(Almost) Everything about Hingham

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Yesterday, Fr. James Martin, S.J. reviewed the situation at St. Paul’s parish in Hingham, and what he had to say will only confirm the views of my conservative commentators that it’s the Jesuits who are leading the church down the primrose path to progressive perdition. Martin not only takes the part of Cardinal O’Malley and the rest of Boston’s Catholic establishment in rejecting the Chaputian doctrine of keeping the children of same-sex couples out of Catholic schools. He also gives the ecclesiastical powers-that-be a couple of liberal shoves.

First, he notes the “oddity” of the fact that the archdiocese didn’t just go ahead and tell the parish to admit the child. What’s a hierarchical church for, if not to enunciate policy for the troops? But with the cardinal out of town, it seems that the idea was to take a little time to wheel the policy into place. The fact that there hasn’t been a peep out of the parish or its pastor suggests that they’re waiting for the hammer to drop. We should see soon enough.

Martin then proceeds to note another oddity: Pope Benedict’s “oddly discordant” association of abortion and same-sex marriage as “some
of today’s most insidious and dangerous threats
,” in comments he made at Fatima last week.

The equation of abortion, something that clearly is about a threat to
life, with same-sex marriage, which no matter how you look at it, does
not mean that anyone is going to die, is bizarre. A good friend of
mine, who is gay, recently resigned from a position at the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he said, with great dismay, that
“abortionsamesexmarriage” had become one polysyllabic word among some of
his bosses.

Why has same-sex marriage been equated with abortion?  Are they really
equivalent “threats” to life?  If you’re looking for a life issue with
stakes as high as abortion, why not something that actually
life?  Like war?  Or the death penalty?  Or the kind of
poverty and destitution that lead to death?  Why aren’t “abortion and
war” the most “insidious and dangerous” threats to the common good?  Or
“war and the death penalty”?  Or “war and poverty?”  The great danger is
that this increasingly popular equation will seem to many as
having less to do with moral equivalency and more to do with a
simple dislike, or even a hatred, of gays and lesbians.

I beg to differ–slightly, on the last point. I don’t think this is so much about hatred of gays and lesbians as fighting a culture war in which abortion and homosexuality have come to seen by religious conservatives of many stripes as the twin pillars of a morally bankrupt secular world. Within Catholicism, the anti-abortion position has carried the day, making homosexuality the fulcrum, the casus belli, between conservative culture warriors and consistent-ethic-of-life progressives. That the issue is all tangled up with the sexual abuse crisis only increases the temperature.  

Update: A different view–on the pope.

  • David

    I find the weird association of abortion and same sex marriage, while being causes célèbres alone, is the result of being easy to gain good will among others when disparaging those ills, functioning as that common enemy that unites above social groups and other doctrinal disagreements (Mormons and Catholics, for example) that would otherwise divide the laity.
    In the case of same-sex marriage or homosexuality in general, it plays on a natural prejudice many people have. For someone who is not attracted to people of the same sex (in many cases revolted at the idea in the way a gay man or woman might be revolted at the thought of being with an opposite-sex person), it’s very easy to take a codified restriction whether in a holy text or tradition and then use internal, personal revulsion to validate the teaching, justifying how it could not possibly be otherwise.
    War, divorce, the death penalty, poverty…those are issues so far removed from our emotions and prejudices. It’s easier to make exceptions for them.
    And for your commentators in that other thread defending the Chaputian approach…well…I think the mechanic is much simpler. For a large part of the population, abstaining from homosexuality doesn’t require even a thought or concern. To parade against it is more of a practice of being self-righteous than anything else. The reason divorce or contraception aren’t clear contradictions and discordant with Church teaching to point of turning children away is…it’s more endemic to the population involved, more difficult to single out those sins when we can appreciate our own capacity to fall into them.
    But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the convolutions of rationalizing Chaput’s actions by his defenders. It speaks more to the problems and true prejudices/hypocrisy involved than “clarifying” doctrine.