is why a gay person would ever WANT to be a Catholic. It’s like a black person struggling to gain membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

  • Rhogan1244

    But I presume the pedophiles are still welcome in Church.

    What I can’t understand is why a gay person would ever WANT to be a Catholic. It’s like a black person struggling to gain membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

  • LululemonFanatic

    “Are Catholic bishops really the final authority on the faith?”

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but they do seem to be the final authority on bathroom renovations.

  • LululemonFanatic

    “Are Catholic bishops really the final authority on the faith?”

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but they do seem to be the final authority on bathroom renovations.

  • gpkreutzer

    actually its not at all like the KKK, the foundation of the KKK is bigotry and hatred specifically against one group of people i.e. black americans. the foundation of the Catholic church is base on love and forgiveness, on our relationship to a compassionate and loving God. as stated in the article things change in the Catholic church over time and we gay catholics are seeing to that change in peaceful witness to the truth, that we are all made in the likeness and image of God and love intimately by that God..

  • gpkreutzer

    actually its not at all like the KKK, the foundation of the KKK is bigotry and hatred specifically against one group of people i.e. black americans. the foundation of the Catholic church is base on love and forgiveness, on our relationship to a compassionate and loving God. as stated in the article things change in the Catholic church over time and we gay catholics are seeing to that change in peaceful witness to the truth, that we are all made in the likeness and image of God and love intimately by that God..

  • skypilot177

    Bishop Paprocki is 100% right and should be applauded for his actions. The fact is, the Catholic church DOES have static rules and doctrines that do not change, and that is as it should be. The word of God does not change with the whims of society or the relativism of the secular world. And to answer the author’s question — yes, the Catholic bishops, along with the Pope, DO have the final word on issues of faith and doctrine. If you as an individual don’t agree with the doctrines or that approach, that’s fine, you don’t have to be Catholic.

  • skypilot177

    Bishop Paprocki is 100% right and should be applauded for his actions. The fact is, the Catholic church DOES have static rules and doctrines that do not change, and that is as it should be. The word of God does not change with the whims of society or the relativism of the secular world. And to answer the author’s question — yes, the Catholic bishops, along with the Pope, DO have the final word on issues of faith and doctrine. If you as an individual don’t agree with the doctrines or that approach, that’s fine, you don’t have to be Catholic.

  • Otherwise

    Faith is swill for the ignorant.

  • Otherwise

    Faith is swill for the ignorant.

  • Otherwise

    “God” is a fictional character. God did not create man, but, rather, man created God. In fact, man created God in man’s image and likeness, warts and all.

  • Otherwise

    “God” is a fictional character. God did not create man, but, rather, man created God. In fact, man created God in man’s image and likeness, warts and all.

  • Otherwise

    @ gpkteutzer — your reply is indeed a gem of cognitive dissonance.

  • Otherwise

    @ gpkteutzer — your reply is indeed a gem of cognitive dissonance.

  • ggreene1

    Bless you. Isn’t it sweet how absolute trust in authority can make life so simple. This is something the thinking part of the population will never experience. The same church, using the same unchallenged authority, burned Giordano Bruno at the stake and gagged Galileo Galilei just 400 years ago for questioning the Gospel truth that the sun, along with the rest of the universe, orbits the earth and its center, Jerusalem. At least Pope Francis seems to perceive the problem–bless him, too.

    Look for “The Story of a Brief Century” on Scribd dot com for a free e-book that provides some analysis in the matter of authority as in the Emperor’s new clothes.

  • ggreene1

    Bless you. Isn’t it sweet how absolute trust in authority can make life so simple. This is something the thinking part of the population will never experience. The same church, using the same unchallenged authority, burned Giordano Bruno at the stake and gagged Galileo Galilei just 400 years ago for questioning the Gospel truth that the sun, along with the rest of the universe, orbits the earth and its center, Jerusalem. At least Pope Francis seems to perceive the problem–bless him, too.

    Look for “The Story of a Brief Century” on Scribd dot com for a free e-book that provides some analysis in the matter of authority as in the Emperor’s new clothes.

  • doubtfull

    Rite- the church is foul and far from the teachings of the Christ. Being a lapsed catholic and an altar boy I can tell you its all smoke and mirrors- Rome is still upset about Guttenberg, only the See knows whats best?

  • doubtfull

    Rite- the church is foul and far from the teachings of the Christ. Being a lapsed catholic and an altar boy I can tell you its all smoke and mirrors- Rome is still upset about Guttenberg, only the See knows whats best?

