Powered By Blogger

Wednesday 25 February 2015

THE THEORY OF NOTHING – Dawkins and company exposed

The success of the recent film “The Theory of Everything” has produced a rosy glow around the speculations of the New Atheists due to the power of the god “Oscar”.  

The hype mesmerizes secular society and confirms the public’s prevailing faith in fantasy Naturalism, Hollywood’s religion for those in the Western world who have rejected theism and specifically Christianity.

However, a voice of sanity rings out amidst the adulation for Dawkins, Hawking and Co.. 

David Bentley Hart, the noted philosopher and theologian, with razor exactitude exposes the basic rational and philosophical errors these celebrity scientists make when they tread beyond the circumscription of real physics, and science generally, into the world of fantasy Naturalism. 

In his recent book, THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD: BEING, CONSCIOUSNESS, BLISS, Hart skewers those who conveniently ignore the basics of logic in their pursuit of the fairy tale of a scientific “Theory of Everything”.

Hart points out the errors in reason that Dawkins and Hawking make while they criticize others for holding theistic views. Exposing their slick pop philosophy being foisted on the uninstructed public, Hart maintains:

“Naturalism is a picture of the whole of reality that cannot, according to its own intrinsic premises, address the whole; it is a metaphysics of the rejection of metaphysics, a transcendental certainty of the impossibility of transcendent truth, and so requires an act of pure credence logically immune to any verification.”

In his chapter ‘Pictures of the World’ Hart reveals that the whole project to make Naturalism the only acceptable worldview is itself outside of true science which is limited by its very nature and, though powerful within its limitations, utterly empty when individuals go beyond their expertise in the narrow mandate of science to describe, understand and adapt the physical world.

Hart: “[The sciences] yield only knowledge of certain aspects of things as seen from one very powerful but constricted perspective. If they attempt to go beyond their methodological commissions they cease to be sciences and immediately become fatuous occultisms.”

Pointing out “the fairly elementary philosophical errors”  in wildly popular books by the New Atheists, Hart relentlessly pursues the limits of a sham theory of knowledge which is being given to the public wholesale.

Exposing the confusion between actual scientific method and amateur philosophical speculation, Hart continues:

“Above all, we should not let ourselves forget precisely what method is and what it is not . . .[it is] a systematic set of limitations and constraints voluntarily assumed by a researcher in order to concentrate his or her investigations upon a strictly defined aspect of, or approach to, a clearly delineated object.”

The scientific method has been a phenomenally successful approach to understanding the world which has provided all sorts of natural advantages to the human race but, in the hands of Dawkins et. al., scientific method has been, in Hart’s words, “transformed into its perfect and irrepressibly wanton opposite: what began as a principled refusal of metaphysical speculation, for the sake of specific empirical inquiries, has now been mistaken for a comprehensive knowledge of the metaphysical shape of reality: the humble art of questioning has been mistaken for the sure possession of ultimate conclusions.”

Hart ends his work with a reflection upon the prevailing secular mentality which is based on a vapid Naturalism. The Naturalist worldview is now also at war with Islamic jihad while, at the same time, attacking traditional Western beliefs upon which our culture is founded.  

Despite this wanton assault of ego, a thoughtful, rational and yet faithful theism is still available to those who are prepared to look deeply beyond the Hollywood version of reality.

Hart recaps his basic points:
“. . . I suggested that atheism may really be only a failure to see something very obvious . . . . ours is a culture largely formed by an ideological unwillingness to see what is there to be seen.  The reason the very concept of God has become at once so impoverished, so thoroughly mythical, and ultimately so incredible for so many modern persons is not because of all the interesting things we have learned over the past few centuries, but because of all the vital things we have forgotten.  Above all we have forgotten being: the self-evident mystery of existence that only deep confusion could cause one to mistake for the sort of mystery that admits of a physical or natural or material solution . . . 

. . . Late modernity is, after all, a remarkably shrill and glaring reality, a dazzling chaos of the beguilingly trivial and the terrifyingly atrocious, a world of ubiquitous mass media and constant interruption, a ceaseless storm of artificial sensations and appetites, an interminable spectacle whose only unifying theme is the imperative to acquire and spend. It is scarcely surprising, in such a world, amid so many distractions . . . that we should have little time to reflect upon the mystery that manifests itself not as a thing among other things, but as the silent event of being itself.”

