I have had some conversations recently with disaffected Catholics who feel that the Church is not doing enough to speak out against gay marriage. What they seem to want is a new crusade; a jeremiad preached in unflinching language about homosexual sexual practices that will set the record straight about the difference between this and marriage.
Hopefully, the exact opposite is true. Hopefully there will be no jeremiad condeming same-sex sexual practices from anyone in any country which is facing the prospect of gay marriage legislation. That is NOT the point of this debate.
The point of the debate is to stop secular governments redefining marriage away from the contractual obligation to some kind of permanence, and raising of biological children, into something transient and unstable based on a very recent idea of 'love'.
Catholics need to draw on our 2000 years of Christian legal and social teaching and practice to show these pagan governments that we know a thing or two about stability, permanence, and the best way to raise children.
We have gone way, WAY beyond the sexual issue now. It's about 50 years too late to start talking about 'depraved actions' or 'perverse sexual practices'. This is because the Catholic Church effectively dropped the ball 50 years ago on this issue with the widespread failure to support the implementation of the encyclical HumanaeVitae. The bishops and priests way back then in 1968 effectively cut our legs out from under us in this debate, because they created the world of sexual doublethink among Catholics. If leeway could be granted for birth control, although expressly condemned, then leeway could be granted for just about anything.
It's like the old joke about the man who offers a woman $1 million to sleep with him. She accepts. Then he offers her a dollar to sleep with him. She indignantly refuses, and asks, 'Do you think I'm a prostitute?' He replies, 'Madam, we have already established that. Now, we're just haggling over price.' That's exactly where people who compromised on Humanae Vitae have found themselves - they have named their price, but now we're just haggling it down even further.
And here's the thing: those priests and bishops who let us down were all formed and ordained in the wonderful 1950s when everything in the Catholic Church was marvellous, and everyone went to Mass, and was far holier than we are now. This is why I get so stroppy about people who have a fantasy about the 'good old days': all those priests and bishops who let us down in 1968 were products of the 'good old days'.
I don't deny that at the parish level, a person might have thought that things were 'good' in the 'good old days', but the awful explosion after Vatican II tells me very clearly that things were not OK at all. We needed that explosion - it was like lancing a boil. And it will take decades to clean up the mess, not because it was a revolution, but because we are draining the poison out of a wound that goes back to the late 19th century with the development of Modernism. (OK, so it actually goes back to Judas, but I'm thinking recent history ...)
There is almost a century of evil that has accumulated inside the Church, due to this set of beliefs, that needs draining out, and it's being drained as we speak, but it will take time. We can't just pump antibiotics in at one end and expect it to clean up the infection; the wound must also be drained at the other end.
It's painful, but who said we were going to be let off easily? We let this happen in the first place. Here is a saying from those celebrated good old days: Offer it up.