  • leibowde84

    What if the Bible got some of it wrong? Why do you think that imperfection is impossible? It is not the “word of God.” It is the “word of God” interpreted by imperfect men.

  • leibowde84

    What if the Bible got some of it wrong? Why do you think that imperfection is impossible? It is not the “word of God.” It is the “word of God” interpreted by imperfect men.

  • leibowde84

    And, why should the Bishop’s interpretation of scripture be the end all, be all. Who says that they are right? There are a lot of possible interpretations that are possible, and it seems ignorant to give up on exploring them.

  • leibowde84

    And, why should the Bishop’s interpretation of scripture be the end all, be all. Who says that they are right? There are a lot of possible interpretations that are possible, and it seems ignorant to give up on exploring them.

  • kevin23

    Another example of a student who learns facts but lacks a clear understanding of their context. I wonder about pursuing the PhD in theology from Fordham, as its “relevancy and spiritual health” is in question. Popular dialogue is a fundamental human feature, especially of politics. Its connection to theology is more strained, as theology is based on revelation, it’s crucial to decision making in the Church, but not necessarily popular dialogue.

    Also, I’m glad some of us can repeat Nietzschean sentiments without actually understanding the thinker @otherwise

  • kevin23

    Another example of a student who learns facts but lacks a clear understanding of their context. I wonder about pursuing the PhD in theology from Fordham, as its “relevancy and spiritual health” is in question. Popular dialogue is a fundamental human feature, especially of politics. Its connection to theology is more strained, as theology is based on revelation, it’s crucial to decision making in the Church, but not necessarily popular dialogue.

    Also, I’m glad some of us can repeat Nietzschean sentiments without actually understanding the thinker @otherwise

  • Otherwise

    @ kevin23 — Nietzschean? I have read Nietzsche, have you? He makes some good points here and there, although I have to say “The Birth of Tragedy” is tedious. The parable of the tight-rope walker in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is entertaining. But Nietzsche was neither the first nor the last writer to ridicule belief in the “supernatural,” a rubric which includes gods, demons, souls and the notion of an afterlife. Apologists for those beliefs have the lazy habit of using Nietzsche as their whipping-boy, however, which is why I asked if you have ever actually read anything that he wrote. I like Sartre and Camus, myself.

  • Otherwise

    @ kevin23 — Nietzschean? I have read Nietzsche, have you? He makes some good points here and there, although I have to say “The Birth of Tragedy” is tedious. The parable of the tight-rope walker in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is entertaining. But Nietzsche was neither the first nor the last writer to ridicule belief in the “supernatural,” a rubric which includes gods, demons, souls and the notion of an afterlife. Apologists for those beliefs have the lazy habit of using Nietzsche as their whipping-boy, however, which is why I asked if you have ever actually read anything that he wrote. I like Sartre and Camus, myself.

  • Otherwise

    (continued) And yes, Nietzsche himself was a dyed-in-the-wool irrationalist, as was Dostoevsky. I needed to add this to my previous reply, as it occurred to me that Nietzsche’s irrationalism may have been why you were claiming that I don’t “understand” him. My objection to the belief in God and all “supernaturalism” is that anything posited outside the laws of physics requires special pleading.

  • Otherwise

    (continued) And yes, Nietzsche himself was a dyed-in-the-wool irrationalist, as was Dostoevsky. I needed to add this to my previous reply, as it occurred to me that Nietzsche’s irrationalism may have been why you were claiming that I don’t “understand” him. My objection to the belief in God and all “supernaturalism” is that anything posited outside the laws of physics requires special pleading.

  • Otherwise

    (continued) Oh, and if you were referring to my use of the term “cognitive dissonance,” that has absolutely nothing to do with Nietzsche.

  • Otherwise

    (continued) Oh, and if you were referring to my use of the term “cognitive dissonance,” that has absolutely nothing to do with Nietzsche.

  • Otherwise

    And it further needs to be said that the concept of “God” in the famous phrase “God is dead” would have to be a metaphor. “God” is an idea, a tentative idea that was perhaps useful in earlier times, but the idea has clearly out-lived its usefulness. Oh, and forget about Plato’s absurd contention that “ideas” are more “real” than actual things.