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Just War - ISIS vs St. Augustine and 'American Sniper'

The question of Just War has arisen once again in light of recent thoughtful articles about Islamic terrorism, ISIS and related matters.  

"What ISIS Really Wants" by Graeme Wood  in the March 2015 edition of THE ATLANTIC and other articles, along with the just released film AMERICAN SNIPER have raised the issue of justified armed resistance to jihad in the popular and social media. 

The pressing need for military re-engagement by Western nations in the Middle East to stand against the brutal slaughter of Christians and others there is a pivotal question for all nations even as the jihadists plan and execute attacks around the world.

St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas, along with other Church Fathers, have explicitly outlined how going to war to protect and defend the innocent may be a Christian obligation in such circumstances. The present need for application of the principles of just war in a global context has not been so clearly defined in modern times since the Nazi, Fascist and Japanese aggression which brought about World War II.

St. Augustine held that a Christian could be a soldier and serve God and country. Individuals should not resort immediately to violence, he taught, but  God has given the sword to government for good reason (Romans 13:4). 

His philosophical position was: 
"What is here required is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition. The sacred seat of virtue is the heart."

Augustine taught that peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence is a sin. Defense of self and/or of others may be a necessity, especially when authorized by a legitimate authority:
"They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with [God's] laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill.'

In his work THE CITY OF GOD, Augustine began to outline the conditions necessary for war to be just, and so originated the concept of Just War Theory: 

". . .  the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars." 

Building on this, St. Thomas Aquinas used the authority of Augustine's arguments to lay out in detail the conditions under which a war could be just:

1.  Just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.  Proper Authority represents the common good: which is peace for the sake of man's true end i.e. God.

2.  War must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for gain.  It must be "in the nation's interest" not just an exercise of power. 

3.   Peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence. 

According to Just War Theory as it has developed, the right to go to war must be accompanied by just action in war. 

The theory of Just War involves, then, both  jus ad bellum (the right to go to war), and jus in bello (right conduct within war).

jus ad bellum
A number of criteria must be met in order to enter justly into armed conflict:

+ Just cause
The reason for going to war needs to be just. It must not be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong.  Innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.  The US Catholic Conference said: "Force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic human rights of whole populations."

+ Comparative justice
To overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other. 

+ Competent authority
Only duly constituted governments may wage war. A just war must be initiated by a political authority within a political system that allows distinctions of justice. Dictatorships like the Nazis are considered as violations of this criterion. There cannot be a genuine process of judging a just war by a regime that represses the due process of  justice. 

+ Right intention
Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose.  Correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention. Material or territorial gain or maintaining economies is not.

+ Probability of success
Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.  If the likelihood of defeat is certain, fighting for an ideal is ruled out.

+ Last resort
Force may be used only after all peaceful alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical. The unjust power may attempt to use negotiations as a delaying tactic and/or will not make meaningful concessions.  In this case, force may be necessary as a last resort to protect those in danger.

+ Proportionality
The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to the expected harm that will be done. This is known as the principle of macro-proportionality which distinguishes it from the jus in bello principle of proportionality (see below).

jus in bello

Once war has begun,  commitment to justice in the  (jus in bello) directs how combatants must act:

Just war conduct is governed by the principle of distinction. The acts of war should be directed only towards enemy combatants. Civilians caught in circumstances which they did not create should not be targeted whether they are related to the enemy troops or not. Prohibited acts include terror bombing civilian residential areas that include no military targets, committing acts of reprisal, and attacking neutral targets. Combatants are not permitted to attack enemy combatants who have surrendered, are captured or are injured; or those who are not presenting an immediate lethal threat. An example would be those escaping from a disabled ship. 

* Proportionality
Just war conduct is governed by the principle of proportionality. Combatants must not cause harm to civilians or civilian property beyond what is necessary for military advantage by an attack on a military objective. 

