Powerful and true.
I’ve put together a set of comments from the various cardinals about the on-going Synod of the Family. I think it’s best right now to let them speak in their own words, rather than try to interpret what they mean.
One thing that seems apparent is that there is a wide gap between the Cardinals of the developing world and those from the wealthier nations.
Cardinal Napier on Polygamy
Cardinal Tagle Poor Families Need Synod’s Help
Cardinal Wuerl on Who May Receive Communion?
Cardinal Nichols on Marriage and Fidelity
A long time ago in a land not so far away, married couples often stayed married to one another, despite their disagreements and problems “for the children’s sake.”
It was assumed that destroying a child’s home would damage the child. Underneath that assumption was another: Children have a better start in life when they are raised in their own intact families with their own biological parents.
Along came the 60s and this notion of staying together “for the children’s sake” was tossed in the cultural ashcan alongside civility, honor and a belief in the common good.
The Me Generation wanted to opt out of all the constraints that came between it and its essential drive to all-out me-firstness. “It’s better to be from a broken home than to live in one,” was the new slogan. It was put up there on the living-by-slogans billboard just below the “quality time” slogan concerning child rearing.
We didn’t, we were told, have to concede to the onerous demands of full-time child-rearing. We could drop in once in a while for “quality time” and this “quality time” would be so incredibly powerful in shaping the child’s character, values, morals and overall mental health that it would wash away the deleterious abuses of being ignored and shunted around for the bulk of the child’s life.
It was magical stuff, this “quality time” — the elixir of having it all without the need to feel guilty about short-shrifting our young.
Ditto for being from broken homes rather than living in them. It was, we were told, oh so much healthier for a child to live part of his or her life in a tranquil, albeit it lonely, home without Dad, watching tv, and later, playing video games, while Mom worked, and then to shuttle off to Dad’s tranquil homespot to watch more tv and, later play video games, while Dad worked.
“Blended” families and live-in boy and girl friends became the new normal. After all, if it makes Dad/Mom happy, then it must, by definition, be good for the kids. Or so we were told.
A child who gets the wondrous experience of counseling their bereft parent over their broken hearts about the guy/gal who dumped them, who wakes up in the morning, never knowing who’s going to be sharing the parent’s bed down the hall, who has to dip and dodge from the advances and abuses of boyfriends and girlfriends, who finds themselves suddenly saddled with steps — stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters, step grandparents — of all types and then, in a year or two, finds themselves without the steps once again, is, in the parlance, “growing up fast.” After all, the new new normal says, they’re going to have to deal with these things someday, anyway. Right?
Believing that all this is good for kids requires a bit of willful neglect of the obvious. First, we have to overlook the adults that these kids become. We need to stare right past the drug addiction, insect sexuality, near psychopathic way they treat one another and their increasing inability to form families and raise children of their own.
Second, we need to stop believing that there is any connection between their total lack of respect for marriage as an institution coupled with the abject willingness to see it destroyed and the fact that these young people grew up in cold, chaotic circumstances with child parents who failed at every personal value except selfishness and self-indulgence.
I know that someone is going to raise the specter of violence and abuse in the home and the need for divorce in those circumstances. That happens. And when it does, it really is better for a child to be from a broken home than to live in one.
The interesting thing is that violence and abuse in the home are not going away. Divorce has not ended it. Domestic violence is escalating. Why? You’d think that if divorce was the answer to it, domestic violence would be moving toward extinction.
I think one reason violence in the home is on the rise is this bizarre method method of child rearing that amounts to buying our kids stuff, driving them to activities and ignoring them as people while we do whatever else pleases us. I think it is giving us adult children who are exactly the kind of people we have raised them to be.
Each generation of children we are producing with these methods is less able to commit to other people and raise a family of their own than the generation before it. They exhibit a kind of internal chaos that I think reflects the chaos in which they were raised.
We’re not only producing whole generations of young people who cannot commit to one another and love one another and then commit to and love and raise children of their own, we are also producing young people who are marked by profound alienation and rage. We are, in short, getting the kind of adults that abusive homes produce. Are our current child-rearing practices abusive to children?
Oh yes. I think so.
We were deconstructing family at a massive rate long before the debate about gay marriage reared its head. When demands for polygamy follow on the heels of gay marriage — and they will — we will just slide further into the abyss right behind it because we have no cultural center to hold us.
