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Church And District

There's a bit of a hubbub going on in the District of Columbia of late. The City Council is weighing a sweeping gay rights move, bundling together gay marriage, gay adoption, partners' rights, and whatnot, and the Catholic Church -- as is to be expected -- is resistant.

Resistant to the point where they say they will simply pull the plug on their entire charitable works in the city should it pass.

Critics are denouncing the Church (as is their wont), saying that the Church must be bluffing, that the Church is overreacting, that the Church is being hypocritical because it hasn't made the same threats in other places where gay marriage has passed, and it's all a big to-do about nothing, because the law explicitly says the Church doesn't have to perform gay marriages if it doesn't want to.

They're right on that last point. They're wrong on every single other one.

First up, the Church doesn't bluff. There may be a surface resemblance between the Church's move and the typical move of politicians facing budget cuts -- make the cuts in the most visible, most popular, most needed areas first -- but that's where it ends. The Church does NOT use the poor as hostages for imposing its social agenda.

Next, the Church is not overreacting. While the gay marriage aspect is the most attention-grabbing aspect, it is the other elements that are most offensive to Catholic doctrine -- and most directly threatening to the Church. The Church does NOT sanction or assist in gay marriage, does NOT offer "same-sex benefits" to employees, and does NOT recognize same-sex relationships as equal to opposite-sex ones. Under the proposed law, they would have to yield on each of those points.

Then there's the "they haven't protested in other states" argument. Again, not true. In Massachusetts, the state forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation of adoptive parents -- so the Church said "OK, fine" and got out of the adoption business altogether. They are quite consistent on this point -- they will fight against the laws they oppose, but will accept them as long as they are not personally required to take action in support of them. And if the law would force them to act in a way they find morally repugnant, they will simply take their toys and go home.

Now, I happen to think the Church is wrong in its positions here. (I also happen to think that the Church is wrong in a lot of other places, too -- such as contraception, the ordination of women, and I still loathe their conduct in the whole "pedophile priest" scandal. There should have been a RICO investigation there, and quite a few high-ranking Churchmen -- like Cardinal Law -- should be behind bars. But I digress...)

But more importantly, I think they have the right to be wrong.

The Church has its beliefs. It has its tenets and its principles. It has decided which are the most important ones, and has rediscovered its spine. It has drawn the line in the sand -- society can go to Hell if it wishes, but the Church will not aid and abet in the process.

On this, they will not bend. If that means that they will no longer help in the adoption process in Massachusetts, so be it. If that means they have to completely shut down their charitable works in the District of Columbia, so be it.

And as they've said in the past, if hospitals end up required to perform abortions on demand, they will shut down every single Catholic hospital in the country.

Now that is a bluff we dare not call -- Catholic hospitals represent 12.7% of all hospitals in the United States and 15% of all hospital beds. And the Church clarifies that threat -- they simply won't sell them off, but shut them down and, if necessary, tear them down. They will be morally obliged to make certain those hospitals are never used to perform abortions.

The Church's position is arguable, but defensible. They will not, under any circumstances, cooperate with any law they find morally repugnant. Instead, they will find a way to not violate the law and still not comply with it. And the way they are talking about is to simply remove themselves from the law's reach.

The law can say that they cannot discriminate against gays in adoption. But the law can not compel them to continue assisting in adoptions.

The law can say that employers cannot discriminate against gay employees. But the law can not compel them to have employees.

The law can say that hospitals must perform adoptions abortions on demand. But the law can not compel the Church to keep its hospitals open should it decide to raze them.

The learned solons of the District of Columbia speak as if they don't really need the Church and its charities, that there is a long list of other organizations just itching to step up and fill the void should the Church choose to leave the city. This is entirely consistent with plans by the Obama administration to limit tax deductions for charitable contributions, moving such things under the aegis of government and out of the hands of independent organizations.

One doesn't have to be Catholic to see the value of the Church's charitable works. One doesn't have to subscribe to Church teachings to respect their right to abide by them as they see fit. And one doesn't even have to be a believer to see the threat to the common good being posed by this move by the DC City Council.

And that's coming from an agnostic gay marriage supporter who is still uncertain as to whether the Catholic Church has been a net boon or bane to modern civilization.


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Comments (33)

"The law can say that hospi... (Below threshold)

"The law can say that hospitals must perform adoptions on demand." adoptions on demand?? ;)

"Adoptions on demand??"... (Below threshold)

"Adoptions on demand??"

