MIAMI — Discussing the push for same-sex “marriage,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami told judges and lawyers at the city’s 2013 Red Mass that freedom and law must be based on reality and objective truth.
“When a democracy bases itself on moral relativism and when it considers every ethical principle or value to be negotiable … it is already, and in spite of its formal rules, on its way to totalitarianism,” Archbishop Wenski preached during his homily on April 24.
“The might of right quickly becomes might makes right.”
The Red Mass is traditionally an annual Mass of the Holy Spirit for the sake of legal professionals. The Mass preceded a reception of the Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, in which Judge Beatrice Butchko received the Lex Christi, Lex Amoris, (Law of Christ, Law of Love) award.
Archbishop Wenski opened his homily by quoting Abraham Lincoln, who noted that even “if you call a tail a leg,” a cow still has only four legs, “because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”
The archbishop noted that same-sex “marriage” has been pushed as “a cause for equality,” and that withholding benefits from homosexual couples given to married heterosexual couples is “alleged to be discriminatory.”
“Of course, as fair-minded citizens we do hold that no one should be denied a job or a house; no one should be subjected to harassment or bullying because of one’s apparent sexual orientation. We should oppose any and all unjust discrimination,” he clarified.
However, to “recognize and favor” the marriage of straight couples “as a natural fact rooted in procreation and sexual difference is in no way unjust to homosexual couples any more than it is unjust to heterosexual couples who cohabitate without the legal benefits and protections of a civil marriage.”
The state justly favors stable heterosexual relationships because they serve the common good, he said, just as only businesses which create more jobs in an area receive tax breaks, and military veterans receive benefits that others do not.
Government recognition of marriages exists to “encourage and support … the optimal conditions for the raising of future generations of its citizens,” he explained.
Archbishop Wenski said the legalization of “gay marriage” will “fundamentally change this,” opening a Pandora’s Box of “unforeseen, and to be sure, unintended consequences.” He noted that the adoption of no-fault divorce 40 years ago has similarly had unintended but devastating consequences on society.
“Rather than see the institution of marriage as expressive of the complementarity of sexual difference between a man and a woman, ordered for the raising of children, the proponents of so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ would now redefine marriage for all as existing solely for the gratification of two (and why just two?) consenting adults,” he pointed out.
The archbishop continued, showing that American jurisprudence has gone from an acknowledgement of self-evident truths and unalienable rights based on the Creator to a belief in a supposed “right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.”
That line was part of the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, co-authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, on the “right to abortion.”
Archbishop Wenski called this an “endorsement of moral relativism,” which determines truth “by one’s own will” rather than “the nature of things.” Same-sex “marriage,” he said, is the “most current poster child” for this viewpoint.
On the other hand, the view held by Christianity, and the Founding Fathers, is one that believes “men and women are not self-creators but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received, and it must reflect the reality of things.”
Without objective truth based on natural law, society will reach a “dead end,” the archbishop said.
“And our pluralistic society has reached this dead end when it seems to be based precisely on a common agreement to set aside truth claims about the good and to adopt instead relativism governed by majority rule as the foundation of democracy.”
Such a society loses the true understanding of justice, and is ruled only by the untempered will of the majority, he explained.
But this was not the vision of America’s founders, Archbishop Wenski noted. Rather, their “vision of freedom was one of ordered liberties, a vision remarkably congruent with Catholic social thought.”
He suggested that Jefferson, Adams, Monroe and Lincoln all shared a common vision of law, justice and freedom with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More, the patrons of lawyers and politicians, respectively.
“They found meaning in the reality of things, the reality of the created order — an order accessible to human reason,” the archbishop said.
“They would certainly concede that both the State and the Church, each within its respective sphere, might regulate marriage; but they would never pretend to usurp the authority to create the meaning of marriage.”
Archbishop Wenski concluded by telling the assembled judges and lawyers that they “do well to recall St. Thomas More’s example and to seek his prayers.”
“May you be, in his words, ‘for the greater glory and honor of God and in pursuit of His justice…able in argument, accurate in analysis, strict in study, correct in conclusion, candid with clients, honest with adversaries and faithful in all details of the faith.’”