Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Let the people vote" (Cardinal O'Malley)

"As citizens, we, the Roman Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts, support the constitutional amendment on marriage the voters last fall petitioned the state legislature to consider. The Secretary of State certified a record number of signatures from registered voters asking to put the amendment on the 2008 ballot. The debate over the meaning of marriage should not be limited to government officials since the magnitude of the issue calls for the full participation of the public. Neither the judiciary nor the legislature should substitute itself for the sovereignity of the people, especially on such a foundational matter as the meaning of marriage for the common good of society."

From the Bishops' Statement on Marriage Amendment, June 30, 2006

It sounds good but something about this whole thing nags me. From a practical, secular viewpoint, for example, were I a New Yorker or a Georgian, after today's court decisions in those states, I wouldn't be lobbying to "let the people vote." I'd be saying "good, and let's get beyond the bleeping idiocy."

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that "the people" might vote to redefine marriage.

Yes, I know that polls show that most Massachusetts citizens believe that marriage is a legal union between a man and a But a lot can happen in two years. There was once a time when abortion was considered abhorrent. Before that, contraception a bad thing. Today? What would happen, d'ye suppose, if "the people" of the United States were able to vote on abortion, or contraception?

And this "as citizens" thing...

The Bishops of Massachusetts needn't speak to us "as citizens." I see and appreciate the political, or call it "diplomatic" strategy, but I when I think of U.S. bishops, the first word that doesn't pop into my mind is "citizens."

Look, I'm no theologian nor am I a politician.

But what I look for in a bishop (or priest or Pope or fellow Catholic or fellow Christian) is an indication of holiness. And a fearless zeal to point out what sin is...and how to avoid it.

"Neither the state nor religions invented marriage nor determined its natural components," say the bishops.

True. God invented marriage, just like He made everything. What's wrong with acknowledging that, with great joy and reverence and thanksgiving, and simply not acknowledging anything other than what God created?