This or other laws being considered. Read about The Freedom of Choice Act, supported by Obama (From Wikipedia):

The Freedom of Choice Act (HR 1964/S 1173) was a bill in the 110th United States Congress which "declares that it is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child; terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability; or terminate a pregnancy after viability when necessary to protect her life or her health."

It prohibits a federal, state, or local governmental entity from denying or interfering with a woman's right to exercise such choices; or discriminating against the exercise of those rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. Provides that such prohibition shall apply retroactively.

It also authorizes an individual aggrieved by a violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief, including relief against a governmental entity, in a civil action." Earlier versions of the bill were introduced in 1989 and 1993.

Further interpetations of the bill would allow legal grievances by virtue of a violation of civil rights for a party that is denied an abortion by a medical facility. The church has stated it will close the doors of every hospital in the US if this bill were to pass with the potential of making adoptions in the US "mandatory" upon demand.

Jay Tea,Like you, ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,

Like you, I don't agree with many of the church's positions (I can't for the life of me get why someone, anyone, would think that a child is better off in a state-run gladiator school or in serial foster care by a series of strangers than it would be if it were adopted by loving, responsible, and well vetted gay parents)but....

I DO respect the right of the church to follow its own beliefs, especially on the abortion issue. And I think as well that if laws are passed that would mandate that Catholic hospitals perform abortions, they WILL tear those hospitals down, much to the detriment of many other patients who need them.

The far left will cut its nose off to spite the face of the poor they so piously claim to represent.




The catholic church in MA p... (Below threshold)

The catholic church in MA placed thirteen children in gay households while heterosexual, legally married couples waited to adopt. There is a certain seminary in MA that was full of sexual deviates and, from that seminary, sprang the child molesters....but it started with full-grown men involved in unsavory behavior. The nest of decadence in MA was rampant and has still not been corrected.

This may come as a surprise... (Below threshold)

This may come as a surprise to all of you, but neither I nor my Church give a rat's eardrum whether you agree with our beliefs or not! Had you written a column like this about Islam, you would even now be hiding from the Imams' wrath! The Catholic Church has survived over 2000 years without your approval and we can continue on another 2000 years without it as well. We consider abortion to be murder, plain and simple. We consider so-called gay marriage to be an abomination. And we doggone well don't have to aid and abet with our resources those things we find repugnant! And finally, now, we won't do so.

This is a problem with a si... (Below threshold)

This is a problem with a simple solution. The Catholic Church should simply be taken over by Congress and run by the SEIU.

That seems to be the solution to every other damned problem we have.

Gayle, you obviously haven'... (Below threshold)

Gayle, you obviously haven't read some of my other pieces on Islam... and you're missing the point that I'm sticking up for the Church's rights here.

You wanna piss off a nominal ally in this fight simply because I don't agree with you on everything? That's a really stupid move...


The Church will not be allo... (Below threshold)

The Church will not be allowed to simply shut hospitals down. SOmething will be done to compel a sale. You think some judge won't overreach, especially when pols start yelling about denial of services to the poor, etc.?

Oh, and Gayle, you don't sp... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Gayle, you don't speak for your church, so you don't have the right to accept -- or reject -- my support on this issue.

And as a woman, you never will be in any kind of position to speak for your church, so why bother?


All social services should ... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

All social services should be run by charity not by the government. For many years there were charity hospitals where staff would volunteer their time and expenses were paid by donation or backed by churches.

Then the left swept in, said that you couldn't trust people to take care of each other, and tried to usurp control for themselves. Making the poor who used to be thankful to their fellow citizens now dependent on the Government to provide for them and forcing Americans to pay through taxes.

Suddenly charitable donations went down because "why should I pay again when I am already paying taxes?"

The left wish to remove God and (yuck!) Morals from Government, and eventually from society as a whole. We have seen the results since the 60's.

I agree that it is sad that the church would do this, but they have the right and I agree with their stance even though I am not a Catholic. I am a christian and will continue to do good works on an individual basis, but only as my church-learned-morallity see's fit.

Perhaps the Govt will take over these churches and hospitals, make Rahm Emmanuel the new Pope, seek to include all religions in this new "church" and then declare Obama the Messiah...

Has anyone read the Left Behind books? This is some seriously scary $4!7, its like this administration read Atlas Shrugged and Left Behind, then combined it with Saul Alinsky and called it their playbook.

