Father Tony

A Lethal Love Letter from the Catholic Bishops of the USA

Filed By Father Tony | October 16, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Catholic bishops, gay equality, gay marriage, pastoral letter on marriage

I suspect this final draft of the American Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Marriage was deliberately leaked to make an impact on a certain situation in Maine. For this reason, I am doing a series of videos in which I take it apart for the good of all concerned.

And yes, you can surmise that those bishops would condemn me to hell for this one. And yes, I'm not concerned, and I hope to hell this is viewed by a few Maine Catholics who need a wake up call about their church.

Part One, after the jump.

UPDATE: Thanks to Bilerico reader, Kari, who provided a complete transcript of the video. I've added it to what follows.

A Love Letter from the Roman Catholic Bishops of the USA from tony adams on Vimeo.


Transcript:

I want to talk to you today about a pastoral letter that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is going to release in November and this pastoral letter is a sort of like a love letter, really, to the American Catholics and in part they, they say herein, you know, that this will not just be useful not just for Catholics but to people everywhere. So I think it's important and I've read the entire letter; it's 57 pages long. It's about 1,100 lines (it won't be appearing on Twitter). And it basically gives you a beautifully clear picture of what the American bishops, the American Roman Catholic bishops are thinking and to all of you out there who want to understand Catholicism or to all of you Catholics who want to understand why your church is positioning itself against equal rights for marriage really have to read this letter. Needless to say, I found some of it - a lot of it - it's just disgusting is what it is. But I want to take some time and take it apart piece by piece and go over it. There are two major sections and an introduction, so what we're going to do right now is just go through the introduction, which is reasonably brief. The letter is called "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan: A Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops". Now, please keep in mind that this is the draft that was leaked. The final version that comes out next month will probably look something like this, but might have a couple of variations. So we begin right away in the introduction, they - and I'm pulling out certain sections here - the introduction is "The Blessing and Gift of Marriage". There's a line - it's line 31 and 32 in which the bishops say that "among the many blessings that God has showered upon us in Christ is the blessing of marriage, a gift bestowed by the Creator from the beginning of the world". Okay, that's nice. "His hand has inscribed the vocation of marriage in the very nature of man and woman."
Whoa.
So the bishops are saying God has put the vocation, the call to marriage, in the very nature of man and woman. In other words, it's in your DNA, folks, this call to marriage. Not a call to sex, with either the opposite sex or same sex, not a call to friendship, not a call to love, not a call to relationships, but a call, a vocation, to marriage. It's inscribed in you. That's what they're saying, you know, throughout this entire letter you're going to see the flowery church-y language and they're gonna play fast and loose with a lot of words, but right off the bat, you've got a very clear statement about where they're going. Of course, I can't quite imagine how they're going to justify the fact that if God put the call to marriage in everybody's DNA from the beginning of time, they feel that by being celibates, they are in line with the blessing and the vocation and the gift from the Creator from the beginning of the world, but somehow they're gonna get there.
What is interesting is that also the premises set here in the introduction that they are going to use the Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, the Genesis account of creation as a major element in their justification for their understanding of marriage and especially in their understanding and their abhorrence for the possibility of same-sex marriage. Stay tuned for that.
Okay, so that's line 32 where we get that it's inscribed in our very beings, in the very nature of man and woman. And yet, by line 64, we see them say that "at the same time, we are troubled by the fact that far too many people do not understand what it means to say that marriage, as both a natural institution and a Christian sacrament is a blessing and a gift from God". Okay, so in the beginning of, in line 32, it's part of your DNA, but here, it's a blessing and a gift from God. And as we know, not everybody gets a blessing. Otherwise, if everyone got it, we wouldn't have the phrase "may God bless you", because when you say "may God bless you", it presumes that God might not bless you. So right off the bat, we have this problem with the bishops playing loose and fast with words. If they're saying that everybody has it inscribed in their being, then how is it that marriage can be a blessing and a gift from God that some people get and some people don't get?
I'm just saying.
