gay marriage and the catholic church in maine
“The Catholic Church was a leading supporter of the repeal campaign, even asking parishes to pass a second collection plate at Sunday mass to help the cause.”
Which makes me sad as well. I support religious institutions’ beliefs, however wrong-headed I think they may be, but I wish they’d afford the same dignity to others. Nobody is trying to force the Church to support gay marriage, to allow gays to be married in its churches or by its priests. What business did the Church have interfering with civil marriage laws – passing out second donation plates to oppose equality?
This is especially difficult for me because I’ve been taking RCIA classes at our local parish, which lead in April to confirmation in the Catholic Church. I’ve always loved catholicism. My family is largely Catholic, though I was raised non-denominational. I went to Catholic school for a year, and always loved the saints, the rosary, the colors, the solemnity and the joy involved in the liturgical year, the intellectual and mystical traditions of the Church. It all felt, and still feels, more real to me somehow. Catholicism has a communal and spiritual depth to it that I never experienced at the Methodist or any other protestant church.
There are things that bother me about it, though. I am a decentralist at heart. I believe in the decentralization of power, no matter what the organization. If there is to be a hierarchy, I want it to be a hierarchy that is still very flat, with power spread as far and wide as possible. The very Catholic notion of subsidiarity plays a very strong role in my thinking on this – and, paradoxically perhaps, a very weak role in the Church itself. I’m not against the papacy. I’m just against the level of power the Pope seems to wield.
Then, too, I think the treatment of women and gays is wrong. I think women should be able to be priests. I think, if Jesus were alive today, he’d agree. I just find the notion that Apostolic succession ought to be confined to men a bit outdated. Like a great misunderstanding of the universality of Christianity and Christ and what it means to be human and in communion with God.
I’m a little mixed on married priests, though I think by and large marriage should be allowed. I just know enough pastor’s kids to know that dividing your life between God, your flock, and your family can be extraordinarily difficult – especially on your children. Maybe there’s some wisdom in wedding priests to God only. Maybe not. People divide their lives similarly in a host of other professions.
In any case, the fact that the Catholic Church was instrumental in defeating marriage equality in Maine is saddening to me. The Mormons did it in California, and they were an easy target for my ire, I have to admit. I’ve always had issues with Mormonism, whether that’s fair or not. But Catholics? I mean, here is an institution devoted to peace and justice! Catholic priests were at the vanguard of the anti-war movement during Vietnam. The Pope came out against the Iraq war. Catholics were social activists against slavery, against the slaughter of native Americans….
But not for the gays who want – shudder – to marry. To become families. To join one of the most important social institutions our civilization has to offer.
It’s a shame, and it makes me wonder at the thrust of my heart. It makes me question whether I should be in this RCIA class at all, whether I should join an organization which I simply want to change. Is there a conflict of interest here? Should someone join a cause or a religious group or any other affiliation if one has such fundamental disagreements?
Andrew has a few more things to say about this: