If N.J. archbishop John Myers is right, then only Catholic marriage should be legal (and all Protestants are living in sin)

I got married in New Jersey. Since I’m not Catholic, I didn’t have a Catholic wedding.

Newark Archbishop John Myers seems to think that shouldn’t count as a legal wedding. And he says any Catholic who disagrees with him should be cut off from the rest of the sacraments as well:

In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote “in defense of marriage and life,” and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.

… He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.

By “lack of clarity,” apparently, Myers means that some of the other bishops are not also theocrats willing to shred Vatican II and their church’s acceptance of religious pluralism under secular government.

Dignitatis humanae, SCHMIGNITATIS humanae. John Myers does not care for Vatican II’s teachings on religious freedom.

Myers is not a smart man, and American law seems beyond his grasp, so I will try to put this as simply as I can.

The legal right to marry is wholly and completely separate from any sectarian teaching on marriage. No church or sect may be compelled to marry anyone its doctrine forbids marrying. Nor can any church or sect interfere with anyone’s right to be married in a civil ceremony.

Civil marriage is a civil right over which the Catholic church has no jurisdiction. The Catholic sacrament of marriage is a religious rite over which civil authorities have no jurisdiction. This is why the Catholic church is free to deny marriage to people who are legally divorced, and why such people may still be legally married in a civil ceremony or in another denomination.

Baptist couples may legally marry in New Jersey. That does not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey is legally required to marry Baptist couples. Nor does the freedom of Baptist couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.

Jewish couples may legally marry in New Jersey. That does not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey is legally required to marry Jewish couples. Nor does the freedom of Jewish couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.

Atheist couples may legally marry in New Jersey. That does not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey is legally required to marry atheist couples. Nor does the freedom of atheist couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.

And when, sometime soon, same-sex couples may legally marry in New Jersey, that will not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey will be legally required to marry same-sex couples. Nor will the freedom of same-sex couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.

Newark Archbishop John Myers does not believe, and does not understand, the preceding paragraph. He does not believe or understand any of this.

Myers really seems to think that if civil authorities recognize that civil rights belong to all citizens, then somehow his authority as a bishop over his church will be diminished.

That is nonsense, but due to such nonsensical fears, Myers has abandoned any pretense of belief in secular government and is calling for theocracy. He is saying that every Catholic must support civil laws that apply Catholic doctrine to everyone — even to non-Catholics. He is saying that any Catholic who believes in the First Amendment, any Catholic who believes that non-Catholics need not be bound by government enforcement of Catholic doctrine, must therefore be denied access to the grace of God.

Is there any way to limit Myers’ pronouncement so that it only applies to LGBT non-Catholics? No there isn’t. If civil marriage law must comply with Catholic doctrine, then Protestant marriages and civil marriages are also contrary to “what we believe to be the truth.” If John Myers is right, then any marriage not presided over by a Catholic priest in good standing is not truly valid. If you haven’t kissed Myers’ ring, then you’re living in sin.

Here you go, Myers, let me Google that for you.

 

  • vsm

    that they gave 15 seconds of thought to it and were motivated by some unabashedly bad fundamental principle.
    Catholic theologians are obviously a rather smart bunch, but the Church’s positions do tend to be socially conservative. I find it unlikely the people responsible for formulating doctrine start with no bias when examining these issues and always just happen to come down to “they way it always was is good”.

  • Wednesday

    Louis,

    (1) The definition of infertile means, basically “cannot reproduce”. There is no sensible meaning of the word “can” under which an infertile couple “can” reproduce. P and not-P prove everything, so if you are asserting “cannot” means “can”, then your argument can also be used to prove that the Catholic church should support everything, from same-sex marriage to female clergy to 1+1=5 to the planet Mars as Pope.
    (2) Sex is not a perfect binary — intersex and transgender people exist. Who are these people supposed to marry, according to the Catholic Church?
    (3) Speaking of the existence of intersex and transgender couples… Some same-legal-sex couples can, in fact, have PIV sex that results in conception. Some opposite-legal-sex couples cannot for the complementary reason. Depending on the individuals and the state, bans on same-(legal)-sex legal marriage actually prohibit some opposite-genetalia’d, reproductive-PIV-sex-having couples from legally marrying, while permitting some same-genetalia’d couples to marry.

