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Defending Bishop Cordileone

February 11th, 2010

To readers from the Good As You blog, thanks for dropping in. I am responding to this post about Bishop Cordileone, originally posted over there. I thought this was a little much for the “comments” section. So thanks for coming over.
In the first place: Bishop Cordileone has as much right to participate in the political process and public discussion of the definition of marriage as anyone else. You seem to think you have uncovered some deep dark secret that a Catholic bishop believes what the Catholic Church believes, and teaches what the Catholic Church teaches. Catholics lay and clergy alike, have the same right to express their opinion in the public square as anyone else. We have the same responsibility as anyone else to convince our fellow citizens to join with our views.
In the second place: Proposition 8 was not a referendum on Catholic canon law. If it had been, of course, it would never have made it on the ballot. Nor was Proposition 8 a referendum on some point unique to Orthodox Jewish marriage law, such as forbidding sex with a menstruating woman. If it had been, of course, it would have lost. Proposition 8 was not a referendum on some point of Latter Day Saint theology of marriage, such as whether marriages are eternal. No, Prop 8 was not about anything idiosyncratic to one religion or another.
Proposition 8 was a referendum on a point that is common to all the major faith traditions, and to those of no faith at all, including Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Judaism, Islamic, LDS. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. All these traditions are united on the dual gender requirement for marriage. This fact is what allowed us to work together, and ultimately, to win the referendum. We all consider it a great blessing to have met one another and become friends around this issue. But I digress.
In the third place: Proposition 8 did not win by a “bare majority.” It won by a comfortable margin of nearly 53% to 47%. This is the same percentage by which Barack Obama was anointed the Messiah. Evidently, the coalition of faith traditions and non-religious interested citizens was more successful at convincing their fellow citizens of their views, than your coalition was.
In the fourth place: The radio show you referred to in your post was a call-in show on Catholic Answers Live. That episode was called “Ask a Canon Lawyer,” and people could call in with whatever they wanted to talk about. (This is what gave it the rambling quality mentioned in the original post.) Some of the callers wanted to know whether they were free to marry in the Catholic Church. As you may know, the Church’s rule is roughly speaking, “one man, one woman, for life.” Remarriage while one’s spouse is alive, is forbidden in the Catholic Church. If a person is in a valid marriage, they are not free to end that marriage and remarry. A person is only free to marry if that original union was not a valid union for some reason, or if their spouse has died. There must be an investigation to discover whether that marriage was in fact valid. If the marriage was valid, the individuals are not free to remarry within the Catholic Church, no matter what the civil law might say, no matter what our divorce-prone culture might say. If there is a ‘finding of nullity,” that means there was never a valid marriage in the first place, and the parties are free to marry.
The questions on the radio show were about this topic. In this context, the Bishop said, the Catholic Church recognizes as valid, any marriage between non-Catholics that is recognized in civil law. If a non-Catholic got married by a judge or by a Protestant minister, the Church presumes the validity of that marriage. A person in that situation would have to get the marriage annulled before they were free to marry in a Catholic Church.
Mind you, no one has to get married in the Catholic Church. The only people who are bound by canon law in this matter are people who want to be part of the Church and her sacramental system. The Church knows perfectly well that she has no jurisdiction over people outside her fold. But she is quite willing to apply the label “married” to a man and a woman who have given their consent to be married in accordance with legally accepted norms.
I think that what bothers you is that the Church is not willing to accept a union of two men and two women as a marriage. I will explain in a future post.

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  1. February 11th, 2010 at 19:52 | #1

    I don’t have time to parse everything you said, because I’m hungry, but this comment at the end is silly:

    “I think what bothers you is that the Church is not willing to accept a union of two men and two women…”

    Uh, actually, no ma’am. First of all, the Catholic Church is not “the church.” There are thousands of churches of all denominations that bless same sex marriages, whether or not they’re recognized officially. So if I want a church wedding, I get one, and you can’t do anything about it, because if you tried, you’d be discriminating against the religious beliefs of other, more loving religious institutions, and that’s Not American, Darling.

