Last week’s Supreme Court rulings present an excellent example in the damage the Roman Catholic Magisterium can wreak on society. It will be remembered that in on case before the Court (the Burwell,or Obamacare case) the Court held that the word “State” did not really mean “State” but something else. In the second case (the gay “marriage” case) the Court said that the protections of the 14th amendment applied to those who wanted to marry the same sex – even though every State of the Union at time of the adoption of the amendment defined marriage as only occurring between opposite sex couples. How can that happen?
To understand this better, one needs to review American history.
This country was founded squarely on Protestant principles. According to one historian, “80 percent of American Christians in the colonial period…were significantly influenced by John Calvin’s teachings.” And those teaching would have included the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. In addition to proclaiming the infallibility of God’s written Word in providing moral guidance to God’s people, this doctrine elevated the importance of the written word and minimized the importance of outside interpreters. The further influence of this theology emphasized the importance of covenants, or written contracts. The Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians – “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) – is one example of this line of thinking. This is also why the Supreme Court was given a little thought in the founding era of this country. After all, if judges who had been trained in Calvinism, Covenant theology and Sola Scriptura would surely rely on the written law and not on a “penumbra of rights” or other ephemeral things. When the Congress passed a law that says “States” that is what they meant.
Roman Catholics, on the other hand, reacting against Protestantism departed from this ancient Christian teaching. According to the Catholic Catechism, the bishops of the Catholic Church have been given“(t)he task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God”. (CCC para. 85 ff.) And while the catechism says that the Magisterium “is not superior” to the Scriptures the fact remains that the final word belongs to human beings and their subjective interpretation. That is why so much of Catholic theology is built on the teaching of men and not the teaching of the Bible.
So here’s the connection with last week’s SCOTUS opinions.
6 of 9 justices on today’s court are Roman Catholics. Having been raised in a tradition which defers to a human body that gives “authentic interpretation” to the laws, its’ only natural that they relied on their own judgment, rather that the written law. After all, Catholic theological history is littered with contradictory doctrines and topsy-turvy teachings precisely because of this.
So when a court dominated by Roman Catholics says, “States” means something else and they invoke an amendment that was passed by states that all defined marriage a heterosexual union in support of homosexual “marriage”, they are only doing what the Magisterium has been doing for time immemorial. One can think of papal pronouncements against slavery all the while Jews were enslaved in the Papal States. Or one is reminded of the Magisterium’s decree that Councils are superior to popes in 1418 which was reversed in 1870 by a Council that anathematized anyone who believed thusly! Or Pope Leo’s making “official” the teaching of Thomas Aquinas which included that a fetus is not immediately human contrasted by today’s Magiesterial hysteria about life beginning at the “moment of conception”.
The Founding Fathers were suspicious of this behavior so as to even prevent Catholics from voting in this new country. Now that Catholicism has gone mainstream, and that there are 66 million American Roman Catholics, this behavior, although shocking, is entirely understandable. America has found its Magisterium!