The Synod of Bishops on the Family has begun.

Pope Francis convened this synod nearly a year ago in order to address “concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago,” including but not limited to phenomena like “the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage…same-sex unions…marriages with the consequent problem of a dowry, sometimes understood as the purchase price of the woman…an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood” and so on. Like Pope Francis, those Catholics who have spent the past year anticipating this synod have similarly focused most intently on issues of sex and sexuality. Many Catholics hope that the bishops will re-consider the sacramental status of divorced and remarried Catholics or perhaps even soften the church’s stance on the use of contraception within marriage.

I do not deny the deep relation between sexuality and family. Nor do I contest the importance of any of the issues enumerated by Pope Francis. Drawing upon the church’s own wisdom, I simply want to argue that the “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of Evangelization” extend beyond matters of sex and sexuality. Structural injustice wreaks havoc upon the family just as much as disordered expressions of sexuality do.

Catholic Social Teaching stresses the relation between the social and sexual orders. In his 1981 Apostolic Exhortation, “On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” Pope John Paul II reminds us,

“In the conviction that the good of the family is an indispensable and essential value of the civil community, the public authorities must do everything possible to ensure that families have all those aids—economic, social, educational, political, and cultural assistance—that they need in order to face their responsibilities in a human way.” (no. 45).

But poor families do not simply lack assistance; they are burdened by injustice. In its embrace of the preferential option for the poor, the church recognizes this. God is for preferentially for those whom the world is especially against. God puts first those whom the world places last. God loves us not just in history but in response to it.

More than an issue requiring pastoral care, the oppression of the poor frustrates all attempts to evangelize. After all, the gospel is not just any “good news,” it is good news for the poor.  If we cannot bring “good news” to the poor, we cannot proclaim the Gospel.  For this reason, the preferential option for the poor enables us to evangelize. As Gustavo Gutierrez points out, the preferential option for the poor attempts to answer the question of how to say to the poor that God loves them.

Not Just Sex, But Social Justice

For this reason, I maintain, in convening to address the challenges of the family, the bishops ought to place the needs of poor families first.

And while the synod aims to speak to and for the global church, it does not ignore the particularities of local churches.  In this post, I imagine what it would look like to consider the family from the perspective of the poor in the country I inhabit, The United States.

In light of the church’s commitment to the preferential option for the poor, the bishops ought to make the struggles of US-American families afflicted by systemic injustice and structural violence their first priority.  In addition to continuing to advocate for those families divided by deportation and unjust immigration laws, Catholic leaders ought to turn their attention to the way that our country’s racist regime of mass incarceration similarly tears black families apart.   In prosecuting this war on drugs, our country subjects young black people to the routine indignities of stop and frisk police harassment.  Considered guilty until proven innocent, this policing strategy also makes black teens all too often the victims of police brutality and summary execution.

Just as white supremacy disproportionately deprives black and brown people of life, so it infringes upon what John Paul II identifies as their right to “found a family and have adequate means to support it.”  (On the Role of the Christian Family In the Modern World, no. 46.)  Every time a police officer or paranoid neighborhood watchman kills a black child, he violates the rights of the family and contravenes the Gospel’s good news to the poor.  The bishops cannot respond to the needs of US-American families without working to bring the war on drugs to an end.

The Church ought to apply pressure on lawmakers to repeal the laws that have turned the criminal justice system into an instrument of white supremacy, lend financial support to community-based organizations already working to make the justice system more racially just, and engage in creative and constructive strategies of civil disobedience when appropriate.  Along with this, church leaders must follow the lead of bishops like Memphis’ Terry Steib and find a way to re-open Catholic schools and parishes in the predominately black urban neighborhoods the church has abandoned in recent decades.

Social Justice Makes Good Sex Possible

Bishops participating in the synod ought to consider issues of sexual morality in accordance with the preferential option for the poor.  In this way, rather than blaming the decline of marriage on sexual immorality, the bishops ought to recognize the way in which, at least in the United States, marriage has increasingly become a privilege of the privileged. For example, today, the college-educated are both more likely to be married by the age of 30 and less likely to divorce than those who lack a college degree.  Marriage seems the consequence not so much of moral righteousness but of socioeconomic privilege.

