Turning a Catholic spotlight on marriage — society's basic building block

As this issue came together, we noticed a theme emerge: marriage. 

Marriage is much in the news these days. Some of it is bad news (like the surprising report that the number of Catholic weddings in Boston has plummeted more than 50 percent in the past decade, suggesting that young Catholic couples are simply opting not to wed) and some of it is good (like the vast turnout at the first-ever Theology of the Body Congress in Pennsylvania, dedicated to unpacking the riches of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and love). 

What dominated headlines for a few weeks, though, was the ruling by a judge in San Francisco that overturned a voter-approved state constitutional amendment that reads, in its entirety: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” 

The judge based his ruling on a “finding of fact” that same-sex couples are no better or worse, including as parents, than opposite-sex couples. 

My team wanted analysis that went beyond the legal maneuvering. We wanted to read between the lines of the ruling to expose and understand its underlying assumptions. 

So we turned to Christopher Kaczor, a philosophy professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles who has spoken on same-sex marriage before. Don’t miss his critique of the judge’s ruling (see Page 4). 

This week’s In Focus is the first in a three-part series (that will run once a month) on Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, which he articulated over the course of five years and 133 weekly general audiences. We sent contributing editor Emily Stimpson to the three-day Theology of the Body Congress late last month outside Philadelphia. 

She came back with tons of story ideas. This week she looks at how vocations — to marriage, religious life, priesthood, even single life — are seen through the lens of theology of the body (see Pages 9-12). Future installments will explore its challenges and benefits. 

Our takes also touch on marriage: New York has become the final state to adopt no-fault divorce, a development the bishops there are lamenting. Until now, New York has had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. A second take explores the unfairness of sperm-donor conception — to the children so conceived (see Page 17). 

Robert Lockwood’s column this week happens to address marriage, too. Commenting on the California ruling, he says, “Marriage has been judged essentially meaningless by secular society — a ceremony without grace that brings a handful of tax benefits for as long as it lasts” (see Page 17). 

Our editorial picks up on the same theme: The only reason same-sex marriage initiatives have made such headway is because of the mess heterosexuals couples have made of marriage. Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think at feedback@osv.com.