There is only one way to reverse this trend. You must do it yourself. You must, to paraphrase Ghandi, be the change you want to see.
That means you must commit to your wife or husband; you must cherish and protect them. You must put your family, your spouse, your children ahead of everything else.
I know this will sound like blasphemy, but you need to put your home and family ahead of your career, your craving for “fun” and your desire to live life as a perpetual adolescent. You need to take care of the people God has entrusted to you before you do anything else.
The way to stop this is for both men and women to stop putting me first and put their families first. It is not enough for wives to be good wives, or husbands to be good husbands. We are male and female. That is the human race. And both men and woman have a responsibility before God to put the welfare of their spouses and their children above every other consideration.
This is drastically counter-cultural. You will get a lot of flack for doing it. Men will be called some of the pejorative names used for women if they don’t go along with the fellas about things such as sleeping around, and going out on the town. Other men will do this to them ruthlessly. I’ve witnessed it for years in my life of working with 90 men.
Women will be told they are “wasting their lives” if they stay home with the kids. When I was a stay at home mom, I had more than one person look me right in the eye and tell me I was “wasting” my life. When I ran for office again later, I also had people chide me for trying to come back when I should not have left in the first place.
The truth is, as my grandmother used to say, misery loves company. Why should a bunch of men care if their male coworker doesn’t go out to the stripper joints with them after work? Why should they turn aggressive and ugly and tell him he’s “whipped” because he loves his wife and family while they do not love their wives and families?
Who’s the real man here? Is it the braggart good-for-nothing who dishonors the people he has stood before God and promised to protect and defend, the strong individual who stands up under the verbal hazing and honors his promises with his fidelity?
By the same token, who is wasting her life? The woman who builds people, or the woman who builds widgets?
You have one life. In this free country of ours, you can spend your life how you chose. At the end of the span, when you are like my Mama and cannot do for yourself, do you want to be wrapped in the love and care of grateful generations, or do you want the cold hardness of the alone?
When you look back over your life, do you want to view a wasteland of broken relationships, crazy and dysfunctional offspring and nothing much worth claiming, or do you want to see a life that gave life, that nurtured and loved and created? Do you want to see strong people going forward into tomorrow with your love in their hearts?
When you stand before God, what will be the sum total of the great gift of years that He gave you to spend?
Home and family are not outmoded ideas. They are eternal truths on which people are built.
I’m under the weather today, so I’ve spent the afternoon watching the Spielberg version of War of the Worlds.
Every time I watch this movie, I end up losing interest in it because the kids are such totally messed-up people. Here they are, running for their lives, and they refuse to do what their father tells them to do. In fact, they are as difficult, obstructionist and consistently bratty as two kids can be.
I see this sort of thing in movies all the time. Parents will tell their kid or kids — movie families are always tiny — to “go home” because they are in a dangerous situation and the kid ignores them as if they hadn’t said a word. Maybe in the filmmaker’s world this is the way things are. Maybe in most of the world, this is the way things are.
But I homeschooled my kids and I can say without hesitation that I never saw this in my kids or the children of any of the other homeschooling families.
Take, for instance, the night of the May 3 tornado. This particular tornado went through Moore and South Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999. I woke up that morning aching all over. The cats got in grain barrels we used for storage in the garage and would not get out. (This was the first and only time they ever got in those barrels.) A friend of mine told me her chihuahua got under the sofa and wouldn’t come out.
I cooked supper while we watched the tornado form outside of Apache, Oklahoma on our television. I remember remarking, “We’ve been expecting you,” to the screen.
We watched that thing grow and stay down on the ground as it cut across the state and headed for us. When it got to Chickasha, I told the kids to put their shoes on. We pulled the cats out of their grain barrels and stuffed them into their cat carrier. When it came time to get the heck out of Dodge, we did just that.
The kids did exactly what my husband and I told them to do. No argument. No questions. No hysteria. No debate.
I don’t give my kids direct commands now that they’re grown. But they still come to me for advice which they don’t always follow, but do take quite seriously. If I flat-out give them an order, such as, bring my vacuum cleaner back – I didn’t give it you – It was a loan – they tease me, then do it. For that matter, I have a hard time ignoring my 89-year-old mother when she asks me to do something, even now with her dementia.
