View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rochester's Catholic Mayor Counters Church Teachings

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy is popular and well-respected. He is also a Catholic.

Unfortunately, he stepped into the middle of a debate and came down solidly against Church teachings on one of the "Non-Negotiables."

Homosexual marriage.

In an op-ed piece in today's Democrat and Chronicle he urges the passage of legislation that would allow homosexuals to marry in New York state.

He notes that the legislation in question involves civil marriages only, and that no member of the clergy may be compelled to to perform any marriage ceremony.

He's being naive.

Given the tactics and the trends involved with this and other such issues, if this law is passed there will be lawsuits alleging discrimination - endless headaches and heartaches, and lots of money - and other laws pushed and plenty of social pressure exerted that will seek ways to "force" clergy to perform such ceremonies.

The mayor points out that he was raised in a deeply religious family, and that his mother was a former "Catholic nun." And he says, "I am well aware of the Church's teachings."

So, with knowledge, he is going against what has been called one of the Five Non-Negotiables.

The Non-Negotiables are five key issues on which Catholic voters are supposed to judge a candidate (or elected official).

They are: Abortion, Fetal Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning, Euthanasia, and Homosexual Marriage.

As the Voter's Guide for Serious Candidates (put out by Catholic Answers) notes: "Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates."

It's particularly galling when the candidate/official is Catholic.

On this particular issue, the Guide says:

"True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other form of "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.

"When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10 - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Duffy will not vote on this issue; he is not in the legislature. But his public support for this law helps to move it along, and his declaration that he does so as Catholic who knows the Church's teachings is a direct challenge to the Church.

So unless his future opponent takes the same position or endorses one of the other Non-Negotiables - in which case Catholics should take other issues into consideration when deciding how to vote - Catholics in Rochester should not vote for Duffy.



Blogger Lee Strong said...

Here's a sample of what's to come -

From an AP story:

A California-based homosexual-rights group has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service challenging the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine. The Empowering Spirits Foundation says that by engaging in political activity aimed at overturning Maine's new same-sex "marriage" law, the diocese is violating IRS rules for nonprofits.

A diocese spokesman says IRS policy allows the diocese to participate in the campaign to collect the more than 55,000 voter signatures needed to suspend the law and have voters decide its fate. ...

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Cranky Mexfiles guy said...

The idea that the state would dictate whom a church has to marry is a red herring. I don't think you'll find any case law on this, nor would you Churches are not forced to marry anyone -- there are religions that don't marry persons of different "races" for example. If the Roman Catholic Church consider being of the same gender an impediment to marriage, so be it. The Mayor is not saying that Catholics have to allow such marriages... just that the state should.

Once again, I think the U.S. is one of the few places that -- allowing ministers of religion to legalize what is basically a contractual agreement -- causes itself more confusion than it needs. That X is permitted to legalize a contract has never meant X is obliged to do so. If your suggestion is that Catholics cannot uphold the rule of law, then the logical conclusion is that Catholics should not run for, nor hold, public office.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

But as the AP story points out, the suits will happen.

The threat exists.

Even if the churches ultimately win, it will cost them time, energy, and money.

I saw that happen when Spitzer went after the pregnancy centers due to allegations made by pro-choice groups, allegations that proved false.

5:51 PM  
Blogger RailRider said...

Gays have been marrying in MA for 5 years now. Life for heterosexuals has not changed one iota.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ah, but what are the effects on a spiritual level? And the long-term effects?

It often takes years before we realize our mistakes - and for civilizations to begin to suffer obvious consequences.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice that all the LTTE in today's paper on gay marriage were pro-gay marriage or gay civil union? Not one against... This is no way a balanced discussion. The D&C is pushing it's gay agenda, and it's crystal clear.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

"Ah, but what are the effects on a spiritual level? And the long-term effects?"

I could say none and none. I don't know there's a convincing case to be made otherwise.

Agreed that the state would be hard-pressed to force churches or others to marry. A good question would be: do churches do a good job preparing the couples it may marry?