  • Otherwise

    And it further needs to be said that the concept of “God” in the famous phrase “God is dead” would have to be a metaphor. “God” is an idea, a tentative idea that was perhaps useful in earlier times, but the idea has clearly out-lived its usefulness. Oh, and forget about Plato’s absurd contention that “ideas” are more “real” than actual things.

  • Paul Maher

    Well said.

  • Paul Maher

    Well said.

  • jimwalters1

    “The bishops’ message is unambiguous: the church is no place for political statements”

    Which is hypocritical, given that the bishops make political statements in church all the time.

  • jimwalters1

    “The bishops’ message is unambiguous: the church is no place for political statements”

    Which is hypocritical, given that the bishops make political statements in church all the time.

  • jimwalters1

    You also miss the fact that even bishops will disagree with each other, and that ideas of heresy and orthodoxy change over time. This article cited several instance of people being condemned as heretics who were later canonized as saints. Working in the opposite direction, Origen was considered orthodox in his own day but was condemned as a heretic 300 years after his death.

  • jimwalters1

    You also miss the fact that even bishops will disagree with each other, and that ideas of heresy and orthodoxy change over time. This article cited several instance of people being condemned as heretics who were later canonized as saints. Working in the opposite direction, Origen was considered orthodox in his own day but was condemned as a heretic 300 years after his death.

  • Lalande21185

    Jim,

    You have misunderstood the meaning of the bishop’s words. By saying “the church is no place for political statements”, he meant quite specifically “place”. I.e., don’t go (physically) into a church with the intention of demonstrating, etc. Take it outside.

    No hypocrisy at all. You want to make a political statement? Don’t do it inside a church. (Which, by the way, is in complete compliance with the federal government’s tax laws.)

  • Lalande21185

    Jim,

    You have misunderstood the meaning of the bishop’s words. By saying “the church is no place for political statements”, he meant quite specifically “place”. I.e., don’t go (physically) into a church with the intention of demonstrating, etc. Take it outside.

    No hypocrisy at all. You want to make a political statement? Don’t do it inside a church. (Which, by the way, is in complete compliance with the federal government’s tax laws.)

  • Catken1

    “If you as an individual don’t agree with the doctrines or that approach, that’s fine, you don’t have to be Catholic.”

    It would be lovely if the Church would recognize that, and stop campaigning against civil marriage for gay people.
    As it stands, they’re seeking to require ALL Americans, of every faith, to comply with Catholic dogma concerning the appropriate sex of one’s marriage partner in order to have a CIVIL marriage.
    That is inappropriate and un-American.

  • Catken1

    “If you as an individual don’t agree with the doctrines or that approach, that’s fine, you don’t have to be Catholic.”

    It would be lovely if the Church would recognize that, and stop campaigning against civil marriage for gay people.
    As it stands, they’re seeking to require ALL Americans, of every faith, to comply with Catholic dogma concerning the appropriate sex of one’s marriage partner in order to have a CIVIL marriage.
    That is inappropriate and un-American.

  • northernharrier

    It’s sad that Bishop Paprocki believes he should use his power within the church to support and enforce bigoted policies against gays, lesbians and others. However, it is illegal for him and the other Bishops to try to force all U.S. citizens to abide by the Church’s doctrines on these and other subjects. The Church is very apparently and boldly attempting to subvert our constitutional rights to freedom of religion by imposing Catholic Church doctrine through law. They are doing this not just by persuasion and influence upon the public by Church clergy and officials, but also by establishing a policy center in the national capital specifically to lobby Congress and the president regarding legislation, regulations, and executive orders on behalf of the Church. They are, in essence, attempting to subvert the Bill of Rights and establish a theocracy in the U.S.

  • northernharrier

    It’s sad that Bishop Paprocki believes he should use his power within the church to support and enforce bigoted policies against gays, lesbians and others. However, it is illegal for him and the other Bishops to try to force all U.S. citizens to abide by the Church’s doctrines on these and other subjects. The Church is very apparently and boldly attempting to subvert our constitutional rights to freedom of religion by imposing Catholic Church doctrine through law. They are doing this not just by persuasion and influence upon the public by Church clergy and officials, but also by establishing a policy center in the national capital specifically to lobby Congress and the president regarding legislation, regulations, and executive orders on behalf of the Church. They are, in essence, attempting to subvert the Bill of Rights and establish a theocracy in the U.S.

  • jimwalters1

    Even that is hypocrisy because bishops do make political statements in the physical building. I’ve been given letters from the bishop telling me how to vote, and I’ve heard of bishops requiring such letter be read from the pulpit. The wording is typically vague enough to give plausible deniability with regard to the tax laws, but the intent is obvious.