* Military Necessity
Just war conduct is governed by the principle of military necessity. An attack or action must be intended to help in the military defeat of the enemy.  Attacks must be on military objectives and the harm caused to civilians must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. 

* Fair Treatment and POWs
Enemy combatants who surrender or are captured no longer pose a threat.T hey must not be tortured mistreated.

* No weapons or tactics which are malum in se (evil in themselves)
Combatants may not use weapons or other methods of warfare which are considered evil, such as mass rape, poison gas, nuclear or biological weapons.  Non-combatants may not be forced to fight against their own side.

In light of these criteria, just armed opposition to the jihadists of ISIS and related organizations can justifiably be engaged.  Not only is military action defensible but there is a moral requirement for Christians and others to use all means necessary to defeat and eradicate from the earth this evil threat to the lives and well-being of the innocent.  

Saturday 14 February 2015

Evensong and Benediction

A Homily Preached by Msgr. Entwistle 

London 2015 

It is a delight to be back in London again and it is an equal delight that Evensong and Benediction continue to be important in the devotional life of the Ordinariates because linked together, they emphasise that in English Spirituality, the liturgy is both Word and Sacrament, Our English tradition insists as, Martin Thornton (English Spirituality, SPCK 1963, p 49) reminds us that “prayer, worship and life itself, are grounded upon dogmatic fact, that in everyday religious experience head and heart are wedded.”
Evensong is an office in which Scripture is prayed, read and reflected upon. Through it, not only is the revealed Word of God encountered, but also through the Holy Spirit we are able to engage with that revealed Word and link our faith story to that of the faith story of God’s people through the ages. 
In Benediction, the focus of our devotion is the adoration of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord which we believe the sacred host to be. In doing so, we must never isolate the sacramental Body of Christ from the Incarnate Body of Christ, nor from the ecclesial Body of Christ of which we are members.
The recognition of the indivisibility of the Body of Christ came to me some years ago as one of those windows that God occasionally opens. At the time I was attending our annual Anglican Prison Chaplains’ retreat held in London Colney. This retreat was conducted by Neville Ward, the most Catholic minded Methodist of the Weslyan tradition I have ever encountered, and while I should imagine that London Colney has changed considerably since, there was a Catholic community of Sisters nearby that I recall was a community of Perpetual Adoration. I was in the convent chapel with several others, including sisters. On the wall behind the altar was a large crucifix. Here was an image of the incarnate Christ, the ultimate sacrament of God, taken, blessed and broken in his passion so that the marriage between heaven and earth might be consummated.
On a hillside and in the Upper Room, Jesus, the incarnate sacrament of God, took bread, gave thanks, broke it and shared it. In the Upper Room he said, “this is my body, this is my blood.” This is me, This is my life that I have power to lay down and take up. Take, eat and drink it in memory of me.” 
On the altar of the chapel was the Sacramental presence of Christ’s Body, our food and sustaining drink, the living stream that overcomes death and turns it into the fountain of eternal life. This is our hope and that hope finds its voice in the Church. In that chapel were Catholics, Anglicans and at least one Weslyan Methodist. Here before the image of the broken, crucified Lord and his presence in the Blessed Sacrament, was the fractured ecclesial Body of Christ, born out of his wounds, yet called to be the visible, sacramental sign of His presence in, and Lordship over, the world. The Church, as well as individual disciples has been called, blessed and broken so that Christ’s mission of showing the world who God is, may continue. This mission is hampered by the disunity within God’s faithful, and I don’t think any of us would dispute that not only praying for unity, but demonstrating as we are this evening, in the words of St Peter of Cluny, that “diversity in unity is the principle of Christendom.” The distinctiveness, yet indivisible unity of the differing manifestations of the Body of Christ presents a framework for our mission and ministry.
The Incarnate Christ challenges us, in the words of Pope Francis, to ‘have a passion for mission, and a passionate concern for people in difficult situations” while the sacramental manifestation challenges us to have a committed concern for the settled truths of the Catholic faith. The pastoral application of these truths must be pastoral and not be disconnected from the truth of the faith. Those of us in the Ordinariate have lived through such a progressive disconnection in our previous communion and we are only too aware of where it leads.
This experience thrusts us into a prophetic role within the Catholic Church. The Ordinariates stand on the edge of the Church’s centre, and is the very place that the prophets and Jesus himself stood in God’s community. This prophetic role demands that we share our experience and alert, if not warn our Catholic brothers and sisters, of the consequences of embracing the principle of gradualness where the doctrine of the Church is still upheld, but in the name of compassion and relevance, its application is gradually relaxed to accommodate the secular values of the day.
We who have been called into full Catholic communion have a responsibility to work for the unity for which Our Lord prayed. On the website iBenedictines, Digitalnun, identifies three levels of that unity. We must work for unity within the Church to which we belong, and in the Ordinariate that means being prepared to let go of some of the things that have been so valuable during the time we were holding on to our Catholic identity, and rediscover at a deeper level, some things that a few jettisoned in order to demonstrate that Catholicity. Discovering the treasures of the liturgies authorised for use in the Ordinariate is an obvious example, because while our patrimony is not solely contained in the liturgies, they are a visible manifestation of what our patrimony is. Diversity in unity requires distinctiveness. 
While working and praying alongside other Christians and sharing common cause is necessary and good, we must challenge those modern ecumenists who seem to argue that as this is the deepest level of unity we are likely to achieve, this must be the unity that Our Lord intended. With all due respect to those  who take this view, it is a form of flat earth policy. The goal of true unity is to reach the mountaintop where there is unity of faith and doctrine with diversity of expression. Without a common faith and doctrine, there cannot be complete unity, and Our Lord would not have prayed for anything less. Because organic union appears to be unrealistic, the response is to flatten the mountain. The fact that we in the Ordinariate have reached the summit is a negation of this view, so our existence tends to be dismissed as a mirage. We are not a mirage, we are here, we are real. We are we what true unity looks like – diversity in unity.

