Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Re: Gay Marriage

May 14th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

My previous post on the recent gay marriage debate going on in NYS has spawned quite the discussion (43 comments and counting)!  I’ll repeat here what I said in those comments – thank you to ALL who shared your thoughts.  IMO, getting opinions from all across the board here at CF is a good thing.  It gives us the opportunity to address head on the thoughts and opinions of those out there who we might not otherwise run across or get into such a discussion with.  It gives us the opportunity to be heard and to possibly change hearts and minds.  So I do encourage all comments, especially those who disagree with me.  I just ask that you please don’t attack me (or anyone else) by calling me uncharitable or pharisaical.

kluging together 2 different anonymous comments…

As a practicing and active Roman Catholic I firmly support gay marriage…. I have found that many priests in our diocese are also open to these new ideas and support Cuomo.

Besides the arguments already made by others in that thread that you most certainly cannot support gay-marriage while being a practicing Catholic, I’d like to highlight Bishop Clark’s support for marriage (and disapproval of gay-marriage).  I was very encouraged to read these articles (thanks to the reader who shared them).  For the clergy and lay Catholics who are in support of gay marriage, you should know that not only is official Church teaching and 2,000 years of Tradition against you, but even liberal-leaning Bishop Clark is in opposition to you.  Here are those links:

What we believe about the Sacrament of Marriage (the Bishop’s column in the Catholic Courier)

Statement on “Same-Sex Marriage (By the Catholic Bishops of New York State)

Kudos to Bishop Clark for his support.  Given the fact that the issue is being raised again, it’d be great to get yet another affirmation of these teachings (I’ve been informed that there are some in this diocese who have yet to subscribe to Cleansing Fire- if you know who they are, please let us know).

Ben – Does Lt. Gov. Duffy profess to currently be Catholic — or does he just claim that he was raised in a Catholic household?  If he is still Catholic, do you know in which local Catholic parish he and his family consider themselves to be members?

I need to admit that I don’t know.  My assumption that he is a professed Catholic was based on the fact that he received communion during the recently disputed mass where Cuomo received communion.  However, on further inspection, none of the articles I found mention whether or not Duffy received communion.  So my assumption could very well be incorrect.  Does anyone out there know?  It’s an important point because to receive communion is to profess your faith in the Catholic Church (and your submission to her teaching authority).  As to whether he is registered in a local parish – I have no idea.

Setting aside the “can you be Catholic and pro-gay marriage?” debate, I’d like to point out that the argument against gay-marriage is actually broader than any particular religion.  That is exactly why I’ve repeatedly posted links to the “What is Marriage?” paper.  It is an absolutely rock-solid defense of marriage – one that invokes no religious argumentation whatsoever.  So before you tell me that a good Catholic can be pro gay-marriage, you’re going to have to refute this paper.  Everything is addressed in there.  Before spending any more time reading and writing blog comments – go read it.  Then come back here and refute those arguments.  I’m sure Dr. Girgis, Dr. George, and Dr. Anderson (no relation to yours truly) would love to hear your argumentation (assuming it even holds a candle to them).

Another reader alerts us that Dr. Janet E. Smith coming to Mercy High School on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 7 pm.  Very exciting!  I’ve heard her on the radio and watched some of her lectures on youtube.  She is excellent.  Do try and make it out to see her if you can.

“A Catholic” writes:

BTW, those in James Alesi’s State Senate district should give him a polite reminder to vote against gay marriage, as he did last time.  He is a Catholic, but said to be possibly wavering on this [our friend Loius. E would suggest to do so even if you aren’t in his district]

Another paraphrase of an anonymous comment:

we should be skeptical of our beliefs and not so sure of ourselves

I’ve addressed this here:

Another paraphrase of an anonymous comment:

the Church is always in need of some change agent.  In order to push ahead, that change agent must challenge fundamental beliefs.

That is somewhat true.  “The Church is always in need of reform” is a quote I’ve often heard (can’t remember if there’s a particular person to whom it’s attributed), but that is not an unqualified approval to constantly challenge her authority.  St. Francis was perhaps the greatest influence on the medieval Church and he was never anything but an orthodox Catholic.  (don’t take my word for it, listen to Prof. Cook).  I also like to point to Dietrich Von Hidebrand’s “Transformation in Christ” for an in depth analysis of challenging ourselves while holding on to what is essential.

Scott W, we are most sincerely indebted to you for your persistent and remarkable ability to defend orthodox Catholicism on our blog.  As a show of thanks, I’d ask our readers to check out his own blog (

And finally, Archbishop Dolan recently address the situation on his blog.  As always, his words are powerful.

now I hear Catholics, — and, I am quick to add, Jews, other Christians, Muslims, and men and women of no faith at all — who have thoughtfully expressed grave disapproval of the current rush to redefine marriage, branded as bigots and bullies who hate gays.

Nonsense! We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage. The definition of marriage is a given: it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

To uphold that traditional definition, to strengthen it, and to defend it is not a posture of bigotry or bullying. Nor is it a denial of the “right” of anybody. As the philosophers remind us, in a civilized, moral society, we have the right to do what we ought, not to do whatever we want. Not every desire is a right.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

To uphold that traditional definition, to strengthen it, and to defend it is not a posture of bigotry or bullying. Nor is it a denial of the “right” of anybody. As the philosophers remind us, in a civilized, moral society, we have the right to do what we ought, not to do whatever we want. Not every desire is a right.

To tamper with that definition, or to engage in some Orwellian social engineering about the nature and purpose of marriage, is perilous to all of us. If the definition of marriage is continually being altered, could it not in the future be morphed again to include multiple spouses or even family members?

