Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 *** Springfield Bishop: Supreme Court ruling “absolutely devoid of moral authority”
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*** UPDATED x2 *** Springfield Bishop: Supreme Court ruling “absolutely devoid of moral authority”

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued a statement on the DOMA ruling….

As in the case of Roe v. Wade striking down abortion laws 40 years ago, the United States Supreme Court has again usurped its legitimate prerogative through a raw exercise of judicial power by giving legal protection to an intrinsic evil, this time by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of U.S. v. Windsor and in refusing to take up the defense of Proposition 8 in California in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.

These hollow decisions are absolutely devoid of moral authority. It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls “marriage” has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois


Despite the rhetoric, the Bishop may have actually stumbled onto a revelation: “It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls ‘marriage’ has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony.”

Well, yeah. That’s the point here. And that’s why folks like Sen. Mark Kirk have taken to referring to it as “civil marriage.” Holy Matrimony is blessed by the church, not the state - never the state. So the concept of Holy Matrimony is untouched by a gay marriage bill.

*** UPDATE *** The Catholic Conference of Illinois was far more reserved

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court’s wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage comes to us through God’s nature as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said in a prepared statement.

“The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said. “The Catholic Church in Illinois and across the world will continue to promote this truth.”

A “natural truth” does not necessarily translate into a “legal truth.” This whole debate has been one side talking past the other.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Family Institute…

And the reason the state is involved in marriage is to protect the needs and rights of any children that may result from the particular type of sexual union that is marriage.

Well, if it’s all about protecting needs and rights of children, then what’s the big deal here?

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* And here’s the Heritage Foundation’s response to the DOMA decision

In its ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court struck down Section 3, declaring that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own federal policies and federal laws but must accept whatever the states decide about marriage. The Court’s ruling, however, does not affect Section 2, which provides that no state is required to give effect to another state’s recognition of same-sex marriages.

Here, the Court got it wrong. The Court ignored the votes of a large bipartisan majority of Members of Congress. It is absurd for the Court to suggest that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes that Congress itself has enacted. Just as the states have constitutional authority to make state policy about marriage, so too Congress has constitutional authority to pass a federal statute defining a term for federal programs created by federal law.

DOMA imposes no uniform definition of marriage upon the individual states, and the states should not be able to impose varying definitions of marriage upon the federal government. This is a serious loss for federalism and democratic self-government. We must work to reverse it and to defend the rights of all Americans to make marriage policy. And we should promote the truth about marriage between a man and a woman and why it matters for children, civil society, and limited government.

Nothing in the text, history, logic, or structure of the U.S. Constitution requires redefining marriage. Indeed, in a Heritage Legal Memorandum, John Eastman explains why marriage laws are constitutional:

    Nothing in the Court’s jurisprudence suggests that the right of same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages is so fundamental as to be protected by the Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Nor does the Equal Protection Clause require that result, given the societal purpose and value of marriage as furthering procreation and child-rearing. Because the Constitution does not speak to this question, it is one that is left to ordinary political processes, not to judicial fiat.

Marriage policy should be worked out through the democratic process, not dictated by unelected judges. The American people and their elected representatives have constitutional authority to make marriage policy.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - J - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    Hate to break it to the Religious Right, but the Supreme Court isn’t vested with any moral authority, they interpret the Constitution, that’s it. They’re the highest legal authority in the land, they don’t claim to be moral arbiters.

  2. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    “Marriage policy should be worked out through the democratic process, not dictated by unelected judges.”

    Do the thinkers at the Heritage Foundation also hold this position with regard to the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia?

    – MrJM

  3. - kimocat - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    Seems to me that given the revelations about sustained scandals tolerated and disguised by the leadership in the RCC, that they are the ones “devoid of moral authority” at this point in time.

  4. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    Today is a remarkable day on multiple levels. It’s going to launch fascinating, complex discussions on many issues beyond simply the moral roots of marriage or the “moral authority” of the state.

    For example, this ruling raises a new (albeit rare) conundrum in regards to Federal immigration policy.

    It is now clearly established that residents may sponsor their spouse for citizenship, regardless of whether they are a heterosexual or homosexual couple.

    What will our policy now be in regards to a resident from an overseas country who has legally and properly married more than one individual?

    How do we pick which husband or wife is accepted for sponsorship and which one is not? Or do we allow them to sponsor all? If so, then how can we allow some people to sponsor more than one foreign spouse but allow others to sponsor only one?

