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I’ve been waiting around for some reaction to the Proposition 8 decision from my friends at bien-pensant Catholic blogs like America‘s In All Things and Commonweal‘s dotCommonweal and the National Catholic Reporter‘s NCR Today, but so far to almost no avail. Michael Sean Winters did issue a critique
of Judge Walker’s decision, based on a misunderstanding of what the
judge meant when he wrote that “a private moral view that same-sex
couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples is not a proper basis for
legislation.” The issue is not whether, as Winters asserts, “there is
nothing ‘private’ about Catholic moral views.” It’s that, as Walker
wrote, “[t]he state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral
or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose.” And the
defenders of Proposition 8 failed to demonstrate such a purpose.
that as it may, what are we to make of the silence of all those others
on a subject that has engaged no little Catholic rhetorical and
political action? What I’m inclined to make of it is that, like most
American Catholics, they are actually in favor of same-sex marriage–at
least as a right in civil society–and so can’t bring themselves to
stand with their bishops. But on the other hand, to do anything else
would subject them to intolerable abuse from the Catholic right–abuse
that (as David Gibson points out
over at dotCommonweal today) even that paladin of right-wing
Catholicism Archbishop Charles Chaput characterizes as meaner and more
vitriolic than anything on the other side.
I’m not suggesting
that these moderates come right out and tell the bishops they don’t know
what they’re talking about. Rome has spoken pretty plainly on the
issue. But there are issues of prudence and even principle that might
usefully be raised. Such as that the church is going to have to prepare
same-sex marriage as a normal feature of a civil society whose moral
legislation is not its own. And that just because the Magisterium now
teaches that same-sex marriage is in violation of the natural law, it
could be the case that, as has happened with other moral issues in the
past (slavery, for example, and usury), a fuller understanding of the
nature of things casts a different light on the matter.
Update: Reader Bryan Comes comments that I missed one of those moderate voices I was looking for–his own, over at U.S.Catholic. And a good post it is. Thanks, Bryan!