We need to wean our institutions entirely off government aid. We ought to abandon entirely the project of promoting “social justice” through the state – this state, anyway, in its secular senile dementia – and become the most aggressively anti-government force this side of bomb-throwing anarchists. The secular state is our enemy, as the Communist Polish government was the enemy of its people, and the larger and stronger it gets, the easier it will find the task of persecuting our clergy, closing our churches, and re-educating our children. No, we don’t want the government offering health care, or haircuts, or collecting one more penny in tax than it takes to protect innocent life, guard the borders, and keep the roads free of fallen meteorites.
Instead of using the Church’s money to lobby Congress to pass Obamacare, or hire lawyers (as some dioceses do) to represent illegal immigrants, we ought to pour every penny into keeping our school doors open, running our own soup kitchens and hospitals, and fighting Leviathan’s tentacles wherever they try to reach. (As a symbolic gesture and a nice payback for all that the U.S. government is trying to do to our Church, the Vatican ought to offer asylum to Edward Snowden.) Our enemy is the state – this state. We’ve seen that we cannot ride the beast; it is time to break its kneecaps and bring it to heel. Just as we once joined with Jews to fight religious teaching in public schools because it was Protestant, now we must make common cause with libertarians to cripple the state because it is Jacobin.
Our other task is harder: if we wish to stand up for marriage, it’s time for our Church’s institutions to start acting as if they believed in it. I have a simple, painful, five-point plan for Catholics, which if undertaken would make of believers prophetic witnesses to the reality of marriage in the face of the pale, pansexual temporary sex contract that our laws call by that name. Consider this a gauntlet thrown down before our bishops:
- Each pastor should require of couples who wish to marry that they be trained in the methods and moral underpinnings of Natural Family Planning. This should be a non-negotiable part of Catholic marriage preparation. (It would help with credibility if some NFP instructors could step forth who have fewer than seven children; I’ve never met one, but I’m sure they’re out there.)
- A boilerplate “covenant” prenuptial agreement should be drawn up by our bishops and provided to pastors, which binds Catholic spouses to lifelong marriage, renounces divorce and remarriage, and awards all community property to the wronged party in any civil divorce. In states where “covenant marriage” is on the books – as it should be in all 50 – pastors must require that couples contract one, or find some other fancy building for their ceremony. I don’t know that our corrupt courts would enforce any such agreements, but forcing people to sign them will weed out the unserious. Anyone who objects is admitting in advance that he lacks sacramental intent. Give him directions to City Hall.
- A civil divorce should no longer be a prerequisite for an annulment, but its legal aftermath. Catholics unsure of their marriage’s validity should be required, on pain of excommunication, to await the Church’s judgment before they seek the remedies of the state.
- Annulment tribunals should, of course, be much stricter in their application of canon law, especially with marriages contracted after measures 1, 2, and 3 have been enacted. While the ease with which a Catholic marriage can be annulled is scandalous, the state of catechesis and marriage prep has been so abysmal for 40 years that many of the marriages our bishops are annulling might really deserve it; if either party, going into a marriage, secretly thinks that divorce and remarriage might be an option, that might be enough to invalidate the bond. That’s the seed of the cancer which we must root out; it’s not so much the annulments we approve that are scandalous farces, but many of the weddings.
- The party whose intent was found to be defective in any annulment should have to wait 3-5 years before contracting a Catholic marriage, complete a rigorous marriage prep that fully explicates the conditions of the sacrament, and, of course, sign a “covenant” pre-nup so that this never happens again.
In other words, put plainly, instead of trying to direct traffic in the public square while our own house is in disarray, we should fight off Caesar’s soldiers and make of our Church a beacon and an example. I seem to remember that one major world religion spoke of being a “city on a hill.” That sounds like a good idea.