Richard Fitzgibbons

Marriage, essentially

Richard Fitzgibbons
By Richard Fitzgibbons
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August 10, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - I have been an active debater on blogs in which the topic of same-sex “marriage” is discussed and contested. Recently I received a comment that might benefit from a reply that is sent far and wide, beyond the one blog. The issue raised is common and the answer clarifies in a philosophical sense why same-sex “marriage” should never be defended. Good-hearted people with no philosophical training are being taken in by the rhetoric that homosexuals have a “right” to marriage. The intent of this essay is to show unambiguously that not only is this untrue but also the granting of that supposed right will logically lead to harm to children and to social chaos.

Here is the comment from the advocate for same-sex “marriage”:

“I’d like to see you be more precise in your language. You use words like essence, purpose, and endpoint as if they meant the same thing. The purpose of marriage is to create a new, separate family that ends loneliness and provides a helpmate. Most of these new families produce children, but marriage doesn’t exist solely to create children.”

Now to my open letter to all who have an interest in the subject of same-sex “marriage”.

The essence of something tells us what it is. A children’s ball for play has an essence because of the substance of which it is made, its shape, and its intended purpose. A ball like this is made of a substance that allows it to be bounced. It is round. And the intent of making the ball is play. The ball has an endpoint or purpose, that of enjoyment, play or fun. So, essence (what a thing is) differs from, but is connected to, its purpose or its function. If a person says that a square block of wood is a ball (what it is or it’s essence) this just will not do because a square block of wood cannot achieve the purpose for a child that a true ball can. To give a child a square block of wood and then to tell that child it is a ball and to create the expectation that the child should now play with it in a way that he or she does with a true ball is to invite confusion. If we persisted in insisting that the wooden square was a round ball, this will bring frustration and unhappiness to the child.

Now to our discussion of same-sex “marriage”. The essence of marriage (what it is) has always and without exception been this: man and woman in a loving, committed relationship. The endpoint or purpose of marriage has always and without exception been this: mutual loving support of each other and—and—the creation and support of children. Just as a particular children’s play-ball can have defects in structure, so too can any given marriage. These defects for particular play-balls or marriages do not change the fact of what the ball or the marriage are in their essence. If a particular man and woman choose not to have children, they are not availing themselves of the full purpose of marriage. The parent who puts the ball on a shelf and refuses to let the child play with the ball is not fulfilling for the child the full purpose of the ball. In either of these particular cases, the essence of marriage and the essence of the play-ball are not altered by particular uses or purposes that are idiosyncratic to these particular circumstances. The particular does not alter the universal essence of a thing.

You are asking society to change the essence of marriage, what it is at its core.

So what? you may be asking.

This. As you change the essence of marriage, you invariably change its purpose because essence and purpose are closely connected. You inevitably remove from the purpose of marriage this: the creation and support of children. Note carefully that you have done precisely that in your comment.

You then are left only with this as the purpose of marriage: mutual loving support of those entering into marriage.

How does the new purpose (it is new because part of the traditional purpose of marriage is deliberately eliminated) affect the essence of marriage (what it is at its core)?

Here is the punchline, so please read very carefully: If the purpose of marriage is only mutual loving support, it follows clearly and unambiguously that the essence of marriage can and must include polygamy, polyandry, and man-boy “love”. Why? Because each of these social structures fits within the definition of your purpose for marriage with no contradictions whatsoever. By defining the purpose of marriage as you have, you have changed its essence and allowed for some very strange social structures, such as man-boy “love”, of which you probably do not approve, but must logically accept.

What if you then say that you will alter the essence again and restrict the mutual love to only two adult people? You cannot do that logically.

Let us first discuss the issue of “two” and then turn to the issue of “adults”. Once you have reduced the purpose of marriage to the mutual loving support of those entering into marriage, “two” becomes what philosophers call an “accident” of a thing, something not necessary to the essence. It is like insisting that a ball always be red. Redness is an accident of the ball, not part of its essence because a blue or yellow ball still retains all of the essence of what a ball is. Similarly, 19 men and 5 women who come together willingly in mutual loving support completely fulfill your made-up essence and your made-up endpoint: what a marriage is and its purpose.

Now let us turn to the issue of “adults”. If you claim that any adults (man-man or woman-woman) have a right to marriage—and you must accept any combination of adults by your own definition of marriage as we have seen in the above paragraph—there is nothing to stop society from extending that “right” to consenting adolescents and children. After all, what right does anyone have to block the “wants” of children and adolescents who choose as their “right”, the “right to marry”? It is arbitrary to block their wants-as-rights if the wants of two men or two women or 19 men and 5 women are not blocked by society. You would be depriving them, based on your own words, of creating “a new, separate family that ends loneliness and provides a helpmate.” A 10-year-old fits this definition of your own making.