Nor is it “imposing” some narrow outmoded religious conviction. One might well ask just who is doing the “imposing” here: those who simply defend what the human drama has accepted from the start, a belief embedded in nature and at the core of every civilization — the definition of marriage — or those who all of a sudden want to scrap it because “progressive, enlightened, tolerant culture” calls for it.

Sadly, as we see in countries where such a redefinition has occurred, “tolerance” is hardly the result, as those who hold to the given definition of marriage now become harassed and penalized.

If big, intrusive government can re-define the most basic, accepted, revealed truth that marriage simply means one man + one woman + (hopefully) children, in a loving family, then, I’m afraid, Orwell’s works will no longer be on the fiction shelf. As someone commented to me the other day, “Wouldn’t it be better for our government to work on fixing schools than on redefining marriage?”

And resistance to this rush to radically redefining the ingrained meaning of marriage cannot be reduced to an act of prejudice against people with a same-sex attraction.

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57 Responses to “Re: Gay Marriage”

  1. avatar Choir says:

    Ben – Bob Duffy was brought up Catholic and went to Holy Rosary School. I know that I read somewhere that he is no longer Catholic. He attends some other denominations’ church. I’m sorry but I can’t remember which one. I’ll try and find out.I think his Mom was a nun for a time and his Dad a seminarian.

  2. avatar JLo says:

    The push is on by our new governor, and all his liberal, progressive, let’s-destroy-America friends are rushing in to help… coincidence that the lead headline and article in this morning’s D&C was on gay civil unions? Prepare to be inundated with their PR. And of course the thrust of the article is that civil unions just don’t go far enough; don’t carry the same “respect” as marriage. Less than four percent of Americans live the homosexual lifestyle, but just look how far they’ve pushed their PR all these years! They have otherwise clearheaded people thinking that it’s only fair that homosexual relationships get the same “respect” as do married couples who reflect nature. But for those pushing for something they actually describe as a “right”, it’s not about fairness; never has been. Rather, they insist that we “respect”, fully accept, even bless their lifestyle. How dare them! How? Because the same voting Americans who put an inexperienced, raised-on-entitlements fool with un-American ideas in the White House in 2008 read this issue wearing the same eyeglasses; and all the while, they are blind! Please, God, that the pushback in our state (and all others) is huge! +JMJ

  3. avatar Sassy says:

    Before you give too many kudos to Bishop Clark, I have yet to see him speak-up against Fortunate Families, which is right in his backyard.

  4. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Before you give too many kudos to Bishop Clark, I have yet to see him speak-up against Fortunate Families, which is right in his backyard.

    agreed. But it is good to give credit where credit is due. Bishop Clark has spoken on this issue and defended Holy Mother Church. Putting other issues aside for a minute, let us take solace in that.

  5. avatar phyllis says:

    I am Catholic and I don’t oppose recognition of gay unions under the civil law for the reason that I hope it would put an end to the vicious persecution of the Church by the gay lobby. It’s a pagan state already and little can be done to change it. Maybe it’s a lost cause and foolish but to the harassment and bullying towards Catholics I reply with pacifism.

  6. avatar Snowshoes says:

    Legal precedent only seems to matter when it’s the liberals who want to use it. Our legal system, handed down from Hammurabi, Moses and the Hebrew codes, the Greek and Roman codes, and then Canon Law, English Common law, etc, all speak with one voice as far as marriage being strictly between members of the opposite sex. Even when multiple wives were permitted, the marriage was considered to be contracted between one man and one woman. This horror is to open Pandora’s box.

    As with the Negro Slave “laws” after fourscore and ten, which were vacated, to use the legal term, those so-called same-sex marriage laws have no validity, and must be vacated by those ill-fated states which have already “ratified” them. Us Catholics go easy on saying that such and such a thing will bring down the wrath of God upon us, but I’m afraid this is one of those things which will.

    And Phyllis, as has been said previously, when such laws are passed, it gets worse for us Catlicks, not better, because we become outlaws for forbidding (and calling a sin) what the State says is a “right”. It will only be a matter of time before we will have to go to prison if this “movement” goes its “natural” course… Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis!

  7. avatar Sassy says:

    Ben, I wish I could agree with you. Sadly, I’ve been privy to the inner workings of FF. Bishop Clark offered mass and blessed gay unions in a mass at your Cathedral in, I believe, 1997. He’s supported that movement in the DOR. He issued those pro-family statements only after Vatican reprimand. I can’t give him credit for something he felt forced to do.

  8. avatar militia says:


    Time has proven that giving an inch to sin means it takes a mile. Can you think of times in modern history (say, the last 100 years) when the creep of evil was reversed by anything other than war? One might cite the government crackdown in Utah against polygamy. Maybe. (More than a century ago one might well include the end of US slavery.) It doesn’t happen often.

    For the sake of discussion, where would you now draw the line by which you believe Christians could live “in peace” and avoid persecution? Are we past it, or is it yet to come?

    Repeal of Blue Laws (done)
    Removal of God from public schools (done)
    Removal of signs of Mosaic Law from courtrooms/public buildings (being done)
    Permitting public lewdness (TV, displays in public, dress)– done but escalating
    Liberalization of Divorce Laws (done)
    Widespread availability of contraception (done)
    Widespread availability of abortion on demand(done)
    Partial birth abortion? (done)
    Widespread availability of drugs (in progress; regardless of laws)
    Diversion of tax dollars to support sin life styles (done or well along)
    Legalization of euthanasia (underway)
    Infiltration of gay agenda into media, schools and polite conversation (done)
    Equating sin with “civil rights” (done or at least well along)
    Allowing gay “marriage” (in process)
    Restricting preachers ability to speak on Romans 1, etc.? (Sweden and Canada?)
    Attempts to restrict Christian broadcasting (in process)
    Restricting Catholic Schools, Churches from teaching against gay life style?
    Allowing widespread child pornography
    More permissive policies on rape
    Allowing “marriage” of adults to children (as is found in Muslim countries)
    Sexual torture movies widely available?
    Group marriages?
    Sharia Law, including family murder to avenge honor?
    Loyalty oaths to the government
    Mark of the Beast

    If 4% of the population can swing this vote, what will the Muslims be able to do?
    Many no longer argue about moral right — only about funding or not funding sin. Only about being free of “persecution” of their beliefs? What naivete! The momentum of the downhill sweeps all in its path. When we can’t call a sin what it is, there IS no freedom; there is no peace.