    If the Catholic church really doesn’t want to allow civil marriage rights on the basis of whether or not the couple can have PIV sex, then bans on same-sex marriage are not the way to go, it’s bans on same-genetalia marriage they should be espousing.

  • Tricksterson

    Surey something that momentous would have a tleast been mentioned in passing elsewhere if it had actully happened.  My own take is that it was just mthbuilding or perhaps reate in orderto “fulill Scripture”, like soo much of the rest of the Gospels.

  • P J Evans

     But the ministers, priests, and rabbis aren’t employed by the government. They’re able to refuse to do marriages because they’re not government employees.

  • Carstonio

    If the Catholic church really doesn’t want to allow civil marriage
    rights on the basis of whether or not the couple can have PIV sex

    From what Myers said, the basis seems to be that both members of a same-sex couple are putatively fertile but are choosing to avoid conception. Not the same as an opposite-sex couple where one or both members are biologically infertile. He probably doesn’t consider a same-sex couple to have biologically infertility because both would be able to conceive with opposite-sex partners. He seems to accept that homosexuality is not a choice, but insists that gays and lesbians can live happy lives in opposite-sex marriages. While there’s a valid argument that  someone who has never been in a relationship shouldn’t decide what types of relationships make others happy, the real problem is that no one should decide someone else’s happiness, period.

  • Wednesday

     Well, yeah, I kind of take it as given that the Catholic Church can go bugger itself*.

    I was responding to Louis’s tortured logic about how the church approves of PIV sex when one or both participants are infertile but always disapproves of non-PIV-sex, and pointing out that bans on civil same-sex marriage does harm some PIV-having-couples directly but don’t prevent all non-PIV-having couples from legally marrying.

    (And as for the difference between infertility and same-sex pairings… a fertile person with an opposite-sex infertile parter could also conceive with a different partner. So again, their rationalization of their attempts to deny civil rights to QUILTBAG folks is full of logic fail.)

    *(By which I mean the heirarchy/institution, not members of the laity. Any institution that tells me three of my four grandparents are being tortured for eternity and that this is a morally acceptable state of affairs can pretty much go bugger itself IMO.)

  • http://twitter.com/Rockybalboa211 Louis Gonzales

    Well, if she were a lesbian she wouldn’t be open to new life, so God probably would have chosen another woman for the whole “immaculate conception” thing. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    if she were a lesbian she wouldn’t be open to new life,

    To repeat a question I asked you earlier: are you saying lesbians are less able to get pregnant than heterosexual women? That they desire pregnancy less? Something else?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sex is not a perfect binary — intersex and transgender people exist. Who are these people supposed to marry, according to the Catholic Church?

    In my understanding, Catholics believe transgender people do not in fact exist; people born with penises who say they are women are in fact men who are either confused or lying, and vice versa. I am not sure of their beliefs on intersex and genderqueer people but I suspect such are similarly imaginary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     The power of lesbianism is so great that even God, a being capable of willing the entire cosmos into being, is incapable of impregnating one.

    How weak does your faith have to be to even make an argument like that? Forget the LBGT community — the real threat to Christianity is “Christians” who think that God is — on a scale of sheer supernatural power — slightly below fertility doctors and adoption agency workers.

  • Ross Thompson

    Was it fair (by human standards)?  Probably not.

    Was it fair (by Roman standards)? Absolutely

    What, you think the Romans were some variety of beetle? Or did you mean “modern Western standards” instead of “human standards”?

    this poorly documented incident

    Undocumented, you mean. The Romans were notable for their record keeping, and there were several famous writers living in the area at the time, and none of them noticed this slaughter. I tend to believe that this means it probably never happened.

    So whose side do you want to choose: following the Words of Christ or just some advice to people who had never considered what their sin had wrought?

    Can I choose “neither”?

    But, really, you’re going to have to explain to me how this addresses the reasons for Catholics wanting to have lots of children, or how it relates to the “be fruitful ad multiply” thing, because I can’t see the connection.

  • Ross Thompson

    A major difference is that while a homosexual couple could not under any biological circumstances conceive a child during a sexual act, an infertile couple, in a sense, “can” (I guess, if one hopes for a miraculous chance of procreation)

    A gay couple can’t become miraculously pregnant? How do know that God is limited i this way?

