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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Bishops write to Congress

Fr. James Martin SJ has a post at America magazine's blog showing the letter sent by the US bishops to members of Congress about the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) and same-sex marriage (The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for civilian nonreligious employers with over 15 employees. - Wikipedia).

Here's a just the start of the letter .....

Dear Member of Congress:

We write to you regarding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3017, and Senate (S. 1584). Our purpose is to outline the serious concerns we have with these bills in their current form and why we cannot maintain the position of neutrality we held in 2007.

For the sake of clarity, permit us first to state two basic tenets of Catholic Church teaching on this issue. First, persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and second “[u]nder no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”), nos. 2357-58.

Catholic teaching states that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected, by other persons and by law. We recognize that no one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including sexual inclination. The Church affords special concern and pastoral attention to those who experience a homosexual inclination and stands committed to avoid “[e]very sign of unjust discrimination in their regard.” CCC, no. 2358.

The Catholic Church makes an important distinction between actions and inclination. While the Church is ardently opposed to all unjust discrimination on the grounds of sexual inclination, whether homosexual or heterosexual, it does teach that all sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman are morally wrong. The Catholic Church’s teaching cannot, therefore, be equated with “unjust discrimination,” because it is based on fundamental truths about the human person and personal conduct. Homosexual conduct is categorically closed to the transmission of life, and does not reflect or respect the personal complementarity of man and woman. In contrast to sexual conduct within marriage between one man and one woman—which does serve both the good of each married person and the good of society— heterosexual and homosexual conduct outside of marriage has no claim to special protection by the state ....

Just as every other group in our society, the Catholic Church enjoys the same rights to hold to its beliefs, organize itself around them, and argue for them in the public square. This is guaranteed by our Constitution. This includes the right to teach what it holds to be the truth concerning homosexual conduct—and to act as an employer consistent with that truth—without the threat of government sanction.


First the letter states two points of church teaching - that we should not be mean to those with homosexual "inclinations" (do heterosexuals have heterosexual inclinations?) and that homosexual acts are unacceptable .... this is all about the (odd in my view) Catholic idea that people are somehow divorced from their actions, which when used in this situation is a kind of passive-aggressive way to dislike and work against a certain group in society without actually taking responsibility for the disliking and for the discriminatory consequences of the acting against. So basically the first couple of paragraphs are a disclaimer.

The third paragraph makes some interesting assertions ....

- The Catholic Church ... does teach that all sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman are morally wrong.
If this is so, why all the emphasis only on homosexual sex acts and not the outside-of-marriage heterosexual ones?

- The Catholic Church’s teaching cannot, therefore, be equated with “unjust discrimination,” because it is based on fundamental truths about the human person and personal conduct.
I wish I could use this strategy in all my discussions .... the defining-my-beliefs-as-the-Truth argument. Why does the church not realize that if you want to affect the laws of the land, a land where most citizens aren't Catholic, you have to come up with a more convincing argument than "because the Church says so".

- Homosexual conduct is categorically closed to the transmission of life, ...
So, we'd better start banning marriage between those who are sterile or beyond the age of fertility?

- heterosexual and homosexual conduct outside of marriage has no claim to special protection by the state.
The state could have valid reasons for protecting same-sex marriage.

And then ... Just as every other group in our society, the Catholic Church enjoys the same rights to hold to its beliefs, organize itself around them, and argue for them in the public square. This is guaranteed by our Constitution.
Is every other group in our society tax-exempt?

- This includes the right to teach what it holds to be the truth concerning homosexual conduct—and to act as an employer consistent with that truth—without the threat of government sanction.
Yes, the right to teach, but no, not the right to discriminate in employment against citizens.

I'll just quote two more lines (see Fr, Martin's post for the whole letter and the part from which these two quotes come) ...

The USCCB continues to oppose “unjust discrimination” against people with a homosexual inclination
The church feels there's such a thing as "just" discrimination and that it is uniquely qualified to identify it and morally justified in practicing it?

Moreover, because the passage of such a bill could be used to punish as discrimination what the Catholic Church teaches, the USCCB has always sought as comprehensive a religious exemption as is achievable, in order to protect the religious freedom of the Church, and of all others who hold similar views. One partial solution to this problem is to apply Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination, which is already incorporated in the current version of the bill.
Here the church holds up the specter of discrimination against religion. It doesn't want to be held responsible for discriminating, and in fact, if Congress could only see clearly, they'd see it's actually the church who is the victim here.

:(


4 Comments:

Anonymous richard said...

bleh...what a tedious bunch

7:20 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Richard :)

Yes,.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

Good analysis, Crystal.

9:35 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Laim,

Thanks :) Are your classes over now? Will you be off all summer?

12:37 PM  

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