Catholic school seniors called on to compromise
I clearly remember sitting in the auditorium at Bishop Blanchet High School, listening to the clear, confident voice of our valedictorian as she called on us, the graduating class of 1960, to embrace compromise. She defended the concept convincingly, and I’m still sure she was right. My dad, not so much. After the ceremony, he expressed his indignation that we should be urged not to seek the absolute.
To me compromise has always been a way to get along in a family, in a church, in a pluralistic society. You don’t have to sacrifice your ideals in order to allow others to hold to theirs.
But 60 years later, are we any closer to finding ways to resolve our differences?
Can Catholic schools teach that people were created as men and women?
At the beginning of November Emma Hernandez of the Denver Post wrote a piece exposing the Archdiocesan schools’ document Guidance for Issues Concerning the Human Person and Sexual Identity. It came across as a harsh critique of the schools’ concern to promote Catholic teaching on sexual identity as rigid and inhumane.
Having since read the document, I find it very orthodox, but also pastoral in its tone. One could say it does not compromise principles, but tries to consider the good of the student as a beloved child of God.
Threat to religious freedom?
The following week another columnist, Krista Kafer, wrote, “Religious freedom is under attack from the left.” Kafer pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015, that, while same-sex couples must be treated equally under marriage laws, First Amendment freedoms must also be protected.
Quoting from the above document, she goes on, “ ‘Religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precept, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their faiths…’wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.”
We have here a compromise, which allows both sides to continue to live out their convictions. It is not a threat to same-sex marriage that some do not accept it. Yet, there is a growing movement to shame those who adhere to traditional beliefs and to curb their rights.
Clashing absolutes resolve nothing
Sure enough, Wednesday, November 23, following the Club Q massacre in Colorado Springs, the Post came out with an editorial: Leaders need to lead in ending intolerance. The editors rightly zero in on Rep. Lauren Boebert’s recent anti-LGBTQ remarks, coupled with her encouragement of gun use, as contributing to an anti-LGBTQ atmosphere. But then, having lightly passed over the more obvious issues in a mass shooting, such as red-flag laws and mental health issues, they turn the spotlight to the Archdiocese and its policy on transgender students, intimating that this may also have contributed to a toxic atmosphere leading up to the shooting, and suggesting that sanctions might be in order.
Where is the religious freedom here? Where is truth? What does compromise look like in this situation?
Obergefell v. Hodges called on those who agree with same-sex marriage to respect the views of those who do not agree, but also to engage them “in an open and searching debate.” This would seem to apply also to the case of Catholic schools’ upholding their religious tenets in the face of growing criticism from the Left. Where is the way of compromise? Public shaming and condemnation is far from the “open and searching debate” called for in the Court decision.
The Respect for Marriage Act: fruit of compromise
Just passed in the Senate is The Respect for Marriage Act. This is another compromise, protecting both the rights of all couples, whatever their sexual orientation or race, from discrimination in marriage and the right of religious institutions to limit marriage to that between a man and a woman.
The bill passed with the support of all Democrats and 12 Republicans, despite the opposition of some on either side who felt it did not go far enough. But would a bill satisfying the goals of either side ever pass? Not in the divided Congresses of today.
In the event that Obergefell v. Hodges should be reversed by this more conservative Supreme Court, marriage laws would revert to the States, as in the case of abortion. Respect for Marriage would ensure that any marriage validated in one state would have to be recognized in all others. It would not force states to legalize same-sex marriage. However, maybe this is enough of a gain for both sides.
I might add, for the sake of a wider view, that age limits on marriage still exist, posing limitations for many couples. I’ve known of couples’ having to go to Mexico to be married when the girl was only 14. Would I ever want to change U.S. law to accommodate this practice? No. But those marriages have endured and were the best thing for the couples involved.
In a pluralistic society, we cannot go forward without respecting one another’s rights, even as we are able to enjoy our own. Our freedom lies in the freedom to express our ideas openly, truthfully, and in that arena possibly effect change. But in the mean time, we survive with compromise.