    Phyllis, APPEASEMENT OF EVIL NEVER WORKS. Look at the lessons learned from Neville Chamberlain in WW II. There was no appeasing Hitler. Look at the lessons Israel learns every day. The PLO avows that it will settle for nothing less than the annhilation of Israel. If we do not meet evil head on, every time, in every place, there can never be peace. It is what we are called to do as disciples of Christ. Better that it cost us peace than it cost us our souls.

    Read the short book of Esther in the Old Testament. Extraordinary woman! She was afraid, but did what she had to do. Perhaps we too are called for a time such as this. If we are ashamed of Christ before men, Christ will be ashamed of us before the Father. We are not talking about peace or lack of persecution. We are talking about SOULS, aren’t we?

  9. avatar Hopefull says:

    We don’t have a choice or an opinion of any weight in considering our duties as Catholics regarding homosexual lifestyle, “marriage” or gay advocacy. Our obligation is to speak the truth, as it is presented to us in Church teaching (see Catechism), Scripture, Tradition and in a well-formed coscience.

    As for Scripture, our silence on the matter is not an option.

    Eze 3:18-21
    “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life.

    Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life.”

  10. avatar Giovanni says:

    I wanted to say thanks for all those who took time to address my posts! While I haven’t changed my mind on the issue of gay marraige I have gained a greater repect for your position. I can see it is not rooted in bigotry or hate (which I think you are often falsely accused of). I understand why you stand where you do on this issue. Even though we still disagree I’m happy for that understanding! We are all catholic and I believe should take the time to have respectful discussions like these. In the end I know that we all want Gods will to be done. Hopefully we can pray for that whatever that may be and in the mean time continue to have these kind of posts where we challenge one another to critically consider our positions on these issues. May God lead us all (our country too) to His truth!

  11. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Thank you for your kind words and your civility. I’m just curious – did you give the “What is Marriage?” paper a read? In case not – there’s nothing else I can add except that everyone should read it.

    May God lead us all (our country too) to His truth!


  12. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’d appreciate any info you could send me ( in regards to the diocese’s relationship with the Catholic Physician’s guild, Dignity, and Courage. Thanks.

  13. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I nearly forgot that Mike documented a good deal about the Catholic Physician’s Guild already here:

  14. avatar JLo says:

    militia and Hopefull: many thanks for sound Catholic thought (and an amazing historic litany of the slippery slope, militia!)

    Giovanni, my heart weeps for such as you (and Phyllis) who see the truth and hear it, even respect its reasoning, as you say, feeling good about the civility of discussion, but will not accept it. That’s pride, sir, getting in the way of your eternal salvation. “Respectful discussions” and saying you “want God’s will to be done” do not cut it, not when you have decided what God’s will surely is and that Holy Mother Church MUST have it wrong! Faith is a decision; and once a Catholic decides to be a Catholic, it’s all in or nothing. So pray and study and give over to God your false belief that your personal wisdom trumps 2000 years of His Church, please! And do not use, ever, those stories of past bumps and changes in the Church… you live NOW, not then and not in the future, and you are accountable now for your life in the Church. Morality has no season; it’s always the same. Homosexual living always has been condemned (and punished) as addressed in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and Teaching (the Magisterium). If you’re a Catholic, you need to accept this or accept that you are no longer Catholic (same message for Phyllis). The rules of membership do not accept cafeteria-type selection, and God cannot be fooled nor accept your personal feel-good theology. Read the papers on marriage that Ben suggested and consider that if you are Catholic (Roman or in accord with) and discount the teachings of the Magisterium, you are not as you label yourself, and that delusion could cost you mightily. May God be praised and you blessed in all you do. +JMJ

  15. avatar Thinkling says:

    For some reason I cannot connect to the Archbishop’s blog to get the exact wording, but his gifts were definitely on display when he said essentially yes, they did get the Catholic doctrine right. Well done, that and the whole article as usual.

    Thanks for the links to the Physician’s Guild and Law Society, especially the raw links to the primary sources. That thread was before my time and a real eye-opener. Just when you thought…..

    I will definitely read those links. I also have Goodbye Good Men around; I had originally expected a Randall Terry / Bill Donahue type rant, but from first glance it appears much more credible, so maybe I’ll have another, better look.

  16. avatar Scott W. says:

    I am Catholic and I don’t oppose recognition of gay unions under the civil law for the reason that I hope it would put an end to the vicious persecution of the Church by the gay lobby. It’s a pagan state already and little can be done to change it. Maybe it’s a lost cause and foolish but to the harassment and bullying towards Catholics I reply with pacifism.

    No one likes confrontation, and most would find a way to avoid it if at all possible. But the Church has said explicitly what is expected of the faithful:

    In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application.

    There’s really no way around it, this is one of those hills we are called to die on.

  17. avatar annonymouse says:

    Giovanni – you continue to support “gay” “marriage” – please tell us your rational reasons why, and how you square that support with your being a Catholic.

    A lot of folks have posted a lot of pretty good reasons to oppose. Why the obstinance?

  18. avatar Nerina says:

    Militia – AMEN! Preach it.

