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July 20, 2015 | Volume 90 Number 19


Supreme Court ruling affects civil marriage

The recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell, decreeing that all states must issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, presents a number of challenges to the Church. The manner in which we respond to this case will determine to a significant degree the success of our future evangelization with respect to marriage.

First, the Church must renew its consistent call for all people to treat those with homosexual inclinations with dignity, respect and, most of all, love. Our brothers and sisters who consider themselves homosexuals are entitled to equal treatment under the law, yes; but more importantly they are due equal love and respect as children of God.

Second, the Church needs to more clearly emphasize to the laity the distinction between the civil institution, enshrined in law by the government and popularly known as “marriage,” and the separate, distinct and special sacramental institution of the same name, but which is established by God and protected by his Church.

The decision of the Court in Obergefell exclusively concerns secular, not religious, unions, and no civil court, legislature or executive has any jurisdiction over sacramental matrimony. If the secular law permits as many serial marriages as a person wants, requiring only a six month waiting period (with a separation agreement) for a “no fault” divorce, how can we seriously question whether the civil institution of marriage still has any real resemblance to sacramental marriage, regardless of whether same sex couples are issued a license?

Some folks are civilly “married.” Some are sacramentally married. Some, but not all, are both. Obergefell doesn’t change that.

Finally, in order to emphasize this distinction, the Church should consider whether its ministers should continue to serve any secular role in marriage at all. If not, this would simply mean that Catholic priests and deacons would not sign government issued marriage licenses.

If a couple wanted to be sacramentally married, they would present themselves to the Church, which could perform the marriage rite, while making clear to the couple that such marriage would have no civil implications.

If the couple also wanted the government to recognize their union, they would appear at their local Clerk’s office, or before another person authorized under the law, and have their license civilly solemnized, but their obtaining a marriage license from the Clerk would not be a pre-condition to their receiving the sacrament of marriage from a priest or deacon, any more than their receiving a baptismal license from the government would be a precondition to their being baptized.

Though Catholics need not celebrate the Obergefell decision, we should not despair, either. Christ reigns, now and forever.


Catholics need to follow teachings

I appreciated the CV response to the letter by Mackenzie Krogh (“CV articles cause reader to wonder,” June 22 issue). Too many Catholics, especially those who didn’t attend Catholic schools or attend Mass weekly, are remiss in their Catholic faith regarding morality issues.

To my recollection, it began when the American government approved the contraceptive pill. People, including many Catholics, accepted that. Only the Catholic Church has maintained that contraceptives are against God’s will.

Next came the government decision permitting no fault divorce. The Catholic Church said and continues to teach that divorce is not permissible. Only marriages that were determined not to be in line with Catholic teaching of the permanence of marriage were allowed to be annulled (deemed invalid). Many American Catholics believe the decision by the government was okay.

In 1973, the Supreme Court made the decision to legalize abortion. The Catholic Church has always taught that it is not okay to kill an unborn child, and has stood on that decision. Yet the number of abortions among Catholic women is not much different from women of other denominations. So again, the government makes the decision and some Catholics agreed with their decision that it is okay.

In late June, the Supreme Court made the decision to allow same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. Yet many Catholics agree with the government’s decision, and complain about the Catholic Church standing against this decision.

There will be many more decisions by the government in the future regarding morality. There will be many Christian churches and many Catholics jumping on the bandwagon with them in agreement. The Catholic Church will continue to stand by the truth on morality issues.

The government cannot and should not make morality decisions. They are in the business of politics. The churches determine morality, and it is the right of the churches to expect people who belong to their respective churches to believe the same.

To be Catholic is to be “one” in union with the Catholic Church teaching on faith and morality. Unless Catholics are willing to learn what it means to be Catholic, they will continue to spout their own beliefs.

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Forgiveness reigns in Charleston killings

On June 19, a Charleston court held a criminal bond hearing which was transformed into an encyclical — a word from the Greek for “encircle.”

In an astonishing display of love’s ability to vanquish hate, we witnessed one family member after another join a circle, in order to express and direct their forgiveness, as well as their pain, toward the person who had savagely murdered their loved ones just hours before.

Indeed, they drew their inspiration and words from the very Christian Bible study group which the murderer victimized. The people of Charleston have demonstrated the healthiest and strongest of climates in the wake of a polluted soul, the likes of which the Vatican may envy.

As virtuous as Pope Francis is, as well as his own Encyclical on another climate, the “encircling” from Charleston pierces yet heals the sacred hearts of humans at a time of immense need for emboldening the sanctity of human life.

The threat of hydrocarbons pales in comparison, and so it should.


Birthright defended as on the side of life

Recently I learned of a terrible misunderstanding regarding the role of Birthright of Norfolk in our community. There exists the erroneous belief that Birthright volunteers refer abortion-minded clients to abortion providers.

Let me state emphatically: Birthright NEVER refers clients for abortion and never will.

Since Birthright’s inception in 1968, we have been firmly and unapologetically on the side of life. Birthright was founded by a Catholic mother of seven, Louise Summerhill, based on sound Catholic doctrine and social teaching.

Birthright centers around the U.S. and Canada have historically enjoyed the support of Catholic parishes and of other faiths due to our unwavering belief that “it is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth, and the right of every child to be born.”

The purpose of Birthright in our community is to provide each client with an alternative to abortion and with the real-world support which enables her to choose life for her child. We believe that abortion is never the solution to a crisis; rather it begets a new crisis.

Birthright volunteers reach out to mothers in love. Louise Summerhill was fond of saying, “the essence of Birthright is love.” Love is what allows a woman to choose life for her child. That is why Birthright exists.


Article on Fr. Drake needs clarification

I enjoyed reading the article about Father Drake and his many assignments in the July 6 issue of The Catholic Virginian but as I read through the article there is an omission of about 12 years when he was assigned to St. Matthew's (Virginia Beach) for the second time.

I believe the time frame would have been from about 1989 until 2001 when he was instrumental in the building of our current church to handle the many parishioners that attended the Sunday services.

It is important to acknowlede this accomplishment during his assignment here in those years.

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