You might then say this: Well, the limitation of two persons must be arbitrary for heterosexual marriage also. No, it is not. Recall a vital purpose of marriage: to create and nurture children. Notwithstanding the methods of today’s reproductive technology, ultimately only one man and one woman can create a child. Research shows that the child is nurtured best with the mother and the father. The union of two is part of the essence of true marriage.

You might then say this: Well, the idea of only adults must be arbitrary for heterosexual marriages, too. No, it is not. Recall a vital purpose of marriage: to nurture the children. Only adults can do that because part of the essence of “adult” is maturity—greater maturity than children or adolescents have. Please recall that if particular adults lack maturity, this defect does not take away from the universal meaning of the word “adult”. Only one man and one woman can both create and nurture children in a reliable way. “Adults and adults alone” is part of the essence of true marriage.

Whoever was confused about the “rights” of two men to marry or two women to marry, I ask: Are you still confused? If you are not, then what is the logical next step to protecting the essence of marriage and the clear purpose of nurturing and protecting children in that context? As you can see, and this is the logic of it, not my opinion only of it, the alternative is to invite social chaos. The alternative is a failure to protect children, as marriage has traditionally had as one of it’s purposes.

Richard Fitzgibbons is the director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA. He has practiced psychiatry for 34 years with a specialty in the treatment of excessive anger. He co-authored Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, 2000, for American Psychological Association Books.

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Pope tells Girl Scouts to oppose ‘ideologies’ against God’s design for marriage

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

ROME, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis told Girl Scout and Girl Guide leaders from across the globe last week that it is essential they promote respect for marriage and family according to God’s design.

The pope’s remarks came as both the international organization, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and Girl Scouts USA face criticism over support for abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and contraception.

"It is very important today that a woman be adequately appreciated, and that she be able to take up fully the place that corresponds to her, be it in the Church, be it in society,” Pope Francis said in his address on the morning of June 26, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision imposing same-sex “marriage” on the country.

In the face of ideologies that seek to destroy the truths about marriage and family, he said, the formation of girls through Guiding "is absolutely determinant for the future."

"We are in a world in which the most contrary ideologies are spreading to the nature and design of God on the family and on marriage. Therefore, it is a question of educating girls not only to the beauty and grandeur of their vocation of women, in a just and differentiated relation between man and woman, but also to assume important responsibilities in the Church and in society," Pope Francis said.

The pope spoke during a private audience at the world meeting of the International Conference of Catholic Guides (ICCG), which took place in Rome from June 25-30.

Stressing that among educational movements Guiding has played a pivotal role in the faith formation of young women, the pope said, "Education is, in fact, the indispensable means to enable girls to become active and responsible women, proud and happy of their faith in Christ lived in every day life. Thus they will participate in the building of a world permeated by the Gospel."

“To Live the Joy of the Gospel as a Guide” was the theme for the ICCG meeting in Rome, with the stated purpose of reaffirming and strengthening the organization's 50-year-old history within the Catholic Church.

Among the participants at the ICCG meeting in Rome were Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) CEO Anna Maria Chávez and National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan.

In a statement, Chavez maintained that faith is “at the heart of Girl Scouts, and is woven into everything the organization does to inspire girls to take action to make the world a better place.”

However, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has cautioned that some aspects of the Girl Scouts pedagogy go against Catholic teaching and doctrine.

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A report by the USCCB focused on three issues:

  1. GSUSA's relationship with groups like Planned Parenthood and international affiliate World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS);
  2. GSUSA's views on issues related "to human sexuality, contraception, and abortion";
  3. and various materials and resources GSUSA has that have "inappropriate content."

With regard to WAGGGS, the report notes that while this group claims it does not formally back abortion and "reproductive rights," language on its website leaves no doubt that such support exists, as well as support for contraceptive use.

Numerous pro-life and pro-family groups have organized boycotts of Girl Guide cookies in protest of the organization's embrace of feminist politics and activism.

The pope's address to the ICCG meeting, translated into English by Zenit, is available on the Zenit website here.

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St. Peter Damian
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St. Peter Damian (1049): what Church MUST do in response to rampant homosexuality among clergy

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By Steve Jalsevac

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The rise of the power and influence of homosexual priests, bishops and cardinals, as well as influential laity, has been a major factor in the growing chaos within Catholicism over the past 60 years. This disorder within the Catholic Church has had a negative impact on the entire world because of the resulting decline in the positive influences that Catholicism has had on civilization for many centuries.

