- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

For the Synod, Der Fix Ist (Possibly) In

Here we go, Catholics: [1]

A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family in October.

Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, at the invitation of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, Switzerland and France — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Markus Büchel and Archbishop Georges Pontier.

One of the key topics discussed at the closed-door meeting was how the Church could better welcome those in stable same-sex unions, and reportedly “no one” opposed such unions being recognized as valid by the Church.

Participants also spoke of the need to “develop” the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and called not for a theology of the body, as famously taught by St. John Paul II, but the development of a “theology of love.”

One Swiss priest discussed the “importance of the human sex drive,” while another participant, talking about holy Communion for remarried divorcees, asked: “How can we deny it, as though it were a punishment for the people who have failed and found a new partner with whom to start a new life?”

Marco Ansaldo, a reporter for the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, who was present at the meeting, said the words seemed “revolutionary, uttered by clergymen.”

More:

change_me

No one would say why the study day was held in confidence. So secret was the meeting that even prominent Jesuits at the Gregorian were completely unaware of it. The Register learned about it when Jean-Marie Guénois leaked the information [2] in a story in Le Figaro.

Speaking to the Register as he left the meeting, Cardinal Marx insisted the study day wasn’t secret. But he became irritated when pressed about why it wasn’t advertised, saying he had simply come to Rome in a “private capacity” and that he had every right to do so. Close to Pope Francis and part of his nine-member council of cardinals, the cardinal is known to be especially eager to reform the Church’s approach to homosexuals. During his Pentecost homily [3] last Sunday, Cardinal Marx called for a “welcoming culture” in the Church for homosexuals, saying it’s “not the differences that count, but what unites us.”

And:

Also noted were the large number of media representatives. Journalists from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German broadcasters ZDF and ARD, the Italian daily La Repubblica and French-Catholic media La Croix and I-Media were also present. Their presence was “striking,” said one observer, who predicted they will be used to promote the agenda of the  subject matter under discussion in the weeks leading up to the synod.

Monday’s meeting is just the latest attempt to subtly steer the upcoming synod in a direction opposed by many faithful Catholics. A statement [4] on the study day released by the German bishops’ conference May 26 said there was a “reflection on biblical hermeneutics” — widely seen as code words for understanding the Bible differently from Tradition — and the need for a “reflection on a theology of love.”

This, too, is seen as undermining Church teaching. By replacing the theology of the body with a “theology of love,” it creates an abstract interpretation that separates sex from procreation, thereby allowing forms of extramarital unions and same-sex attractions based simply on emotions rather than biological reality. Gone, say critics, is the Catholic view of marriage, which should be open to procreation.

Read it all here. [5]

We live in very interesting times.

Advertisement
135 Comments (Open | Close)

135 Comments To "For the Synod, Der Fix Ist (Possibly) In"

#1 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 28, 2015 @ 7:43 am

heartright

On a different, but related note: do you know the play [6]?

To me is one of the most moving Catholic tales about maternity and marriage.

From wikipedia:

The curtain opens on Domenico Soriano, 50, a wealthy Neapolitan shop-keeper who is raging against Filumena, 48, a former prostitute. They lived together for 26 years as husband and wife (but with him frequently having trysts with other women) and she has tricked him, pretending to be near death, and convincing him to marry her in extremis. Domenico, however, would rather marry Diana, a young girl, who is already in the house pretending to be a nurse. Filumena reveals the real reason for the marriage to Domenico: she wants to create a family for her three children (Umberto, Michele and Riccardo) who have no idea of who their mother really is.
Domenico is not going to allow this and asks his lawyer, Nocella, to annul the marriage. Filumena speaks to the young men telling them that she is their mother. Filumena accepts the defeat of the annulment, but tells Domenico that one of the three children is actually his. All attempts to find out who his son is fail, and Domenico, after 10 months remarries Filumena accepting to be the father of all three.
In the play Filumena memorably tells Domenico that “Children are children, and they’re all equal”

The academy award nominee film [7] is based on the play.

#2 Comment By CatherineNY On May 28, 2015 @ 9:40 am

This kind of conference has been going on forever, as has the debate on these issues among Catholics, including bishops. I could send you articles I wrote for conservative Catholic publications 35 years ago that you would think were written yesterday. I was the one who thought the world and the Church were coming to an end back then, but I eventually learned to take a more balanced and optimistic perspective. I’ve said several times in comments on this blog that traditionalists (young ones in particular) have an idealized view of parish life in the pre-Vatican II Church. I will add now that they are also prone to unjustified panic everytime some German bishop or theologian says something dodgy, which has been the M.O. of German Catholics for a long, long time. [I’m not a robot, but I’d rather become one than have to eat the gross-looking food in these pictures.]