    Secondly, I personally don’t want to get married in a church AT ALL, because I’m not a Christian, much less a Catholic, and you have no right to dictate anything about CIVIL marriage rights, because you are no more of an American than I am (and no less, I might add). You are entitled to help your church prop up discrimination, but for you to suggest that what really gets under the LGBT community’s skin is that your church won’t bless our unions is grandiose and accords far more respect to your church than non-Catholic American society (the great majority, I would add) actually holds for it.

  2. Andrew Baalman
    February 11th, 2010 at 21:52 | #2

    Actually, the Catholic Church is the “Church” because it was the first and true Christian Church that was started by Christ in 33 A.D. Then later on in the 1300s the Church split into the Orthodox and Catholic. Because of a young king was very proud and wouldn’t listen to the Pope and so the Pope excommunicated him and along with those who favored the king over the Pope. Then in 1500s the protestant reformation began and people again had problems with the teachings of the Church and so Martin Luther; who was a Benedictine Monk in Germany; started the Lutheran church and Calvin and the others started their own church; which became the religion of Protestantism. The Catholic Church is the one true Church and their teachings are not man made nor are their rules; they are Divine Made and given by Christ; so we hold firm on what God has put together: man and woman in the Sacrament of Marriage. Because man and woman can procreate and complete the marriage bond; when the marriage of the same sex; can not procreate and so they can’t complete the bond of marriage.

    That is why we do not allow, females to be ordained or homosexuals to marry. Because God didn’t put it together. If Christ chose females as the 12 Apostles; then we would have female priests and deacons. Since He chose 12 men and so we have men priests, deacons, bishops, cardinals and Pope. God started the sacrament of marriage with Adam and Eve; not Adam and steven or Eve and Lucy. So no homosexuals can be married in the eyes of God ever.

  3. Marty
    February 11th, 2010 at 22:54 | #3

    “There are thousands of churches of all denominations that bless same sex marriages, whether or not they’re recognized officially. ”

    LOL. Yes and all put together they have “thousands” of members, and “years” of accepting this idea of same-sex marriage.

    And please Evan, talk to me about discrimination. Sound’s to me like YOU are the one who want’s to redefine marriage because of your own bias against the opposite sex, and have a bit of an axe to grind against those of us who insist that gender integration is something unique, and unmatched by any other combination.

    Separate just isn’t equal friend. Your orientation has nothing to do with marriage.

  4. February 11th, 2010 at 22:56 | #4

    Wow, that’s a lot of words that really mean nothing.

    The problem with everything you said is that not one iota of it can be proven.

    And I would argue with your contention that, even if we’re just looking at the Christian era, the Catholic church remains the “one true church.” In fact, the Orthodox actually hold a stronger claim to being the original church of Jesus than the Roman Catholics EVER did.

    But you people are all so hung up on details. “Well, if Jesus picked guys, then we pick guys!” You miss the entire spirit of the text. I’d argue that was pretty much lost when the Christians hijacked Judaism.

  5. February 11th, 2010 at 23:00 | #5

    And moreover, it’s irrelevant, because I’m neither a Catholic nor a Christian, nor will I ever be.

    And last time I checked, I was born in a secular state which guarantees my freedom from your religion.

    If you want a caliphate, move into the Vatican.

  6. Chairm
    February 12th, 2010 at 04:34 | #6

    Odd that you say you were born in a state rather than in society. There is a significant difference that goes to the complaint in your first comment.

    You said: “There are thousands of churches of all denominations that bless same sex marriages, whether or not they’re recognized officially.”

    Marty’s response is right on target.

    I’d add that you are exagerating anyway. First in the number. Second, in the obvious sense that to bless a friendship is not the same as to recognize a marriage. For example, the Episcoplian congregations that bless one-sexed relationships do not recognize them as canonical marriages — even in Massachusetts.

    Anway, in response to Dr. J’s remarks, you selected a few odd bits given that, as you put it, you “don’t want to get married in a church AT ALL”.

  7. February 12th, 2010 at 09:30 | #7

    @Marty: If I have understood your comments to Evan, you are saying that he wants to redefine marriage to spite women? or are you saying he wants to redefine marriage to “get back at” those who feel marriage is only for integrating sexes? I tried to read into those and discover what you are saying and all I got was an attack on Evan. Do you really believe an entire population of GLBT folks are fighting for the right to marry out of spite? or to grind an axe? My reply to you is this, come on man, we are humans with feelings, many of us who wish to or who have already married our partners in states that allow it did so out of genuine love for our partners and a wish to have our relationships protected under the law. I would request you consider the fact and not loose sight of the fact that while we disagree on marriage, we are also the same. We all marry for the same reasons…love.