    Thinkling – here’s a review I did for “Goodbye Good Men:”

  19. avatar phyllis says:

    I did not say that I disagree with the teaching of the Church. But I have a family to think about and have already been harassed and bullied for speaking out about the situation previously and have observed the same happen to others. This in addition to the fact that although it is a small percentage of the population, the culture, media, government, academia, all institutions have completely given way to this hysteria. Likely because at the root is harassment and not reason. It is not even remotely a fair fight to engage in debate or this pretense that one can exercise one’s rights as a citizen. No one may not exercise one’s rights in this way and it is a a pagan civil state entirely. When the day comes when Christians are imprisoned or executed then like St. Thomas More one will have to discern God’s will. But for the time being it does not serve my family to have my property and reputation destroyed (literally, I am not speaking of mere accusations of bigotry but literally, destruction) over something over which I have no say whatsoever and zero power or influence. I am not saying that others should not speak out if they feel called to do so. But underneath the media and the politics there is a viciousness and a hatred that is insatiable. It is one thing for me to permit my head to be on the chopping block but still I have to protect innocents who rely on me for this.
    Since gay marriage is already presented and pushed as if a foregone conclusion and that no one could reasonably differ such that one must be threatened for it in so many ways (including illegal ways), it seems to me that there are few options left. If it obtains “legitimacy” through the pagan state then it will be interesting to see whether the threats and even illegal kinds of actions subside. Those sorts of violent tactics are of course something freely chosen and even if no authority on earth holds accountable for that does not mean they will go, unnoticed forever.

  20. avatar Scott W. says:

    I did not say that I disagree with the teaching of the Church. But I have a family to think about and have already been harassed and bullied for speaking out about the situation previously and have observed the same happen to others.

    Ok, you got me there. I do happen to think that family obligations weigh in how much one ought to overtly resist. This is why I don’t think married men supporting families should generally risk their lives or risk arrest protesting abortion for instance (Unless there is absolutely no one else available to do what is right). I do however think the part about formal and material support applies to us all. Formal support means that one not only helps evil proceed, but that they want it to proceed. Material cooperation means that one may or may not want an evil proceed, but that their actions help it whether intended or not. Now, “I am Catholic and I don’t oppose recognition of gay unions under the civil law” may not be formal support, but it is darn demoralizing to the front-liners standing up against this onslaught and so the prudent silence ought to cut both ways.

  21. avatar Ben Anderson says:


    for the time being it does not serve my family to have my property and reputation destroyed

    I don’t know what your line of work is and perhaps you don’t want to divulge further, but I’m skeptical to think we’re quite this far gone. Certainly protect your family and be prudent. There’s something to be said for silence as well, which is much difference than what you’re proposing which is support for civil unions. Why can you at least not remain silent?

  22. avatar Thinkling says:

    Thanks for the review Nerina. Especially links to other reviews (and rebuttals) which I would expect to be reasonably fair but clearly were not purely rubber stamped. I’ll have a look.

  23. avatar Giovanni says:

    Anon @ 7:30. I have stated my reasons as to how I am able to view a homosexual union as non sinful in earlier posts. My life experiences leave me unable to fully swallow that gay marraige is against God. To say anything different would mean for me to lie to myself and to all of you. I leave my heart open to the will of God. I am open to change but such change has not happened yet. I feel I am pursuing God as best I know how and I am comfortable in my current position. Only God knows my heart and I am comfortable letting him be my judge. As Merton said, and I say this from memory as best I remember… I don’t know if what I am doing is always pleasing to God but I believe that my desire to please him does in fact please him.

  24. avatar Thinkling says:

    @ Giovanni, I sympathize with your struggle; I went through that once (at least), albeit on a different piece of doctrine. I can only point out that we are all called to give assent, not necessarily to understand. So it is actually perfectly OK to believe something which you cannot intellectually grasp, or even find easier to argue against (which is the case you are in). An example is the Trinity, which is described in the Catechism itself as being never fully understandable (see #237, 251). So one who claims to fully understand the Trinity is at odds with, even if only subtly, the teachings of the Church! Rather we are called to accept the teachings on the Trinity, indeed all other topics. So I would encourage your prayers to not be for understanding (at least not primarily) but for assent and acceptance. Indeed, giving assent to part of the Faith which you find easier intellectually to argue against is actually quite a saintly thing to do. But agreed it is hard, I hope you find this helpful.

    @ Nerina, other than the rebuttal to Fr. Johanson (sp?) which is a dead link, I read all the commentaries. From his own characterizations of the reviews it is clear that Rose is not above genuine criticism but I nonetheless look forward to reading the book.

  25. avatar annonymouse says:

    Giovanni – with all due respect, I’ve gone back to read all of your Giovanni/Anon posts and you have not presented one rational argument FOR gay marriage. You have attempted to impeach the arguments the Church poses in opposition, and based on the responses to your attempted negations from Scott and others, I would say your attempt has been unsuccessful. The best you’ve put forth is “I feel that gays should be able to marry” and “it’s what my conscience tells me.”

    It seems to me that you should have better reasons than that to assume that Holy Mother Church and her God-given leadership is mistaken and wrong on an issue, no?

    People have presented the Church’s teaching, resorting not to scripture (as you indicated early on that you would reject such arguments, although you should read the clear teaching in First Timothy, I believe), but to natural law and other rational arguments as to the demonstrated effects on society of gay marriage. Others have shown the very clear link between this issue and the Culture of Death issues of contraception and abortion. Yet the best you can come up with is a “feeling” and your conscience? Do you consider your conscience to be well-formed? Is it formed in reason and by faith, and is it informed by Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Church? If so, please tell us on what basis your conscience defies the Church’s teaching?

    Surely if you conclude (or your conscience concludes) that the Church is dead-on wrong about something, you must be able to elucidate why that is, no?