#3 Comment By Ben H On May 28, 2015 @ 9:59 am

I’ve never met or heard of a liberal church politician who wasn’t a sneak and a liar through and through. I’m serious, not one. And these people ran the Catholic Church where I grew up so I’ve seen plenty.

#4 Comment By Turmarion On May 28, 2015 @ 10:45 am

William Dalton, I appreciate your mention of Eve Tushnet. I keep mentioning her around here because those on the anti-SSM side, while they know what they’re against are awfully reluctant to say what they’re for. That is, should gay people just sort of get out of everyone’s faces and go back to a sort of quasi-closeted existence; or should a more positive model, such as Eve’s, be considered?

There’s a big debate on this in celibate gay circles. Eve, Wesley Hill, and others argue for a positive view in which being gay is a part of one’s identity that can be a blessing, and in which sexuality is not denied. Rather, it is sublimated into the community and into friendship. She has also advocated for the revival of vowed friendships, as a way for gay people to have a lifelong but chaste bond with another.

On the other hand, some like Daniel Mattson strongly oppose this, insisting on using “homosexual” instead of “gay”, opposing a view of their orientation as even minimally positive, and insisting that the grace comes through resisting the urges of their damaged nature.

I suspect that many on the anti-SSM side, if they’d really come out and say it, favor something like Mattson’s view, or more likely just kind of wish gay people would go away, at least on a gut level. I tried on another blog once to get some socons to come right out and say what they thought the ideal status would be: Should gays go back in the closet? Should they have domestic partnerships? What place do gays have in your view of how society ought to be? They refused to do so, and got mad and accused me of trying to set up “gotcha” questions or arguing in bad faith.

Thing is, everybody in a debate needs to be crystal clear about what they really want. Rod says he’s fine with gays, is glad they’re out, is for domestic partnerships, and against SSM, and that’s fine. M_Young, while I disagree with him on most things, is admirably clear that he’d view a return to the closet as most desirable. That’s at least clear and honest.

Too many people, though, are willing to rage on and on, and toss around “sodomite” this and “sodomite” that, and never explicitly say what they’d ultimately want when pinned down. If socons are “waiting out” the evils of mainstream society until things are more propitious, then they ought to tell us what things would look like under a more propitious time. If they’re waiting until they can put gays back in the closet–well, is it any wonder, then, that they get pushback and get labeled bigots from those who suspect that to be the case?

On the other hand, if they’re open to something more positive and still within the bounds of Church teaching such as what Eve Tushnet and others suggest, then at least there are grounds for dialogue.

#5 Comment By Irenist On May 28, 2015 @ 10:55 am

@Rob; @Radical Center:
As my commenting handle implies, I try to lean toward an irenic approach to debates like these whenever possible (with what success it’s not for me to say, of course). And as it happens, I too found the “sodomitical concubinage” a bit shocking—too likely to give offense, and so by my instincts probably best ruled out of bounds by whoever appoint themselves linesmen of our language game in these comments.

But IMHO there’s something importantly revealing about your (and my) reaction, and the suggestion that Sig. Scalas adopt some alternative term like “same-sex marriage.” By traditionalist lights, two same-sex people cohabiting can never amount to a marriage. Sig. Scalas’ term is a very precise description of exactly what traditionalists understand such an arrangement amounts to—however loving, committed, and admirable that cohabitation might be in any respect you might care to name (or an irenic traditionalist might be eager to acknowledge both out of irenicism and out of empathy for the people whose relationships are being denigrated). Thus, I think it’s revealing that Sig. Scalas is expected to accept the pro-SSM framing and terminology, and thus essentially to concede the question of the definition of marriage before he even finishes typing his remarks.

In some ways, there are matters of common courtesy here: I will generally refer to my opponents in abortion debates as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion,” since it’s irenic and doesn’t needlessly concede any definitional ground w/r/t when life and personhood begin, etc. By analogy, one might say that it is mere common courtesy to refer to same-sex marriages by the name employed both by the participants in the arrangement and by the laws of those jurisdictions (Massachusetts, e.g.) that provide for it. There’s a great deal of wisdom in that, and I for one tend to draw the distinction I take Sig. Scalas to be drawing here by referring to “civil SSM” and “sacramental marriage.”

In short, I’m not really “offended you got offended” or any such nonsense. But I find it to be a tiny little “apocalypse” (as Rod has described the “unveiling” of social reality that the Indiana RFRA blowback enacted for many complacent traditionalists) that merely to state frankly, as Sig. Scalas’ phrase does, what traditionalists actually do believe—and what humanity has believed for millennia—is now in itself a gaucherie. When it is impossible for a viewpoint to be even voiced in polite society (as is the case now with the traditionalist viewpoint w/r/t civil SSM), that viewpoint is well on its way to a quite comprehensive defeat.

