Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bishop of the Week: Bishop Cordileone of Oakland

Is it really possible that I've never named Bishop Cordileone as Bishop of the Week? I know I've thought about it before! I'm just surprised, after searching through the archives that he didn't turn up a half dozen times! And with Bishop Vasa having been named coadjutor of Santa Rosa there is a particular city by the bay that is nearly surrounded by outspoken, orthodox bishops who are ready to defend the faith!

I was excited to read that Bishop Cordileone has been named chairman of the US Bishop's Committee on the Defense of Marriage.

There's a great interview with Bishop Cordileone over on National Catholic Register. Here are a few highlights (although I strongly suggest readying the whole article and interview here!):

Where does this error of thinking about marriage as “solely for the benefit of adults” come from?

Well, if you trace it back far enough, I’m convinced it comes from the contraceptive mentality.

The Church has always understood that the two ends of marriage are: first, the procreation and education of offspring and, second, the union of the man and the woman for the mutual good of the two spouses. They’re inseparable. The contraceptive mentality, however, attempts to separate those two.

When contraception became much more available and prevalent because of marketing, as well as technology in the ’60s, we began to see much more sexual promiscuity. With more promiscuity, you have more children born out of wedlock. Because contraception is not perfect — it misfires, so to speak — children are conceived, so now we need abortion as a backup. We also see a rise in divorce.

What’s essential to the definition of marriage?

The Church has long understood the three “goods” of marriage as defining what is essential to marriage. Those three “goods” — the language comes from St. Augustine — are procreation, fidelity and permanence.

So how has the contraceptive mentality eaten away at this essential definition?

With the contraceptive mentality, we saw sexual promiscuity, which led to the novel concept of so-called “open” marriages. That strikes down the good of fidelity in marriage. Then we saw couples entering into marriage without any intention of having children, so that strikes down procreation. And in the early ‘70s, we had states passing laws allowing for no-fault divorce. When we’re in a divorce culture rather than a marriage culture, that strikes down the permanence of marriage.

So, this erosion of the meaning of marriage has been going on for a very long time.

When we defend marriage between a man and a woman, our opponents say we’re just imposing our religion on everyone else. What’s the answer to that?

This is not a matter of religion. This is how every society has understood marriage in all of human history. The truth is: They’re imposing their new idea of marriage — an idea no society has ever had before — on everyone else. This is a very serious social experiment that will have dire consequences.
Photo from Oakland's Diocese Website.


  1. This is how every society has understood marriage in all of human history.

    While I understand the reasons for the Catholic perspectives on marriage, I'm not entirely convinced of the accuracy of this particular statement.

  2. Hi Catherine-
    I was trying to think of an example (other than polygamy, which would still be male/female) in history, but so far I haven't come up with any. Do you (or anybody else) have any particular societies in mind?

  3. Polygamy was the main one that came to my mind, in the "one husband/many wives" structure.

    I recently read "Sex At Dawn", which proposed the theory that the earliest hunter-gatherer societies essentially practiced group marriage. Now, obviously we aren't hunter-gatherers anymore and our social groups aren't quite as mobile...but it's an interesting theory.

    Polyandry is still practiced in some parts of India (http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/24/polygamy.investigation/index.html), in areas where two or more brothers would share a wife so that they don't need to split an inheritance. It's also practiced in some parts of Tibet.


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