  26. avatar Scott W. says:

    What more of a reason do you need to support gay marriage than LOVE.

    As we have said before, using the sexual function for other than what God designed it for is not love, it’s lust.

    A man may love his daughter–That does not justify sexual conatact with her.
    A man may love Germany–that does not justify gassing Jews
    A man may love another man–that does not justify sexual contact between the two.

    Saying “love” like it is some get-out-of-any-binding-moral-precept-free card isn’t a valid argument.

  27. avatar phyllis says:

    Ben Anderson,
    Silence is a part but at the same time perhaps one need not be silent and pretend as if Christians have rights and can still freely oppose through political action or open debate. Since there is an obsession even in some supposedly Catholic circles with this and with also at the same time condemning the Church, openly, even in homily or social media, by Catholics, as bigoted or worse, since this is falsehood and deceit in the first place and not open debate in good faith, we should consider another route. Not to dissipate our energies on something that is vicious, unlove, uncharitable. Why should we be forced to reply to something that is deceit and hatred to begin with and not open in good faith to what the Church actually teaches and how this is consistent with the teachings of Jesus in Scripture. It seems the fixation is with condemning believers and wanting people in the pews to feel humiliated (even from so-called Catholic leaders). I don’t believe this is a productive use of time, to engage when there are so many important and pressing needs that we must attend to. While our Catholic leaders coddle choice and tell us to “welcome gays” (as if we are bigoted which we are not) they also neglect so many important needs, and it is pretense. Since the debate in this country is not even a fair fight, and is based on hatred of the Church, let them be consumed by what this current is all about and don’t take the bait. Return to what is essential and we will be that much stronger. I add my experience, and choose not to be “silent” because my experiences and what I have been through as well as my hopes for our Church are valuable and should be considered.

    I have a hard time trusting even certain Catholics who release press statements affirming the goodness of marriage when in their careers and as leaders they have invested so much time to undermining the family in so many ways. Is it any surprise, given what has happened in Australia that some will now make a great fanfare of showing public/political support for certain issues, now at the 11th hour (where were they years ago on this issue?) in the hopes that Rome will bless their fruits and pick one of their own in succession to preserve what is now established as status quo. I don’t buy it. These are some difficult points I admit but I don’t think “silence” about it is constructive. Silence can be constructive but sometimes we need to clarify where we have been, where we are, and where things seem to be headed.

  28. avatar Nerina says:

    Another great discussion. Very thoughtful and provocative (in a good way) comments.

    I sympathize with your struggle; I went through that once (at least), albeit on a different piece of doctrine. I can only point out that we are all called to give assent, not necessarily to understand.

    Thinkling, this is exactly the position I found myself in when I first learned about the Church’s teaching on contraception (and I still struggle with it today – I fully accept the teaching and try to be faithful in my practice of NFP but to say that I am without sympathy for those who reject it would be false). My husband and I did assent and then we prayed for understanding and acceptance. Praise God, understanding has come and we can fully advocate for the Church’s position, but we had to simply obey in the beginning because we believed the Church to speak for Christ.

    I approach the “gay marriage” issue in the same way. I certainly understand the scriptural and natural law arguments and I believe them, but mostly I place my trust in Christ and the Church He gave us. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

    I have a hard time trusting even certain Catholics who release press statements affirming the goodness of marriage when in their careers and as leaders they have invested so much time to undermining the family in so many ways.

    Oh, Phyllis, I agree! A great example would be the silence on issues like contraception and abortion and the disintegration of the family through liberal divorce and handing out Communion like Necco wafers to anyone who wants them regardless of their marital situation (Andrew Cuomo, anyone?)

    @Thinkling – RE: “Goodbye, Good Men” It is not a perfect book, but I think valuable nonetheless. It was eye-opening for me and I thought I was pretty well-versed in the American Church. Another interesting book (though tough to read without getting angry) is “AmChurch Comes Out.” Again, not a perfect book, but enlightening. It is particularly interesting because it devotes large sections to the church in Rochester.

  29. avatar Scott W. says:

    I am not aware of anything in Church teaching that counsels only speaking the truth when it is a fair fight.

  30. avatar Dr. K says:

    If two people truly love one another then they should be allowed to get married.

    Why two? Why can’t three, four, five or more people marry one another?

    Why can’t brothers marry sisters, and fathers marry their daughters?

    Need I go further?

  31. avatar Scott W. says:

    There is absolutely connection between incest and gay marriage nor bigamy and gay marriage and to even suggest that there is wrong.

    That’s not what he is saying. His point is that permitting same-sex marriage is arbitrary and that there is no logical grounds for forbidding other perverse arrangements once you have allowed one.

  32. avatar Dr. K says:

    I’m not so much trying to make the slippery slope argument as pointing out that those who support gay marriage while not supporting incestuous relationships (w/ “consenting adults”) and polygamy are hypocrites. Why is it ok for members of the same sex to”love” and “marry” one another but it is not acceptable for people in these other circumstances? Who granted you the moral authority to determine where the line has been crossed? I think the Church’s authority far outweighs your own, and the Church has decided, based upon the scriptures, science, and common sense, that gay marriage is wrong because it goes against what we understand to be marriage. Not to mention that it validates homosexual acts.

  33. avatar A Catholic says:


    Speaking up is important, whether it be by letters to the editor, phone calls, or simply discussing with a neighbor. Such debate does not have to be uncharitable. We need to speak up now while there is something left of Christian values. Speaking up will give others the courage to speak up and plant the seeds of conversion. Besides, the example of speaking up, if done wisely, will edify our family members. Being silent about gay “marriage” or any other moral issue only allows the other side to advance and allows people to continue on a path of self-destruction. It should be remembered that (someone correct me if I’m wrong) every single time gay marriage has been put to a vote by state referendum in the United States, it has lost. It has only succeeded in votes by legislative bodies and by judicial action. This shows that traditional marriage still has a lot of support, despite what the media wants us to believe. Just my 2 cents.