Liberal Churches often disc... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Liberal Churches often discard New Testament teachings that run counter to their sensibilities if those teachings are not found in the four Gospels. A fundamental precept of the Catholic Church is the unbroken chain of authority from Christ to the Apostle Peter, to the current pope. Whether or not you accept that such a chain exits is irrelevant; Catholic's believe it. In the NT the Apostle Peter says the writings of the Apostle Paul are scripture, and so Paul's teaching that homosexual sex is sin is accepted by the Catholic Church and many protestant churches. Likewise, Paul's teachings about the role of women in the church are also accepted.

The NT teaches that homosexual sex is a sin, but it also teaches that it's a greater sin to teach that something that's sin is not sin. Most Christians accept adults who live in sinful relationships because we are all sinners. We are exhorted to love the sinner and hate the sin. However, it's another matter for those who teach that homosexual sex is not sin, who by doing so deceive others into living a life of sin. The Church most oppose such teachings.

Teaching that a homosexual relationship is the equivalent of a traditional relationship is particularly offensive to Bible believing Churches as it tramples the sacrament of marriage. Yes, it better in the eyes of many Christians for a child to be raised in foster care than by homosexuals who by their example teach that sin is not sin.

The first amendment guaranties what courts term the separation of church and state. That doctrine is a double edged sword that has seen one edge used far more that the other. I would like to see the Catholic Church bring the other edge into use. Given the proposed laws undermine the sacrament of marriage and the prohibition against teaching of sin as not being sin, it seems the government is precluded form enforcing anti-discrimination laws that violate long held religious doctrine. That would allow churches to limit marriage, spousal insurance, and adoption benefits to traditional married couples.

If all Catholics felt like ... (Below threshold)
recovering liberal democrat:

If all Catholics felt like Gayle Miller we might be discussing these issues but, they would not be on the verge of becoming law. I have many friends and family that are Catholic and I must say that if they felt like Gayle liberals would not be in the positions of power they are today.

Catholics, as a demographic... (Below threshold)

Catholics, as a demographic, have a history of overwhelmingly voting for the Democrat Party in the U.S. and Liberals in Canada.
They helped make the bed and now they don't want to lay in it.

" .. But the law can not co... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

" .. But the law can not compel them to continue assisting in adoptions...
.. But the law can not compel them to have employees...
..But the law can not compel the Church to keep its hospitals open should it decide to raze them. "


And boy does that gall the Big Governmentists. Because short of revolution, choosing not to participate is the last defense anyone has when they morally/ethically/Constitutionally disagree with an all-consuming, ever-expanding government.

They found a way around that with Obamacare; buy insurance or go to prison. I don't think they can do the same with the Church. But as you say, they are more than happy to force private religion out of our lives and replace it with govt.

(sigh) Well, Freedom was nice while it lasted. So when does the revolution start?

I've seen rumblings and mis... (Below threshold)
James H:

I've seen rumblings and mischaracterizations all over the place on this.

From what I understand, the Catholic Church has simply said it will not run social services for the District of Columbia if the District passes its same-sex marriage law. Which is fair enough, particularly considering the Church probably doesn't want to get tangled with antidiscrimination laws as part of the price of accepting Caesar's dime.

As I understand it, the Catholic Church would continue to provide its own social services, just not in partner with the District.

Seems just fine to me.

And allegations the Catholic archdiocese would suspend all of its social services to the city, not just those provided through partnership with the DC government, appear untrue.

Speller,Care to back... (Below threshold)

Care to back that up with data, or define overwhelming in this context?

James H:I hope tha... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

James H:

I hope that is true, and I doubt that by offering services to members of the church they could be required by law to offer those same services to others.

However I am willing to bet that the greater portion, possibly the much greater portion of good done by the church affects non-believers/non-catholics. DC is going to quite suddenly have a void to fill and will not be able to handle it. Don't they already have one of the highest homeless rates in the country and highest crime rates?

I wonder perhaps if DC is not the new Soddom, and is being condemned by God himself. In this case however the places of worship remain open to those who would believe and be saved.

I hate sounding like a religious nut, but all the signs are disturbingly pointing at the end times with Obama driving the bus on that oh so well paved road.

I always like it when lib p... (Below threshold)

I always like it when lib politicians try to use wiggle language to get around Church doctrine. When called on it, they invariably scream about "discrimination". Evidently they don't approve when a person or organization refuses to budge on core beliefs.