So, what’s wrong with these movie kids? Do other people’s children really ignore their parents the way movie kids do? Do they argue about every thing they’re told to do and even refuse direct commands from their parents?
I never encountered this in all my years of child raising. Neither did any of my homeschooling friends. The teens weren’t terrible, and the rebellions didn’t happen.
The poor children in The War of the Worlds come from a broken home. Their mother is expecting a baby with her husband, who is much wealthier than their father. Their father seems to have a family reputation for being inconsistent and unreliable where the children are concerned. They end up left with this untrustworthy father who they clearly know but don’t respect or trust, not even to love them unconditionally.
I guess, when you look at it through the lens of their messed up family, it’s understandable that they talk back/don’t obey/get hysterical when things are tough. After all, if Daddy has exhibited a long-term pattern of not being there, why should they feel safe relying on him when aliens are killing everybody in sight? They’re running for their lives, with Daddy Every So Often as their only protector.
If they’ve been raised in a home where Mama — who is the only present parent — clearly does not completely trust Daddy to care for them properly, even for a weekend — as she clearly does not — then why should they believe that they have any hope of good decisions and protection from him when the chips are down?
These kids feel safer with their stepfather than they do with their natural father, and he’s just their mother’s husband who they call by his first name.
There are lots of reasons for kids who won’t mind. But our fractured families and terrible home lives have to be high on that list. Even if you give your kids a stable home with their own mom and dad, if you send them to the public schools, they are going to be spending most of their waking hours with peers who are growing up in bad homes.
They are going to encounter the full blast of politically correct education which trains them very deliberately in ideas about family that are antithetical to accepting the authority of their own parents. In fact, much of things they are taught in areas like sex education and social studies seem to be designed to break down parental authority in the key areas of moral, social and spiritual formation.
Kids who won’t mind in dangerous situations can quickly become kids who don’t survive. They can also lead to dead families.
If, say, an F5 tornado is heading your way, and the kids refuse to do what you tell them, the whole family can get caught out and killed. Ditto for many other situations.
I find it difficult to watch Spielberg’s version of War of the Worlds because the children are so damaged. It is a horror tale inside of a horror tale, watching these totally messed-up kids and this total failure of a father try to struggle through the mayhem of an interplanetary attack on Earth. If Spielberg had looked a little closer at what he was saying here, he could easily have created an allegory for the social deconstruction our culture is undergoing.
But he didn’t do that.
Instead, he leaves it there, in front of us, without any real meaning. That’s the way destroyed families with their damaged children are routinely presented in film. We are shown these hideously messed-up families as if they were normal, when they are anything but normal. They are, in fact, dysfunctional to the point of being suicidal.
I don’t spend more time than I have to around ruined families. It’s too unpleasant. These people are too angry, their thinking processes too distorted and confused. People from ruined families don’t seem to be able to process reality. They are easy pickings for the next new thing. Their memories seem to go back to yesterday and not one minute further. No matter how high their native intelligence, they are profoundly stupid and gullible due to the damage that has been inflicted on their psyches.
I simply do not like to spend time with people who can’t think and process; who have no memory and are liable to rages and random contradictory behavior. I understand that they have been hurt and that they are profoundly disabled on an emotional and intellectual level by what their parents and our society has done to them. But they are untrustworthy, hurtful people to know.
There are many challenges in this for today’s Christians. The first and most of important is how we can protect our own children from becoming as damaged as the rest of our society. It’s important, it really, really maters to the future of your children, for you to love their father if you are their mother, and for you to love their mother if you are their father.
It is essential that you commit to the person you make babies with and spend your life working together with them to build your babies into productive, loving people who can form families and raise children of their own.
Do I make that clear?
You need to get married to the mother or father of your children and you need to love the mother or father of your children and you need to respect and treasure and cherish the mother or father of your children for the rest of your life. The two of you must be a team that is dedicated before God to raising the souls that He has entrusted to you. Nothing else you can do with your life matters as much as this.
You have to protect your babies from this poisonous anti-child culture and, as important as an intact family is, protecting them will take even more. This is a society that sacrifices its children in a wanton and uncaring fashion to every false god it sees. From manufacturing them before conception, to murdering them before birth, to destroying their bonds with their parents and subjecting them to social experiments to promote the latest politically correct fantasy, our society has organized itself into a child-sacrificing machine.