    The example above is surely a very rare one and one I don’t expect us to resolve on a CapFax thread. But we’re about to embark on some new and fascinating discussions at both the federal and state level before the original discussion concerning marriage equality is even settled.

  5. - haverford - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    To retread old territory - marriage licenses are granted by the state, not by any church. He is welcome to his Holy Matrimony (well, welcome to confer it upon others).

    I will happily partake in my state-authorized marriage - just as soon as the legislature gets around to conferring that state-granted option to homosexual couples.

  6. - SpfldCatholic - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    The Bishop does not speak for the majority of his Church. He was not elected, and the current Pope did not place him in his position. His opinion on this matter is nice, but he is losing his flock.

  7. - xxtofer - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    This bishop is hypocritical. Gay marriage is bad, but it is no worse a sin that suicide. And yet, there was no moral pronouncement on the death of a former Springfield mayor, who was in fact, mourned and praised by his same Catholic Church. … This bishop has an obsession with gay marriage and gay issues, and he ignores many of the other beliefs held by the Church.

  8. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    The media are busy touting this as a great victory yet there are many misconceptions already… the entire law was not overturned, only the state law provision… also the Prop 8 battle is far from over because the attorney general didn’t defend the law. The opponents of gay marriage will continue to work to force the legislature to act and county clerks can sue because the law wasn’t defended….

  9. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    What will our policy now be in regards to a resident from an overseas country who has legally and properly married more than one individual?

    Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states.

    I might accept that polygamy related issues could arise from today’s DOMA decision if there were a serious political movement to legalize polygamy in any state.

    Only after a state legalizes polygamy would today’s ruling have any bearing on the constitutionality of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862.

    – MrJM

  10. - Mokenavince - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:15 pm:

    The Supremes ruled the right way. Gay’s marrying
    is on it’s way.

  11. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    So the Springfield bishop is outraged? Did anybody ask the Springfield priest who went on extended leave after police found him bound with a ball gag in his mouth in the church complex?

    Sorry, but the self-righteous outrage coming from that gang is more than I can take.

  12. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:31 pm:

    The bishop’s remarks are in keeping with Catholic teaching on the holy sacrament of matrimony. As a shepherd to his flock, he would be in error to pronounce anything to the contrary. Today’s rulings, do pose a significant question for those persons who in good conscience regards marriage, either civil and/or religious, as being the monogamous relationship between one man and one woman in a precarious position. Does one in such a position forsake the Church to live within the State? Does the State’s position on marriage prevent the State from working with the Church to address public policy issues (e.g. education, child welfare, health care) if that interaction requires the Church to amend their position? It is written that one cannot serve two masters for they will love one and hate the other. This debate is as old as civilization itself. Can the United States, a republic built upon religious liberty, accommodate these competing visions of marriage without creating a citizenry holding dividing senses of loyalty? I am hopeful that an answer that assuages the pain of the competing sides can be found, if it exists.

  13. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    === Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states. ===

    But is not barred under Federal law.

    Thus, we return to the beginning of that example in regards to Federal immigration policy.

    Does the government now force such individuals to choose only one husband or wife to sponsor?

    How could we make someone choose such a thing among their loved ones? Likewise, how could we allow a double-standard where some get to sponsor more than one person but others only one person? Either scenario seems fundamentally unfair.

    It’s going to be a fascinating next few years in relation to the subject of marriage, morality and law.

  14. - Waldi - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:38 pm:

    Give the lack of action by Catholic hierarchy regarding child abuse by their clergy and their selective view on civil versus religious issues (I have yet to see a bishop lobby to make divorce illegal in this state) - I would say this bishop is the one who lacks moral authority. Just my opinion.

  15. - Mouthy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:41 pm:

    As a Methodist I could care less what the bishop thinks.

  16. - dave - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    Still waiting for the statements from the Catholics on the Supreme Court decisions taking away workers rights and well as significantly limiting the VRA. Those statements are coming, right?

  17. - SpfldCatholic - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:01 pm:

    “LibertyFirst” is an odd handle for someone so willing to take away the equal protections afforded by the Constitution. There is more to that document than the 2nd Amendment… Right?

  18. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    - It is written that one cannot serve two masters for they will love one and hate the other. -

    Catholics can hate the government all they want, but they still have to follow the laws.

    I hope the screaming from these bigots isn’t soon forgotten. History may not remember Paprocki in a significant way, but the tarnish on the church should be remembered for a long time.

  19. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    Some of us think the Catholic church is devoid of moral authority as well, just saying.