To think that what is happening now is new, however, betrays an ignorance of history. In 1049, when St. Peter Damian wrote his treatise, Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus), to Pope Leo IX, homosexuality and sexual perversion in general were far more openly rampant within the clergy than today.  This horrendous state of affairs is what the Saint addressed in his appeal to the Pope for urgently needed reforms.

We often hear from sleepy, comfortable, cowardly, timid or cultural Catholics, and especially from clergy who are directly implicated in homosexuality, that we should never criticize priests, bishops and especially the Pope. Supposedly, that is a greater sin than that of the heretics and sexual perverts facilitating great personal suffering and sending souls to Hell without anyone doing what is necessary to either convert or stop them.

St. Peter Damian was not so foolish as to listen to such nonsense denying God His justice at a time when the Church appeared to be in its death throes. He understood the grave duty to be blunt about the dangers and sinfulness, to not minimize the catastrophe that would come if strong actions were not quickly taken and to demand corrective actions. And yet, he also emphasized that all of this must be done with charity and Christian hope for the persons involved in the moral corruption. Their conversion was above all hoped and prayed for, rather than their condemnation for eternity.

An Italian translated version of the Book of Gomorrah has recently been published. An English version carefully translated by one of our LifeSite journalists will also soon become available.

On Feb. 11 of this year the Rorate Caeli website published excerpts from the introduction by Professor Roberto de Mattei to the Italian version.

Following are some paragraphs from that introduction that I hope will jar awake some of the faithful, especially considering what is going on now in the United States as a result of the mad Supreme Court decision and the moral chaos around the Synod on the Family regarding Church sexual teachings.
 

Excerpts from the Introduction:

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072) Abbot of the Fonte Avellana Monastery and subsequently Cardinal/Bishop of Ostia, was one of the most outstanding figures of Catholic reform in the XI century. His Liber Gomorrhianus, appeared around 1049, in an age when corruption was widely spread, even in the highest ranks of the ecclesiastical world.

In this writing, addressed to Pope Leo IX, Peter Damien condemns the perverted habits of his time in a language that knows no false mercy or compromises. He is convinced that of all the sins, the gravest is sodomy, a term which includes all the acts against nature and which want to satisfy sexual pleasure by separating it from procreation. “If this absolutely ignominious and abominable vice is not immediately stopped with an iron fist – he writes – the sword of Divine wrath will fall upon us, bringing ruin to many.”

There have been times in (the Church’s) history when sanctity pervades Her and others when the defection of Her members cause Her to collapse into darkness, appearing almost as if the Divinity has abandoned Her.

Peter Damien’s voice resounds today, as it did yesterday, with encouragement and comfort for those, like him, who have fought, suffered, cried and hoped, throughout the course of history.

He did not moderate his language, but kept it fiery to show his indignation. He was fearless in voicing an uncompromising hatred for sin and it was precisely this hatred that rendered his love burning for the Truth and the Good.

Today, at the beginning of the third millennium of Christ’s birth, priests, bishops and Episcopal conferences are arguing for married priests; they are placing in doubt the indissolubility of the marriage bond between man and woman and at the same time, accepting the introduction of laws for homosexual pseudo-marriage. Sodomy is not being thought of as a sin that cries to God for vengeance but is diffused in seminaries, colleges, ecclesiastical universities and even inside the Sacred Walls of the Vatican itself.

Liber Gomorrhianus reminds us that there is something worse than moral vice practiced and theorized. It is the silence that should speak, the abstention that should intervene, the bond of complicity that is established among the wicked and of those, who with the pretext of avoiding scandal are silent, and, by being silent, consent.  

Graver still, is the acceptance of homosexuality by churchmen, thought of as a “positive” tension towards the good, worthy of pastoral care and juridical protection and not as an abominable sin. In the summary Relatio post disceptationem of the first week’s work in the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, a paragraph affirmed that: “homosexual persons have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”, with an invitation to the Bishops “…are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?”

This scandalous statement was removed from the final report, but some bishops and cardinals, inside and outside the Synod Hall, insisted on the appeal to look for the positive aspects of a union against nature, going as far as hoping for “a way to describe the rights of people living in same-sex unions.”