#6 Comment By Turmarion On May 28, 2015 @ 11:31 am

Here’s a great article from the aforementioned Wesley Hill.

Irenist, what you discuss is reminiscent of the old saying that whoever controls the discourse controls the reality. Of course, “sodomitic concubinage” is not going win hearts and minds, honest though it might be from the perspective of the anti-SSM side, any more than calling Christianity a “deluded belief in a Bronze-Age sky fairy”, no matter that in the considered opinion of some atheists that’s exactly what it is. I’ve actually had some discussions with atheists of that stripe, BTW, so I’m not making that up.

More relevantly: Technically, in Catholic teaching, non-Catholic Christians are minimally in material, if not formal, heresy; and whatever good there may be in non-Christian religions, they are false (with the exception of Judaism, which is merely incomplete). However, Vatican II decided it was better to refer to our “separated brethren” and to look for the good and true in other religions, without using the adjective “false”.

Using the same argument you used re what Giuseppe said, is it failing to state what they really believe for the Church to use more–well, irenic–language in this matter? Should they call Protestants and Orthodox “heretics”? Or is the current practice better? I think we’d probably both agree on the latter.

Maybe something like “civil same-sex marriage” might be a common ground. If a Catholic couple get married outside the Church, or get divorced without an anulment, then the former is not married, nor the latter divorced, in the eyes of the Church. However, in common parlance, we don’t put scare quotes around “married” or “divorced” (well, Erin does, but she’s the exception), and we don’t say, “Jack and Jill entered their sanctioned fornication last week,” or “Bob and Suzy abandoned each other to go live in adultery a couple of years ago.” We use “married” and “divorced” as civil terms, regardless of our theological commitments. So maybe “civil SSM” would square that circle in a similar way?

#7 Comment By Anne On May 28, 2015 @ 11:36 am

I have to disagree with those who’ve been insisting that Christianity presupposes a sacralized view of sex. In fact, that is very much a pagan point of view, which Christianity, and Judaism before it, opposes.
In the ancient Middle East, sex and marriage, like everything earthly, were part and parcel of the religious realm, tied up with fertility worship and pagan ritual. The Jews de-sacralized both, seeing sex and marriage as gifts of God’s creation, nothing more. Over time, Christians began to re-sacrelize the major milestones of life in Christ, and marriage, like baptism and the anointing of the dying, were seen as “sacraments,” symbols that participated in the divine reality they signify. But that’s not the same as maintaining a sacred, sacralized or sacramental view of sex itself. I’m afraid the overblown rhetoric that seems inherently associated with the Theology of the Body has steered a lot of latter-day ortho Catholics into muddy waters when it comes to thinking about sex.

#8 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 28, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

Well,

It looks like my coinage, “sodomitic concubinate” has stirred the waters a little bit.

First of all, I agree that the term may be irritating, and of course, in general conversation I’m more than happy to use terms which are received with less eye-rolling.
On the other hand, I think that the great combox panel of this blog is generally above things like “you hateful bigot” arguments, and has shown to be able to get to the substance of things.

Still, I guess some clarification is of essence.

The term sodomitic concubinate has the meaning of:

form of cohabitation based upon an erotic relationship, either sanctioned by law or by custom [Concubinate],
where the erotic relationship is under the form of intrinsically non-reproductive sexual intercourse [Sodomitic]

(You could argue that, according to this definition, the definition of sodomitic concubinate may apply also to many contemporary-style legal heterosexual marriages, as often discussed in this blog. I tend to agree.)

Re: Irenist.

When it is impossible for a viewpoint to be even voiced in polite society (as is the case now with the traditionalist viewpoint w/r/t civil SSM), that viewpoint is well on its way to a quite comprehensive defeat.

I guess that political defeat is an established fact since longtime (and that’s the reason why Rod’s Benedict Option makes sense).

However, my questions are:

How much the adoption of “performative language” has been part of determining the defeat, taking also into account that the Progressives have created affabulatory narratives (in the sense of Richard Rorty) that are successful because they resound with the dominant Zeitgeist, that is the historically determined mentality?

Conservatives face a dilemma: either they adopt the same language-changing strategy of the Progressives, in an attempt to gain ground, or stick to a “realistic language” (that is a language which strives to approximate truth, rather than a language conceived strategically). But they have two severe limits.
The first one is material: the Progressives have an overwhelming and long-established advantage in the academia and the media, the two main language-crafting factories.
The second one is moral: “performative language” is by necessity a language of falsehood, a pure machiavellian tool. Can the Conservatives resort to such a tool, knowing that it clashes with their moral convictions of honesty? Wouldn’t it be denying themselves and their beliefs?
(And mind, I’m not saying that Conservatives, especially politicians, are saint, but that metaphysical axiology is a pillar of Conservative thought).