    You are also conflating normal politics with Church politics. The IRS doesn’t care if you make a statement in church to change Church policies.

  • jimwalters1

    Even that is hypocrisy because bishops do make political statements in the physical building. I’ve been given letters from the bishop telling me how to vote, and I’ve heard of bishops requiring such letter be read from the pulpit. The wording is typically vague enough to give plausible deniability with regard to the tax laws, but the intent is obvious.

    You are also conflating normal politics with Church politics. The IRS doesn’t care if you make a statement in church to change Church policies.

  • Tomppanseni41

    What is systematic theology? The opposite of un-systematic theology? In any case, it is all too easy to claim Divine sources in contradicting what are earthly questions. At stake is the idea that homosexuality is a choice and thus a sin. Absent that assumption, there’s no question but that discussion and open-dialogue are needed, not recourse to the defense of scripture.

  • Tomppanseni41

    What is systematic theology? The opposite of un-systematic theology? In any case, it is all too easy to claim Divine sources in contradicting what are earthly questions. At stake is the idea that homosexuality is a choice and thus a sin. Absent that assumption, there’s no question but that discussion and open-dialogue are needed, not recourse to the defense of scripture.

  • Bluefish2012

    No, that homosexuality is a choice is not what’s at stake. What is at stake is the nature of sex and marriage and the family unit. To equate gay sex with complementary heterosexual sex and a natural nuclear family is absurd. In that regard Christian doctrine–not what the bishops teach but what Christ himself taught–is not subject to revisionist interpretation.

  • Bluefish2012

    No, that homosexuality is a choice is not what’s at stake. What is at stake is the nature of sex and marriage and the family unit. To equate gay sex with complementary heterosexual sex and a natural nuclear family is absurd. In that regard Christian doctrine–not what the bishops teach but what Christ himself taught–is not subject to revisionist interpretation.

  • Bluefish2012

    You and Mr. Steidl blame the bishop for heavy-handed tactics and criticism, then you blast your opponents with an inflammatory charge like “bigotry.” How credible is criticism that raises the temperature of the disagreement even further? Rational and respectful dialog is one thing; raging dissent quite another. Is the latter a mark of the Holy Spirit?

  • Bluefish2012

    You and Mr. Steidl blame the bishop for heavy-handed tactics and criticism, then you blast your opponents with an inflammatory charge like “bigotry.” How credible is criticism that raises the temperature of the disagreement even further? Rational and respectful dialog is one thing; raging dissent quite another. Is the latter a mark of the Holy Spirit?

  • Lalande21185

    Uhhh…. what part of the Bill of Rights are they attempting to subvert?

  • Lalande21185

    Uhhh…. what part of the Bill of Rights are they attempting to subvert?

  • Catken1

    “To equate gay sex with complementary heterosexual sex and a natural nuclear family is absurd.”

    On the contrary, it is absurd to argue that the only way two people can complement each other is to have different genitalia, and that the only way to form a good, healthy nuclear family is through breeding the children you raise yourself (thus telling every adoptive child in the country that they and their families are “unnatural” and “inferior”).

    The sexes are not two monolithic blocs of people, with all women identical in every way to every other woman, all men identical in every way to all other men, and each sex absolutely different from each other. “Complementarity” can be achieved in many different ways, and there are gay couples who complement each other emotionally and temperamentally far more than many straight couples do.

    And there are plenty of adoptive families, gay-couple-led-families, and families who are raising children they did not themselves breed in the “natural” way, who are often far healthier than many “natural” heterosexual families.

    Anyway, Christian doctrine ought to be irrelevant to civil law. Your church is free to be absurd – free to declare that what makes a marriage is having the ‘right” assortment of genitals and free to declare that children being raised by the parents that bred them are better, more virtuous, and more worthy of secure families than other children, and free to declare that loving marriages without children are worthless regardless of how they care for each other and support each other. But you are NOT free to argue that only those marriages that conform to YOUR religion’s view of what is right ought to get civil recognition.

  • Catken1

    “To equate gay sex with complementary heterosexual sex and a natural nuclear family is absurd.”

    On the contrary, it is absurd to argue that the only way two people can complement each other is to have different genitalia, and that the only way to form a good, healthy nuclear family is through breeding the children you raise yourself (thus telling every adoptive child in the country that they and their families are “unnatural” and “inferior”).