Bishops ought to also listen to those critics who point out that marriage also accords disproportionate benefits to the well to do.   Marriage, they claim, is not just about sex and love and children and stability, it is also about acquiring and transmitting wealth.  Put another way, heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice not just in the political or economic spheres but also through their sex lives.*

In addition to insisting that all sex must be good sex, may the bishops also accord more attention to the relation between social justice and sexual goodness.

At this synod, may the bishops focus not on the family but on the needs of poor families.  Rather than seeking to shore up breaches in sexual morality, may they consider sex from the perspective of the insignificant ones whom God loves most.

*UPDATE: I realized that this statement might require a bit more explanation.  Here I am not identifying “the conjugal act” as unjust but drawing our attention to the way that marriage acts to consolidate privilege.  In so doing, I am pretty much just reiterating the social portrait painted by Jane Austen in her many novels.  Still today, people tend to marry within their social class; we are all familiar with the phrase “marrying-up.”  So, given the way that marriage functions to consolidate privilege, we ought to think about the way our participation in marriage can also be a participation in social and structural injustice.  Rather than a call to necessarily abandon or abolish marriage, I encourage those of us “invested” (pun intended) in marriage to think about how we can make marriage more just by making society more just.

65 thoughts

  1. “Put another way, heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice . . . through their sex lives.”

    Can you explain what that means?

      1. Thank you.

        So, when you write, “Rather than a call to necessarily abandon or abolish marriage, I encourage those of us “invested” (pun intended) in marriage to think about how we can make marriage more just by making society more just.”

        I don’t know why you would bring up the idea of abandoning or abolishing marriage. How could that ever by desirable for the Church or for any human society?

        I think you still have not clarified “heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice . . . through their sex lives.” How is being faithful to my wife unjust? How is not using contraception unjust?

        Rather than consolidating what you call privilege don’t we want to universally extend it? And to do that, don’t we need all marriages to be permanent and faithful (to begin with)?

      2. Perhaps if you read the links I provided, you might get a better sense of the relation between marriage and injustice I am trying to call attention to. Even if “everyone” stayed married for life, marriage would still consolidate privilege of the privilege. Maybe check out Amaryah s post on white supremacy and inheritance to think more about this.

  2. A strong emphasis by the synod on the economic injustices being done to families by low wages, high housing costs, high student debt, lack of decent jobs etc is needed.

    God bless

  3. I said, “I think you still have not clarified ‘heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice . . . through their sex lives.’”

    Instead of answering directly, you send me off to read links and another blogger. I suspect if you answered directly it would be clear to everyone that what you advocate is going to be utterly at odds with magisterial teaching on human sexuality and would only harm marriage even further.

    1. No, I pointed you to my own words as well as gave a more in depth and quite direct answer. I’m sorry my words have upset you so much. It may just be that we disagree.

      1. I’m not the least upset, Dr. Grimes. I don’t know if we disagree or not since your words are ambiguous.

      2. Why don’t you tell me what it is you are afraid I am arguing and I can tell you if I’m arguing that. I obviously don’t understand your critique.

      3. To get at what KG is arguing, let me ask her this. Does she agree with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about human sexuality? Or rather, does she believe that it is evil and wrong (unjust and oppressive)?

        After checking out some of the links in this OP, it seems that what she really wants is for the Church to recognize homosexual acts as legitimate.

      4. How can you say “heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice . . . also through their sex lives” and then say the question of whether you agree with what the CCC says about sexuality has nothing to do with the post?

      5. I guess it is true I don’t understand what you are saying. How does my being faithful to my wife perpetuate injustice (since that is a facet of magisterial sexual morality)?

      6. Right. My argument does not claim that any facet of magisterial sexual ethics is incorrect but that we tend to define the sphere of ethical questions in marriage too narrowly.

    1. John, I guess your comment was supposed to stagger me.

      There is nothing morally wrong with arranged marriages as long as the couple gives proper consent.

