Catholic “Marriage”


One of the little tics that Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage have developed is to refer to it as “marriage.” As in this from the USCCB’s latest letter to Congress:

The movement to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex
(a.k.a. same-sex “marriage”) has changed the law substantially toward
that end, at both the state and federal level, and it has become
increasingly clear that laws like ENDA have been instrumental to those

The point would seem to be that because marriage by definition cannot be between persons of the same sex, it is necessary to use quotation marks lest anyone imagine that we are acknowledging that such a thing can or could exist. And, moreover, that since marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church (this year’s very Catechetical Sunday theme), the word itself must be kept free from pollution.

But soft. If all that were the case, why not use the quotation marks when it’s a question of, say, polygamous marriage? As in a recent letter from the Maryland Catholic Conference that refers to “same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation” but then goes on to say:

Thus, prohibiting polygamous marriage, incestuous marriage, and possibly even marriage involving a minor will be considered bigoted and discriminatory. Is this what society wants? Does this elevate the state’s moral fiber? Surely not.

Incestuous marriages are more kosher than same-sex marriages? And if the sacramental dimension is so critical, why not make sure to refer to what happens on Protestant altars as “Communion”? Taking such Communion counts for as little by Catholic standards as a same-sex marital ceremony. Yet in making just that point, the Archdiocese of Washington states:

A certain Protestant Communion may
have a lovely liturgy but has not confession, or apostolic authority.

You figure that writing “A certain Protestant ‘Communion’ may have…” would have been recognized as bad manners, a gratuitous slap at one’s separated brethren. Same-sex “marriage”–now recognized as legitimate marriage by some of those same brethren, to say nothing of certain civil jurisdictions–not so much.