Chris Christie, the Little One

A Comment on the Editorial

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt. 18:6)

A few days ago I came across a Catholic News Agency online article with the headline, “Chris Christie ties his shift on gay marriage to Vatican ruling on same-sex blessings.” The article held my attention because I was unaware that Chris Christie was a Catholic. I was likewise unaware of his stance on “gay marriage” (or, as I prefer to term it, same-sex pseudogamy), although, if asked, I would have guessed that whatever his stance was, it would be held weakly and “flexibly.”

As it turns out, the story is sad but instructive. Governor Christie, speaking about his change of mind, explained: “It was a process I had to go through to change the way I’ve been raised both from a family perspective and what my mother and father taught me and felt, and also from a religious perspective and . . . what my Church taught me to believe.” Christie went on to explain that since “Pope Francis is now allowing blessings of same-sex couples; even the Church is changing. . . . Society has changed . . . and, you know, I don’t have any objections to it any longer. . . . I think I have been convinced.”

One wonders what sort of “convictions” underlie this “shift”—it sounds like something less than a “conversion experience” on the governor’s part, but that is beside the point. Rather, Christie comes across as one of those who wish to retain ties to their family religious patrimony but who have not given it serious thought. I know nothing about his faith or how, whether, or to what extent he practices it, but he seems from the remarks just quoted that his heart is rightly oriented at a basic human level. And that brings us to the passage from the Gospel placed above.

Governor Christie is an ample man, a substantial man, but he is also, and more importantly, one of the “little ones” of whom our Lord speaks with tenderness in that passage from Matthew. He (and others like him) has been betrayed by Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernández, the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith, which issued the declaration Fiducia Supplicans. My colleague Dr. Boersma has discussed the document and its implications sufficiently elsewhere in this issue, but whatever its nuances and qualifications, the document’s take-away is: “the Church now approves the blessing of same-sex couples, and so I, as a Catholic layman, can support same-sex marriage.” We await the delivery of millstones to the Vatican.

William J. Tighe is Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a faculty advisor to the Catholic Campus Ministry. He is a Member of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.

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