Action Alert!

The Boston archdiocese has chosen an odd time to take a stand

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 02, 2016

The Atlantic wonders Why the Catholic Church Is Leading the Fight Against Legal Pot in Massachusetts. So do I.

It’s easy to understand that the archdiocese would oppose the referendum question that would legalize recreational use of marijuana.

But there’s a big difference between opposing a ballot measure and flooding the opposition with cash—$850,000 is a huge chunk of money, especially for an archdiocese that has closed parishes, shuttered schools, and dismantled the palatial archbishops’ residence due to financial strain over the last decade and a half. Financially, things still aren’t great: The archdiocese lost $20.5 million in operating income between 2014 and 2015. And it has spent significant money on legal fees related to sex-abuse allegations in recent years—it came to new settlement agreements with seven alleged victims as recently as March.

Amen to all that. And consider that in these early years of the 21st century, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has decreed:

  • that same-sex alliances must be treated as legal marriages,
  • that citizens do not have the right to overturn the court’s decision redefining marriage,
  • that doctors must provide abortion referrals, and pharmacists must dispense abortifacient pills, regardless of their own moral principles;
  • that adoption agencies must provide equal treatment for homosexual couples;
  • that public institutions must provide accommodations for biological males who identify themselves as females, and females who identify themselves as males.
  • that church-owned buildings, insofar as they serve as public meeting places, must provide the same accommodations for transgender individuals;

So why, at this late date, has the archdiocese—which has mounted only token opposition, at best, to all the above governmental ukases— chosen to take a stand on this issue? The Atlantic poses that question to spokesmen for the archdiocese, and the reply is that the widespread use of marijuana would exacerbate the social problems that archdiocesan agencies are struggling to address. Pot use harms family life, you see. Which is a very reasonable concern.

Still, having watched the all-out assault on marriage and family life for the space of nearly a full generation now, why is the Boston archdiocese now committing its scarce resources to the fight against pot use? The Atlantic asks the right question; the answers aren’t convincing.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: teezoo5862 - Nov. 04, 2016 6:00 PM ET USA

    Dear Phil. The Boston archdiocese has a history of very weak support for the real things that matter in our Commonwealth, Abortion, Gay Marriage etc, and the basic principles of our Catholic faith. Cardinal Law was the leader of the pact back in the early 2000-2002. His failure to oppose the appointment of Margaret Marshall to the Mass. Supreme Court and Like Sean O'Malley who is also a weakling in defending the faith.These so called church leaders stand afar from truly defending our faith.

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Nov. 04, 2016 4:58 PM ET USA

    "token opposition" More like tokin' opposition, amirite?

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Nov. 03, 2016 1:51 PM ET USA

    As a Catholic I Unequivocally oppose the USE of marijuana, but because I love children & want them to have every protection, I Unequivocally support the LEGALIZATION of mj so that it is treated exactly like alcohol. But I've an open mind, & I WILL oppose legalization just as soon as I see a newstory of the arrest of someone selling shots of hooch on the street corner, or another story of an employer who says his workers can show up stoned for work, or a minister who preaches on the joy of dope.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Nov. 03, 2016 8:46 AM ET USA

    Pope Francis has said that the Church should oppose marijuana legalization. Maybe it is a case of believing that this lines up with Pope Francis' priorities more than other more objectively significant issues? I agree the Church should oppose marijuana legalization strongly; it has dismayed me that there has not been more said by the Church about this. I also wonder if the Archdiocese of Boston thinks that money spent on this cause is more likely to be effective than money put into other causes.