  • Ross Thompson

    I beg your pardon.  I was unaware that all of the Gospels were required to be carbon-copies of the others.

    It’s not that they should be carbon copies of each other, it’s that it’s less likely that every single other author just forget to mention it, or thought it unremarkable than that that one author made it up.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what Louis’ argument is. It’s clear that there’s something about homosexual acts and people that makes them categorically different from  their heterosexual equivalents, but I’m not really sure what it might be.

    Which is why I keep asking them questions about it.

    Which have thus far been ignored.

    Ah well.

  • P J Evans

    The Romans were notable for their record keeping

    True, but a lot of their records haven’t survived. We can’t know what was lost.

  • Ross Thompson

    True, but a lot of their records haven’t survived. We can’t know what was lost.

    Granted. It’s possible that there were numerous, independent records of every child in Judea being slaughtered by the government without it inciting a massive rebellion and without Herod being removed by his Roman overseers (because they didn’t like governors doing things that would likely lead to mass rebellion), and that those  records have all been independently lost.

    It’s also possible that there were numerous, independent records of a UFO landing in the Coliseum, and providing the Romans with the cure to cancer, and that those records have just been lost. But in both cases, I think it’s unlikely.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I, too, know many very devout Catholic couples who take the teaching on contraception to heart. Most of them have no more than 4 kids. (Of course, in my country and generation 3 kids is now considered a “large family”) I could decide that they’re lying, I could decide make inferences about their sex lives or I could decide to leave them alone and not co-opt them as evidence in a position about how Catholics are full of shit.

    NFP doesn’t work for everyone, which is one of the reasons why I don’t personally support the church’s absolutist position on contraception. But it’s misleading to suggest that it’s very rare to stick to NFP and have a single digit number of kids.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I wasn’t claiming that Catholicism actively teaches unlimited procreation, merely that it’s reasonable to conclude that the ideology sees such procreation as good.

    Well, what you said was this:

    Couples shouldn’t have to have as many children as possible to prove that they value life.

    Which reads to me as though you think the teaching promotes having as many children as physically possible. Further, they they do so in order to make a show of their virtue to other people. That’s very different from “it’s reasonable to conclude that the ideology sees such procreation as good”.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And given the fuss Catholics raise over same-sex couples

    Some Catholics. Polling indicates that Catholics are about as likely as the general population to support same-sex marriage.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wasn’t clear. I meant the Catholic hierarchy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Catholic theologians are obviously a rather smart bunch, but the Church’s positions do tend to be socially conservative. I find it unlikely the people responsible for formulating doctrine start with no bias when examining these issues and always just happen to come down to “they way it always was is good”.

    Oh, I agree. My point is simply that they do actually examine these issues. Dismissing dogma that we disagree with as if it were pulled out of a cereal box is piss-poor intellectual analysis; it also adds to my problems arguing with Catholic conservatives whose first response to challenge is that those who disagree with them are ignorant of the actual teaching. It bugs me, because I disagre with them on the basis of a great deal of reflection and critical analysis, but they can always point to people whose critique is “dur stupid Catholics don’t even believe in evolution!*” or some such. It’s bloody frustrating when your opponent can derail debates by pointing to strawmen that actually exist.

    *To use an example I heard just this week

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    …it’s less likely that every single other author just forget to mention
    it, or thought it unremarkable than that that one author made it up.

    So, kill off an entire cohort of infants, and they just shrug it off and go about their lives.  The other gospels were written by LaHaye & Jenkins??

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Deleted cos already addressed. Carry on.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Two instances of me doing the same clarity fail today. As if I needed more reason to believe that today is not my day. Am I at least right that the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t acknowledge the existence of trans folk?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m not 100% sure actually. From memory, I think transgender issues may not specifically be mentioned in the catechism–some Catholic theologians have made various comments but they’re not the same thing. I believe gender reassignment surgery is formally opposed–although I’d also heard that if someone was at the point of probable suicide without surgery, then surgery is rightly recognised as the better outcome, albeit not preferable in and of itself.

    I have an awesome friend who knows the catechism really well, so I’ll ask her next time we catch up.

  • Carstonio

    No, that was merely my snarkiness. It’s deeply offensive that any ideology deems it selfish that some people wish to have sex without procreating. It comes across like contraception users and LGBT people have to prove they value life. I don’t seriously believe that the Church expects all humans to have as many children as possible.