The problem of language is a key one. We have let the other side drag us into their own terrain long ago, and now is impossible to win on that ground. The question of setting the right language is of paramount importance, even in the context of the Benedict Option.

What will be the language of the Benedict Option? A language of (tragically imperfect) truth or the language of the world?

Re: Turmarion.

“Sodomitic” and “sodomite” are two different concepts. I would never use the latter, since it implies a final judgment of the person . Sodomitic, on the other hand, clearly points to a specific kind of sinfulness.

However, I’m a big fan of Ms. Tushnet and of her attempts to found a Christian way to same-sex romance, and her reevaluation of friendship and sublimation.

I think that friendship is one of the most unjustly neglected values in our era of greed and selfishness, because it denies instrumentality.

And I also think that the slandering of sublimation as self-fooling is, again, a slandering of the endeavor towards virtue.

And no, I don’t want homosexuals to go back to the closet. Sincerely. But I want a just order where they find their place together with anybody else. So I’m with you in your appreciation of Ms. Tushnet’s work.

#9 Comment By Ben H On May 28, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

The German Church is an example of how an institution hollowed out by greed becomes a slave to other powerful social and political movements. My understanding is that the Church there is funded 99.9% by taxation taken from people who profess to be Catholic, not by donations and that sacraments are actually refused to those who do not declare themselves Catholic on their tax forms. So, if the Church does not go along with the whims of the people who fund it they will lose their funding base, at least they fear they will. It sounds similar to Catholic Universities in the US which are similarly pathetic, weak and treacherous as they too have been hollowed out by insatiable greed.

#10 Comment By heartright On May 28, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

Giuseppe Scalas says:

Now, you say that the Pope is trying to solve too many problems at once. This specific one doesn’t appear to me as a key issue. Of course I may be mistaken because of lack of information.

When you seek to solve a lot of issues at once, key issues quickly become beside the point. The essential parameter quicker than you can say A B C becomes the amount of change indicated/required for the most eccentric one.

And I think that is the case here. Nonetehless, the approach taken MAY be the best way afterall. But I remain rather sceptic. The Church welcomes sinners. What is problematic is the Church welcoming sinners who demand a aign of approval for their sin.

#11 Comment By heartright On May 28, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

Coincidentally, Giuseppe, welcoming these under-recognised saintly should be a rather central concern for a Synod on the Family.
( Bit of a difference from letting them sneak in unnoticed while putting out the welcome sign for shrieking sinners. )

I would probably have to see the play to appreciate it.

#12 Comment By Irenist On May 28, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

@Turmarion:

I attempted to answer your excellent question to us socons, and my comment ran to three single-spaced pages. That seemed long even for one of my (typically prolix) comments.

So I posted the answer on my blog, which I beg Rod’s indulgence for linking here:
[8]

#13 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 28, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

As someone who has tried to stay outside the box on this subject, I appreciate Turmarion’s insightful overview. One thing we can be sure of: people who feel physical, hormonal, attraction for their own sex are not going to disappear. The question is not can we make it all go away, but how do we respond to the fact that this pattern exists among us?

I’m quite open to Eve Tushnet trying it her way, Daniel Mattson trying it his way, those who want neither trying their way, and recognize that what is good or even best is going to be revealed over a long period of time by the results each achieves. For each of them, it is their own life we are talking about. A church may teach one choice or another, or two and not the third, or whatever, but that is, on earth, good advice, which a person may choose to accept or not. What is the transcendent significance is between that person and God.

I’m interested in Irenist’s choice of terminology. I agree that a certain minimum of courtesy is called for, and I usually adhere to the courtesy of referring to pro-life as pro-life, even though that label grabs a little more axiomatic virtue “for my side” than pro-choice claims for itself. One can CHOOSE LIFE. One can also be “pro-life” and consider abortion an acceptable choice in some circumstances. And while one cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion, one can, logically, be Catholic while disagreeing with the legislative program of the council of bishops… e.g. consider criminal penalties a course that does more harm than good.

#14 Comment By JonF On May 28, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

Re: Sorry, that’s nonsense. As St.Paul says, the union of man and woman is a mysterious sign of the union of Christ and the Church.

And the Jesus refers to the Earth to God’s footstool. Does that make footstools especially sacred?

Re: And let me remind you that (for Catholics and Orthodox) marriage is a sacrament

Not quite, Matrimony is a sacrament: it confers Grace upon a marriage. A marriage of two atheists before a JP, or two Pentacostals before their preacher, is not sacramental at all. (Only the RC, its splinter churches, and the various Churches of the East offer the Sacrament on Matrimony).

