Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

In New York and in Ireland, defenders of marriage asked to go away quietly

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 20, 2014

If you enjoy the sound of reassuring words, President Obama’s proclamation for Religious Freedom Day might satisfy you. But if you think actions speak louder, these are troubling times.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has declared that pro-lifers and defenders of marriage are not welcome in his state. Many people, myself included, are wondering when Cardinal Dolan will respond. Yet as my friend Bob Royal points out, Cardinal Dolan and other bishops have made many strong statements about religious freedom, and anyway this isn’t just a problem for Catholic bishops. It’s a problem for all Catholics, all pro-lifers, all defenders of marriage. Politicians only make statements of this sort when they believe they can make them with impunity; we need to prove that’s not so. As Royal puts it:

Pope Francis told the young people in Brazil for 2013 World Youth Day to “raise a ruckus.”
Well, here’s something to raise a ruckus about.

Things may have reached an even more dangerous stage in Ireland, if this op-ed column from the Irish Times is any indication. Una Mullally argues that, in the days leading up to a referendum on same-sex marriage, an “independent homophobia watchdog” should be set up to determine which arguments can be presented to the public, and which must be suppressed. “An enlightened Irish public is now overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality,” Mullally claims. But she isn’t willing to take any chances; she doesn’t want an actual public debate preceding the vote. Having suggested that defenders of marriage should be muzzled, she concludes that they should “prepare for defeat, with dignity.” In this case “with dignity” sounds very much like a directive to go quietly. Which is what Governor Cuomo wants the same sort of people to do. You know: Don't raise a ruckus.

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 See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Sep. 27, 2017 2:49 PM ET USA

    “No. But it’s OK to pray while you’re smoking.” Love it!

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Sep. 26, 2017 2:01 PM ET USA

    Really - I mean really. You need to move on to something more prominent and useful. This is what we are concerned about now? If this is a way to get the lay folks more aware of God's presence and making use of the time we have given the hectic world in which we live...then use technology for God's greater honor and glory. There are worse ways folks could be using the internet and various apps...

  • Posted by: edward.hadas2857 - Sep. 23, 2017 5:49 AM ET USA

    I have heard that story, but about Jesuits and Dominicans. Free to decide which side endorsed praying while smoking...

  • Posted by: Erusmas - Sep. 22, 2017 9:28 PM ET USA

    Sometimes I am almost too weary to pray. If I am alone, in my own home, YouTube can help. It is easy to rest my eyes and my back and listen, just for instance, to the Litany of the Saints, or the Te Deum, or many other fine hymns, sermons, etc.

  • Posted by: Bronco Pete - Sep. 22, 2017 6:25 PM ET USA

    I use my iPhone to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. I wish I could do it with the fine set of books I've purchased however I've never been able the master the flipping back and forth. That said, I never use my iPhone at Mass. Others might infer that I'm surfing.

  • Posted by: dom6938 - Sep. 22, 2017 6:09 PM ET USA

    If you subscribe to the notion that electronics, phone, tablet and computer screens can create initial obstacles to getting into the presence of God, then using the traditional, printed breviary would help avoid any distractions from technology as you head into prayer. Some merit to Cdl. Sarah's thinking from that perspective alone, but just my two-bits.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 22, 2017 1:18 PM ET USA

    I use a hand missal to follow the Mass---a habit that dates to when one side was Latin and the other English---but I have noticed a number of younger people following on their phones. And one of our priests regularly looks at his phone during his homilies. Not, by the way, a younger one: he's listed as retired.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Sep. 22, 2017 11:54 AM ET USA

    For private prayer I'd think an iphone would be fine. For public prayer, perhaps not.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 22, 2017 11:40 AM ET USA

    One of the hidden blessings of using electronic Breviary is not having to flip back and forth through many pages while searching for the proper antiphons or readings for the day; each prayer hour is completely laid out in a single page. The other blessing is that, without any extra weight to carry, it is always in the pocket and available. If electronic text helps clergymen (and I think it really does) to stay faithful in their duty of praying the Breviary, then it is a good thing.

  • Posted by: Philopus - Sep. 22, 2017 8:49 AM ET USA

    I suspect that similar advice would have been given about books after the printing press was invented. Books have been used to spread great evil as well the Word of God. I pray Lauds and Compline daily in Latin using Universalis and I can do it wherever I am thanks to digital media. I'm inclined to file this advice in the same folder with advice offered by Pope Francis on climate science.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Sep. 21, 2017 2:54 PM ET USA

    Kudos to him for having the courage to encourage that it's meant to be prayed with an actual book. Clergy have managed to carry around an actual book for the Divine Office for centuries. When they are silently praying the office, the faithful can notice that's what they are doing because they are using the actual book for it. Not so much when they are looking at their iPhone. In fact maybe it would be for the best for them not to have an iPhone.