Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whither the U.S. Bishops Now, After SCOTUS, with Majority of Conservative Catholics, Strikes Down DOMA?

In the oh, dear, oh, dear! category: what will His Eminence who leads the flock of U.S. Catholic bishops, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, be saying now that the Supremes, a majority of whom are conservative Catholics, have struck down the Defense of Marriage Act with a statement by Justice Kennedy,

DOMA writes inequality into the entire United States code?

As I think through the terrible, terrible place in which His Eminence and his episcopal flock now find themselves, I don't forget that His Eminence sent President Obama--not the Supremes, mind you, a majority of whom are conservative Catholics--an indignant letter about how the Obama administration was attacking DOMA and the sanctity of marriage.

That highly publicized letter, which was essentially a political document and can hardly be construed as a pastoral one, accused the Obama administration (not the Supremes, a majority of whom are conservative Catholics) of attacking DOMA and the sanctity of marriage. It stated, 

Enacted by a wide, bipartisan majority in Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996, the federal DOMA requires that all federal laws and regulations continue to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  The federal DOMA also protects state DOMAs from being overturned by the courts in lawsuits spurred by the redefinition of marriage in other states.  Promoting and protecting marriage as the union of husband and wife is essential to securing the common good, especially the good of children who have a basic right to be raised by their own married mother and father, and enforcing DOMA is essential to promoting and protecting marriage.  Overturning DOMA or obstructing its enforcement will gravely impact not only the institution of marriage but also the religious freedom of those who uphold marriage and oppose its redefinition. 

Under His Eminence's leadership, the USCCB filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold DOMA, a brief citing the spurious research of Mark Regnerus which claims to prove that same-sex parents are inferior parents. 

So, oh, dear, oh, dear! What will His Eminence do now? Will a crozier-brandishing statement similar to the letter His Eminence sent President Obama about attacks on sanctity of this and that and undermining the moral foundations of this and that now be issued to Justices Kennedy and Roberts* and the other conservative Catholics on the Supreme Court?

It would seem that, in fairness and out of fidelity to the principles he claims to be defending in his crozier-brandishing letter to the president, His Eminence will now have to write precisely such a letter to the Catholic members of the Supreme Court.

Otherwise, the attack on the Obama administration he has led as head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference might appear to be politically motivated, as might the expensive, wasteful, scandalous Fortnight of Freedom hoopla, and the instructions to all Catholic parishes throughout the land to pray that DOMA not be struck down.

Oh, dear, oh dear! What to do? Meanwhile, as Laurie Goodstein has just noted on Twitter, churches in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere--churches that defend human rights--are going to ring their bells to celebrate the striking down of DOMA. 

I gather no Catholic churches will be following suit.

It's almost as if the Catholic church, under its current leaders, stands against the human rights of a targeted and demeaned minority, isn't it? It's almost as if this might be a primary reason a majority of LGBT Americans see the Catholic church as our enemy, and why huge numbers of young folks fed up with the defense of prejudice and discrimination are walking away from the Catholic church as fast as their feet will carry them.

*I refer to Roberts as chief justice and therefore an embodiment of its leadership; he was on the dissenting side in this opinion.

The Winnie the Pooh graphic, by Kyle Bice, is from the deviant art website.

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