Re: …and requires sexual consummation. Marriage without sex is ground for annulment,

Do you important practical considerations. The old rule was that a marriage was contracted by any two people who could validly marry “plighting their troth” to one another, even privately. However hat would mean that just saying “I lone you” between two infatuated teens would make them married, so it was also stipulated that consummation was required to finalize the deal. The plight-one’s-troth rule went by the boards once government took over marriage law (but more recently than you might think) and the consummation rule was left orphaned as it were, so some mystical speculation was attached to it to explain it.

Re: If I may ask, are you Protestant?

I am Orthodox– and very widely read as to the realities of the past. (In any event we were talking about sex, not marriage, as a “sacrament”. If you are Catholic, as I was in my youth, you should know there are seven sacraments– and sex is not one of them. (Yes, strictly speaking anything can be an occasion for extraordinary grace– with that I am in agreement as said so)

#15 Comment By JonF On May 28, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

Ugh, this is what I get for typing with a memory-hog app running as well.
This:

“Do you important practical considerations. The old rule was that a marriage was contracted by any two people who could validly marry “plighting their troth” to one another, even privately. However hat would mean that just saying “I lone you…”

should read:

“Due to important practical considerations. The old rule was that a marriage was contracted by any two people who could validly marry “plighting their troth” to one another, even privately. However that would mean that just saying “I love you…”

#16 Comment By Jake On May 28, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

Cardinal Marx serves the Devil by serving the Modernist zeitgeist. That Pope Francis has made him one of his closest 3 or 4 advisors tells us all we – if we have eyes to see and ears to hear – need to know about Pope Francis.

St Paul told the Galatians not to believe another Gospel even if it were delivered by an angel. St Paul said such an angel should be cursed.

If it goes for angels, it goes for Cardinals and Popes.

#17 Comment By Carlo On May 28, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

JonF:

your qualifications are more or less correct, but did nothing to convince me that from a Catholic perspective sex does not have a sacramental value in the context of the sacrament of matrimony. Of course also bread is not sacramental when I buy it at the grocery store, but so what? In the eucharistic context it is.

#18 Comment By Irenist On May 28, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

@Turmarion:
Well, as I said above, “civil SSM” is already my preferred compromise term. The rest of your points are well taken.

FYI: As for your question to socons, I have replied on my blog; my comment linking to my post had a hyperlink, so it’s spending extra time caught in moderation purgatory.

@Anne:
Your view that a sacramental conception of marriage is a re-paganizing Catholic innovation is certainly a respectable one within Protestant circles. Calvin wrote in his Institutes that

matrimony, which all admit was instituted by God, though no one before the time of [Pope] Gregory regarded it as a sacrament. What man in his sober senses could so regard it? God’s ordinance is good and holy; so also are agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, hair-cutting legitimate ordinances of God, but they are not sacraments.

However, we Catholics are bound to affirm with the Council of Trent that

If any one shall say that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the Seven Sacraments of the Evangelical Law, instituted by Christ our Lord, but was invented in the Church by men, and does not confer grace, let him be anathema.

That ought to suffice. But I loathe the tin-pot ayatollah of Geneva, and have more to say about how very, very wrong he was. The rest is far from irenic, so feel free to just ignore it:

Calvin’s reduction of marriage to a transaction (I use the word advisedly, with Weber in mind) no more sacred than barbering or cobbling, exhibits blindness to the sacramental spirituality of marriage, and what incarnate flourishing can really be, that reminds me of the worst, most boorish comments of latter day “reformers” like Richard Dawkins. It has the cold, arid, dead-eyed, robotic inhumanity of the Benthamite wonk, the Leninist technocrat, or the libertarian transhumanist. It reeks of Mordor.

Whenever I hear some arrogant theorist tell me that the mind is “no more than” the brain, or an unborn child is “no more than” a clump of cells, I know I am in the presence of the worst sort of insensible barbarian, the kind of temperament that, if not leavened with some human warmth, will stand ready to help rationalize the efficient execution of whatever holocaust modernity inflicts next. Thus my horror for Calvin, who thought marriage “no more than” contracted rutting, and the Holy Eucharist physically “no more than” bread.

Calvin’s altar-stripping boorishness is symptomatic of what Taylor called the “Reform” tendency that led to our “Secular Age”: theorizers like Calvin set the stage for precisely the catastrophic collapse in marriage culture (of which divorce and contraception are far graver symptoms than SSM) in which the West now writhes. Heresy tends to have bad consequences. The broken families littering the modern world are a consequence of the diabolical (in the sense Rod recently highlighted) heresy that marriage is no sacrament. What could be more diabolical, more separating, than divorce and contraception? Yet these lead ineluctably, irresistibly, to abortion and SSM.

Calvin spent his whole career thinking he was tearing down Asherah poles, when instead he was taking an axe to the cedars of the Temple, to the wood of the Rood. May God have mercy on him.