If you want your kids to come into their own adulthood undamaged by all this, you have to keep them out of it when they are little. If you do that, they will have the tools to handle it once they become adults. If you don’t, they will be overtaken by it.
That’s why I recommend homeschooling. It works academically. And, given the homeschooling groups and the many organizations available, it also works socially. Your kids will form life-long friendships with the other homeschooled kids. What will be different is that they won’t be forming relationships with kids who are from such damaged homes that they cannot function as whole people.
The second thing we have to do as Christians is to decide how we will convert this sick society of ours. How do we minister to ruined people who are so damaged they cannot form families and raise children of their own? How do we explain a loving God to people who have never been unconditionally loved by anyone in their lives? How do we help them to learn to live Christian lives after they convert?
These are huge questions that I am going to save for another post.
However, I am interested in what Public Catholic readers suggest as remedies.
Talk it over and let’s see what you come up with.
I don’t remember if I told you this, but my grandmother was a Pentecostal Holiness Preacher.
She had a radio show (this was back in the 1940s and early 50s) that covered several states. She was what they called a “church planter.” She went from place to place, starting churches, getting them up and going, then moving along to the next place. She planted several of the churches in the house district that I represented for 18 years.
I remember back when I was running for office the first time — this was in my anti-God period, when I was pro choice — many of the preachers in that district dedicated their Sunday morning sermons to excoriating me from the pulpit. If they’d stuck with the truth — I was pro choice and pro ERA — they might have beaten me.
But they didn’t.
The attacks got crazy and crazier, as they called me everything but a nice person. I was a communist, a lesbian, a slut, a this and a that, a deez and a doz.
Finally, one Sunday, individual congregants in more than one church just spontaneously, without any coaxing from me, stood up in the middle of these sermons and started yelling at the various preachers. They said that they had known me since I was a baby, and the preacher was a liar.
You see, I was from there. These preachers were not.
I was Sister Lily’s granddaughter. I was Charlie and Bessie’s granddaughter. My Daddy worked at the Stockyards and they all knew him … and his brother. My uncle was in the Masons. They’d gone to school with my mother, me, my sister, my cousins.
That is the power of family.
I don’t mean family connections. I mean the power of identity that comes with being connected by blood to a particular group of people.
Family is identity.
It is also home.
I remember (this post is going to be a series of reminiscences, so get ready) when I told my cousin, my Daddy’s brother’s kid, that I had converted to the Catholic Church. He told me, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing you do matters. I love you.”
When I was anti-God, it didn’t matter.
When I was Oklahoma Director of NARAL, it didn’t matter.
When I met Christ in a profound conversion experience and became a Christian, not one thing changed with my family.
When I started my life as a pro life advocate, it was still the same.
When I was in office, a stay at home mom, now, there was no difference.
My friends dumped me, accused me of “betraying” them for my followership of Christ. In fact, many of my bestest buds turned 180 hard about and began attacking me and lying about me the same way those preachers had done years before. The people who had attacked me and the people who had supported me switched places.
All except for family. Nothing changed with them. Nothing has ever changed. Nothing will ever change.
I remember when another cousin of mine decided to come out to us as gay. He got us together; was hyper tense when he called and told us to be at my aunt’s house at a certain time and date. We were scared. We all thought he was going to tell us he had cancer or something.
When he did his big reveal — I’m gay (sniff) — we were dumbfounded. I mean, was he telling us that he thought we didn’t already know???
Families are where people who are for gay marriage and people who are opposed to gay marriage, where drug addicts and tee-totalers, Republican and Democrats, all love one another because, at bottom, they don’t care about that stuff. Not when you’re family.
My same cousin who told me he didn’t care if I was Catholic had been a total male chauvinist pig back in the days when I was an all-out feminist activist. Didn’t matter to either of us. He supported the Viet Nam war, I demonstrated against it. No problem.
Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
Home, in that sense, is family. And family is the people who don’t care about your disgraces and aren’t impressed with your successes. You don’t have to clean up the house before they come. It’s ok if you’re overweight and you’re still welcome to be there even if you’ve just been caught — again as we say in these parts — in bed with either a live boy or a dead girl.
