Thursday, October 22, 2020

Some More Lío from the Papa

So, apparently Papa Francesco caused some lío this week with his statement on same sex civil unions from some sketchy documentary.

I don't pretend to know what was in the pope's head when he (a) chose to make such statements publicly (b) on camera so there was a permanent record of the words coming out of his own mouth (c) allowed the footage to be used and the video to go public (d) issued no clarification or context or denial (e) offered no means of reconciling his statements with the Church's official pronouncements on the subject, or even some of his own prior statements (f) chose to offer no correction to gossip that he is being "misquoted" or "mistranslated." I can't even fathom.

Predictably, the neo-Cath "He was misquoted!" crowd was out en masse within 24 hours. Perhaps he was. If so, I look forward to Francis's forthcoming formal, unambiguous clarification that he actually believes all homosexual unions of any sort are intrinsically immoral and should not be given civic recognition. That will happen, right? Probably right after he answers the dubia.

The amusing thing here is that Pope Francis probably thinks he is being very cutting edge, but civil unions are really such an outdated idea. They are soooo 2005. They were a compromise measure proposed during a transitionary period when there was increasing support for some sort of civil recognition for homosexual liaisons but there was still sufficient political will to resist making them equal with marriage. It was argued at the time that civil unions actually "protected" marriage by legally recognizing that same sex partnerships were fundamentally different than heterosexual matrimony—that they essentially draw a line in the sand by offering a clear, legal distinction between marriage and civil unions. Kind of like when an army in a chaotic skirmish makes a tactical withdrawal in order to establish a clear front line. It may seem like the army has given ground, but the withdrawal actually puts the unit in a much stronger position because the lines are clearly established and more easily defensible.

I always found this argument to be weak. The question isn't whether a line is drawn, but what is the real difference in being on one side of the line or the other? If you have the exact same legal recognitions on both sides of the line, in what sense are the two different? Civil unions make sense only if we are interested in merely protecting the name of marriage without the substance. I mean, are we Nominalists now? I can't see how this idea was ever any sort of win for Catholics. 

And yet, if you read Francis's statements about civil unions along with his commentary on homosexual marriage, you see this is exactly the line of thought he takes—civil unions somehow "protect" traditional marriage by drawing a circle around it in the sand. Obviously faithful Catholics are mortified by this outdated opinion that only ever satisfied the small sect who wanted to pay lip service to traditional marriage while tripping over themselves to show that they were open-minded.

While homosexual activists fifteen years ago might have appreciated the position as an incremental step forward,  they would surely not be thrilled with such a proposition today, given that full out gay marriage is accepted through much of the west with full legal equality. For example, one progressive Italian comedian and political commentator I saw made the following comment on his social media:

The Pope said YES to Civil Unions between homosexual people because "they are God's children and have the right to the family".

But NO to marriage, neither civil nor church. NO to adoptions (but didn't they have the right to family?). NO to any complete equation with heterosexual couples. Because for the Church, despite the pop breakthrough, there are anthropological dogmas that are perfect like this.

And he told a secular world, to read himself as a political and temporal figure. He did it with a rhetoric that, while on the one hand, opens to simple CIVILITY, on the other hand, reinforces the idea that there are ANYWAY differences between couples.

Nothing, all this just to tell you what your dear liberal progressive PAPA really said yesterday that gets you so excited.

In other words, a position that offends everyone. It's a laughable proposition to be affirming in 2020 and one Catholics should never affirm at all.


TLM said...

The Vatican Press Office has already put the screws to any statement of "clarity" from the Pope.

Karl said...

I find it quaint how the Church is always behind the times, for good and for ill. It's like a confused granny.

c matt said...

Marriage, by any other name is still marriage.