#19 Comment By Patrick On May 28, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

@ Ben H:

Don’t forget the very German need to be part of “the Establishment”. There’s not much room or respect for a dissenting minority view in a country hewn together by Bismarck.

Of course, “The Establishment” has no inherent ideological component besides being total in it’s political/cultural power. It could be used to uphold a Nazi as well as leftwing PC orthodoxy. But the sure thing is that, in Germany, there’s no respectability in being outside The Establishment as there is in the U.S. (in fact, American culture almost prizes dissidents.)

#20 Comment By heartright On May 28, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

Turmarion says:
May 28, 2015 at 10:45 am
That is, should gay people just sort of get out of everyone’s faces and go back to a sort of quasi-closeted existence; or should a more positive model, such as Eve’s, be considered?

Of course I am hardly the only member of the anti-SSM crowd, but I’ve hardly made a secret of my enthuisiastic support for the Ms Tushnet as postivie role model option.

#21 Comment By CatherineNY On May 28, 2015 @ 5:47 pm

@Turmarion writes: “Maybe something like “civil same-sex marriage” might be a common ground…We use “married” and “divorced” as civil terms, regardless of our theological commitments. So maybe “civil SSM” would square that circle in a similar way?” I’ve suggested this in past threads, in which I have also commented that the vast sums spent by Catholic bishops on political campaigns opposing civil SSM could be better spent on education in their own parishes, particularly on preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony. Why all the firepower and resources aimed at people who do not give a fig what the Catholic Church thinks about anything, when there is work to be done teaching their own flock about the meaning of marriage?

#22 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 28, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

Irenist, +1000 to this

So I posted the answer on my blog, which I beg Rod’s indulgence for linking here:
[8]

I wish those kind of thoughts could make their way to the Synod

#23 Comment By Gregory Manning On May 28, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

@Anne
Yes. The individual meant it the way we here in the South would say about the spoken remarks of someone who was kind and gentle but not too swift “Bless his heart…”.

#24 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 28, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

St Paul told the Galatians not to believe another Gospel even if it were delivered by an angel. St Paul said such an angel should be cursed.

If it goes for angels, it goes for Cardinals and Popes.

Evidently you and Paul are both Protestants, and perhaps Lutherans as well.

#25 Comment By CatherineNY On May 29, 2015 @ 9:15 am

Just got Commonweal’s weekly roundup (I tried to read a broad swathe of Catholic writing), and they note that there is plenty of behind-the-scenes plotting and meeting by conservatives: [9]. And surely I am not the only commenter here who has seen this petition for priests to sign: [10].

[NFR: Well, yes, but surely there’s a difference between bishops meeting and plotting to defend Catholic doctrine, and those meeting and plotting to change it, yes? — RD]

#26 Comment By Turmarion On May 29, 2015 @ 9:24 am

Well, Giuseppe, like I said, “whoever controls the language controls reality”. That’s why the issues of terminology come up. Both sides in the culture wars play that game: “pro-life” and “pro-choice” (becuase “pro” is a positive word; no one wants to be “anti”); the demonization of the word “feminist” by the right; and so on. I’m generally very Confucian in supporting the “ [11]“, that is, to say what you mean. On the other hand, terms that are emotionally loaded often cause more difficulty in communication that not. It’s a fine line.

Irenist, your blog post is excellent, and I’d pretty much agree with almost everything in it. “Heteronormative homophile” is a felicitous term. I think it’s also indicative of what I notice a lot. Many socons are not homophobes, but they still have a sort of holding-at-arm’s–length discomfort with gay people. Just as some people can’t see the blessings in a Down’s child, some socons can’t see the blessings in a gay person, in the terms of which you speak. That vibe, which I often get (not from you or Rod), is what I have a problem with.

When I spoke of domestic partnership, I wasn’t necessarily talking about gay chaste Catholics (on whom I’d completely agree with you). The reality is that gays aren’t going away or back into the closet–which we both agree is good. The reality is that most aren’t going to be chaste, either, for better or worse. Given that, I don’t have a problem with domestic partnerships as such; and though I’m somewhat ambivalent about it, I’d say that civil SSM is probably not going to leave civilization in smoking ruins, and therefore is probably OK, though not ideal.

You are right that my mileage varies re Thomism, but your overall points are reasonable.

Anne @ 11:36 and JonF, +100.

CatherineNY: I have also commented that the vast sums spent by Catholic bishops on political campaigns opposing civil SSM could be better spent on education in their own parishes, particularly on preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Agreed on that. My pre-Cana in 1999 was an absolute joke. I’m still married, and with a child, after all this time, so my marriage is successful; but any success in it owes zero to the premarital sessions we had.