Damn, just 40 yrs ago they ... (Below threshold)

Damn, just 40 yrs ago they were still perverts. I don't see whats changed. 50 years ago you'd be arrested both here and in the UK(see the last scene in Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder")If you're gay,I don't give a rats ass about "your rights". You already have the same rights we all have. If you're a guy you can't marry a guy, just like me, we have the SAME rights.You can marry a woman, I can marry a woman, again, we have the SAME rights! You just want special rights no one else has for your own selfish ass. The pedophiles will want "their rights" next so they can "marry" and molest kids.I'm sick of your whiney, liberal, perverted,Rumpranger, lickety split asses. Put them all on an island and let them have their way with each other. But till then STFU! Nov. 2010 has gotta be fun. Conservatives who support this sh*t come out of the frikkin political closet already...You're a Liberal!

Wow, a blog post where the ... (Below threshold)

Wow, a blog post where the author has something positive to say about someone he strenuously disagrees with! I didn't think I would ever see such a thing. I am impressed. This was well written and I have a lot of respect for you. I will have to read more of what you have to say.

And as they've said in t... (Below threshold)

And as they've said in the past, if hospitals end up required to perform abortions on demand, they will shut down every single Catholic hospital in the country.

Now that is a bluff we dare not call -- Catholic hospitals represent 12.7% of all hospitals in the United States and 15% of all hospital beds. And the Church clarifies that threat -- they simply won't sell them off, but shut them down and, if necessary, tear them down.

Which, of course, almost guarantees that the current occupant of the White House will do everything in his power to make this happen. One of the goals of this administration seems to be to de-legitimize the activities of private charities and of any businesses that aren't controlled by the government or the unions. Shutting down the Catholic hospitals will advance that goal - and when the mushroom media tell the story, the Church will be the bad guy in The Narrative.

Things have to get worse before they can get better, comrades!

I am wondering where the So... (Below threshold)
Dennis Hayden:

I am wondering where the Social Work ethics stand for social workers working in a social work agency such as Catholic Charities? I am referring to the social work code of ethics;
4.02 Discrimination

"Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability."

Dennis Hayden, retired social worker

Jay, why the hell did you t... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

Jay, why the hell did you take that shot at Gayle for being a woman in the Catholic Church. Go talk to the Anchoress before you make even more of a fool of yourself. It is time for an apology.


Rick, she pushed my buttons... (Below threshold)

Rick, she pushed my buttons. I was writing a piece in defense of the Church, but since I made it clear that I wasn't a Catholic and not overly fond of the Church, she slammed me. So I did the juvenile thing and slammed back.

I stand by both my original article and my response to her, Rick. I'm just less proud of the latter than the former.


The liberals are afraid the... (Below threshold)

The liberals are afraid the Catholic Church is using their own doctrine on them (the libs). ie the so-called separation of church and state. They preach it all of the time when it suits them, but when a Church, as powerful as the Roman Catholic Church turns the tables on them, they get all pissy.

Seems to me, that the Church is right in this matter and the DC council should be looking at what will happen if the Church does pull out. The citizens of DC should be watching this too, because their taxes will go up again.

Congratulations. Since I am... (Below threshold)
Sabba Hillel:

Congratulations. Since I am not a Catholic, I cannot speak about the beliefs, but I can understand because I am in the same position as an Orthodox Jew. There are people who complain because the Jewish owner of a store closes early on Friday and remains closed on Saturday (for the Sabbath). There are people who complain because a Jewish organization makes sure its banquet is Kosher so that everyone can eat (after all, no-one is forbidden to eat kosher food). The liberals act as if their personal preferences are "laws of nature" and can never be denied.

Obviously, many would say that these examples are "trivial" compared to the cases that you give, but I think that they are easily understood.

I was once turned down for a job because it (legitimately) would have required me to be able to work on the Sabbath. As far as I was concerned, that was not "religious discrimination" but was the correct decision. I could not have taken that job even if it had been offered and would not have offered it to me had I been hiring. We should be careful to make sure that we are making objective decisions, something the left does not understand.

Wow, a blog post where the ... (Below threshold)

Wow, a blog post where the author has something positive to say about someone he strenuously disagrees with! I didn't think I would ever see such a thing. I am impressed. This was well written and I have a lot of respect for you. I will have to read more of what you have to say.

20. Posted by mrofone | November 16, 2009 4:14 PM


Jay Tea, this sort of move ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea, this sort of move has been made in other places where "gay marriage" was imposed or enacted. See the UK, Canada, for starters.

