Friday, June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court and the Call of the Ghetto

I've been reading a few posts about the infinitly depressing US Supreme Court decision that, contrary to what anyone would have thought until five minutes ago, the US Constitution guarantees the right of men to pretend to marry other men, and women women.

A couple of them (Rod Dreher and Steve Skojec) mention the 'Benedict Option': as Dreher expresses it, this takes inspiration from St Benedict of Nursia's monastic vision.

'learning how to resist, in community, in a culture that sees us orthodox Christians as enemies.'

Skojek talks moving out of the cities and about living off the land.

I can understand the reaction, but we need to remember the differences between our situation and St Benedict's. St Benedict lived at a time when the power of the state was at an extremely low ebb. We live our lives during a time in which the reverse is the case. Moving to the countryside is going to make no difference at all. If social services are going to enforce gender theory onto homeschoolers, they'll do it in the countryside just as much as the towns.


In any case, St Benedict wasn't running away from an oppressive state. Had there been a state wanting to stamp out monasticism, he would have been a sitting duck. The Protestant rulers of Ireland found it extremely difficult to impose Anglicanism on the hearts of the people, but childishly simple to burn down the monasteries. Later there were secret seminaries, but even this had to wait for the persecution to move into a less militant phase.

St Benedict is the wrong model; his was a capital-intensive approach to preserving learning and Catholic orthodoxy. We are going to need to be lighter on our feet. St Edmund Campion and St Oliver Plunket are the people to study. The exiled institutions, the secret printing presses, the underground Cathedrals, the network of trusted Catholics, and a resistance to torture.

A ghetto has a lot to say for it, for a beleagured cultural minority, but it requires at least a degree of cooperation with the civil authorities. The original 'geto' was the Jewish quarter in Venice: half protected space, half prison camp.

We also need to come to terms with what is at stake here. Skojec - I'm criticising him, but I should say that I like most of his stuff a lot - says the Church will lose 'tax exempt' (UK: charitable) status. Very likely. But that won't be the end of it. As a non-charitable institution, it will still be subject to the law of the land, and may indeed be subject to more of the laws of the land than before.

Again, he says the Church should get out of marriage. I honestly have no idea what he means, but the more usual explanations of this idea are confused, illegal, or pointless; I've discussed them here.

This is what we are going to face, on both sides of the Atlantic. Gay couples will demand to be 'married' in Church. Some priests will give them some kind of ceremony: some priests will refuse. The latter will be prosecuted for discrimination. It will be no protection to them to say they are not acting as agents of the state. It is not only agents of the state who are under the law. They are offering a service to the public: they should not discrimate. The difference between making a reasoned distinction between real and pseudo marriage, on the one hand, and homophobia, on the other, has already been collapsed by the courts in England.

There are presently some legal hurdles to a successful prosecution, at least in the UK, but those hurdles will come under intense pressure and, if the success of the so-called progressive agenda continues, they will disapear. Faithful priests will go to prison. On present trends, this will happen in the next few years.

Something might happen to stop the trend, before or after we get to this. That thing will be political, because the only people who can do anything about this are politicians. If enough pressure comes to bear on them, they will step in. Faithful Catholics burying their heads in the sand in the countryside are really not going to help.

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25 comments:

  1. https://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/11428/

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  2. Perhaps now that marriage has been redefined by the State the Church should abandon it and replace it by Holy Matrimony.

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    1. That's just another phrase meaning 'marriage'. What difference would that make?

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    2. Different titles convey different definitions.

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    3. But the definitions are the same.

      Perhaps you mean they convey different 'colourings'.

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    4. The definitions are not the same. Civil marriage is based on the theory of "social contract" that holds marriage to be of human invention (which is why the pre-conciliar popes condemned it). In the English speaking world the nature of civil marriage has been ambiguous up till now, being looked upon as an option with those of no religious affiliation. However, in my opinion, the introduction of same sex unions has cleared away any benefit of the doubt we could have afforded it. Happy days are here again: all the issues the liberals thought buried with Quanta Cura have come back to haunt us.

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    5. Civil marriage in the UK was based on the Christian concept of marriage. It was never based on a contract. A contract is a private matter hence we have privity of contract where only the contracting parties are affected by it. Getting married in English law is a change of status from single to married and is something which relates to the whole of society and thus society as a whole has an interest in it.

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    6. You're assuming that just because the enemy sometimes plays the lawyer with definitions, they'll tolerate that ploy from us.

      I remember the estimable Father Zuhlsdorf linking to a suggestion that bakers, florists, etc. go ahead and bake the cake, but include a bunch of Christian pro-marriage propaganda with it; about a month later, there was a story about a jeweler who had gone ahead and made the ring for a sodomite ceremony, without throwing a bunch of propaganda at them, but happened to have a sign up somewhere in his shop supporting actual marriage, and he got hounded and sued even as those who had refused altogether. I haven't heard that particular suggestion since.

      Ain't no cheap way out of this mess.

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  3. Faithful Catholics standing for office are the first step!

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    1. Are you serious? They wouldn't stand a chance. There will be no reversal in the progress to equality, diversity and the disintegration of all differences; let every Roman Catholic "stand for office." I have never seen a political class so arrogant and self-selecting, and blatantly anti-Christian. My advice would be to stop voting altogether.

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    2. I'm inclined to think that pressure and lobbying from outside the political parties has more chance than standing for office.

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  4. Perhaps we are panicking. Priests have always been free to decline to conduct a marriage between a couple who do not conform to the teachings of the Church. Divorce is legal in this country but how often have we seen a prosecution by a divorcee because of a refusal by the priest to conduct a wedding? People of other faiths, or of none, who have a legal right to marry, do not expect to be able to marry in a Catholic Church. Why should a priest be obliged to bend these rules for a same-sex couple?
    I do agree with those who caution that priests should cease to conduct the civil side of a marriage. It would be safer were this to take place in a registry office.

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    1. You can discriminate as much as you like, but not on the basis of 'protected characteristics'. Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic. That's why this is going to be (and has already been) a problem, unlike being divorced.

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    2. I don't really understand this. Presumably my heterosexual orientation is also protected. If I ask to be married in a synagogue, surely the Rabbi will refuse, as I am not Jewish. The same would apply if I asked an Imam to marry me in a mosque, even though I am not Moslem. Would I have grounds to sue? I don't think so.
      By the same token, anyone who does not accept the Church's doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman is not a Catholic and the priest would have the same right to refuse to conduct the marriage on religious grounds, as does the rabbi and the imam.

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  5. Hi Joseph,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. A few quibbles with your analysis I want to address:

    I stated flat-out that the "Benedict Option" has its limitations; "There is no truly effective way to escape what is coming, but there are ways to reduce its impact, and this will in large part entail relocation away from larger cities and politically-progressive geographic areas into more rural, conservative, and agriculturally-feasible environments that provide for some opportunity for at least partial self-sustenance."

    That first part is important. This is about damage mitigation more than actual escape. The surveilance state is simply too pervasive, and as you said, the power of the government is not receding. I think the "Benedict option" has become shorthand for an escape from the evils of the world to a life more contemplative, but may not be as directly aligned with Benedict's actual historical actions as with a general ideal. FWIW, I'm borrowing a term popularized by others.

    Secondly, I absolutely believe the Church will be subject to more regulation. Losing tax-exempt status has been a fear that has kept even fairly decent (it's a hugely relative term) bishops in line, so if it happens, it might actually inspire some courage for a while, but in the end I expect, as I said, the priest or bishop who refuses same-sex "marriages" in their churches to be fined, sued, or arrested at some point in the not-too-distant future.

    Finally, I never said the Church should be out of marriage, I said the STATE should get out of marriage. Remember, the piece I linked there was written two years ago, before this all came to pass. I was making the libertarian argument that a state which cannot be controlled or directed to serve the common interest should be starved of as much power as possible. Getting the State out of the business of regulating or defining marriage was preferable to it re-defining it, as it now has. Yes, this would mean that there would be a de-facto acceptance of "gay marriage" in Unitarian Universalist churches and the like, but it would also mean that the government would have zero say when it comes to whether Fr. Joseph refuses to "marry" a couple of dudes. It localizes and minimizes the impact. And in fact, the pro-sodomy movement is big on destroying the institution of marriage (I've got links to thought-leaders saying exactly that) rather than just adopting our paradigm. It's never been about equality. It's about the complete eradication of sexual morality, and the subsequent weaponizing of the "new normal" to stop anyone and everyone from telling them they can't do anything they want.

    The men pounding on the door of Lot's house come to mind.

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    1. Dear Mr Skojec,

      I'm honoured to have you on my blog, thank you very much for your comment.

      I take the point about damage limitation. This is something we need to think about. Of course, the homeschooling movement has been doing something about it for some time. My references to stategies from British 'Penal Times' are part of that thinking also.

      I fancy the 'Benedict option' terminology may go as far back as Alasdair MacIntyre's 'After Virtue'. Things looked pretty different in the 1970s.

      On the state getting out of marriage - mea culpa, I should have read you more carefully. However, I don't see much chance of our getting the state out of marriage. Remember how eager the French secularists have been to be able to marry without going to church.

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    2. But surely the State does have an interest in marriage and I think rightly so. Who is going to protect the rights of one spouse against another if not the state? Does not the state have an interest in stable marriages for the benefit of children? Etc etc.

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  6. On what will the Supreme Court rule next? The US Constitution does not mention so many things which would presumably therefore be susceptible for discussion and a ruling.

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  7. I wonder if the position of the Anglican Church might be of interest here. As I understand it the CofE is forbidden by law to conduct same-sex "weddings" even if the minister at the church in question wants to do so. That was included in the legislation to protect the CofE against precisely these concerns.

    While that protection remains in place (and I think it would require Parliamentary time to have it revoked), I hope the Catholic Church will be in a reasonably secure position as well.

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  8. At least in the U. S. of A., it seems very likely that lay people will be going to jail far before clergy. They are already being drummed out of their professions, one by one. The aggressors will be quite content for the present to leave priests confined to their churches while herding the people into apostasy.

    The next key legal fight will be education; they will attempt to either follow the Canadian model and mandate anti-Christian curricula, or the German model and ban homeschooling -- probably both.

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  9. A couple of comments.

    1. St. Benedict's actual option was to found monasteries, which were at the heart of the life of the Church for centuries. This is an essential step to be taken, because prayer and sanctity are needed to gain God's intercession in our current situation.

    2. If current trends continue emigration to countries where the faith can be practiced will be desirable or necessary. Unfortunately these are uncomfortable third world places. There is no problem being a faithful Catholic in much of Africa but life there is hard.

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    1. The TLM is not very widely available. And I wonder what jobs would be.

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    2. Hello -- I'm a Lutheran visitor. Is TLM a Catholic term? Thanks.

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    3. Apologies - it means 'Traditional Latin Mass'.

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