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Eileen McNamara says revoke the Church’s tax-exempt status.

No one disputes the right of the Catholic Church, or any other religious institution, to be heard on the contentious issues of the day, but the bishops of Massachusetts want to rewrite the state constitution to conform to Catholic teachings. To assert that right, they persist in confusing sacramental marriage, which the SJC ruling leaves in their hands, with civil marriage, which is beyond their realm.

It was a Catholic legislator who spoke most powerfully to the danger of bending the constitution to the will of religious institutions. “Constitutional rights run to individuals, not to groups or organizations or institutions,” Senator Marian Walsh told her colleagues. “So today I ask, what constitutional rights would individuals participating in religious activities like to give up? Would individuals who worship surrender their own religion, and enjoy a state religion? Would individuals who are clergy like to give up the authority to perform civil marriage ceremonies that this Legislature gave them in 1692?”

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