Monday, May 11, 2009

Archbishop Burke Goes After Marriage Equality; Church Stalling Efforts in Rhode Island | Lez Get Real

Here we go, the Catholic dictators are at it again, threatening expulsion of people to conform to the church's position. Doesn't our constitution clearly state seperation of church and state. Why should this church impose its rules on all Americans. What about my religious liberty. If my congregation wants to marry me I have just as much right and the next to person to get married in a church that wants to perform the ceramony.

Archbiship Burke Goes After Marriage Equality; Church Stalling Efforts in Rhode Island | Lez Get Real

On 12 May 2009, New Hampshire may become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the fourth in 2009 to do so. It will also be the third state to legalize it through the legislative process even if Governor Lynch does not sign it. Lynch has until the end of business that day in order to sign or veto the legislation. New Hampshire will also be the fifth state in New England to make this move. But, why has the smallest state in New England and the United States not made a bold move towards marriage equality? The answer to that can be found in the halls of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious institution inside Rhode Island, and the bishops and priests in the Catholic Church are making it clear that they will resist a push to advance anything that goes against the teachings of the Church. They have already threatened to withhold communion from those who oppose the Church, but they may be upping this by one. Archbishop-Emeritus Raymond Leo Burke has made it fairly clear that he is pushing for the expulsion of anyone refusing to kowtow to the Roman Catholic Church’s political views.

Archbishop Burke is the Vatican prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. His job is to be the Vatican’s chief legal officer. He is in charge of Catholic theological law. For those who do not know, the Vatican use to have a great deal of legal authority in Catholic countries. In 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket used a breach of protocol to go after his political enemies, the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Salisbury. Supposedly, Henry II, who was ill at the time, said “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, and his allies went off and assassinated Becket, who was later canonized. The Catholic Church repeatedly used the denial of the sacrament and the ability to excommunicate people in order to enforce their teaching.

At the recent National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Archbishop Burke went after Catholics, especially Catholic politicians, who support abortion and gay rights. “Most recently, the appointment of a Catholic as secretary of Health and Human Services who has openly and consistently cooperated with the industry of procured abortion in our nation is necessarily the source of the deepest embarrassment to Catholics and a painful reminder of the most serious responsibility of Catholics to uphold the natural moral law which is the irreplaceable foundation of just relationships among the citizens of our nation,” Burke stated in his key note speech. He is, of course, referring to Kathleen Sebelius.

Burke went after marriage equality along the same lines that have been the direction that has been used constantly in the debate over the acceptance of homosexuality. “At the root of the confusion and error about marriage is the contraceptive mentality - which would have us believe that the inherently procreative nature of the conjugal union can, in practice, be mechanically or chemically eliminated, while the marital act remains unitive. It cannot be so. With unparalleled arrogance, our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation upon the faithful, indissoluble, and inherently procreative love of a man and a woman in marriage, and, in violation of what nature itself teaches us, to replace it with a so-called marital relationship, according to the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society.”

thomas_becket_murderBurke, of course, went on to say how only following Pope Benedict’s edicts would bring hope to the world. “The interest of so many nations in our recent presidential election is a clear sign of the world leadership which our national leadership exercises. What those who were so enthused about the strong message of change and hope in the United States, delivered during the last election campaign, are now discovering is a consistent implementation of policies and programs which confirm and advance the culture of death, which can only finally leave our world without the great hope, described by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.”

Two centuries ago, one man went to Pennsylvania to vote on and sign the Declaration of Independence. Charles Carroll could not hold office in his native state of Maryland. As a Catholic, his rights were extremely limited. Even beyond the inability of people to hold office or vote for the reason that they were Catholic was the militant nature of the Protestantism that existed in the South as well as in New England and New York. Catholics faced not only official persecution, but also faced social ostracization in all but the middle colonies. His cousin Daniel Carroll was one of only two Catholics to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. The other was Thomas Fitzsimmons of Pennsylvania.

Given the current hostile climate that is facing many Catholic politicians in the United States, it should not be surprising that many of them are backtracking on issues like gay rights. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant of late to advance many of the bills which would protect gays, lesbians and transpeople. She has become even more reluctant, or so it appears, after meeting with Papal officials. She is not the only one. Many of the state legislators in Rhode Island are Catholics, and they are under great pressure from the Roman Catholic Church to prevent any further marriage equality in New England.

The Catholic Church is hurting. In New England, this is especially true. Many parish schools are closing down due to lack of attendance. Many Catholic Churches are starting to look at consolidation as the numbers attending Mass drop. Some people who still view themselves as Catholics are more lapsed than active. Some Catholics are leaving the Church due to its repressive notions of morality and finding homes in more liberal churches. Indeed, according to even the Vatican’s own numbers, the percentage of Catholics in the United States dropped by three percent from 2006 to 2007. In 2006, roughly twenty-five percent of Americans considered themselves Catholic. By 2007, that number had dropped to twenty-two percent, and this is despite a rise in the number of mainly Catholic Hispanics coming into the country.

One of the United State’s founding principles is the notion that Church and State should be separate entities. Congress shall not make laws regarding the “establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The people of the United States will be both free from religion and free to believe in their own religion. American History has not shown that this idea was perfectly implemented; however, it is a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights. Indeed, it is the very first right to be guaranteed.

It is time for Roman Catholic politicians to stand up and say unequivocally that the Church should either stop threatening or carry through with their threats to deny sacraments and even to excommunicate. Many bishops and priests are against the idea of following through with this, however. It may even begin to cause a theological split within the Catholic Church which will rupture the Church’s power world wide. It is, however, time for many Catholic politicians to stand up and say to the Vatican ‘put up or shut up,’ and to follow the will of those who voted them into office expecting full well that they would not enforce religious doctrine upon their constituents.

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