Generally, I'm suspicious of believers using public forums and public policy to adjust the morality of others'. While it's entirely appropriate to speak out for justice, the elevation of same-sex unions doesn't quite make it to the level of abortion, euthanasia, torture, and unjust war. Overall, it's a tough call and I'm disinclined to make a snap judgment on an issue like this.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

anonymous - good point. The paper has endorsed homosexual marriage, so these views are in line with the paper's. But it would have been nice to have somm countering views.

Sort of reminds me of Obama's seeking of diverse views on the abortion issues. Say your are for dialogue, but only have articulate folks on your side take part.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...


The Holy Father recognizes "the recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage" as one of three "not negotiable" natural law principles that Catholics are obligated to defend in the public square. So you are mistaken in saying it "doesn't quite make it to the level" of other offenses.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Well, Rich, nice try. But tens of millions of human beings haven't died at the hands of "unioned" homosexuals. I think my fifty million unborn trumps your conservative hurt feelings.

The truth is that the gravity of some "non-negotiables" supercedes others.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Me again down Mexico Way said...

Unless you're proposing the United States become like Iran, where clerics vet the candidates, I'll take it that those who support the Pope's "non-negotiable" positions should not vote for Catholics... lest they lead the elected official into the near occasion of sin :-) (Oh, i'm such a little devil!)

The letters to the editor balance in your local newspaper could reflect either that those intelligent enough to write tend to support the proposition, or that there really isn't much opposition to it. Newspaper readership is dropping like a stone, and newspapers are happy anybody is reading them... and ecstatic when then get letters to the editor.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

I think my fifty million unborn trumps your conservative hurt feelings.Is all of this a parlor game to you? I cited an address from the Holy Father that is crystal clear about the moral obligations of Catholics, a group that presumably includes you.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

"...Catholics, a group that presumably includes you."

Careful Rich. You and Todd may disagree, but that he is a Catholic is beyond question. It's not fair to imply that he is not.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Todd said - "Generally, I'm suspicious of believers using public forums and public policy to adjust the morality of others'".

I this case, Mayor Duffy went public when he did not have to, and made a point of raising Church teachings - again, when he did not have to.

Because he is a popular and well-respected, his public views might lead others to use him as a guide (or an excuse!). Therefore it is appropriate to remind people in a public way of what the Church has said.

I would hope that something has also been said behind the scenes to the Mayor by more official Church folks (as opposed to this cranky blogger).

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd is a minion of Jim Callan.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The truth is that the gravity of some "non-negotiables" supercedes others."

True to a point, Todd. If there is a candidate who supports homosexual marriages and/or unions facing off against a candidate who supports infanticide, and all other things are equal, clearly the candidate who favors abortion is the worse of the two. However, despite the fact that abortion is more serious, it does not mean that the issue of homosexual marriages is not serious. We as Catholics are to oppose homosexual marriages and unions. Just because it is "less serious" in comparison to abortion does not mean we can or should support homosexual marriages/unions.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous said "Todd is a minion of Jim Callan."

That's not true. He and I were both at Corpus Christi, and Todd left it before I did, not happy about the things going on there.

Please check your facts before accusing someone.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Careful Rich. You and Todd may disagree, but that he is a Catholic is beyond question. It's not fair to imply that he is not.Todd Flowerday is free to kick sand on magisterial teaching on your site, but sarcasm is out of bounds. Got it.

As to the "facts," he is notorious for casting doubt on numerous doctrines that involve the human pelvis, e.g., the reservation of the priesthood to males, the "intrinsic disorder" of homosexuality and its implications for marriage, adoption, etc. Search through Amy Welborn's or the Curt Jester's archives for examples.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Rich - I don't agree with Todd on some issues - including some of his views on sexual issues - but I don't question his Catholicism.

I don't agree with you on some issues, but I don't question your Catholicism either - and I would defend you if someone tried to say you were not Catholic.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

"As to the "facts," he is notorious for casting doubt ..."

But that does not make him a minion of Jim Callan. He rejected Callan's direction years before Callan's official break with the Church took place.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

An added point to help understand my protectiveness - Todd is a long-standing friend. When he lived in Rochester, he was one of my closest friends.

I get testy when I think people are picking on my family or my friends!

And make fun of my dog, hoo boy!

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Lee, a thank you and an apology. The former, my friend, for what is obvious. The latter for tickling Rich on your blog. His reaction was all too predictable.