    The sexes are not two monolithic blocs of people, with all women identical in every way to every other woman, all men identical in every way to all other men, and each sex absolutely different from each other. “Complementarity” can be achieved in many different ways, and there are gay couples who complement each other emotionally and temperamentally far more than many straight couples do.

    And there are plenty of adoptive families, gay-couple-led-families, and families who are raising children they did not themselves breed in the “natural” way, who are often far healthier than many “natural” heterosexual families.

    Anyway, Christian doctrine ought to be irrelevant to civil law. Your church is free to be absurd – free to declare that what makes a marriage is having the ‘right” assortment of genitals and free to declare that children being raised by the parents that bred them are better, more virtuous, and more worthy of secure families than other children, and free to declare that loving marriages without children are worthless regardless of how they care for each other and support each other. But you are NOT free to argue that only those marriages that conform to YOUR religion’s view of what is right ought to get civil recognition.

  • Catken1

    I may think it absurd to equate your genital-obsessed breeder’s union with a REAL marriage, one that includes people who value love and commitment over body parts, and who don’t seek to privilege, legally and socially, the latest Kardashian publicity stunt or Gingrich trophy marriage over a loving gay marriage that’s lasted for decades and involved a lifetime of cherishing and support, possibly the raising of some healthy, happy kids. But I can’t deny your relationship the legal, civil status of marriage because I think yours is shallow and absurd, by my religion’s values.

    The First Amendment is not subject to “revisionist interpretation,” either, and the First Amendment grants us the right NOT to be Catholic or even Christian, and not to be punished or treated as second-class citizens as a result.

  • Catken1

    I may think it absurd to equate your genital-obsessed breeder’s union with a REAL marriage, one that includes people who value love and commitment over body parts, and who don’t seek to privilege, legally and socially, the latest Kardashian publicity stunt or Gingrich trophy marriage over a loving gay marriage that’s lasted for decades and involved a lifetime of cherishing and support, possibly the raising of some healthy, happy kids. But I can’t deny your relationship the legal, civil status of marriage because I think yours is shallow and absurd, by my religion’s values.

    The First Amendment is not subject to “revisionist interpretation,” either, and the First Amendment grants us the right NOT to be Catholic or even Christian, and not to be punished or treated as second-class citizens as a result.

  • Catken1

    “You and Mr. Steidl blame the bishop for heavy-handed tactics and criticism, then you blast your opponents with an inflammatory charge like “bigotry.”"

    Oh, dear, diddums get called a bad name? Poor baby! And all because your sweet, innocent widdle self feels the need to attack other people’s families, take away their marriages, and make their lives and their kids’ lives harder, because they didn’t pick a spouse of whom your religion approves! How dare they! Those meanies ought to be NICE to you, to sit down, shut up, give up their families, their kids, and the loves of their lives to please you, and never, EVER have the gall to get ANGRY with you!

    How would you feel about someone who declared Christian marriages “unnatural” and sought to have your civil marriage taken away unless you converted to another faith and married a spouse of another faith rather than the person you love? What if their religion really, really led them to believe that your choice was unnatural, wrong, and didn’t deserve the same status as theirs? Would you obey them and give up everything you loved in order to avoid offending them by requiring them to tolerate and even “approve” your “sin” with civil marriage status? Or would you, perhaps, consider them an anti-Christian bigot for seeking to treat you and yours as second-class people with fewer rights than themselves?

  • Catken1

    “You and Mr. Steidl blame the bishop for heavy-handed tactics and criticism, then you blast your opponents with an inflammatory charge like “bigotry.”"

    Oh, dear, diddums get called a bad name? Poor baby! And all because your sweet, innocent widdle self feels the need to attack other people’s families, take away their marriages, and make their lives and their kids’ lives harder, because they didn’t pick a spouse of whom your religion approves! How dare they! Those meanies ought to be NICE to you, to sit down, shut up, give up their families, their kids, and the loves of their lives to please you, and never, EVER have the gall to get ANGRY with you!

    How would you feel about someone who declared Christian marriages “unnatural” and sought to have your civil marriage taken away unless you converted to another faith and married a spouse of another faith rather than the person you love? What if their religion really, really led them to believe that your choice was unnatural, wrong, and didn’t deserve the same status as theirs? Would you obey them and give up everything you loved in order to avoid offending them by requiring them to tolerate and even “approve” your “sin” with civil marriage status? Or would you, perhaps, consider them an anti-Christian bigot for seeking to treat you and yours as second-class people with fewer rights than themselves?

  • dwickert51

    I don’t even consider the bishops very good Catholics, much less any kind of authority.They are old, mostly white men from affluent backgrounds, they are patriarchal, chauvinistic, politically reactionary, sexist, not inclusionary, They go out of their way to vilify those they perceive as threats toward the status quo and their authority.

  • dwickert51

    I don’t even consider the bishops very good Catholics, much less any kind of authority.They are old, mostly white men from affluent backgrounds, they are patriarchal, chauvinistic, politically reactionary, sexist, not inclusionary, They go out of their way to vilify those they perceive as threats toward the status quo and their authority.

  • Ed Morgano

    I used to be Catholic…..now I’m enlightened. Peace and love to all!

  • Ed Morgano

    I used to be Catholic…..now I’m enlightened. Peace and love to all!

  • Ed Morgano

    @Otherwise As I stated earlier in this thread, I used to be a Catholic…..now I’m enlightened. However, I do still believe in the existence of a higher power, call it whatever you want. This conclusion is NOT based in any scientifically provable fact. After observing life for 71 years, I just can’t wrap my head around “A cosmic accident with no purpose”. I do believe we are charged with a purpose to love one another and try to make this world a better place. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • Ed Morgano

    @Otherwise As I stated earlier in this thread, I used to be a Catholic…..now I’m enlightened. However, I do still believe in the existence of a higher power, call it whatever you want. This conclusion is NOT based in any scientifically provable fact. After observing life for 71 years, I just can’t wrap my head around “A cosmic accident with no purpose”. I do believe we are charged with a purpose to love one another and try to make this world a better place. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • northernharrier

    Lalande21185: Uhhh….they are attempting to subvert the 1st amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom by ignoring the establishment clause to enact their personal religious beliefs into law. Please read the 1st amendment carefully – it prohibits laws respecting the establishment of religion. Note the use of the word religion, not “a particular religion” or “one religion over another.” They simply wrote “religion” because they understood that religious freedom depends on a “wall of separation” between church and state (Jefferson’s words, and the same belief as Madison, who wrote the amendment).

  • northernharrier

    Lalande21185: Uhhh….they are attempting to subvert the 1st amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom by ignoring the establishment clause to enact their personal religious beliefs into law. Please read the 1st amendment carefully – it prohibits laws respecting the establishment of religion. Note the use of the word religion, not “a particular religion” or “one religion over another.” They simply wrote “religion” because they understood that religious freedom depends on a “wall of separation” between church and state (Jefferson’s words, and the same belief as Madison, who wrote the amendment).

  • northernharrier

    My use of the word bigotry is not inflammatory or exaggerated at all. Look in a dictionary at the definition of bigotry – the position of the Bishops regarding gays and lesbians and the law in the U.S. is clearly bigotry.

  • northernharrier

    My use of the word bigotry is not inflammatory or exaggerated at all. Look in a dictionary at the definition of bigotry – the position of the Bishops regarding gays and lesbians and the law in the U.S. is clearly bigotry.

  • tidelandermdva

    sky hasn’t been paying attention. The people and the bishops who have been demanding that if you don’t toe the line of the Gospel according to Ratzinger, you are no Catholic are all of a sudden out of line and complaining about Pope Francis. What happened to their absolute obedience?

  • tidelandermdva

    sky hasn’t been paying attention. The people and the bishops who have been demanding that if you don’t toe the line of the Gospel according to Ratzinger, you are no Catholic are all of a sudden out of line and complaining about Pope Francis. What happened to their absolute obedience?

  • tidelandermdva

    higher than what?

    It seems to me that claiming belief in an unknown, unspecified, undefined higher power shows lack of courage in accepting belief, and lack of courage in accepting nonbelief.

    In reality, it seems to me that you are reflecting what is in your heart toward others, and shouldn’t that be enough?

  • tidelandermdva

    higher than what?

    It seems to me that claiming belief in an unknown, unspecified, undefined higher power shows lack of courage in accepting belief, and lack of courage in accepting nonbelief.

    In reality, it seems to me that you are reflecting what is in your heart toward others, and shouldn’t that be enough?

  • MHughes976

    Isn’t the basic idea of Catholic rather than Protestant Christianity that Bishops do have authority to define the faith?
    In any event I don’t think someone who is in charge of a building has an obligation to permit demonstrations against his policy on the premises. But there is an obligation on anyone, bishop or not, to offer rational explanation of what (s)he believes.

  • MHughes976

    Isn’t the basic idea of Catholic rather than Protestant Christianity that Bishops do have authority to define the faith?
    In any event I don’t think someone who is in charge of a building has an obligation to permit demonstrations against his policy on the premises. But there is an obligation on anyone, bishop or not, to offer rational explanation of what (s)he believes.

  • leibowde84

    Sorry buddy. Even if we assume that everything attributed to Jesus in the Gospels is accurate (which is a pretty big “leap of faith” … no pun intended), there is no mention of homosexuality by Jesus in the Bible. Only imperfect men who claimed to be speaking for God (Paul, for example) speak to this topic. So, claiming that Jesus said that homosexuality was wrong is just a straight up lie.

    Also, you can claim that he followed the Old Testament, but, as he changed a lot of the “rules” associated with that collection of scriptures, it seems foolish to assume he would not change that part.

  • leibowde84

    Sorry buddy. Even if we assume that everything attributed to Jesus in the Gospels is accurate (which is a pretty big “leap of faith” … no pun intended), there is no mention of homosexuality by Jesus in the Bible. Only imperfect men who claimed to be speaking for God (Paul, for example) speak to this topic. So, claiming that Jesus said that homosexuality was wrong is just a straight up lie.

    Also, you can claim that he followed the Old Testament, but, as he changed a lot of the “rules” associated with that collection of scriptures, it seems foolish to assume he would not change that part.

  • leibowde84

    Btw, there is absolutely no conclusive evidence showing that homosexuals aren’t just as good parents as heterosexuals. Further, there is absolutely no conclusive proof that homosexuality is any kind of choice … thus, shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, if you believe that homosexuality is wrong or against God’s will, then why would you assume without proof that they are in control of their sexual orientation?

  • leibowde84

    Btw, there is absolutely no conclusive evidence showing that homosexuals aren’t just as good parents as heterosexuals. Further, there is absolutely no conclusive proof that homosexuality is any kind of choice … thus, shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, if you believe that homosexuality is wrong or against God’s will, then why would you assume without proof that they are in control of their sexual orientation?

  • kittymeredith

    Surely you agree that the Catholic Church has changed radically through the centuries. Read any history book on the subject. The church went through a series of wrenching changes during Vatican 2, and is now poised for considerable upheaval with Pope Francis ,who is in effect dragging the church back to the church of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a time to celebrate!

  • kittymeredith

    Surely you agree that the Catholic Church has changed radically through the centuries. Read any history book on the subject. The church went through a series of wrenching changes during Vatican 2, and is now poised for considerable upheaval with Pope Francis ,who is in effect dragging the church back to the church of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a time to celebrate!

  • kittymeredith

    Not too many years ago a man and woman could not be married in the church if they knew they were unable to conceive a child. That changed, and adoption is now encouraged for the childless. In 1927 when my parents were married, the priest would only perform the ceremony in his office because my father was not a Catholic. Move on to 1955, when my 17 year old brother died after 5 years of tormenting pain, our parish priest at first refused to give him a christian burial “because he had not made confession and therefore had died in a state of sin”. Friends of our family had two sons who were Jesuits, and they finally convinced the Priest to provide the proper Mass and burial. My mother gradually drifted away from the church after this lack of compassion My father, already an atheist, was also disgusted by that treatment especially since it grieved my mother, to whom he was so devoted.

    Looking back on these and similar incidents, I wonder whether Priests and other “religious” ever ask themselves “what would Jesus do?”

  • kittymeredith

    Not too many years ago a man and woman could not be married in the church if they knew they were unable to conceive a child. That changed, and adoption is now encouraged for the childless. In 1927 when my parents were married, the priest would only perform the ceremony in his office because my father was not a Catholic. Move on to 1955, when my 17 year old brother died after 5 years of tormenting pain, our parish priest at first refused to give him a christian burial “because he had not made confession and therefore had died in a state of sin”. Friends of our family had two sons who were Jesuits, and they finally convinced the Priest to provide the proper Mass and burial. My mother gradually drifted away from the church after this lack of compassion My father, already an atheist, was also disgusted by that treatment especially since it grieved my mother, to whom he was so devoted.

    Looking back on these and similar incidents, I wonder whether Priests and other “religious” ever ask themselves “what would Jesus do?”

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