  • vsm

    Ignorance is never a good thing, and I too cringe whenever someone thinks Catholicism is American Evangelicalism with Latin and neat hats. However, I’m not sure how much non-Catholics should be expected to appreciate the finer points of Catholic doctrine, particularly when it affects them, such as in social issues. As for conservative Catholics using outsiders’ ignorance to deflect criticism, it sounds like they’re arguing in bad faith to begin with. If it wasn’t for that, they’d come up with something else.

  • P J Evans

     ISTR it was male children within a certain age range, not all of the children.

    (Heck, there are 19th century Quaker records that have gone missing, and they were pretty good at keeping records.)

  • P J Evans

     It used to be, in the US, that Catholic families were larger than most. There was one in my neighborhood that had ten kids; most other families, including some of the other Catholics, stopped at three or four.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    [16] You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
    [17] So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
    [18] A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

    Matthew 7, Revised Standard Version.

    I don’t need to know the intimate details of the logical and rhetorical sophistry the Catholic Church uses with the public or with its members.

    What I do know, and care about, are the ultimate results:

    - An entire hierarchy bent on succouring and protecting an entire cohort of priests who have grievously abused the trust of the children and adolescents in their care
    - A hierarchy which has promulgated socially hidebound and conservative philosophy and ideals, particularly with respect to QUILTBAG people*
    - A hierarchy which embodies all the dogmatism and stiff-necked refusal to change in the person of the Pope elected to follow John Paul II. A liberal South American Cardinal was touted as the front runner favorite, only to have Pope fucking Rat elected instead.

    Their fruits have fallen and the fruits are moldy and rotten. I do not care for or respect a Roman Catholic’s frocks. You know what I feel when I see a Roman Catholic priest or higher-up? The grossest, creepiest vibe I can possibly get off another human being.

    That’s my first reaction.

    Why?

    I think it should be obvious. People here who expect me to disregard all that in favor of ~understanding the arguments~ – no, I will not do that. As one of the aggrieved parties in this power structure I am not required to succour the powerful at the expense of the powerless.

    —-

    * As I have repeated before, the anger from queer people in particular against Pope John Paul II was so palpable that I, and many others, fucking cheeered when that old bastard finally kicked the bucket.

    When a person is so hated that people dance on his grave, you might stop to wonder if having him, or a carbon copy, in charge is a good idea.

  • P J Evans

     The impression I get from the RC hierarchy of the last thirty years is that every single one of them seems to have spent their entire life in a bubble where no other religions exist, nor does democracy, or any rights for anyone who isn’t male. And I wonder how that happened, because there are very few places where all those are true at the same time.

  • Ross Thompson

    The impression I get from the RC hierarchy of the last thirty years is that every single one of them seems to have spent their entire life in a bubble where no other religions exist, nor does democracy, or any rights for anyone who isn’t male. And I wonder how that happened, because there are very few places where all those are true at the same time.

    Vatican City?

  • Ross Thompson

     

    (Heck, there are 19th century Quaker records that have gone missing, and they were pretty good at keeping records.)

    I’ve already granted that our knowledge of what happened under Roman rule is imperfect. However, my point is that this is something that would have had massive ramifications, that would have been obvious from the body of evidence post-dating it. We know, for example, that Herod was not executed, that there was no popular uprising, that the chroniclers of the day never in their tens of thousands of surviving pages made any passing, oblique reference that gave the slightest hint that anything unusual had happened.

    I (once again) grant that it’s not ruled out by the laws of physics that it could have happened and only one record survived, but it’s no more likely than that Atlantis was a real place, and all the thousands of documents attesting to that were lost except Plato’s.

  • Tricksterson

    Except that the underwater remains of a city whose circular  structure matches Plato’s description has been found to the west of the straights of Gibralter a couple of years ago.  Haven’t heard anything about it since so maybe it turned out to be a mistake or fraud.

  • Ross Thompson

    The last time I heard about Atlantis being discovered was in Cadiz, Spain. Honestly, though, I’ve lost track of all the Atlantises out there; that there’s another one outside the Straits isn’t too surprising.

  • P J Evans

     I thought they’d decided years ago that Plato was talking about Thera (Santorini), and he didn’t understand the units of measurement (or the symbols for them) that the Egyptians used.

