A minor aside on the whole Jody Bottum foofaraw, but one I noticed. In his Commonweal essay coming out for legalizing gay marriage, Bottum writes that the Catholic Church dropping its fight could have a positive effect on other important missions of the Church:
In fact, same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in chastity in a culture that has lost much sense of chastity. Same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in love in a civilization that no longer seems to know what love is for. Same-sex marriage might prove a small advance in the coherence of family life in a society in which the family is dissolving.
So, the Church should give up its resistance to same-sex marriage because doing so might advance its goals of promoting chastity, love, and strong families. Compare that to the conclusion of a 2005 First Things essay by Bottum on “The New Fusionism”:
Perhaps they are missing because, however important, they do not bear hard on the immediate question of social defeatism—on the deep changes that might reawaken and remoralize the nation. The one thing both the social conservatives and the neoconservatives know is that this project comes first.
The angry isolationist paleoconservatives are probably right—this isn’t conservatism, in several older senses of the word. But so what? Call it the new moralism, if you like. Call it a masked liberalism or a kind of radicalism that has bizarrely seized the American scene. Mutter darkly, if you want, about the shotgun marriage of ex-socialists and modern puritans, the cynical political joining of imperial adventurers with reactionary Catholics and backwoods Evangelicals. These facts still remain: The sense of national purpose regained by forceful response to the attacks of September 11 could help summon the will to halt the slaughter of a million unborn children a year. And the energy of the pro-life fight—the fundamental moral cause of our time—may revitalize belief in the great American experiment.
So, supporting the Iraq War and US militarism abroad is good because it might bring about the remoralization of America and even end abortion. Right.
This isn’t logic; this is alchemy. Giving up on marriage will benefit the Church as well as the Iraq War has benefited the unborn.
UPDATE: Robert Royal, on Bottum’s essay:
Actually, once the Church gives up the legal and cultural pushback, it won’t appease gay activists and their many more or less passive supporters. They know it means weakness. We’ll see an increase in attacks on the Church to simply shut up, and maybe even get onboard about homosexuality.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George just got a letter signed by eight Catholic lawmakers in Illinois chiding him for cutting archdiocesan funding to a pro-immigrant group that decided to endorse gay marriage. Imagine, a Cardinal of the Catholic Church defunds a non-profit group that goes out of its way to take a non-Catholic position inessential to its mission – and, for his trouble, reaps a stinging rebuke from Catholic pols.