    Also, the Heritage foundation seems to be up in arms about the courts over turning legislation enacted by congress but I believe they supported the Citizens United ruling, which was also passed by Congress. So it’s ok to over turn legislation that they agree with, but not legislation they support… sound legal theory.

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    ==given the societal purpose and value of marriage as furthering procreation and child-rearing==

    This is clearly a terrible foundational argument. I am not aware of any state that has a proof of fertility requirement. With respect to child-rearing, if two parents are better than one, why does it matter what gender they are? The research indicates that gender has no measurable impact. This is part of the reason why they lost.

  21. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    ~a republic built upon religious liberty~

    I agree. We are a nation built on the idea that we do not have to be ruled by any established religion. Laws are laws, not commandments handed down by some deity.

  22. - DKI - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    The Catholic Church and other denominations and religions were uniting people in marriage long before the state required a license for people to marry. The state’s concern is the creating of a new legal entity (married couple) which has certain rights (tax provisions) and responsibilities (care of children). Any religious organization’s connection to marriage is far different from that, whether to sacramentalize the institution or merely to bless it.

    I propose that we withdraw from all clergy the legal authority to sign marriage licenses as the official witness. Let ALL citizens who wish to form a married entity have their marriage legalized by the state and then those who want their marriage blessed can have that done at the church of their choice afterward.

  23. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    A good linguistic demonstration that you can spin just about any outcome to be in favor of / opposed to “states’ rights,” depending on your interpretative choices.

  24. - Sacajawea - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    I think Justice Scalia’s comment’s are very sobering:

    “But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to con- demn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “dis- parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo- sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”

    The great irony is that same sex marriage supporters advocate for openness and tolerance, but their attitude towards those who do not share their views has them resorting to calling them haters and bigots. Nice.

  25. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    The good bishop is free to exercise his 1st Amendment rights and his right to vote.

    We’ll count him as “one” citizen against same-sex marriage. That’s as far as it goes.

    But he is quite dramatic. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a TV or radio show, a la Father Coughlin.

  26. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    Hate to break it to the bishop, but his church lacks “moral authority” after years of deliberately enabling and protecting child sex abusers within its ranks. The hypocrisy of these people is breathtaking.

  27. - Just Me - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:55 pm:

    Does he really think calling gay people “evil” is a good idea? When I think of “evil” I do NOT think of two men or women who just want to love each other.

    There are other people who I think of as “evil” but don’t want to risk getting banned by mentioning their name.

  28. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    The church lacks morale authority because it condoned torture:

  29. - Darienite - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    Sometimes one needs to ask if they are an American that practices (insert faith/denomination), or are they a member of that faith/denomination that lives in the USA. Having freedom of religion sometimes puts at odds with others to allow them the same rights and opportunities. And some feel that adopting laws consistent with one’s faith is their duty. As many here note, just sayin’.

  30. - Cassiopeia - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:23 pm:

    I wonder how many people in a same-sex relationship are NOT happy about this ruling. Until now they could say “I would marry you if only we could” and now gulp—they can.

  31. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    Actually, marriage pre-dates the Christian bible. Further, the Bible has plenty of examples of plural marriage. The Christians are actually the ones who “redefined” marriage, and they should be careful in using the Bible to justify their actions. There are plenty of examples of biblical behavior they shouldn’t want illuminated.

  32. - Raymond - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    === The great irony is that same sex marriage supporters advocate for openness and tolerance, but their attitude towards those who do not share their views has them resorting to calling them haters and bigots. ===

    When you advocate for discrimination against a certain class of individuals based upon their sexual orientation, and leaders for your cause label that orientation as “intrinsic evil,” and you claim that allowing gay couples to enjoy the same rights as straight couples will somehow or another lead to the demise of our otherwise sound humanity, you meet the dictionary definition of bigot.

  33. - olddog - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 4:32 pm:

    If the bishop of Springfield wants to pontificate on political issues, perhaps he ought to step down and run for Springfield City Council.

  34. - wayward - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 5:21 pm:

    Paprocki makes me think of a better-educated and more articulate version of Westboro Baptist Church.

  35. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 5:35 pm:

    His Grace need not be an elected political officeholder to execute his holy religious office. To those elected officeholders in whom his holy office is supposed to command moral persausion and authority, our Governor included, must respond to this matter may require to betray their consistuents’ will or betray their God’s ordinance. They will need to show either love for the one and hatred for the other and vice versa; to be loyal to the people’s will or loyal to their Church. On this question, all elected officials will decide with whom they will need to betray in their loyalities.