Okay. So, that was troubling to me, but it's gonna continue and get worse. Okay. Down in line 78 of the introduction, we see the line "we" - meaning the Catholic Bishops - "note a disturbing trend today to view marriage as a mostly private matter". Now, actually, I agree with them on this. Relationships are personal, private matters, but marriage is a public contract governing the disposition of assets and it comes with public responsibilities. That is why I think the Catholic church ought to get out of the marriage business and instead concentrate on guiding its people in authentic relationships and the formation of good, solid families. You know? See, but they don't - they're gonna play with this, the terminology about marriage and relationships and friendship and sex and they're gonna talk about the church and the church is the Bride of Christ and somehow relates that way and everything. And then they're - wait 'til you get to the end of this letter where they say that, pretty much, that in heaven, all of us will be united in this great communal marriage that is exemplified by Christ and his Church. And basically what they are saying is, folks, you may be married to one person today, but ultimately, no way is that gonna happen for all eternity. In all eternity, we're all married as one big "borg". Honestly, that's what they say in here toward the end, so, you know, those of you who are planning on seeing your deceased spouse get in the next life, forget about it.
Okay. So. They say - and then they say in line 81, "Finally, we bishops feel compelled to speak out against all attempts to redefine marriage so that it would no longer be exclusively the union of a man and a woman as God established and blessed it". Okay. They just let that phrase drop here in the introduction. They don't talk about how they're going to or why they feel this compulsion and when they say "we bishops feel compelled to speak out", they might as well uncloak it and say, we bishops have a compulsion about this. We are, we really do feel, we are just so eaten with the concept and so driven by the concept of "speaking out against any attempt to redefine marriage as anything except a man and a woman" that, you know, that's what we're gonna, we're gonna make that clear in this letter. And they do. God bless them, they do make it clear.
See, my question is why. Why do the bishops have this compulsion? Why are they, what are they so afraid of? But, you know, this compulsion is not the province of just the American Catholic bishops. All of the people who rail against the possibility of marriage equality feel this compulsion and none of them understand it. And a lot of - hardly anyone understands what is at the root of this compulsion to be so afraid of same-sex marriage. But it is a compulsion. It is a horror that they feel from the depth of their being and they're going to follow through on it. So when you argue with a bishop, you have to understand that they are totally overrun and overridden by this compulsion and it clouds their ability to think logically. What will follow will be a string of biblical citations and what-have-you that they think supports their compulsion. Now, most of you who read this will be like-minded with me and won't buy those, those associations any more than you would a fifth-rate lawyer's attempt to justify, you know, some sort of crime that was obviously . . . Anyway, I'll give you the - I'll present the quotations just as they do and then you can make up your own mind.
Let me go on. There's one more section in this introduction, I believe, in line - yeah, actually, two more - in line 98. "We intend this pastoral letter to be a theological and doctrinal foundation." So take note of this, Catholics, this letter is not to be taken lightly. You know, it's a read-it-and-weep love letter to you Catholics. Line 102 says this - 102 through 104: "Our pastoral letter presents those beliefs and teachings of the Catholic church informed by human reason and enlightened by divine revelation that summarize and express God's plan for marriage". Did you get that, folks? The bishops are saying that what their teachings consist of have been informed by human reason - in other words, anybody with a brain would come to these conclusions - plus divine revelation. Now I wanna talk a little bit about divine revelation in this context, because those of you who would like to call yourselves Catholic, you gotta know this. This in a nutshell - no pun intended - is the basic deal with Catholicism: the bishops blatantly claim that God has spoken or revealed these things to them. So, they must be true and we must believe them. If you disagree and claim that God has revealed the opposite to you, the bishops could claim that you are wrong because, after all, they have the pointy hats, they've been ordained bishops, they know best, you don't. God cannot reveal things to you that are revealed through them. They got the franchise on the voice of God. It's from God's lips to their ears, not to yours. You can't declare a revelation. You can't declare that because you have no control over your sexual identity that you think it is something that God loves and would permit you to act on. They say no. God has not revealed that to you. God has revealed it to us the opposite. We are the bishops. We have the revelation. This harks back to, like, ancient Greece or ancient Rome when the temple priests would come forth from the temple and say God has spoken to us, Zeus has spoken to us, Jupiter has spoken to us, Apollo has spoken to us and they have said that the emperor's desire to go into battle will result in a great victory for our city. And by the way, all of your folks who seek augers from us, you can just leave the monetary offerings and the food over there because Apollo will pick it up after you're gone and the gates to the temple are locked. Nothing has changed since then. The holding the franchise on divine revelation as they do, these bishops speaking this way, they are claiming to understand the mind of God in a way that you cannot. So, you guys, if you want to be Catholic, you have to understand and buy that premise. Okay? If you don't buy that premise, don't be Roman Catholic.
All right. It goes on and on and we're going to be instructed in the basics of not only divine revelation but human reason, which they also feel they have the franchise on. God save us from these bishops.