From past posts, I’m a bit surprised that Giuseppe and heartright are in favor of Eve Tushnet’s approach, but I’m glad to hear that. I wish more on the socon side would give her a hearing. In that regard, Irenist, my main issue with Mattson is this: There’s a fine line between embracing your cross out of love of Christ, despite all sufferings, on the one hand, and bitter, punctilious, quasi-masochistic desire to suffer to show one’s bona fides as a spiritual athlete and to earn cosmic points. Maybe I’m over-interpreting, but in the tone of his articles Mattson strikes me as veering towards the second tendency. I may be wrong, and it’s not something I can put a finger on; but that’s the vibe I get from him.

I guess that’s why I’m very sympathetic to gays, actually. I’ve discussed this at greater length before, but trying to live as a chaste single straight person before I got married was an enormous struggle, and while I knew in the abstract that it was “bearing my Cross”, etc., it was impossible for me to experience it that way. Maybe that’s because of my temperament, or my sinfulness, or psychological issues, or not putting enough effort in, or whatever; but there it is. No priest or confessor I ever went to gave me the least bit of consolation or help on that, either. They either blew it off or said something that sounded like a reject from Chicken Soup for the Soul: “It’s worth the wait! God is with you! It’ll work out in the long run!” and so on. Thus, I have to say that I’m quite allergic to the Mattson approach, though if it works for him, all I can say is that he’s a better man than me, in that regard.

#27 Comment By heartright On May 29, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

Turmarion

From past posts, I’m a bit surprised that Giuseppe and heartright are in favor of Eve Tushnet’s approach, but I’m glad to hear that.

I think you have a history of not quite understanding my posts – which is the result of not necessarily being able to grasp that deliberate ambivalence in a post of mine is precisely that: deliberate.

Rememebr my statement that the deplorable situation of African Americans had to do with too much autonomy?

You assumed that I meant too much black autonomy, when logically, the answer – no matter how countercultural to you – is that it is the white, Confederate element that had too much autonomy. As part of the Reconstruction, it is they who should have been deprived of all claims to right.

Back to Eve Tushnet: the ethical position of a lesbian Christian is exactly the same as that of a single heterosexual Christian such as myself: there is no contexr in which any sexual activity of her or me is legitimate.

The difference between Eve and me was not that she is Lesbian and I am not, the difference is that she took her duty much more serious than I did.

Considering Eve persuaded me towards a much more disciplinarian attitude towards myself.
I think of her as a rolemodel – for ME to follow and to accept as a better person than myself.

I generalise that liberalism takes ambiguity, grey areas, as a reason for a permissive attitude. For my part, I consider the correct response to ambiguity to be the strictest interpretation possible.

Sophrosyne – in the Carolean manner:
I humbly accept the gay claim that their burden was heavier than mine. Accordingly, I increased the load I carry until it matched theirs. I may think that there are perfect reasons for that unequal load, but if they deem it unfair I will simply match them. I do not think that is heroism, I think that is simply SOP, and exactly how it should be for someone who strongly believes in Solidarity as the key to societies which are worth living for.

It is precisely this value of Solidarity that High Tory/Red Tory/Social Democrat minds so impenetrable to the liberal, the libertarian and the neoliberal.

Solidarity trumps freedom.

#28 Comment By heartright On May 29, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

I think you have a history of not quite understanding my posts –
That sounded like a snark. I did not mean a snark. I do mean that for you to get me, I must speak more clearly than is my wont. And my wont is to speak in solvable riddles.

#29 Comment By JonF On May 29, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

Re: “Bless his heart…”.

I don’t think that’s a uniquely Southern thing. My step-mother used that phrase regularly, and she was from Michigan– the north of Michigan.

#30 Comment By heartright On May 29, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

Turmarion
I’m generally very Confucian in supporting the “rectification of names“, that is, to say what you mean
No dount a fine idea in Chinese.

But you know….Eengerleesh, that bastard-language formed by taking 2 distinct words, 1 french, 1 germanic, for every shared concept?
Kant and Jsrgon are the POINT of English.

I am ( for just a bit longer ) a proud Yorkshireman, and when I see a spade, I darned well call it s shovel and there are no 2 ways about it.

#31 Comment By Turmarion On May 29, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

heartright: I think you have a history of not quite understanding my posts –
That sounded like a snark. I did not mean a snark. I do mean that for you to get me, I must speak more clearly than is my wont. And my wont is to speak in solvable riddles.

Yes, it did; but since you say that wasn’t the intent, I accept that it wasn’t meant that way. My training is in math and physics, so in discussion and debate, I don’t really do ambiguity. Ambiguity is great in poetry and diplomacy; but elsewhere–especially on the Internet–clarity is a virtue.

Solidarity trumps freedom.

