Homosexuality and the Clergy
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Same-Sex Marriage and the
California Bishops

Lyle J. Arnold, Jr.

On May 15 of this year, the California Supreme Court struck down the State's Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex marriage, declaring it unconstitutional. One would expect the California Bishops to strongly protest this action. Instead, on the same day, May 15, the California's Conference of Bishops issued a letter that, as reported by the Contra Costa Times, “accepted gay civil unions" (1).

In an empty attempt to appear orthodox, the Bishops’ Conference noted that the decision was a "disappointment" (2). In order to remain politically correct, however, their letter frames its critique of the Supreme Court's decision as being an affront to popular sovereignty. In other words, the Supreme Court’s decision is wrong not because it violates the law of God, but because it goes against the wisdom of the voters of California, who voted against same-sex marriages in a state referendum eight years ago.

Instead of calling for open resistance, the Bishops stated their “disapproval” in the following terms:

Lesbians in Hollywood

A lesbian couple "married" in Hollywood
"Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our State has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community" (3).

Please note, in the short five-paragraph statement, there is no condemnation of the fact that homosexual partnerships are already legal in California. Rather, in the statement above, there is an implicit approval of the “spousal-type rights” the State grants to “domestic partners.” Calling marriage a “family of domestic partners” already implies acceptance of an unacceptable situation.

With these value-free words, one can see why the Contra Costa Times called the California Bishops' letter "accommodating" and reported that it had "accepted gay civil unions" (4). Should we be surprised at the specious words of the Bishops? In another article, I reported that the California Bishops had worked behind the scenes to help pass the consenting adults bill known as AB489 in 1975, which legalized adulterous cohabitation, oral sex, and sodomy between consenting adults (5).

'Married' homosexuals

Homosexuals walk from San Francisco City Hall
Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th century political theorist whose name is synonymous with ruthlessness and disloyalty, listed five "qualities" for the successful leadership of princes:

"He should appear all mercy, all faith, all honesty, all humanity, all religion. And nothing is more necessary to appear to have than this last quality" (6).

Machiavelli's counsel was not to really be these things, but only to appear that way. Therefore, his advice was actually to be the opposite of these things. For him only appearance mattered. One can see why The Prince was Lenin's favorite book. One must also wonder if our princes of the Church in the Catholic Conference in the State of California, with their careful posturing on the Supreme Court decision, have also mastered the art of surface appearance promoted by Machiavelli.

One voice of opposition

One California Bishop who went a step further in his response to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriages was Bishop Allen Vigneron, head of the Diocese of Oakland. A cover story recently appeared in the secular press of north-central California, reporting that a battle cry has been made for Catholics to oppose same-sex marriages at the voting box in November. The headline story read: "Oakland Bishop calls for Defeat of Same-Sex Marriage" (7).

Gay couple 'married' in Hollywood

Another pair recently "married" in Hollywood
In a personal statement issued May 16, Bishop Vigneron stressed the “fundamental point,” that “marriage is only possible between one man and one woman.” The conviction that the same-sex couples cannot enter marriage, a conviction “based on reason,” he adds, is one that all Catholics must profess. He goes on to state: “As faithful citizens, Catholics are called to bring our laws regarding marriage into conformity with what we know about the nature of marriage” (8).

Vigneron asked that his letter be read in every parish in his Diocese. However, not all priests read the letter, and not all parishes put it in their church bulletins (9)

The posturing of the California Bishops for so many years further makes it hard to resist speculation, as to whether or not they ever have read 1 Cor. 14: 8. "For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

Only one Bishop in this State, as far as I know, is following St. Paul's advice. Bishop Allen Vigneron is worthy of praise for standing against this shameless act by the California Supreme Court, and the likewise shameless neutrality of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops.
1. “Oakland Bishop calls for defeat of Same-Sex Marriage,” Contra Costa Times online edition, June 11, 2008.
2. News Release, California Catholic Conference, “Catholic Bishops React to CA Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage,” May 15, 2008
3. Ibid
4. “Oakland Bishop Calls for Defeat,” June 11, 2008
5. More Reports of Secrecy in the Oakland Diocese, 5-8-08.
6. The Prince, Ch. 18, http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince18.htm
7. “Oakland Bishop Calls for Defeat,” June 11, 2008.
8. Bishop’s Column “Marriage is only possible between one man and one woman.” Bishop Allen H. Vigneron, The Catholic Voice online edition, Vol. 48, No. 11, June 9, 2008
9. “Oakland Bishop Calls for Defeat,” June 11, 2008.
Posted June 27, 2008

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