I am well aware that there are families who spend all their time picking each other apart, who compete with one another and criticize one another and who actually are anything but comforting. That’s not my family. My family is the “it doesn’t matter” crowd who just sticks with you, even when they all flat-out know you are wrong.
But even those other sad families, the nit-picking, pretend-perfect families, still usually stick with one another against the outside world.
I could go on and on about family as a social construct or whatever.
But family is both more and less than that. Family is personal. it’s about us as people. It’s who we are, whether we want to be that or not. Divorce is a disaster because it shears family from itself. It atomizes these broad extended tribes of safety into us and them and takes away the only real emotional security to be had from other people in this life.
I can tell you for a fact that friends will throw you away like leftover fish because of your politics, religion or anything else they consider to be the elemental you. There are a few — I had three, now I’m down to two — friends who will stick, even when I go from anti-God to Catholic, from pro choice to pro life — but the rest of them will not.
Friends can become enemies in the time it takes to say Get Out!!
Friends, however much fun they may be, are not family.
And family, if it is torn asunder with betrayals, is not family, either.
The tragedy of our times is that we have atomized and particularized family to the point that many families provide no more loyalty and emotional safety than friendship. Families turn on one another now, too.
When that happens the world is a cold place where the winds of isolation and aloneness howl through people’s lives and warp them into less than who they are meant to be. We become vicious and cowed, like a society of stray dogs. Like those stray dogs, we run in packs and we become dangerous to the order and safety that surrounds us.
Family provides security and safety. It keeps us safe and gives us confidence to go on adventures and take healthy risks, secure in the knowledge that succeed or flop, family is there for us when we want to venture back.
People without family truly are like stray dogs. The packs they form are destructive to the larger world and straight-jacket limiting to those who run in them. No one goes on adventures or takes risks that run against the rules of the pack, because that would result in expulsion. The pack would turn on them and attack them.
That is the source of the crazy viciousness I sometimes see — and delete — in the com box commentary on this blog. It is the cause of the hive mind thinking that is driving our society to the brink of self-destruction. It is the cultural anomie of a society that has torn family from itself and is now running loose and lost in mindless packs.
Family, real family, is the antidote to all that. Family is the most freeing thing possible, because it gives you the safety to try and fail and then try again with the certainty that no matter what happens, you will have a place in this world and you will be loved.
Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in. I’ve never read a better definition of family.
I’m proud of you.
Public Catholic readers have not gone off the deep end, blaming Father Joseph Terra for the actions of the man who beat him and shot and killed his brother priest, Father Kenneth Walker.
Father Terra, a Catholic priest, was critically wounded when an assailant broke into the rectory in Phoenix that he shared with Father Walker. Father Walker was shot and killed. It seems that the assailant managed to get his hands on a gun owned by Father Terra, and that is the gun he used to shoot Father Walker.
Public Catholic readers have not attacked Father Terra for being a victim, and I’m proud of you. There has been a focus on the gun in our discussions here, which, I think is still a mis-direction. After all, Mr Gary Michael Moran, the individual who has confessed to this break-in/beating/murder was paroled just two months ago and he wasn’t in prison for singing too loud in church choir on Sunday morning.
Mr Moran has a long history of violent assaults. He was paroled for crimes that were quite similar to the one he committed against these two priests.
If we are so intent on blaming someone besides Mr Moran for this assault, we might look past Father Terra and take a gander at the parole board who put him on the street. Or, to dig a bit deeper, how about considering the lawmakers who wrote the laws that allowed the parole board to put him on the street? Or maybe we should blame Mr Moran’s mother/teacher/neighbor/dog for the crime.
Or, then again, maybe we could take a quick look at Mr Moran himself. Does anybody besides me think that he’s the guy who did this and he’s the one we should hold responsible?
Public Catholic readers have discussed this intelligently. But what about those other folks, the ones who are all but accusing Father Terra of being the miscreant in this situation?
It appears that the lightning rod in this is the gun. We’ve got a group of people in this country who are a little nutty when it comes to firearms. They consistently make inaccurate connections between criminal acts and the gun the criminal uses rather than looking at the criminal him or herself. You’d think, the way they talk, that guns had minds and souls and the ability to act on their own.
Every time we have another of these random mass murders — and they come along with regularity these days — when someone who is loaded down with weaponry goes to a public place and starts killing everybody he can, we see people denouncing the gun laws. Nobody seems to be brave enough to ask what we are doing to manufacture these killers in the first place.