  • Ross Thompson

    Maybe. I always thought the consensus was that he just invented Atlantis out of whole cloth; it only seems to have been since the 19th Century that people have taken the idea that there was a real Atlantis seriously.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RHUMQ3XSZFH2A5HYRR4YC6BYMQ gregorys

    the RCC has always been about being fruitful and multiplying. Of course the Virgin is held up as an example so the laity can be completely confused. Poor people have little money for entertainment, diversions, food or housing but they’re free to make babies. If the church tells them this is a good thing then the poor appreciate the encouragement.
    St. Augustine had hoped for conception without pleasure. When invitro conception came along the church was blown out of the water. I’ve not heard of the church refusing to baptize the product of invitro or refusing communion to a woman pregnant from that proceedure

  • The_L1985

    The Tootsie Roll drives were to raise money for the care of mentally-disabled children.

    The KofC does a lot of skeevy things, but they do at least accomplish some good in the world.  That’s the problem–it’s a lot harder to successfully speak out against a group that also does good things, because when you call them out on morally reprehensible practices people tend to say “But what about Good Deed X?”

  • The_L1985

     I can view comments on my computer, but not my cellphone.

  • P J Evans

     Ratzy taught at a university for a while, in Germany. He has to have been exposed to the real world enough to know the difference.(For that matter, JPII was from Poland. He had to have gotten a clue sometime.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I guess the best way to do it would be to point out that reprehensible practices and let them speak for themselves. You don’t have to say, “Institution X is pure evil!!!!”; just say, “Look at this bad thing that they did; shouldn’t they stop doing that?” After all, the goal isn’t ultimately the destruction of the institution, it’s to stop the harm being done.

  • http://twitter.com/Rockybalboa211 Louis Gonzales

    Well, I would assume that lesbians, both women in general, would have equal chance of producing new life in comparison to a heterosexual woman, yet I was trying to explain it from a Catholic perspective. I mean, if any one of the homosexual women in this imaginary couple were Catholic and didn’t participate in homosexual acts or any sexual act that didn’t promote life of any sort and, yet still desired a child, without participating in IVF (Which is debatable in Catholic circles, yet, in general, seen by many as a lesser evil) then I would think God could/would work a miracle of sorts to provide them children, yet if the Virgin Mary were a lesbian would she still be able to bring forth Jesus Christ? I guess she would still be able to since homosexuality is for the most part (debatable) genetic and as long as she didn’t sin and was still immaculately conceived (free from sin) then she could still serve as a sinless vessel to take upon a sinless/in-corrupt being such as Jesus Christ, who was both Full God and Full Man (I mean, it would make sense why she didn’t have any children with St. Joseph (Catholic Teaching) and lived her whole life a Virgin if she were not heterosexual). Now if God  would allow a woman in an open gay relationship (involving homosexual physical activity) to miraculously bear a child is another story. I guess, being God, creator of everything (Time, Space, Matter, etc.), he could, yet I truly would wonder the reason to that interesting turn of events. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (nods) Fair enough. Thanks for the reply.

    I guess, being God [..], he could [allow a sexually active lesbian to miraculously bear a child] yet I truly would wonder the reason to that
    interesting turn of events.

    I, for my own part, would equally wonder about the reason for anyone to miraculously bear a child, as I’m not comfortable judging some Divine miracles as more deserving of wonder than others.

    But I do understand that Catholic teaching implies certain predictions of (and therefore constraints on) the choices God can make, and that in the context of such teaching some miracles are indeed more surprising than others.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, that’s the one I was referring to.  Had forgotten the details.

  • AnonymousSam

    Psalm 127:3-5, on the other hand, does get used as reasoning to have as many children as feasible. Just google “quiverfull.”

  • Lois

    This argument – gay marriage means loss of religious freedom – was made for years in Canada, while gay marriage was before the courts. An argument making the rounds on radio call-in shows around the same time: including gays in hate speech legislation means loss of freedom of speech and freedom of religion for churches, as it will put a chill on teaching that homosexuality is a sin and abberation (which they still can keep teaching, as long as they’re not telling parisioners to go out and eradicate a few gays for Jesus).

    Both passed a decade ago, and churches seem to be alive and well.


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