  36. - TooManyJens - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 5:50 pm:

    Who is betrayed when a Catholic politician votes to allow the state to recognize same-sex marriages? Politicians in the United States do not have an obligation to the Catholic Church to make civil law align with with Catholic doctrine. If they did, the scaremongering about JFK would have been right.

  37. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 6:00 pm:

    Congress could solve this problem pretty simply by either no longer using “marriage” as the pretext for conferring tax benefits and either conferring benefits based on the presence of children in the home or not at all.

    The court is not forcing Congress to confer any benefits.

  38. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 7:06 pm:

    Ah, the Bishop’s a good guy, who means well and from his perspective the Church’s emphasis on its’ fervent definition of Holy Matrimony to forever be between a man and a woman as Jesus Christ stated and in line with the Old Testament/God the Heavenly Father’s definition… but for those who know him or about him, he has ALways been known in Catholic circles to be extremely Conservative, and as the Catholic Conference of Illinois’ more balanced response to the SCOTUS decisions suggests, that the bottom line on all of this at present is that each individual State will–at least for the time being and likely much longer–make up their own minds about what a Marriage is/how it is defined, and obviously the rigorous, passionate divide beTWEEN the clear Majority of States, and those 13 who will have ssm (if one now includes California) will continue….

  39. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 7:57 pm:

    Downstater, you know what elected officials do?

    They put their hands on a Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution.

    They don’t put their hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold some church’s dogma.

  40. - DuPage Dave - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 8:48 pm:

    On political issues Catholic bishops speak for themselves only. Polls show that very few American Catholics buy into their conservative world view.

    And they certainly don’t speak for non-Catholics or non-religious people. As Americans they have the right to speak what they think. But no one is required to listen.

  41. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 8:56 pm:

    – Does the State’s position on marriage prevent the State from working with the Church to address public policy issues (e.g. education, child welfare, health care) if that interaction requires the Church to amend their position?–

    Working with? How about working for?

    Check out Catholic Charities of Chicago 2012 Annual Report: $151.2 million of their $173.6 million of revenues come from taxpayers.

    You take the money, you follow the law.

  42. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 9:31 pm:

    The State would not give the money if the Church was not better able to provide the welfare services the State pays for. The State not being aided by the Church and other societal institutions would be a mere shadow in terms of its ability to implement their programs. The State using non-governmental organizations helps make these programs more managable fiscally and better accepted society socially. The State may offer the money, but that is only because the State understands that others can the do the job better.

  43. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Jun 26, 13 @ 11:30 pm:

    @Downstater -

    There are upsides and downsides to the public-nonprofit partnership, and you have missed them all.

    First, there is scant evidence that nonprofits deliver more effective services at a lower total cost, at least from what we have seen. It may be true of some, but is certainly untrue of others.

    The best empirical study is of charter schools, where we have seen that there are some exceptional charters, there are many if not more under-performing, and most are doing about the same as neighboring schools.

    The big downside of outsourcing is lack of accountability. Most would be shocked to learn that most human service nonprofits rely on state government for the majority of their funding, while they obviously know they are dealing with a government service provider when they go to the drivers license facility. When the people don’t know how their money. Is being spent, they cannot hold fos accountable.

  44. - A. Nonymous - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 6:58 am:

    @ J -”they don’t claim to be moral arbiters.”

    Tell that to Scalia.

  45. - Riverside - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 7:15 am:

    Born and bred a Catholic all my life, sent the kids to parochial schools, served on parish council, very active in my local parish, have always considered myself a “good” Catholic….thanks mainly to Bishop Paprocki
    and his rabid comments, I am now searching for a new home….

  46. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    ===You take the money, you follow the law.

    And they are treated the same as any non-profit. Catholic Charities doesn’t get special rules–the get the same rules every other provider has to abide by.

    If Catholic Charities cannot do that, then they are not providing services equally under the law–a critical part of effective delivery.

  47. - walkinfool - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    Yes, and Paprocki’s statement is “absolutely devoid of legal authority.”

    Separation of church and government might be the greatest of all historical American inventions.

    Once again Scalia’s comments were ridiculous. No one other than Scalia, claimed in argument that DOMA defenders were “enemies of the human race”.

    Scalia’s words and idea, nobody else’s.

    Secondly, Scalia demeaned and called to task his fellow jurists for intervening in the legislative realm — when Scalia is the most politically interventionist justice in my lifetime. (Or at least since Wm. O Douglas, showing my age.)

    When Scalia clearly intervenes, it’s fine. When Scalia disagrees with a majority finding, he calls it intervention.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
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