What we have is a relatively new phenomena which has been escalating over the years until it is becoming a commonplace. The gun laws were actually much more liberal before this phenomena took hold than they are now.
I’ve read grisly stories about mass killings in other countries — one in China comes to mind — with very strong gun control laws that occurred when someone armed with a knife or axe invaded a school or other public place and, true to type, started killing everyone they could. I know people who’ve been in buildings that were bombed by terrorists. I also know someone who was crippled for life in a drive-by shooting where the assailant used a gun made with a piece of pipe.
I know this is going to make people angry, but guns are the means, they are not the reason. Banning guns, even banning them altogether, won’t fix this. Guns are not the problem.
The problem here is not the implement of destruction. The problem is our unwinding society and the feral young people we are raising up inside it. I’ve said this before to a chorus of “not trues” but we are manufacturing psychopaths in our society. Somewhere back in the not-too-distant past, we changed our methods of raising people and the result has been a growing number of mass murders, and a much larger number of random killings, drive-by shootings and other violence on a more individualized scale.
There have always been murderers. It does back to Cain. But this is different. And it’s international. And it’s getting worse.
How does this apply to the blame-Father-Terra viciousness that’s out there glopping around in the internet hive mind?
The blame-Father-Terra crowd is part of the problem. Their self-righteous refusal to think straight and their vicious verbiage misdirects our energies away from dealing with the situation at hand. I think a lot of it is deliberate so that we won’t have to accept responsibility and change our ways.
The situation at hand is that Father Terra is a wounded individual who has suffered an unjust, unwarranted and totally preventable attack from an individual who should never have been out on the streets in the first place. He is being blamed for attempting to defend himself and his brother priest.
What I think happened — and this is just a guess — is that Father Terra didn’t have what it took to pull that trigger. He probably wanted to use the gun to intimidate the attacker, not kill him. He is not a killer and he was doing battle with a man who is a killer. I think it was as simple as that.
Good, normal people are always at a disadvantage in these situations where they are savagely attacked without warning. The attacker knows what they are doing, they’ve got the advantage of surprise. Plus, they are bad. Bone deep bad. They don’t mind killing. They’ve come into this situation ready to hurt and to kill.
Mr Moran has a history of hurting people in violent assaults. He’s used to it. He doesn’t mind it. He went into that rectory with that intention. He is practiced at hurting people. He was also awake.
Father Terra was wakened from sleep, and almost certainly intending to handle things without killing anybody. Father Walker just woke up and came to his friend’s aid.
Yet they are the ones we are blaming. Them, and of course, the gun.
Meanwhile, the man who did all this, we’re just kind of ignoring. Because that’s our way. We ignore the offender and blame the victim — or those who try to aid the victim.
You know why? Because facing the real truth of this would mean that we would have to acknowledge that we can’t toss our kids around like things; that children need stable homes and safe families in which to grow up and we haven’t been providing them.
There is also the desire to avoid the other fact. We can’t disarm these monsters once we build them. We blame the victim because we’ve figured out on some level we don’t want to admit that most of the Mr Morans in this world aren’t fix-able. By the time a person gets to the level of repeat violent offender we can’t rewind them back to harmlessness. We can lock them up. Or, we can let them out and then blame the victim when they do it again.
But we can’t fix them.
It seems more productive to blame the victim and the gun, and maybe the lack of an alarm system or the slow response at 911, than to face the very difficult fact that we are manufacturing these guys with the way we raise our kids and that once we’ve manufactured them, they don’t have an off switch.
We can take away every freedom we have and lock ourselves into lockboxes and we still won’t be safe. if we want to stop these things, we’ve first got to face facts. And the fact is that we are building the Gary Michael Morans ourselves. If we want to stop having so many of them, we’ve got to stop building them.
Nothing else will work.
May 15 is the United Nation’s International Day of the Family.
Monsignor Vicenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will go to New York to address the United Nations for this event. He also had a few words to say in advance. He commented that people will say “forever” to a soccer team (or here in Oklahoma, to the Sooners) but to their own husband or wife, not so much.
The family has been sliced and diced almost out of existence by our modern culture. Now, it is being legally defined into meaninglessness. Without the family as a base, other forms of community fail alongside it.
Rumors aside, it appears that Pope Francis is not going to overturn the 2,000-year-old Church teaching on the sanctity of Holy Matrimony.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller published an article in the Vatican newspaper, putting that story to rest.
Archbishop Muller writes that marriage is indissoluble as is testified in both Scripture and Tradition.
Divorce is one of the plagues of modern America. It is the root cause of much of the misery of our modern life. The damage it does to our children and their children and their children’s children is incalculable. It is almost as if we have visited a social plague of Biblical proportions on ourselves with our disregard for marriage, home and family.
And we do disregard these things.
Social policy, especially as it pertains to how business activities are regulated, do not ever seem to consider the good the family. If you want to see what people really care about, look at what they serve. Judged by that standard, American government — and the American people as well — consistently put the Almighty dollar ahead of families, including, or perhaps most especially, children.
Divorce is a cause and a symptom of these values, as well as a result of them. In this way, we have created a divorce cycle that feeds on itself and appears to be endangering the survival of the institution of Holy Matrimony in the larger society. If we are heading toward a society where only certain groups of people maintain stable homes and families, there is no better place for one of those groups to form than among faithful Catholics.
It appears that the foundation for this sort of thing may already be in place.
According to a recent study by the Applied Research Apostolate at Georgetown University, Catholics divorce. In fact, Catholics divorce a lot. But compared to those other guys and gals out there, Catholics don’t divorce so much.
I suppose it’s a relief to learn that we’re not as prone as non-Catholics to steer our marriages — and our lives and our children’s lives — onto the rocks. In fact, I know it’s good news. The study shows that 28% of Catholics have been divorced at some time in their lives. I am assuming that this includes people who converted to Catholicism after they were divorced. If that’s true, the numbers for cradle Catholics might be even lower. Catholics who are married to other Catholics divorce at the slightly lower rate of 27%, so there may be something to that notion.
Protestants divorce at a rate of 39%, other faiths at 35% and people of no faith at 40%.
What this means is that, while we’re far from the point where we need to pop open the champagne and begin congratulating ourselves, we have a basis of solid Catholic families on which to build. Our ultimate goal should be the conversion of the larger society. But for now, I think it’s more than enough for us to look to ways to strengthen and build strong Catholic families which can raise children who will grow into productive and faithful adults.
I’ll talk about this more later, but we’re going to have to face the reality that our society is inimical to us and our values. If we want to live the true good life of stable homes that produce children who grow into equally stable adults, we face the necessity — not the choice, but the necessity — of pulling our families and our kids out of the cesspools of modern life.
We can no longer rely on the larger culture to be a safe place for our kids. And we certainly cannot rely on the larger culture to teach either us or them about what matters in life. Following Christ has always been counter-cultural. It was a scandal to the larger society from its beginning. In a very real way, we simply need to go back to our New Testament Gospel roots and live out our faith as the countercultural force it is and always has been.
From Catholic News Agency:
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2013 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Recent studies on marriage show that while their rates of divorce are significant, U.S. Catholics are less likely to divorce than people of other religious affiliations.
“Although the Catholic ‘divorce rate’ is lower than the U.S. average it is still a daunting figure,” said the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
In a Sept. 26 blog post, the research group explained that divorce among Catholics “represents more than 11 million individuals,” many of whom “are likely in need of more outreach and ongoing ministry from the Church.”
In its article, the organization explained that different ways of tallying divorce and marriage rates create a range of different divorce figures, including the oft-quoted statistic that “half of all marriages fail.”
Looking at national surveys, “Catholics stand out with only 28 percent of the ever-married having divorced at some point,” the blog post stated, compared to more than 40 percent of those with no religious affiliation, 39 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of those of another religious faith.
Furthermore, Catholics who marry other Catholics are also less likely to divorce than Catholics married to people of other faiths.
A 2007 survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that only 27 percent of Catholics married to other Catholics have ever experienced divorce, compared to nearly half of Catholics married to Protestants or to spouses with no religious belief.
Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.
Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?
A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.
My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.
So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.
However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.
We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.
Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?
The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.
Which is it Christians?
Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?
For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.
In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.
Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.
Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.
True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.
I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.
More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.
Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.
Everything else is dead legalism.
From the Washington Post:
We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.
So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?
Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.
In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.
Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”
Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.