We have a formidable mission ahead of us, and we must be courageous, keeping before us the distinctive unity not only between the persons of the Holy Trinity but also between the differing manifestations of the Body of Christ. As Hebrews (12:1-12) reminds us, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  

Msgr Harry Entwistle OLSC
Feb 2015

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Father Hawkins - Married Priests

Fr. Allan Hawkins
I met Fr. Hawkins, a married Catholic priest, about 20 years ago. He first called in the 1990s to invite me to a conference at St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, TX  where we explored with priests and laity from across North America, the way forward into full communion with the Catholic Church.  
St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, TX
Fr. Allan offers some very valuable analysis of the priestly ministry from his vast experience of rectory life, pastoral ministry, English theology and practice in light of marriage.

Fr. Hawkins' article on married Catholic priests.

Thursday 5 February 2015


TORONTO: Fr. John Hodgins

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery and I am applying it to Christ and the Church”  Ephesians 5: 31 – 32.

NOTE: In addition to quotations from Holy Scripture, the documents of the Magisterium quoted here are noted with the following abbreviations:

         CCC      =     Catechism of the Catholic Church
         DV        =     Dei Verbum
         FC         =     Familiaris Consortio
         GS         =     Gaudium et Spes
         LG       =     Lumen Gentium

Holy Matrimony and the "Ladder of Love"

It is difficult for non-Catholics, as well as for many Catholics, to understand and to appreciate the Church’s teaching on Marriage and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

For Catholics, marriage is much more than a contract; it is a life-long covenant and a sacrament of the Church.  Not only is marriage regarded by the Church as holding a position of importance well above most relationships on what Plato referred to as the “ladder of love,” Holy Matrimony is fundamental to understanding what the Church of Jesus Christ is – its ecclesiology.

“This partnership of man and woman constitutes the first form of communion between persons” (GS 12.4).

Expressions of love other than within Holy Matrimony – friendship, affection, filial devotion, etc. – partake in the ideal of love but they are not sacramentalized by the Church, a sacrament being an essential component of the Church’s constitution as the agent of redemption and salvation for humanity (CCC 738).

