Contraception, sleeping around, co-habitation, and gay sex are done in private. By and large, over the last few decades the Church in the West has adopted a don’t ask/don’t tell policy. Marriage is different. It is by definition a public institution. You can protest that recognizing gay marriage does not mean approval, but actions have symbolic meaning whether we want them to or not.

I’m sure Pius XII would have denied that signing a Concordat with Hitler’s Germany meant he approved of Nazism. But it conferred legitimacy and dramatically undercut any basis within the Church for resistance. The same goes for the concordat many Catholic institutions are signing with gay marriage. It confers legitimacy on the sexual revolution and undercuts resistance.

I can understand why Pius XII sought the Concordat with Hitler. He hoped to secure a stable basis for the Church’s ministry in Germany. I can also understand why many Catholics (including, perhaps, Pope Francis) want to make their peace with the sexual revolution, putting “divisive” culture-war issues behind them so that they can go on with the work of the Gospel and so forth. Moreover, Hitler in 1933 didn’t look so bad—and respectable gay couples don’t seem a threat to marriage or anything else.

Catholic Capitulation on Marriage | R. R. Reno | First Things. Here, let me write that headline for you:


This comparison doesn’t help anyone or anything. It is ratcheting up the culture-war rhetoric to the highest possible pitch, and I think inappropriately, since the issue at hand is Creighton University’s decision to provide benefits to legally married same-sex spouses.

Isn’t that an eminently defensible action on specifically Christian grounds, namely the grounds of charity? After all, Jesus didn’t subject people to tests of their morals before healing them. In this case, isn’t the university just saying, “We may not approve of your sexual behavior, but we don’t want people you love to get sick and die?” In a country without universal health care, an employer who seeks to deny benefits to spouses comes off simply as punitive. Wouldn’t it be both wiser and more Christ-like to err on the side of compassion in these matters?