By Tony Rubio
“Acting on the authority given to it by the Vatican, the United State Council of Catholic Bishops has announced that, to ensure equality and social justice, any male or female, regardless of age, who demonstrates:
1) the required knowledge of the rules of the road
2) can steer and reach the pedals,
shall be issued the Catholic Motor Vehicle License which shall be valid in any diocese which accepts it, regardless of state law. No one may be denied the fundamental right to drive on the basis of age, visual acuity, vehicle preference or emotional orientation.”
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Where does a religious institution get the idea it can override a statute that is secular in origin and where the authority to regulate lies with the state? Definitely a bad case of overstepping one’s bounds.
What State Laws and Church Laws Impact
The state is responsible for governing society’s temporal (worldly) affairs. While some of its statutes may be initiated by the spiritual inclinations of its authors, secular laws regulate actions solely because of their consequences in this life.
The Church, whose guidance impacts temporal matters, must also do so with the responsibility of the eternal results. Its directives address the worldly conduct of our lives, but the ultimate mission is aimed toward the spiritual outcome, the eternal.
Marriage Has Eternal, Not Just Temporal Aspects
Unlike drivers’ licenses, the institution of marriage was not created by the state. Marriage is spiritual in origin. If not, then human relationships (including procreation) can be relegated to the same status of the rest of the animal kingdom as Obamacare implies.
Secular law became involved with marriage in order to provide for orderly inheritance, separation of property in the event of a break-up and to ensure financial support for minor children. This occurs in those countries where Church law does not possess civil authority in these matters. While spiritual motives may have been part of legislators’ thought processes, the statutes are solely directed at worldly consequences because that is the limit of civil authority.
In U.S. civil law, a balance of power was established between the branches of government. Among other things, it determines who may change laws and how it is to be accomplished. In addition, the Supreme Court can rule that certain parties are not qualified to represent a case questioning a law’s constitutionality.
Marriage is also restricted as to who may change it. While the Church was given authority on moral “statutes”, this authority does not extend to rewriting the eternal constitution which includes Natural Law. Therefore, the Church is not qualified to redefine marriage as being something other than being between one man and one woman. Even more so the state, whose authority is limited to the worldly, is not competent to take on this task because of its eternal consequences.
This is not to diminish the importance of regulating drivers’ licenses. The state has a great responsibility because the results of its decisions can be deadly in this life. And because the state authored this regulation, it is the only entity which can change the qualifications for issuance.
The Church has the duty to protect marriage — an institution with spiritual origins and with deadly consequences beyond this life. However, because the Church is not its author, she has no power to redefine it. So, how can any other earthly entity presume to do so?
[Tony Rubio publishes a blog I enjoy called Cartaremi (www.Cartaremi.Wordpress.com). Be sure to check it out. Thanks for permission to publish your essay, Tony.]