I also take your point about the mayor's public stance. I do wonder just how much influence an executive might have on that issue--as opposed to a legislator or a judge. Does it make sense to stir the pot you have no intention of cooking? Probably not.

I do think it's a matter of prudential judgment just how serious SSA unions register in comparison to sinful acts that actually kill people.

I also find it interesting that admitting a church teaching is difficult instills doubt in others. Do you actually know this is happening, Rich? Or is it just fun to be the blogosphere's defender-in-chief?

10:28 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Todd - as mayor it's true he does not vote on such measures, but he does have influence on the legislators who do vote, and his public position helps to influence (and in this case) mislead the voters who also influence the legislators who do vote.

Although this might seem a "smaller" sin in your mind, this still is an issue of sin, and all sins are linked and all are a betrayal of God.

Moreover, sins involving homosexual acts are serious, and they have wider effects than just the physical acts. As with acceptance of of any sinful behaviour, acceptance of them helps to undermine the social and moral structure, and help to create an environment in which other sins become more acceptable. Thus this kind of acceptance can make it more acceptable to, say, abort. You may not agee, but I see a link.

In the writings of the saints, what others might consider "small sins" become great - because they see the wider implications, and because they see that any sin hurts God and adds to Christ's burden on the Cross. I remember reading something about one confessor leaving Pope John XXIII in tears saying something along the lines of "I've just heard the confession of a child." That holy pontiff saw the enormity of even his "small" sins.

As for Rich being a "defender-in-chief," I think it would be an honor and not an insult to have that title, especially when it comes to defending the faith. I wish more people had his zeal and his knowledge - even if I don't always agree with him and I've sometimes gotten a few barbs from him myself! Don't try to bait him, - it's unbecoming of you.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reader response that stirred up the hornets nest, was removed by the Democrat and Chronicle:

Shame on Mayor Duffy. This is an attack on the family unit of a Father and Mother.

Look at the destruction that the breakdown of the family has caused in the City of Rochester.

Now Mayor Duffy should tell the "Taxpayers", how much money, the City of Rochester is paying out to the gay boyfriends and gay girlfriends of city employees.

Homosexuality is a mental defect.

I have to admit, it did generate a good response from another person:

I would just like to point out that it was way back in 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed Homosexuality from its diagnostic categories of mental disorders. The professionals of the mind, how it works, what goes wrong, and what is normal officially stated a long time ago that there is absolutely nothing wrong or defective with a person who is homosexual, they are perfectly normal and healthy human beings just like you. So, please, join us in the present, this is 2009.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) agreed that Homosexuality was a mental disorder.

I wonder if the American Psychiatric Association changed their medical opinion in 1973, due to public pressure from radical homosexuals or a potential lawsuit by a homosexual group?

I rest my case. Homosexuality is mental defect.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

anonymous 6:16 - Homosexual acts are, as the Catechism notes, "acts of grave depravity," and are "intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law."

As for the APA, such psychiatirc organizations are suspect in their judgments. At various times they have held that women are subject to hysteria, and hence not suited for some jobs; that Blacks are not as gifred intellectually as whites; that lobotomies, electro-shock therapies, and the use of various pharmaceuticals were all accdeptable (all techniques and treatments later repudiated).

The APA is subject to political and social pressures - as it was when it changed its stance regarding homosexuality.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is most likely part mental defect, part hormonal imbalance. There may also be a little bit of environmental influence on some folks, though certainly not all.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

But that does not make him a minion of Jim Callan.

I never suggested he was.

I don't agree with you on some issues, but I don't question your Catholicism either - and I would defend you if someone tried to say you were not Catholic.Leaving aside the misplaced equivalence, I did not try to say he isn't Catholic. I used sarcasm, as do you on occasion.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

As for Rich being a "defender-in-chief," I think it would be an honor and not an insult to have that title, especially when it comes to defending the faith. I wish more people had his zeal and his knowledge - even if I don't always agree with him and I've sometimes gotten a few barbs from him myself! ...Thanks for that, Lee. You brightened my evening.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Rich said - But that does not make him a minion of Jim Callan.

I never suggested he was.


- If you look back and my response I never said you said that. I wrote:

Anonymous said "Todd is a minion of Jim Callan."

5:08 AM  

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