It is not an imposition only on Catholic Agencies and Catholic individuals. It is a move to villify those who disagree with the merger of "gay marriage" and marriage, at law and in social policy and in the culture.

This example of a local government seeking to impose anti-Catholic policies on Catholic agencies -- and in the process villifying those who dissent with gay identity politics -- does not have its direct correspondence where government's retain the man-woman criterion of marriage.

Pro-gay agencies that focus on gay clients in adoptions and the like were not threatened in the way that Catholic Agencies have been threatened by governmental policies. But moves to set Government against Church seem to be part and parcel of the "logic" of the SSM campaign.

Is such a conflict between Government and freedom of conscience -- indeed one in which SSM supporters openly encourage schism within the Catholic Church -- inevitable, do you think?

"Resistant to the point whe... (Below threshold)
Joe G.:

"Resistant to the point where they say they will simply pull the plug on their entire charitable works in the city should it pass."

That was not my understanding from reading several articles. It appeared that the Church was noting that the contracts it now receives (from the DC government) to provide specific services could not be renewed without a larger exception in the law.

Jay,Speaking as a ... (Below threshold)


Speaking as a Catholic, you rock the house. HARD. Thank you for this post. We may not agree, but that's the kind of empathy for an opponent's position we all need.


And as a woman, you neve... (Below threshold)
Amy P.:

And as a woman, you never will be in any kind of position to speak for your church, so why bother?

While I thank you for your level-headed position on this issue, I have to take umbrage with the above statement.

I can certainly speak in defense of my church and my faith; nothing is stopping me from doing that. Women cannot be priests because we believe Christ ordained men for a reason.

And no, it's not because Christ was beholden to the age in which He lived. He said a lot of other controversial things - the whole "eat the flesh of the son of man" stuff that lead to accusations of cannibalism in the early days of Christianity - and didn't seem to care what the reaction was.

What I find condescending is not the teachings of the Catholic Church on women's ordination, but those people who believe and imply women like me are stupid, brainwashed, or oppressed for believing the same thing as the Church. I made the decision to become a Catholic, as an adult, because I believe it to be correct.

Those who do not like Catholic teachings are free to leave for more politically correct theological ground. Because that's what women's ordination is really about: not equality, but "speaking for" and gaining political points for "women's issues" in the Church (read: abortion and radical feminism); things that are contrary to Catholic teaching.

This is especially irksome since your entire argument is hinged on your belief the Catholic Church has a right to its free expression of religion. This should also apply to the issue of women's ordination, which you seem so willing to bash in a condescending manner. You can disagree, but please to pretend you're doing so out of concern for those of us women who accept the teachings of the Church.

Good post. Shame Gayle felt... (Below threshold)

Good post. Shame Gayle felt the need to be unpleasant; I think most Catholics would recognise that you've offered a pretty accurate take on the situation. Sadly, your tolerance is unlikely to be replicated by those currently going after the Church.

I fully understand where th... (Below threshold)

I fully understand where this is coming from. And it would make complete sense absent the context of a history that this writer or any literate person can easily research, and any person interested in current events should be aware of. At best, this is apologia, at worst some kind of romantic ignorance.

What a coincidence that this face-off happens in the nation's capital, a District not independently incorporated but run by Congress? That's the reason this is happening here.

The RCC has a good run in this country, but its day has finally come. In D.C. and many other places, decades of political hegemony is slipping from their grasp. This is a political play, pure and simple?

How do we know that?

Set aside the adoption agencies and hospitals for a moment. What in the world do soup kitchens and homeless shelters have to do with any of this? Why will they be "unable" to continue those services to the needy? I don't seen an explanation for that here.

True, this is not the only place nor the first time the Church has levelled a bluff like this. Anywhere they've enjoyed control, and are now losing it, this is going on.

How will we replace 15% of our hospitals? For starters, we can stop tithing money to a dark hole whence its fate is not known, and put it directly into the things a society really needs. We'll get a lot more bang for our buck by skipping the fancy robes and big ugly buildings.

Sure, the Rhode Island Diocese won't be able to kick another $10,000 to Maine to battle gay rights, and the bigots up there will have to make their own way somehow. (Okay, so we do know where at least of the Sunday collection goes.) But maybe if we're forced to settle our disputes by reason instead of mysticism and might, we'll sort some of them out sooner and with less pointless squabbling.

I am not convinced by this argument, and I am not moved. As far as I'm concerned, it's the Church that can go to hell. I have faith that the people of this world will somehow figure out how to run a society without them.






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