    @Andrew, I am grateful to you for the reminders of church history. I went to Catholic Schools my whole life and enjoyed the history part of the church. My reply for you is that GLBT folks are not looking for the church or god to recognize anything. I can understand and I respect your beliefs that god will not recognize our unions. I ask you offer me the same respect that I believe differently and I am a citizen of this country regardless of my religion or lack of one. We are asking our government, separate of church, to recognize our rights as citizens who deserve equal protection under the law by recognizing our marriages.

  8. Marty
    February 12th, 2010 at 17:02 | #8

    Joe, all I’m saying is that gender bias is a really poor excuse for redefining marriage, and especially for denying a child his own mother or father.

    I thought we were past the whole “separate but equal” thing, but apparently not. I hear gays and lesbians continue to claim that their supposed inability to love a member of the opposite sex, simply because they are the opposite sex, means society is bigotted, and children DON’T need or deserve both a mother and a father.

    If that isn’t discrimination, if that isn’t sexist, then I don’t know what is.

  9. Chairm
    February 12th, 2010 at 17:04 | #9

    Joe, do you agree that the society may justly discriminate between marriage and nonmarriage? That is to say, society may treat marriage one way and other types of relationships and other types of arrangements another way. Or is the special treatment of marriage unfair in itself?

  10. February 12th, 2010 at 21:11 | #10

    @Marty, I am guessing that you feel concerned that every child have access to both a mother and a father. I am also guessing you are irritated that gays and lesbians are asking people not to discriminate yet in your eyes you believe they are they are biased based on gender. If I didn’t get any of that right, let me know. Here is my reply: I as read your words I felt concerned because I value understanding and clarity. I also felt a bit curious about your position that gays are biased based on sex or gender. Honestly, I just don’t see what you mean or how you came to this conclusion that gays are bigoted based on gender. Would you be willing to try and explain that further?

    As for the parenting thing, I side with the facts. The science and what we have learned about raising children from those facts. Children of gays and lesbians fair as well as others according to the research. I know there are millions of children who would be happy to have one parent let alone two and they are concerned with gender at all. I would also add that divorce, single parents, dead beat dads, and families where both mom and dad are alcoholics, etc…I think just saying parents need a mom and dad is oversimplifying a terribly complicated issue that in no way could be fully covered in the comments of blog post.

    @Chairm: I feel doubtful that I really do understand exactly what you are asking me, so I can only hope I am answering in a way that will meet your need for clarity. If I don’t give the answer you want, let me know I will try again. I’ll give it a shot.

    First off, what do you mean by society? Are we talking government? If yes, than they should treat all marriages like marriages and nonmarriages as nonmarriages. Either you paid your 34.99 and got the license or you didn’t. I wonder if your real question is what do I believe is a marriage. I am married. I have made a commitment in front of my friends, family and community that I am in this for the long haul. This may the long haul will have hauled for 10 years and I am pretty confident we will be together for the rest of our lives.I would just like the Federal government to recognize my marriage. My state already does and it is a help. It also forces me to do out taxes twice and lie the second time. I don’t like to lie and I am forced to.

    Now, if by the word Society you mean churches, they have had the right to refuse to marry people all along and that will not change. Some churches won’t marry people who are not members, some won’t marry folks of different religions, some won’t marry folks because one is not baptized. I don’t see that changing.

    Not sure I answered your question and I am happy to try again and I am happy to listen to whatever else you would like to offer. Dialog is important in these matters. Folks need to really hear and understand each others position and really understand what is important to each other. We are a country divided and that makes me sad. We don’t have to be.

  11. Marty
    February 13th, 2010 at 22:49 | #11

    Joe, two things. First, as to “the facts” — the fact is, every single person on this earth is the product of the union of exactly one man and one woman. You may think this is a mere coincidence, but mother nature will not be mocked. She doesn’t give a whit about your “orientation”.

    Second, as to parenting and gender bias, how does this strike you?

    Johnny: “Mom, why don’t I have a daddy like all the other boys?”

    Mom: “Johnny, your Nana and I love you very much — we just don’t really like boys. Now run along and play.”