St. Peter Damian as a simple monk, and with greater reason as a cardinal, did not hesitate in accusing even the Popes of that time for their scandalous omissions. Will the reading of the book Liber Gomorrhianus instill the spirit of St. Peter Damien in the hearts of some prelates or laypeople, by shaking them out of their torpor and force them to speak and act?

Even if abysmally far from the holiness and prophetic spirit of St. Peter Damien, let us make his indignation against evil, ours, and with the words that conclude his treatise we turn to the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness, Pope Francis, presently reigning, so that he may intervene and bring an end to these doctrinal and moral scandals: “May the Almighty Lord assist us, Most Reverend Father, so that during the time of Your Apostolate, all of the monstrosity of this vice be destroyed and the state of the Church, presently supine, may wholly rise up again in all its vigour.”

The book can be found in Italian here. 

(Note: the name of the saint is spelled Damian in English and Damien in Italian and French. In Fr. Mattei's quotes is it spelled Damien)

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Phil Lawler

So now is it ‘hate speech’ to deplore the Obergefell decision?

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

June 30, 2015 (CatholicCulture.org) - The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Father James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision.

"No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality," Father Martin told his Facebook followers. He repeated the same message several times throughout the day, warning commenters that they must not indulge in “homophobia” and suggesting that someone who questioned whether we were all expected to sing “Kumbaya” was illustrating his point. So is sarcasm now prima facie evidence of hatred?

In my own surfing through the internet, reading scores of posts on the Obergefell decision, I can honestly say that I did not see a single message, a single comment, that struck me as hate-filled. Perhaps Father Martin’s email traffic is qualitatively different from mine. Or perhaps—far more likely, I’m afraid—he sees “hatred” where I see only vehement disagreement.

Is it possible to be angry about the Obergefell decision, to consider it a travesty of justice and a betrayal of the Constitution, without being viewed as a hater? Wait; let’s turn that question upside-down. Is it possible to see all serious disagreement with the decision as hate-speech, without celebrating the outcome of the Obergefell case?

I ask the latter question, you see, because if Father Martin was upset by the Supreme Court ruling, his dismay did not show through on his Twitter feed. He recommended three columns reacting to the decision: one by a fellow Jesuit, recounting how his grandmother could not marry her lesbian partner; another by the gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, celebrating the decision; the third by the gay activist/blogger Andrew Sullivan, also celebrating.

The recommendation for Andrew Sullivan’s piece was particularly striking because of the title: “It Is Accomplished”—an explicit reference to the words of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Father Martin, who was horrified by so much of what he read on Friday afternoon, let that blasphemous headline pass without comment. His demand for the use of temperate language, and for avoiding comments that others would find offensive, was applied to only one side of the post-Obergefell debate.

And that’s likely to be the party line for politically-correct Catholics in the wake of this momentous decision. We are allowed to disagree with the Supreme Court, politely, but not too forcefully. Any strident denunciation of the ruling or its logic might be interpreted as hate-speech, which of course is unacceptable. As the secular left clamps down on religious expression—and we’ve already been served notice that the crackdown is coming-- the Catholic left will worry aloud that, yes, some strong public expressions of religious beliefs are distasteful.

The influence of this approach, with its keen anxiety to avoid provocation, has already been evident in the statements released by some American bishops in response to the ruling. Archbishop Gregory says that he disagrees with the Court, but if you don’t know why he disagrees before you read his statement, you’re not likely to be any better informed when you’re finished. Cardinal Wuerl reminds us that we must hate the sin but love the sinner; he neglects to mention what the sin is. And Archbishop Cupich gives no indication at all that he disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling.

We have a long uphill struggle facing us as we seek to restore a proper understanding of marriage, to revive appreciation for the natural law, and to undo this wretched judicial decision. We cannot expect success if we go into the battle unarmed. If we begin the debate by saying that we must not offend our adversaries—even after our adversaries have declared our most fundamental beliefs to be offensive—we are doomed to failure.

We already know how the battle will unfold, because the campaign to crush resistance to same-sex marriage is already underway. The militant left will choose vulnerable targets—a pizza-parlor here, a baker there—and vilify them as “haters.” People who have been trained to see “hatred” in any firm disagreement will nod in solemn approval as the alleged offenses are harshly punished. And so juggernaut will keep rolling, gaining momentum, until it reaches us.

There is an alternative. We can speak the truth. Yes, certainly we should avoid making unduly provocative statements. But since we are trying to provoke reactions, we cannot pull all our punches.

More to the point, if we’re going into battle—and we are—we need to know who’s on our side, and who’s working against us.

This article was originally published on CatholicCulture.org and is re-published with permission.

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