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I can't wait for all of these videos to be online, i was raised catholic and will be e-mailing these videos to all of my relatives

dear jesus, it only took them 32 lines to contradict themselves

I don't know, Walter. I seem to recall an earlier document where they contradicted themselves in the same paragraph. Something about your parish community and priest should be expected to support you as a gay person in the Catholic church....but you should not ever tell anyone that you are gay. I wonder how you get support without revealing you're gay?

Father Tony, has anyone told you how awesome you are lately? Because you kind of rock. A lot.

It's a bit scary that bishops don't know enough about the Bible to realise that marriage has been through a huge range of definitions - you can see lots of different kinds of marriages in the Old Testament alone.

Few legal and religious institutions have been so often redefined as marriage. I like the latest version best: A committed loving partnership of equals.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 17, 2009 5:31 PM

Excellent video, Tony. You appear a tad older and with more "stature" (despite the T-shirt) than the little picture that accompanies your postings seems to indicate, and I can readily visualize you with Roman collar et al presenting a sholarly,(albiet totally ....and wonderfully... heretical theological critique of a "creepingly infallible) document. Sock it to 'em(inences)!

Clearly your critique goes beyond the subject to marriage and into the whole question of authoritative teaching. I've always loved the "follow your conscience but you you don't form your conscience correctly as we define it you can't use that as an excuse" dittohead driven dogma.

I do wonder if, certainly without meaning to, statements on marriage such as the one you address may not actually help reinforce certain types of legal arguments supporting marriage equality, because in pronouncing that marriage is somehow in the very DNA of humanity, uniquely instituted by God, it becomes clearer that the state really has no business in the marriage business. Civil unions or maybe "espousal" for everybody in the secular sphere, but insisting on an essentially divinely instituted basis for marriage is highly suspect under our First Amendment.


I asked a reader to provide a transcript for you, Tony. Let me know if I need to do the same for parts 1 and 2. :)

I grew up Catholic, and I remember at a very young age how I felt special, I do not remember why, maybe it was just indoctrination. I remember praying to God to change me and feeling guilty at the same time. As I entered my teen years and began to learn of the atrocities that the church had committed over the years and never apologizing for their crimes. When I was a senior and still attended mass for my mother and was taught CCD classes by an extremely bigoted priest(Father Marinelli).

I have no idea why anyone takes the Catholic Church serious, as most religions I suppose their basic ideas of love and how we should treat each other is kind of nice, but as most large organized religions, they are highly hypocritical. The leaders of these religions live like kings and self proclaimed voices of God while many of their followers live in poverty, but guaranteed riches when they pass this life.

Marriage as we know it has only been in existence for about 500 years, marriage evolved. Before that women were treated as property...did God decree that, why did man go against God and religion to change marriage for what we know is more humane?

As in everything else we know, marriage as well as law is ever changing if we allow it, but change goes against Conservatism and the Catholic church as well as other religions who are among the most conservative of institutions will always protest change.

They claim it goes against God, the same argument that has been used since the beginning of the Church.

So what of the Church's crimes against man or anyone with differing beliefs?

I grew up Catholic, and I remember at a very young age how I felt special, I do not remember why, maybe it was just indoctrination. I remember praying to God to change me and feeling guilty at the same time. As I entered my teen years and began to learn of the atrocities that the church had committed over the years and never apologizing for their crimes. When I was a senior and still attended mass for my mother and was taught CCD classes by an extremely bigoted priest(Father Marinelli).

I have no idea why anyone takes the Catholic Church serious, as most religions I suppose their basic ideas of love and how we should treat each other is kind of nice, but as most large organized religions, they are highly hypocritical. The leaders of these religions live like kings and self proclaimed voices of God while many of their followers live in poverty, but guaranteed riches when they pass this life.

Marriage as we know it has only been in existence for about 500 years, marriage evolved. Before that women were treated as property...did God decree that, why did man go against God and religion to change marriage for what we know is more humane?

As in everything else we know, marriage as well as law is ever changing if we allow it, but change goes against Conservatism and the Catholic church as well as other religions who are among the most conservative of institutions will always protest change.

They claim it goes against God, the same argument that has been used since the beginning of the Church.

So what of the Church's crimes against man or anyone with differing beliefs?

sorry about the duplicate comment can someone delete it?

LeftTurnOnly | October 18, 2009 7:14 PM

Now, now, Father Tony. These bishops aren't so bad if you like your men in long robes, wearing expensive jewelry and fabulous hats.

Fr Tony;
I could actually picture you in the pulpit!