    Johnny: “Ummm, okay mom. ”

    I find this scenario cruel and unusual. It’s not illegal, but we sure as heck don’t need to rubber stamp such biased arrangements with a State Seal of Approval called Marriage.

    The only thing keeping Johnny from having a father of his own, is his mother’s bias against men. A pitiful little excuse, if you ask me.

  12. Chairm
    February 14th, 2010 at 05:24 | #12


    I think you need to cut down on the pop psychology klaptrap. While I might put up with it under diffferent circumstances, I won’t suffer it for long here.

    “Please and thank you.”
    [Said with a firm voice and warm smile.]

    The subject of my earlier comment is marriage and its public significance.

    It is not about personal details. Hyper-personalization is a really bad idea and I won’t encourage it. Phishing for private information is always suspect behavior.

    If you’ll agree, we can proceed.

    * * *

    Here for your confirmation is what I read you to mean in your reply to my comment:

    You said that government should treat marriage different from nonmarriage. You said there is a nominal fee for a license. For the government that fee is what makes a marriage.

    You indicated that marriage is a personal commitment.

    You said that churches can discriminate between marriage and nonmarriage. You said churches marry people. You said that different churches have different practices.

    Please confirm, correct, or clarify. Thank you.

  13. February 14th, 2010 at 20:35 | #13


    Chairm, I don’t get the first part of your reply about pop psych or phishing for private info. I haven’t asked you for any private information. I also don’t see the whole hyper-personalization thing either. These things may make sense to you, they do not make sense to me. On that note, no, I don’t really agree and don’t care to proceed. I am feeling rather uncomfortable with the tone this is taking because I value dialog more than I do debate. It would appear you do understand what I have expressed to you and I have to admit, I have better things to do than try and convince you I deserve my rights. I see nothing good coming from a debate and that is what this writer thinks you want. So, nope I don’t care to proceed with you. Thanks.


    I hear you are disgusted by the scene you have painted and believe that is based on bias and I disagree. It may not be bias (it may be), it could be other factors. The fact is gays and lesbians have kids and those kids deserve the protections marriage gives families.

  14. Chairm
    February 14th, 2010 at 23:54 | #14


    My accurate restatement of your intended meaning demonstrated that you are understood. You need not hold the pose of one who is misunderstood.

    In contrast, you did not accurately characterize my viewpoint. I did not say nor imply that you’d need to convince me that you deserve rights or that you need to debate me. You cannot fairly pose as one who has understood.

    I am prepared to continue to discuss your viewpoint, clarifying as we go along, because that is how constructive exchanges advance acknowledgement of actual disagreement, where it exists, and actual agreement, where it exists.

    You are free, of course, to flee from the honest discussion you said you came here to initiate.

  15. Marty
    February 15th, 2010 at 08:13 | #15

    Lots of kids with unmarried parents “deserve the protections marriage gives families”. But no one is stopping these parents from getting married — they simply choose not to, for a variety of reasons.

  16. February 15th, 2010 at 22:00 | #16

    @Marty, gay and lesbian parents don’t get to make that choice and those kids do not have those protections.

  17. February 15th, 2010 at 22:04 | #17

    @Chairm, I do not feel confident this is an honest discussion. That is the reason I am choosing not to continue this conversation with you.

  18. Marty
    February 15th, 2010 at 22:42 | #18

    @Joe, gay and lesbian “parents” do get to make that choice. They choose not to marry.

    Marriage, like parenthood, doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with “sexual orientation”. Mock mother nature if you must, but please, don’t expect the rest of the world to play along with this little charade.

  19. Chairm
    February 16th, 2010 at 15:50 | #19


    My side of our exchange has been honest and accurate. Your response has been accusatory and inaccurate and deceptive.

    Happy ‘dialog’ hunting.

  20. Jeffrey
    April 9th, 2010 at 00:27 | #20

    Since the sacredness of Marriage is based on reproduction, then before marriage both the man and woman should be tested for fertility. If both parties are deemed capable of reproducing, they should be granted a marriage license. Infertile men and women MUST not be allowed to marry, because that act defies the commandment to be “fruitful and multiply.”

    I apologize to post-menopausal women and infertile men, but unless you can produce children, you should not be allowed to marry.

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