    BTW- Scott W.- Many married men (and women) protest and/or pray outside abortion clinics. The risk for arrest is almost nil. Having a family shouldn’t make one afraid to do this.

  34. avatar annonymouse says:

    Anon-204144 – please tell us – what is LOVE?

  35. avatar militia says:

    Regarding the question if DoR supports Fortunate Families:
    From the RIT Newman on FaceBook:

    8. CATHOLIC GAY, LESBIAN FAMILY MINISTRY: The CGLFM of the Diocese of Rochester facilitates pastoral care for Catholic gay and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, their families and friends. As the Body of Christ we recognize that you are ours, and welcome you to share our life in Christ. The Newman Community at RIT is open, affirming and inviting to your full participation in our community. One of the outreach programs of the diocese is Fortunate Families and they can be contacted at 698-6100

  36. avatar phyllis says:

    Scott W., and others, maybe you did not read what I wrote. I have spoken the truth, already in exactly the ways outlined here and in other ways as well, and in charity and on behalf of others. I was punished, in so many ways, and it was vicious, and illegal. We have many issues as Catholics which we must face and address, on behalf of the littlest and weakest among us and I am saying that at this point in time some discernment may be required. What an adult chooses to do, given that it is not at this point even a fair and open debate, is altogether different from what other Catholics who fully assent to the teachings can do. But let it be a warning that the viciousness distracts and consumes us from other priorities which are important as does a current sort of posturing which lacks resonance in terms of what has been done over the long haul to protect and nurture Catholic families. When a press release is issued, does it have the depth of a commitment over decades to encouraging families in the faith, or does it ring hollow. Let the leaders charged with this responsibility defend our Church for a change, and let them witness the hatred that has been poured forth on families just trying to live the faith for quite a long time now.

    Scott W. and others I respect your views. At the present time it is a pagan state entirely.

  37. avatar Sassy says:

    Miltia, my jaw just it the floor. Wow, this is troubling.

  38. avatar Scott W. says:

    Scott W., and others, maybe you did not read what I wrote.

    I tried, but I found it difficult to know what you meant. But I’ll end on a point I absolutely agree with:

    Let the leaders charged with this responsibility defend our Church for a change

    Amen amen.

  39. avatar Louis E. says:

    I personally am much more sympathetic to a relationship originating between consenting adults of opposite sexes that happens to be incestuous or bigamous,than I am to anything same-sex.(Not that I am praising such possibilities,but insisting that same-sex is worse).Marriage exists to promote male-female relationships.The state has an interest in there being such relationships that is based on and met by their being opposite-sex.There is no comparable,let alone “equal”,state interest in there being even a single same-sex sexual relationship active,and the protections in marriage should not be abused to encompass such relationships.I’m not religious and not opposed to abortion or contraception.But we betray our claim to be enlightened if we blind ourselves to the intrinsic inappropriateness of same-sex sexual activity in a sexually dimorphic species,

    I got a pro-same-sex-marriage robocall today.I’m annoyed,but at least they wasted the cost of it.

  40. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’m very confused about what you wrote as well. Just to clarify, by speaking of silence what I meant is that there may be times where it’s more prudent to be silent rather than to speak up about the truth. That’s a matter of discretion. However, to endorse an evil (which seems to be what you’re advocating) – I don’t see how that can ever be justified. What am I missing?

  41. avatar Thinkling says:

    From the RIT Newman on FaceBook

    Make that the RIT Alfred E. Newman.

    Although I find it interesting that there is an advert below that (#12) for a pro-life fundraiser with Fr. Pavone. That’s quite laudable. Also, I have Paprocki’s The Well Built Faith mentioned in #9, it is quite lightweight (like Catholicism for Dummies) but not in a trojan-horse-of-heterodoxy kind of way.

    Quite a mixed bag, this. It is also two years old, I wonder (hope?) if there is a better resource there now.

  42. avatar Irondequoit Mom says:

    It would be great if someone could call Wham 1180 on this topic- Bob Lonsberry spoke about it today, and he gave more than a typical 30 seconds to one gentleman. The caller spoke well, but had trouble articulating the points in brief succession. I am too much of a chicken to call, but others may have more success in the delivery.

  43. avatar Irondequoit Mom says:

    By today, I mean yesterday (the 16th!) Yikes I didnt realize it is nearly 2 AM!

    Gotta Love CF- wayyyyyyy better than FB.

  44. avatar phyllis says:

    Ben Anderson, I am not now nor have I ever endorsed an evil. I think what I have written is clear about what happened to me and what I regard as the pagan state which does not offer a fair fight on this one at this time and further about discretion and discernment and the need for it. Discretion and discernment presupposes the consideration of experience of loyal Catholics such as myself and not silence as if it did not happen at all.

    It’s all well and good for anyone to attempt to fight things out now, at this 11th hour, in the media and on the political stage, if one believes it to be effective and can make the sacrifices which may include opening one’s home, livelihood and family to illegal targeting and damage. But we shouldn’t be naive.

    Along the same lines, I think it is wise to take a look at the occurrence of now, in this late stage, issuing a press release, to media, by a Catholic leader, and what that action consists of. Has the theology of the body been taught, in schools, parishes, youth groups, wherever, consistently, or is this an attempt to “appear” as if one has and patch over some serious disregard for truth over quite a long period of time. Is loyalty to the Church called for only when a vote in the pagan state is pending…or does it require something more and a commitment in different ways and over a longer span of time.

