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Joseph Bottum: “There are a couple things that I regret in the article

Posted on: August 31st, 2013 by kresta in the afternoon

“I didn’t really think that it would be misread in quite the way that it has been.”

This afternoon Joseph Bottum, former editor of First Things whose article in Commonweal on same-sex marriage ignited a firestorm of Internet commentary over the weekend, spoke with Al Kresta on his radio show about the controversial essay. Bottum says the piece (which can be found here) has been widely misunderstood by people on the right and the left, and that he has not, in fact, changed his position on same-sex marriage. Rather, he believes the issue has become a “distraction”and that “the culture is just in the weirdest place, and that the message that we have to teach is not being successfully learned.”
 
The full interview touches on the several controversial elements of Bottum’s lengthy essay—including that very lengthiness!—and can be heard here. A couple excerpts:
 
I’ve been, for the last few years, coming around to a position that Paul Griffiths, the theologian down at Duke, proposed some years ago—and he in turn got beat up for it by people I respected, like Father Neuhaus—which was: the cultural situation is getting so strange, we should probably get out of the civil marriage business. At the time I kind of went along with Father Neuhaus and the others who were saying, “No Paul—you can’t counsel Catholicism to withdraw from the public square.”
 
Kresta: You’re giving up the fight, you’re moving in the direction of a separatist community…
 
Bottum: Right. Exactly. That was the argument at the time. And I went along with it, probably even agreed with it. But as time’s gone by, [...] I think many of us are coming around to the idea that the culture is just in the weirdest place, and that the message that we have to teach is not being successfully learned, on what marriage is in its full, rich sacramental sense. […]
I’m still on-board the Magisterium here, all the way. But I’m also looking at the culture. […]
 
Kresta: If your fundamental position hasn’t changed, what has changed?
 
Read the rest at Catholic World Report.
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