This sacramental understanding of Holy Matrimony (Christian Marriage) is linked to the Church’s concepts of grace and of sin. Sin is due to the fallen nature of human beings. Many human relationships and interactions are disordered and so do not reflect God's purposes. The Church teaches that human beings require the grace of God to be forgiven, to be healed, and to enter into the communion with God for which we are created and within which we grow and develop in love. As Pope St. John Paul put it: “Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC 11).

Most post-moderns, unfortunately, have never encountered or come to any real understanding of the concepts of sin and grace. Many have in their minds, at best, a notional understanding, or a caricature, of sin and grace.  The majority see marriage as an option or a choice only. 

Secular society largely persists with false conceptions about Catholic doctrine (teaching) because most of the elites and members of the media have no grasp of Christian anthropology in the context of God’s love.

Catholic Doctrine and Anthropology

To begin with, Catholic doctrine sees humans as part of creation yet made in the image of God, created in love and for love. Humanity is, in the words of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the summit of the Creator’s work” (CCC 343). Because we are made in the image of God, we are spiritually linked to but, of course, are not physical copies of God.

The image and likeness of God in humanity (Genesis 1:27) relates to the gifts of intellect and will that God has shared with us (GS 12.3). The power to reason and to will is not what we have in common with the animals but is, rather, the power we participate in through the one and only transcendent God who has become incarnate (human) in the person of Jesus Christ. As humans, then, we “unite the spiritual and material worlds” (CCC 355) as Jesus did most perfectly.

However, unlike Jesus, who is the second person of God the Holy Trinity, we, as human creatures of God, commit sin, i.e. we fail to do what is best, we miss the mark, or we actively do what is evil. So it is that we need forgiveness and grace in order to move up the ladder of love.

Unlike what some Protestants believe, Catholics hold that as creatures we have an active part in co-operating with God’s grace (CCC 2000). By God's grace we are co-creators with God. We are baptized into the Body of Christ in order to actively choose the grace offered us and to be part of the loving process of salvation, which is not a single moment or one event but a lifetime journey with Christ (DV 3; Cf. Genesis 3:15; Romans 2: 6-7; 6: 19,22).

How does this Christian anthropology affect the Catholic understanding of Marriage?

First of all, in terms of nature, male and female are created for one another. The human race literally depends upon the union of man and woman. Catholics see this as part of the Natural Law, which may be comprehended by reason. The union of man and woman is a first instance of humanity co-operating with God in physical nature but, most importantly, doing so through acts of the will and in the power of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1624, 1641 – 1642).

In theological terms, the fiat, the yes, of Blessed Mary agreeing to become the mother of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:38) is a paradigm for the human spiritual response to God’s initiative by willing what God wills. God has chosen to allow creation to depend, in part at least, upon our decision to respond or not to God’s initiative through creation.

We are given the gift of Revelation in and through Jesus Christ, i.e. the gifts of truth and love that could not be arrived at by reason and logic alone. The divine Logos is the self-communication of God in the person of Jesus Christ (CCC 456-460). Because of the Incarnation of Christ, God’s loving communication with humanity through the Logos is conveyed through various media:

   through Creation in all its variety, beauty, and wonder
   through the Word of Revelation in Holy Scripture
   through Sacred Tradition, which formed the canon of Scripture and accompanies the life and liturgy of the people of God from generation to generation
   through the Magisterium, or teaching authority, of the Church – the Body of Christ (CCC 787-791)

The same Logos moves in Creation, Scripture, and Tradition and is continually interpreted in each age by the tangible and authoritative Magisterium of the Church articulated through the Petrine Office of the Holy Father, the symbol and guarantee of unity in Christ. This is where Christian anthropology meets ecclesiology  – the divine community is established in human society for its salvation from sin and death. 

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is, then, both an affirmation of the role we play in nature – God’s creation (GS 47.1) – and a participation in the spiritual reality of love that the Logos reveals and communicates. Christian Marriage is a paradigm of the Church; both exist for the creative and loving purposes of God (CCC 1661).  

By its very nature, marriage must be an open participation in creation at all levels: physical, communal, moral, ethical, and spiritual (FC 13).

