Time for civil disobedience?

By Tom Quiner

Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope

Democrats believe in civil disobedience all the time, because they feel like it.

Take so-called gay marriage. Every Democratic politician of note, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden opposed it a few short years ago.

And then suddenly they were for it. Before you knew it, Democrats throughout the country, including the president decided to stop enforcing the laws on the books.

Along comes Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a Christian 4 short years ago. When Ms. Davis was elected, gay marriage was illegal in Kentucky because the people didn’t want it.

Suddenly, the Supreme Court told Kentuckians, and Americans in every state with laws on the book supporting traditional marriage, that they were dead wrong, that their democratically-enacted laws no longer counted.

Kim Davis could not abide by it since it violated her religious beliefs and considered it an unjust law.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this dilemma:

A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence. (# 1902)

Liberals and even some conservatives intone that this is now the “law of the land” and must be honored. Again, the catechism responds:

Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner…. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse. (nos. 1902 and 1903)

I like what Monsignor Charles Pope had to say on the subject. Msgr. Pope “is currently a dean and pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where he has served on the Priest Council, the College of Consultors, and the Priest Personnel Board.” Writing in the National Catholic Register, here is what he had to say on the subject:

What makes the compulsory recognition of same-sex “marriage” so egregious is that five justices (with four others vigorously objecting) have issued a judicial fiat that binds every American. This judicial action provides no recourse and violates the existing laws of many states and legislatures. It also violates the professed will of the American People in many areas who expressed that will though plebiscites (votes), and it violates the ancient and deeply held religious beliefs of many Americans. This “law” has no exemptions. Everyone must legally recognize and comply. And Anthony Kennedy’s reassurances notwithstanding, there seem to be no religious accommodations other than to assure ministers that they don’t need to do them. But that will surely be tested and this writer is not optimistic.

Hence the sense that this is not only an unjust law but is also, to use the Catechism’s words, despotic and a shameful abuse is a reasonable conclusion.

So was Ms. Davis’ act of ‘civil disobedience’ the right thing to do? Msgr. Pope:

So, I would humbly say that I consider what Kim Davis is doing is admirable. I say “humbly” because I know that not all Catholics or people of good will agree with this approach. Some say she should just quit. But I am not so sure that we who are conscientious objectors to the unjust and immoral SCOTUS decision should just sit by or let others tell us to “take our marbles and go home.” Accepting the “invitation” to just quit or go away, seems too defeatist.

I am glad that Kim Davis has chosen to fight. Perhaps others will join her. She says in effect, “No I will not just go away. I was elected to this job and have served proudly for years. I shouldn’t be compelled to follow and unjust law.” I think she is right and I admire her courage. Clearly her stance has consequences, and she accepting them [sic] admirably and fighting for justice.

Thank-you Monsignor Pope for standing up for church teaching in the public square, and thank-you, Kim Davis, for your brave act of civil disobedience.


  1. Zada Sorrell on September 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Also not optimistic. but enjoying your site.

    • quinersdiner on September 11, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Zada, thanks for the kind words. I very much appreciate them.