      In fact, in one of the Pre-Cana courses I assisted in teaching recently, one young man was marrying a young woman from India. The marriage was arranged by their families. Are you intolerant when it comes to ethnic diversity, John?

      1. Kevin,

        1. You wrote, “John, I guess your comment was supposed to stagger me.”

        No, it was just a question.

        1. You wrote: “There is nothing morally wrong with arranged marriages as long as the couple gives proper consent.”

        Please explain how the man or woman can refuse to give consent without violating the 4th Commandment (Honor thy Father and Mother).

        1. You wrote: “In fact, in one of the Pre-Cana courses I assisted in teaching recently,

        What parish (please include city and state)? Who were you “assisting?”

        Are you an ordained priest, or one of the unpaid volunteers they use?

        If you’re not ordained, what “training” did you receive to “assist” in teaching the “Pre-Cana” course?

        1. You wrote: “one young man was marrying a young woman from India”

        How young?

        At what age was each when the marriage was “arranged?”

        Had they met before enrolling in your “Pre-Cana” class?

        **** Pretty sure you win the prize for helping Dr. Grimes make her point****

        “…It also should be noted that arranged marriages are prevalent among the high-caste and high-class people. They are the people who want to protect their “status”. …”

        So since you’re giving up the privacy of this young couple, into what “caste” in India do they belong?

        Do all the students in your “Pre-Cana” class sign releases so you can blab about them on blogs, or just those from India?

        1. You wrote: “The marriage was arranged by their families.”

        Did the parents use a marriage broker? Was either the young man or the young woman, or both, given a group of “eligible” partners to choose from?

        What definition of “consent” are you using? In what what respect is either “free” to consent to anything except obeying their parents will?

        1. You wrote: “Are you intolerant when it comes to ethnic diversity, John?”

        What did I write that would lead you to ask such a question?

      1. Kevin, you win the prize for “closing the barn door after the horses ran off.”

        For the record, I don’t think you teach any “Pre-Cana” classes. I think you lied about that and per the CCC, that’s a venial sin and you need to confess it. Anyone who did teach “Pre-Cana” classes, would know better than to reveal confidential information about Roman Catholics in marriage preparation.

        I’m so glad you brought up your faithfulness to your wife. Sounds like it’s a daily struggle.

        Above you wrote: “After checking out some of the links in this OP, it seems that what she really wants is for the Church to recognize homosexual acts as legitimate.”

        Does the CCC prohibit oral and anal sex among validly married Roman Catholic couples? Asking for many friends.

        Isn’t Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae the problem for Roman Catholics who oppose gay marriage?

        Humanae Vitae broke with Pius XI’s Casti Connubi and allowed the “rhythm” method of birth control among married Catholics. Didn’t severing the connection between “openness to conception,” and sex, really open the door for homosexuality?

        If Pope Francis I went back to Casti Connubi, married Roman Catholics wouldn’t have to worry about having sex if the wife wasn’t able to conceive. After menopause, they would be prohibited by the Magisterium from having sex.

        OT, how in the heck did the Roman Catholic Church ever get in the marriage business? I know wedding brings in a lot of money for parishes, but where’s the scriptural basis for the Sacrament of Marriage? Thanks in advance.

      2. Thank you to both John and Kevin for your participation in this thread. I think we have reached a good stopping point and are starting to get off track.

  4. I came here to read your (allegedly) outrageous comment, but found that your article was quite good. I would add, however, that poor also suffer from a culture where the right practice marital stability, but steadfastly refuse to preach what they practice. The poor are more vulnerable, and depend upon stronger society-wide norms, but instead they receive from the popular culture a steady stream of anti-marriage messages.

  5. Ms. Grimes you said “Rather than seeking to shore up breaches in sexual morality, may they consider sex from the perspective of the insignificant ones whom God loves most.” Just what is the “perspective of the insignificant ones” according to you? Do you suppose that the church support having the majority of children born to unwed mothers? Or support sex as recreational? Anything goes between consenting adults? What are you trying to say and please don’t answer with only saying “I am not saying that” as you did in previous posts.

    I believe that the Church should support chastity and marriage whether between the “privileged” or not and look to ways to improve the “insignificant ones” lives by encouraging & providing opportunities for all the Church to do works of charity with their time and treasure and help people out of poverty by providing jobs.

    On another note one might come away with the notion that your answer to, “marriage also accords disproportionate benefits to the well to do”, that the Church promote well to do singles to seek spouses in the poorer neighborhoods and leave their money there.

    Those neighborhoods continue to exist because our government keeps giving “hand outs” and not “a hand up”.

    1. Jim, w/r/t

      “Those neighborhoods continue to exist because our government keeps giving “hand outs” and not “a hand up”.”

      Is this a reference to Wall Street? No one gets more welfare than Wall Street.

      “Bank Of America Dumps $75 Trillion In Derivatives On U.S. Taxpayers With Federal Approval”

      To put $75 trillion in perspective, US GDP in 2012 was around $16.5 trillion. We blew a lot more than the $6 trillion they’re claiming in Iraq and Afghanistan. Social Security’s Trust Fund is around $2.3 trillion. Bank of America is just one Wall Street bank. They all have derivative exposure. I’ve seen estimates of $700 trillion, but I don’t think anyone knows.

  6. John I was not referring to Wall Street and I believe that BOA has just been fined billions in dollars and I will refer you to this by Bob Beckel

    You and I will agree that someone should go to jail for all the shenanigans with the no doc mortgages and the subsequent worthless derivatives dumping. There is a lot a blame to go around starting with Dodd and Frank and others who persuaded banks to make all those bad loans.

    1. Jim, you wrote: “John I was not referring to Wall Street.”

      I’m sorry you’re not a capitalist. Capitalism runs on sales. The real “job creators” are consumers with money to spend. When there’s “Demand Leakage,” it depresses wages and leads to unemployment.

      “Demand Leakages: The 800lb Economist in the Room”

      You wrote: “and I believe that BOA has just been fined billions in dollars”


      You sound like one of those Obama bots, who reads these headlines and thinks that there’s some justice for Wall Street.

      “Homeowner help remains elusive in $16.5bn Bank of America fine”

      “…Under the language of the settlements, banks can get credit for making new mortgages available to borrowers in hard-hit areas or Fema disaster zones, to first-time low- to moderate-income buyers, or to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales.

      Since making loans is the bank’s actual business, from which they profit, it’s odd that this is considered a penalty for misconduct….”

      You’re obviously a young guy without a lot of experience. Please, for your future, you have to be less trusting and always read the fine print.

      You wrote: “and I will refer you to this by Bob Beckel.”

      He’s a moron.

      “The Case For Reparations” is based on biblical justice and John Locke. It’s the only way to make things right.

      You wrote: “You and I will agree that someone should go to jail for all the shenanigans with the no doc mortgages and the subsequent worthless derivatives dumping.”

      No, a lot of people should go to jail, starting with Paulson, Bernanke, and Geithner. Unfortunately, thanks to President Obama, and the oligarchs, it’s not going to happen.

      You wrote: “There is a lot a blame to go around starting with Dodd and Frank and others who persuaded banks to make all those bad loans.”

      You’re confused. The economy collapsed in 2008. Dodd Frank, which is a disaster, didn’t become law until 2010.

      The 08 collapse was primarily an insurance scam. That’s what derivatives/credit swaps are, insurance. The loans (most of which were fine) were simply the front-end of the leverage. Matt Stoller will set you straight.

      “Hell hath no fury like a banker scorned”

      View at

  7. So, on the topic of family and social justice in our local church, it seems to me another uniquely American consideration is the lack of guaranteed paid parental leave, in an economic context where both parents must typically work for pay outside the home. The poor are least likely to have “generous” employers who go beyond the 6-week unpaid leave mandated by FMLA. (And who can afford a month and a half without wages just when they’ve become responsible for a new life, with hospital bills to boot?) It is hard to choose life or generously welcome large families in such a culture, and that is unjust.

  8. “Bishops ought to also listen to those critics who point out that marriage also accords disproportionate benefits to the well to do. ”

    Wowie, this is weapons-grade ignorant. Do you realize that marriage accords disproportionate benefits to the well to do because it contributes to making people well to do. Those who get married and stay married to the same spouse drop the probability of child poverty by 82%.

    Yup, Christian Marriage hates poverty. It is out to destroy poor people (by making them middle class and rich people).

  9. Thank you so much Ms. Grimes for pointing out that people who follow the natural law and the teachings of the magesterum regarding sex and marriage enjoy the added secular benefit of a good life and successful, fulfilling marriages and families. This is too often beclouded in obfuscatory rhetoric..

    1. I think Dr. Grimes is making the point that as Christians, we might need to be uncomfortable about the secular definition of “the good life.”

      1. Right, Megan, but there is also a lot of natural goodness in the secular world and grace does not destroy but builds on nature.

        Man/woman permanent, exclusive, and fruitful marriage in which children can be educated and adequate material possessions accumulated and passed on is one of them.

      2. It sounds like you agree with me about the economic function of marriage and the role it plays in preserving and accumulating wealth, you just disagree with me that this can ever conflict with the Church’s affirmation of the preferential option for the poor.

      3. Katie, of course it can conflict, but without money and the things it can provide, like an education, there would be little to prefer the poor with!

        If Norman Borlaug did not receive a “privileged” education he could not have launched the green revolution that saved the lives of perhaps a billion third world poor. If Americans did not generate wealth, Catholic Relief Service would have to close down.

      4. no one is arguing against wealth creation or the provisioning of external goods. And the preferential option for the poor calls primarily for justice (the reform of social structures) and only secondarily for charity. And again if the largesse of the poor were sufficient then thousands of children wouldn’t die of diarrhea every day. It is not just when oppressed people have to rely upon voluntary acts of kindness from the rich (including those who oppress them) just to survive.

      5. I don’t think you will be very good at exercising a preferential option for the poor if you are poor your self. You can only help the poor if you have a certain degree of disposable wealth.

      6. Gustavo Gutierrez, the originator of the concept of the preferential option for the poor, would disagree with you. He explicity says that the poor must also make a preferential option for the poor. You err by reducing the preferential option for the poor to mere charity (or handouts /philanthropy) when it is most concerned with Justice, the reform of structures.

    2. Larry,

      a. Whatever the ultimate goal of your comment, it stands as a chilling indictment of mandatory celibacy for clerics. Thank you.

      b. Can you link your claim to anything in the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) which says that faithfulness to the magisterium leads to “success” in the “secular” world?

      c. Did you intend to repudiate all the martyrs, who “secular” society deemed NOT “successful” or do you want to take that back?

      d. Why did you narrow faithfulness to the magisterium to sex and marriage? Do you reject, or hold less dear, other teachings of the magisterium?

      e. Please provide examples of the “obfuscatory rhetoric,” that you claim, “too often” beclouds the natural law and the teachings of the magisterium.

      1. OK Larry I will give you the chance to respond and then let’s bring this conversation to a close. I think we’re off on a bit of a tangent.

      1. Paul,

        Per Matthew 25, when was the last time you visited someone in prison?

        41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

        OT, In your second sentence, I’m having a tough time figuring out the subject and verb. You included a period at the end, so I figure you thought it was a sentence. If you’re going to call somebody’s arguments “stupid” on a blog, I think it helps your cause to use proper grammar.

      2. John,

        That’s my favorite pastime – random Scripture quotations which have absolutely no application to the subject under discussion. Of course the implicit assumption in your comment – that I do not engage in charitable activity – is the sin of detraction.

      3. Paul,

        I’m sorry you didn’t like “the Sheep and Goats.”

        How about the story of the “Rich Man” from Mark 10?

        17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

        18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

        19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

        20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

        21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

        22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

        23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

        Is that better?

  10. John,

    I was referring to the men not the act Dodd-Frank and I believe in capitalism because it works. I am not an Obamabot and it really must be special gift you have to know and label me from the comment I posted. Your charity in your comments is overwhelming. I don't believe as the author states that the privileged by their marriages keep the "insignificant ones" in poverty. I believe that the policies of our government, together with the lack of opportunities, making bad choices and the victim mentality keep them shackled in poverty. Please look at this as it may surprise you who agrees with me. 

    Frederick Douglas had it right back in 1865 when he said:

    In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone, — your interference is doing him positive injury. – See more at:

  11. Your post, for me, divides into two parts. Most commenters have focused on the second part about marriage as privilege. Like others, I find your idea too scant at this point to adequately comment. Even your update isn’t developed enough, in my opinion, and I look forward to a fuller, dedicated post.

    The first part, about racial injustice, addresses practical issues and suggests concrete actions, such as combating the war on drugs, advocating for sentencing/incarceration justice, and building (or re-opening) Catholic schools in poor urban neighborhoods. I agree with your sense of injustice but I don’t see any of these things (except the schools) within the purview of the bishops. Certainly I would prefer that our clergy speak less pabulum and more meat from the pulpit, but advocating for a certain political action is in the realm of the laity. Catholics can disagree on how justice is best met, and that disagreement is not appropriate coming from the pulpit. Persuasion about an issue is the key. Words like “white supremacy”, which are deeply insulting to people who genuinely want to help but don’t know how, will not open hearts and minds. That argument seems to use guilt as a motivator, when compassion is so much more powerful.

    Also, as Americans, I think it’s important we recognize that our entire society is privileged. The majority of the world’s bishops would not consider anybody here as poor. In some ways our particular concerns are not even going to be on their radar.

    1. White people as a group have proven themselves to be stunningly incapable of compassion for black people. So there is absolutely no evidence to your claim that white people want to right by black people. History and current reality prove just the opposite.

      And yes, white supremacy is an incredibly offensive reality. I hope that we may be more scandalized by the disease than the diagnosis.

      1. White people have also proven themselves deeply compassionate for black people. History and current reality prove both. Your sieve is small and miserly if you can’t see otherwise.

        If your objective is to be morally self-righteous, you’re on the right track. If your objective is to make this fallen world a little better, assume every right-wing racist is actually a good person whose back has gone up at being called an ugly name.

        Thank you for your reply.

      2. your commitment to racial justice should not depend upon or be affected by the eloquence or tone of a white blogger whom you happened to encounter on the internet. If I’m the reason a person would have taken the time to figure out what they could do to stop oppressing black people and contribute to racial justice, we’re in big trouble (we are in big trouble) and chances are, that person’s commitment to racial justice wasn’t that sincere anyways.

        People like to tell themselves that it’s hard to figure out how to contribute to racial justice. It’s not hard. What is hard for the vast majority of white people is to actually change their lives or make the sacrifices that racial justice demands.

        And of course there are “good” white people just as there are exceptions to most every rule. But we should care more about the lives of black people than the egos and feelings of white people. The knowledge that “some” white people want to do right by black people isn’t much comfort to the parents and loved ones of Mike Brown.

        So, if you have truly dedicated your life to racial justice, I applaud you. But if you really care about racial justice, then you will also know that it’s far from enough and not something that matters all that much.

        As for me…let me do my best to reverse your perception of me as self-righteous. I not only am white but I continue to benefit from an immense amount of white privilege. I personally have done very little to make racial justice a reality. I have sacrificed almost nothing…I certainly have not come even close to risking my life or reputation. In fact, I have a relatively high status and well-paying job as a professor because of my academic work on this issue. I count myself as among the condemned. Matthew 25 honestly terrifies me.

    2. Poverty is both an absolute and a relative term. It also includes those marginalized and stripped of power in their own societies. So yes there are poor people in the United States and yes God loves them preferentially.

    3. Kathleen,

      Please read, “The Case for Reparations,” and then help me understand where all these “white” people are that you claim are so eager to help “black” people.

      Once you realize that “(Federal) Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete”

      you’ll understand why federal reparations could be paid to the descendants of slaves without increasing federal taxes.

      The “white” guy who won a Pulitzer in 2009 for “Slavery By Another Name,”

      certainly is an example you cite. Can you name others since 2009?

  12. I hope the synod of bishops will consider the church as a family, and recognize that our patriarchal family structure is becoming an obstacle to evangelization as we enter the transition to a post-patriarchal society. Hierarchy is not the problem, and the church must remain apostolic; patriarchy is the problem, and the exclusively male hierarchy is becoming stale as a symbol of the Christ-Church mystery.

    In this regard, St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) may provide a solid basis for solving the most pressing issues of human sexuality, both in families and in the Church as the family of God, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The TOB endorses neither radical patriarchy nor radical feminism, and provides a vision of marriage, and gender relations in general, that can be summarized as unity in diversity, equality in mutuality, individuality in community.

    Doctrinally, nothing essential (dogmatic) of the Catholic faith would have to change in order to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate. The TOB confirms that there is one (embodied) human nature, shows that men and women equally share in human personhood, and makes clear that the human body, male and female, is what makes our Lord Jesus Christ visible as an incarnate divine Person.

    What is needed is “simply” to clarify our sacramental theology to separate patriarchal ideology from revealed truth. With all due respect and sensitivity for those who are heavily invested in the patriarchal order of things, this is a clarification that is possible and urgently needed in the church of the 21st century.

    Jesus never identified himself as a patriarch. The Holy Family was a not a patriarchy. The Trinity is not a patriarchy. The spousal, sacramental love of Christ for the church is not intrinsically patriarchal (as the TOB exegesis of Ephesians 5 abundantly shows), and Jesus Christ is head of the church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer, not because he is a human male.

    To act “in persona Christ capitis” means to act in place of a divine Person. Neither men nor women are divine persons. Any baptized human person, male or female, can be ordained to act “in persona Christ capitis.” All ministries, including ordained ministries, should be gift-based, not gender-based.

    The exclusively male priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CIC 1024, CCC 1598). The church does have the authority (the power of the keys) to ordain women as soon as Peter decides it would be for the glory of God and the good of souls.

    Isn’t CIC 1024 an artificial contraceptive of female priestky vocations?

    Why should the hierarchical church be exempted from practicing Humanae Vitae?

    How can we preach the gospel of life if we choose to prevent female priestly vocations?

    The patriarchal age is passing, but the deposit of faith is inexhaustible. Let us pray that all the Christian churches can discern the difference between patriarchal ideology and revealed truth, and act accordingly.

    Dominus vobiscum,


  13. “For example, today, the college-educated are both more likely to be married by the age of 30 and less likely to divorce than those who lack a college degree. Marriage seems the consequence not so much of moral righteousness but of socioeconomic privilege.”

    I find this set of comments to be extraordinarily tendentious. Do you have any documentation supporting the conclusion?

    It seems that very simple non-socioeconomic factors can be found as at least possibly and more likely proximately causal in relation to both the likelihood of getting and staying married with college-educated people. For example, in a culture such as ours, at least one factor that may contribute to the both the likelihood of college students marrying and of their staying married (versus those who are not college educated) is that college represents the last normal environment where large numbers of young people can meet and spend time together in a common cultural milieu that allows the necessary time and volume of options permitting discovery of a compatible spouse. In that case, the possible socioeconomic ramifications are at best distant and not at all immediate.

    You also seem to make absolutely no room for what may be the real reason that college kids marry and stay married: education of the right sort can lead to virtue…. So again, socioeconomic privilege is not proximate under that analysis.

    Does it really make any sense to say that the very poor who have been able to attend college, who then find someone to marry and then stay married (much more as a function of the sub-cultures to which they belong than even to their education, apparently) are socioeconomically privileged? It seems you’ve begged your own question.

  14. I seems clear that you missed my point Katie; and I admit to being disappointed. I doubt I have to school you, but for those others who are reading this who may not understand, statistical correlations are not explanatory. That was the whole point of my offering alternative explanations. I was expecting at least a reference from you that would provide a theoretic understanding of the statistics your references provide. You are an academic and should know better than to make explanatory claims, causal claims, based on statistics alone. That’s a cheap journalistic move. Please: although you obviously play the role of a journalist at times, you should still be providing solid academic underpinnings for claims of this nature. Otherwise, you appeal, as you do in this case, only to those who already agree with you.

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