In and through Holy Matrimony individuals may become spiritually actualized together in the life of God, the Holy Trinity. This actualization develops for individual persons by entering into a loving lifelong covenant with another person of the complementary sex in the order of creation. Unity comes about by means of the will of  God the Father, “creator of heaven and earth” (Nicene Creed, CCC 1604). 

Spiritually, actualization may develop for individuals in other committed relationships. Such fruitful relationships flower within the vows of celibacy, chaste friendships, etc. Holy Matrimony, however, is sacramentalized, confirming its critical importance both for humanity generally and for the Body of Christ, the Church, in particular.

Another aspect of doctrine as it relates to anthropology and marriage involves our spiritual development and sanctification by means of our commitment within the sacrificial bond of Christ's redemption. This bond is forged through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of God the Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:29 -30; 19:6; Mark 8:4). 

Our participation in the covenant of marriage mirrors the deep doctrine of love lived out in the atonement that Christ makes for humanity’s sin. Christ's is the complete and unbreakable baptismal covenant into which we enter by grace as we do in Holy Matrimony. Both are indissoluble covenants based upon the love of God mediated in the sacramental relationship of individuals within a greater whole.

Finally, the relationship of love in Christian marriage, as in Baptism, is sustained in the communion of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1616-1617). God is forever present and the grace and power of the Holy Spirit confirms our forgiveness and our union with Christ. This grace is especially mediated through the sacraments in which reside grace to heal and strengthen us.

Over time, living within this tripartite bond of love – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – acts to free individuals from a preoccupation with self and from the effects of sin while incorporating us ever more into the life of the Body of Christ, the Church. This deepening incorporation allows the individual’s creative and loving efforts to be co-ordinated with the will of God and with others in the covenanted community, a community which is open to and invites all people.

Communion in the Holy Spirit is actualized by the love and grace of God through the co-operation and mutual respect of individual redeemed humans who are empowered through their fiat, i.e. their freely willed co-operation, by grace, with the Divine will (LG 11.2; 41).

In light of this covenant relationship, as mentioned at the outset, Holy Matrimony is at a very high level on the "ladder of love," as well as being central to the ecclesiology or structure of the Catholic Church (CCC 1655 – 1658).

The present state of affairs in Canada regarding Marriage and Holy Matrimony

In terms of the role of the Catholic Church vis a vis secular society and government in Canada, the Church offers its blessing to the Christian man and woman who publicly exchange vows without impediment (previous marriage or other canonical impediments, e.g. consanguinity, age, mental capacity, etc.).

“According to the Latin tradition [the Western Church] the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church” (CCC 1623).

How the state chooses to record legal relationships including marriage is a separate matter and cannot interfere with the sacraments of the Catholic Church. The Church has little control over what the state does but the Church cannot, either, be required to recognize as “marital” relationships partnerships that do meet the basic requirements of free consent given between one man and one woman, regardless of whether or not the state calls these “marriages.”  Certainly, what the Church recognizes as "natural marriage" applies to many marriages of one man and one woman contracted outside the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Though these marriages do not participate in the sacramental life of the Church they are both valid and may be a locus of God's grace.

The model in some European countries, where all must exchange marriage vows publicly before a state official and then must register their relationships in a secular register, is something Canada may have to consider. 

Catholics would comply with state requirements and then go to the Church to celebrate, in the context of Mass, their mutual consent which creates the sacramental bond and life-long covenant.  

This arrangement would free Catholic bishops, priests and deacons  in Canada from the requirement that they be registered and regulated by civil authorities in order to officiate at marriages. Priests would not be required to act in any way for the state nor be regulated by secular authority with regard to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. 

For the reasons noted above, the Church does well to draw a clear line between Holy Matrimony and the laws and regulations relating to “marriage” as now defined by the secular state in Canada.

Admittedly, this compromise is not ideal but in this way the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony may continue to be celebrated by Christians (and Catholics in particular) without compromising the integrity of the Church or the minsters of the sacrament --  the baptized man and woman.

Fr. John Hodgins is a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.  He has been married for over 35 years. One of his daughters is to be married in October 2015.  He serves the Catholic Mission Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto.