07 July 2015

Coffee Cup Browsing

Should the Church stop signing-off on civil marriages? I've thought about it, but the consequences aren't clear.

The New Totalitarianism. . .not really all that new. 

Same-sex "marriage" will lead to polygamy. None of the arguments against polygamy can survive given Kennedy's invention of new civil right to dignity.

Hillary herds her media sheep with a rope. . .literally, with a rope.

SSM is not like divorce

Einstein can't be wrong about relativity! The science is settled! 

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  1. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Yes, priests should stop signing civil marriage certificates. This is, after all, the policy the Bishop of Rome gives to the priests of his diocese-- couples go through the civil proceedings during the week, and those who wish to live a Catholic marriage then come to the church on the weekend for the sacrament. There is, literally, no point in being more Catholic than the Pope in this matter. We Catholics should try to live peacefully in our society; and so it is right and good to meet the civil authorities' legitimate requests for licenses and registration in the question of marriage. That is, Catholic couples should follow the government-set rules for license and certification; but do that down at the court house, in front of a judge/JP/registrar/whatever. Priests have no business filling the role of some petty government functionary for a government which treats their intelligence and consciences with contempt. You can't be forced to do gay marriages, if you don't do civil marriages at all.

    In the short term, you will have to deal with some Bridezillas (and Momzillas) who are bent out of shape at having to do two events. A fraction will simply skip the Church wedding, which is probably for the best, since they aren't looking to live a sacramental marriage anyway. It will be a chance to have some important teaching moments about when you're "really" married, and what you really intend to do by this action. An analogy: the civil marriage is the equivalent of the purchase agreement for a house; the sacramental marriage is the equivalent of making a home for a family-- a very different thing, MUCH richer and more important to human thriving.

  2. I disagree. The Church came before the State (and will live long after it falls). Why shouldn't the Church continue to certify a Christian marriage? The priest or deacon should sign the certificate and tell the State, "This is a valid marriage, and the State should accept this as true because we, the Church, witnessed it." The State shouldn't be able to rescind our civil authority just because we don't recognize gay partnerships as sacramental. We've been selective with our sacraments for a long time (i.e., the divorced, non-Christians). This isn't much different.

    And to my knowledge, the State hasn't even threatened to revoke our authority to sign civil certificates. Why would we surrender to an army that isn't even marching on us?

    1. Daddio, an argument can be made that when clergy sign marriage licenses they are acting as agents of the State. If that is so, then the State can insist that clergy not "discriminate" against same-sex couples. Of course, all the clergy would need to do is stop signing all marriage licenses in order to overcome this bit of totalitarian thinking. But to get to the point of stopping, there will likely be expensive lawsuits.

    2. Anonymous5:14 PM

      The Church *does* certify Christian marriages, and keeps track of them in the parish records. I would expect that to continue; but it's entirely separate from the state's requirements and state records. The Church has responsibility under Canon Law, but no duty to the civil authorities to officiate a civil procedure or maintain civil records. Again, as I said, in a very large majority of the countries on Earth, priests do not sign civil marriage certificates. And again, this specifically includes the diocese of Rome, so it is the Pope's personal pastoral guidance to his priests. We gain nothing, and lose plenty, by involving the Church in the farce that is civil marriage in the USA today. This is not a surrender, merely a long-overdue recognition that what the state is calling a "marriage" has long since parted ways with what the Church understands as a marriage. We're not witnessing to the same event that the state calls "marriage" and have no reason to sign a document recognizing "spouse A" and "spouse B" consented to a legal contract on such and such a day.

      And why do we even *want* the Church exercising civil powers anyway? The Church *doesn't* have a right to civil authority, even petty ones like notarizing a government document. Let the State fill its role, and be held accountable for its actions; and let the Church fill her own role without interfering with others' tasks.

  3. Father, thanks for restoring Coffee Cup Browsing! It's long been one of my favourite features of your blog.

    Fr. Martin Farrell,op

    1. Fr Martin, it's just a matter of finding the time to post CCB. When seminary is in session, I hardly have time to breathe!