    I think there are important issues that Catholics need to attend to. The pagan state will rage on after this vote. To think that one can speak out in the short term to the media and politicians and be done with the entire situation is problematic.

  45. avatar Scott W. says:

    I think there are important issues that Catholics need to attend to.

    Such as?

  46. avatar phyllis says:

    I am not going to repeat and rewrite just for the sake of debate itself. People who feel called should speak out. But my experience at the same time for that reason need not be discounted.

    Put it this way, if the flock has been put on a death march, in so many ways, over the course of many years, in Rochester and in other dioceses, then, when their leader sounds the trumpet to send them, into harm’s way to fight an eleventh hour battle that he has now decided to join, do they have the strength to fight in their starved state on his behalf? And if they do, what of the injustice of the flock placing themselves in harm’s way for a halfhearted effort that the leader has now chosen to push, without ever rolling up his sleeves and fighting on behalf of the flock’s spiritual strength in the first place. What purpose does this serve, practically or spiritually. I’m not marching anymore. I’m not going to dissipate my energies or again open my home and family up to vicious attack on behalf of a leader who has luxuriated and pursued his own selfish interests at the cost of the faith of generations.

    I don’t think we should be deceived. We need to take care of those for whom we are responsible and impart the faith with as much strength as we can even if we are being, have been, obstructed in this. We should remember that the prince of this world has no power over us, no matter what the politics. I do not wish to debate but I want to make sure that people are not deceived. Those who rally for this current cause should be aware, protect their families, and, not open themselves up to various forms of assaults that can and do occur with the idea that one is merely exercising rights as a citizen in a free state. If one feels called and strong enough and doesn’t mind that one holds themselves out for slaughter while the chancery stays “above” the fray, not dirtying hands with the difficult work, that is a choice to be discerned carefully. But above all do not neglect what is in front of you.

  47. avatar Scott W. says:

    I think I am beginning to understand. At first, I was getting the idea that you were being selective about what we should speak out about. When you said, “We have many issues as Catholics which we must face and address, on behalf of the littlest and weakest among us” I thought perhaps you were implying that we should all speak out loudly and publically on abortion, but should go dead silent on same-sex marriage. But that didn’t make sense to me because we have had decades of abortion and fighting it, and a not a whole lot to show for it. If I am reading you correctly, you are saying you are going to attend strictly to the needs of your family and not going to stick your neck out on any issue. It is, if I understand you, what I’ve heard called the back-to-the-catacombs approach. It is an approach that I happen to be very sympathetic to. So was Tolkien by the way, who thought that modern evil had become so hydra-headed, that the best a Christian could hope to do was not worship any of the heads.

  48. avatar phyllis says:

    Look, why should we, after a diocese has been run into the ground, faith of countless lost and given over to, whatever, why now should we get all riled up at the behest of this leader…to, shout in the public square, in an angry fashion (since at this point it is desperation when the goodness of the faith has just not been taught or attended to after all this time) so that others may say, “look how bigoted and filled with hatred the Christians are about this?” It is not remotely a fair fight given what is at work in this country and our Catholic leader knows this. I am to now risk my reputation, livelihood and family, for a “cause” which this leader now at this point takes up after having let all of the entire truths of the faith go for so long, over this particular political vote which our ‘catholic’ governor (called an evangelizer by another Catholic leader) has declared is a foregone conclusion? Fortify your faith and the faith of family and friends at this time. Stay close to the sacraments and pray that no further harm comes.

  49. avatar Scott W. says:

    I think you’ve made your point and I think I understand it. Let’s move on.

  50. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I think I got the gist of what you’re saying. A couple points to clear up. Perhaps I was a bit off in saying you were advocating endorsing an evil. I got that from this statement:

    I am Catholic and I don’t oppose recognition of gay unions under the civil law

    I was interpreting “don’t oppose” to mean endorse. Perhaps you just meant to remain silent?

    When a press release is issued, does it have the depth of a commitment over decades to encouraging families in the faith, or does it ring hollow

    And to clarify, I’m not in any way saying that Bishop Clark has been a firm defender of the family or Christian morality. His defense of marriage was meant more for those claiming that they can be Catholic and pro-gay marriage. And possibly for those who think he’s all bad all the time. His endorsement of marriage is just that – take it for what it is. The first article was from 2004 and the second from 2008. Neither are all that recent.

    to send them into harm’s way

    I don’t think Bishop Clark, the NYS Catholic Conf, myself, or anyone else is advocating that you wear a badge or anything. The only thing I’ve suggested is calling (or emailing) your political leaders and distributing the “What is Marriage?” paper. I don’t see how those things could put you in harms way.

    I was punished, in so many ways, and it was vicious, and illegal.

    You’ve mentioned your story a couple of times now. It’s hard to continue the conversation unless you wish to go into more detail. What exactly did you do that brought the wrath? What kind of harm did you experience? Was it verbal or physical? Was there material loss involved? job loss?

  51. avatar phyllis says:

    No I’m not going to debate or recount gory detail for the sake of debate itself. Read what I wrote, in context, not excerpted in part. You need not agree but at the same time I don’t think my experience counts for nothing.

