At some point secular marriage dissolves and the reasons for keeping track of who is married to who disappears. It is this likely development that has caused secular people here to seriously think about why the government is involved with the remnants of ‘traditional marriage’.
With the secular definition changing then checks such as if the person has been married before go by the way side and there is less reason for the state to be checking (or validating) this to the Catholic Church. Ideas of property rights for marriage participants start to become extremely messy to the point of being impossible, The state may have no choice but to totally change it’s current approach which may take away another reason for state marriage from the Catholic viewpoint.
I think this is the way it is going. The state no longer underpins Christian concepts of marriage and are likely to further distance itself, sometimes in an aggressively deliberate way.
There are pushes in the schools to teach secular ideas of marriage (which continue to change) and rule out traditional teachings of marriage as bigoted.
Already a Tasmanian bishop has been taken to court (by the Green party I believe) simply for producing a brochure stating the Catholic idea of marriage. The charge was much the same. The Catholic view of marriage differed from that of the state and therefore people saw this as illegal on discrimination and ‘offensive’ grounds. In Australia it is an offense to offend someone from a particular category (such as homosexuals) This law is nuts (18c I believe) but it is there and it underpins secular morality over the church.
This is another pressure on the church to distinguish between secular and Catholic marriage.
Still further we have the example that everyone has heard of regarding florists and bakers et cetera. While I make no comment on whether they should be allowed to not participate in homosexual weddings it does throw up problems for priests.
You will have the situation where two gay people go to a florist and ask for their services for their wedding and are refused. They then walk out of the florist and go to the church to see the Catholic priest to ask for his services for their wedding and he refuses. Yet in law the florist will be found guilty and perhaps lose his business but (at present) the Catholic priest is found to be acting properly.
Now at the moment people are adamant that the priest should not be forced to give his services but the florist must. In time this inconsistency in law will be challenged (at the most opportune time ) and under the secular concepts of equal rights, the church may lose. The time isn’t right now but in the future there will be pressure on priests.
I re-iterate that it is important for the church to at least think about putting distance between itself and the state when it comes to marriage. There are forces within the state that will put the church in an untenable and vulnerable position. I understand people not wanting to go to war with the state and I agree but the positon of the church with regards to being able to teach, preach and regulate it’s own concept of marriage is going to be challenged.