If you’re a Borg…. And I never addressed this in a previous comment of yours, but Asimov’s Galaxia didn’t subsume individuality totally. Everyone, in fact, had long, multi-syllabic names (like Blissenobiarella, who said that was the short form of her name) that expressed lots of information about them (compare that to the Borg, who had only numbers, e.g. Seven of Nine). The reason they were able to act in perfect harmony was that all of them, and in fact every living and even non-living thing on the planet was connected by a constant telepathic link. Everyone really and truly understood everyone else because everyone really was in everyone else’s head.

For this reason, there never was conflict and everyone did what they needed to with no complaint because everyone was directly aware of the needs and feelings and thoughts of everyone else, and saw him/herself as a part of a greater whole experientially.

If we can get something like that going, your extreme emphasis on the collective over the individual would work in a non-tyrannical and oppressive way. Short of that, there’s no way I’m singing on.

#32 Comment By heartright On May 30, 2015 @ 12:45 am

Solidarity trumps freedom.

If you’re a Borg…. And I never addressed this in a previous comment of yours, but Asimov’s Galaxia didn’t subsume individuality totally.
There are 3 possible positions on the larger issue:

Individualist, Communitarian, and Collectivist.

My own position is Communitarian, but since it is clear to me the Individualists are unwilling to play ball, I simply accept that a workable majority requires a compromise with the Collectivists. Since I cannot reach an accord with you, an accord with the Collectivists it must be. Musical chairs: someome must be left standing, and be shut out. That is the essence of politics.

Note also that my insistence on Majority means an acceptance that there will be a Minority… and even in the communitarian setup, minorities are not accorded the right to dissent afterwards. The Swiss Federal Charter of the 13th century is pretty plain on that: even in the federal setup,everyone and each is obliged to defend the collective decision – at his own expense – to the best of his abilities – with immediate expulsion for non-compliance.
The Charter talks only about Duties and does not mention Rights – not at all.

Ambiguity is great in poetry and diplomacy; but elsewhere–especially on the Internet–clarity is a virtue.
Let’s just say that there is no way that the Fuzzy Logic Ricecooker could have been invented by a western mind. The inability to be fuzzy is a categoric shortcoming of western culture.
By the same token, I think this is why the Western mind must parrot about the Trinity – it does not groc what it is.

My training is in math and physics, so in discussion and debate, I don’t really do ambiguity.
Mine is… decisionmaking. Non-ambiguous decisions, in my experience, simply do not occur. Ambiguity is simply something to be accepted – and dealt with. Using solvable riddles – simply a good training aid.

Solidarity trumps freedom.
If you’re a Borg
No. It is the quintessential battleground between Social Democrats and Liberals. And I stand with the Social Democrats.

#33 Comment By J r. Mc. Fau l On May 30, 2015 @ 1:36 am

“[NFR: Well, yes, but surely there’s a difference between bishops meeting and plotting to defend Catholic doctrine, and those meeting and plotting to change it, yes? — RD]”

There is no difference because the first group was only defending their version of what they incorrectly think is Catholic doctrine and the second group is determining the scope of the doctrine.

That’s the whole point. The Pope (or Ecumenical Council) is the decider of doctrine in case of disagreement. Lay Catholics and non-Catholics do not decide.

I decide that pizza is not soup.

#34 Comment By heartright On May 30, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

Turmarion:

Ambiguity is great in poetry and diplomacy; but elsewhere–especially on the Internet–clarity is a virtue.
I think that the failire to detect the ambivalence in the tale of Sodom has a great deal to do with the confusion within the Church about the issues at hand.

As I pointed out last year, the narrative of Sodom-and-Gomorrah is rather ambivalent,and the theme is fuller explored in Ezekiel 16:49. Of the sins of Sodom, homosexuality is just about the least important aspect.

I think you will understand how multi-value logic,ambiguity, as well as an embracing attitude towards the Eve Tushnets of this world fit into this while simultaneously rejecting the SSM narrative.

#35 Comment By CatherineNY On May 30, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

NFR: Well, yes, but surely there’s a difference between bishops meeting and plotting to defend Catholic doctrine, and those meeting and plotting to change it, yes? — RD

Frankly, I’m not sure that there is as much of a bright line between the two groups as some people think. If we move closer to the pastoral practices of the Orthodox Church regarding divorced people and communion, is that really “changing Catholic doctrine”? What I saw growing up — annulments for me, if I’m connected, but not for thee, in a lot of cases — was not very elevating. I had an aunt and uncle who married outside the Church, because my uncle had made a brief, imprudent wartime marriage. A couple of nuns were sent to their house to tell my aunt that she was “living in sin.” No one in their family ever darkened the door of a church again. They lived a faithful and loving marriage for the next 60 years, outside of the Church. Do you think it is so terrible to consider improving on the practices that led to situations like this in my and many other Catholic families?