  52. avatar phyllis says:

    Perhaps the lesson to consider, from what happened to me was the error of accepting the premise to begin with that the Church can be reduced to, minimized as, a political tool for particular results to prevail in the pagan state. The purpose of speaking out on any given issue is not necessarily to always effectuate a result at all costs and it is not to utilize the Church as a political instrument. For me to engage in this way without discernment may not be fulfilling my vocation as a loyal Catholic at all but probably makes me just as guilty and cooperating in the error that certain dioceses have indulged in for years which is to see in the Church a political entity and to exploit its members in order to seek after a certain appearance of political achievement, whether as a reality or regardless of whether even in appearance this is consistent with the Church’s teachings. If this Catholic leader wants to engage in a public position at this time then other possibilities to support the Church’s message are prayer and sacrifices. Not having been fed or supported for so many years in vocation as laity then maybe when the battle cry to go out is sounded by this particular leader it lacks depth or credibility in terms of a unity of the flock and insults the dignity of the Christian vocation. Whether one exploits or uses the Church for, ordination of women, or, for prochoice causes, or for support of this or that candidate, or even to overcome abortion seems erroneous no matter what the result advocated. The Church is more than the sum of its votes, or its public opinions though those are certainly a part of dignity and vocation. I don’t see that this Catholic leader gets that, has ever comprehended it, as well as other Catholic leaders (it’s not just happened, happening in Rochester). What is the responsibility of a Catholic leader in the first place, is it to issue press releases occasionally or a column concerning a particular vote coming up or is it to teach the truth faithfully, proclaim it, in and out of season?

  53. avatar phyllis says:

    It has clearly been a big mistake for dissenters to attempt to exploit and use the Church for the utility of pursuit of a secular, political agenda. This has been a failure whether from a secular or Catholic viewpoint even in the places where there has been little to no opposition or challenge to it over the many years. I think that it is equally a mistake even for loyal Catholics when inclined to view the Church as a collection of votes on any given political issue of a moment. The responsibility for teaching the entirety of the faith is with its pastors, shepherds and leaders and this is a responsibility regardless of opinion polls and no matter what the pending issue before the pagan government. Perhaps if this Bishop wants to employ the votes and voices of the faithful on this particular issue now he should also go back and teach and assure the entire social justice doctrine of the faith which begins at the moment of conception. In places where the social justice teaching has been distorted or where there is cherry picking to suit one’s own preferences the goodness of the message of the gospel of life has been neglected in so many ways. It’s more than a little surprising for him and others to now ask Christians to join with him to speak out, lobby and vote on one political issue up for vote (which contrary to what the media hysteria would have us believe, does not affect every single man woman and child in the nation…) and which requires a certain amount of risk to endure the vicious attack which is launched in reply since it is not a fair fight. Perhaps when something such as Roe first came down there was a possibility for a fair fight for Christians to debate and give the rationale behind the positions and teachings. But this is clearly not the case now and the neglect of the entirety of the Church’s teachings and the undermining and entertaining so much dissent and hostility towards the Church has contributed to this, as well as discouraging folks from living out their faith wherever they are situated. What is this leader’s view of the vocation and calling of Catholics? In so many ways the dignity has been undermined and people have not been permitted to even know the full dignity to which they are called, in the first place. The voting is only one part, an aspect, of our dignity.

  54. avatar Scott W. says:

    No I’m not going to debate or recount gory detail for the sake of debate itself.

    Well, forget the debate. I’m interested in your story for advice and my own and my family’s personal well-being and safety. Most of my Catholic commentary is done online for instance. Yet, you seem comfortable letting your hair down here, so it doesn’t seem like that was the issue, or was it? You don’t have to give specific details, but is there something I should watch out for? Was there some kind of advance warning in hindsight that you would be a target? If so, what was it? Did you think if you did things differently would it have changed the outcome? Did you find any people whatsoever that would support you or where you all alone?

  55. avatar Nerina says:

    I have to say, I’m pretty sympathetic to Phyllis’s view point. While I’ll still speak out on the issues, I definitely see where her concerns are rooted. It all does seem a bit contrived to have our diocesan shepherd half-heartedly support traditional marriage when all along his public statements and actions project a certain tacit approval of gay relationships. And gay marriage is only the tip of the iceberg. How many would say that our bishop is a stalwart champion of the unborn or families? Sure, he’s all for advocating for LEMs (particularly in regards to women), but when was the last time he supported women like me – stay at home moms, raising kids, nurturing marriages and fighting an increasing hostile culture? When was the last time he attended a pro-life (and in this case I mean “anti-abortion”) event? When was the last time he spoke directly to men who feel more and more marginalized in the church? Oh, sure, he and his priests will speak out about S-CHIP and amnesty and global warming but the rest of CST? Not so much.

  56. avatar phyllis says:

    I have no advice to give about it. I am still fearful so no I don’t feel comfortable relating the detail. I kept my opinions though they were in comformity with Church teachings mostly to myself and did not go out of my way to proclaim them. If I approached this issue in particular even tentatively or questioningly I was, let’s say, threatened psychologically, at first. As I came to question more or felt angry at these, things escalated. In retrospect I think that the beginning was an attempt to control, contain, to show social support so long as I went along and then threaten if I questioned. But when this angered me though probably not for the reasons they would have believed, I questioned all the more. With escalation some illegal things, property damage, tampering with mail, entering the common areas of my residence, bullying, harassment, a sort of perception of blackmail, like, we know all the details about you and can make things difficult, etc., stalking…at least one incident involved property damage which could have resulted in serious injury or death. And with that I did what I believed necessary to protect the well being of my family first and foremost. I have confided in very few people about it actually but have found along the way one person in the same region who had the exact same experience, exactly and with respect to the same issue. Possibly posting anonymously online won’t bring about harm. Have read that people who petition or write to newspapers sometimes get targeted and must endure property damage or harassment with livelihood threatened.

    By no means is there a fair fight or open democratic debate.

    I will say that Catholic leaders who entertain and permit a lot of dissenting views to dominate the landscape through threatening means at parish level will ultimately have some explaining to do, and since I now have to live in relative fear, it will not be to me.

  57. avatar Nerina says:


    I am sorry for what you and your family have had to endure because of your beliefs. Sadly, with the issue of gay marriage, your experience is not uncommon. I know that supporters of Prop 8 in CA were targeted, harassed and verbally and physically threatened. So much for diversity and tolerance.

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