Recently I haven’t been much of a good Catholic, until this weekend I hadn’t been to mass in well over a month. As usual the Gospel and the homily were totally relevant to things on my mind. Last week I posted my feelings on gay marriage and said essentially that the churches need to realize that civil marriage and Sacramental marriage are 2 distinct things that share a name, and they should stay out of the Prop 8 fight. I was wrong to say that. The homily reminded me of a key part of Catholic teaching that says to me that the Church and its members should be in the battle, but on the opposite side from where the majority of them have been standing.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops current stance on gay marriage is summed up as follows:
…We oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex. No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential which the marital relationship expresses. For this reason, our opposition to “same-sex marriage” is not an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons.
Even reading the whole thing on their website, I can’t quite follow the Church’s logic. They’re making the assumption that legal/secular marriage is somehow the same thing as what the Church recognizes. And yet, the USCCB states on their website that Non-Sacramental marriage can exist when a Catholic marries a non-christian and be okay. They see the distinction between a legal issue and sacrament plain as day, but they choose to ignore this understanding in the case of “unnatural” same-sex marriage.
Another problem with their opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage is that this view is antithetical to the Church’s mission of Social Justice. The Church can certainly still refuse to allow same-sex Sacramental Marriage, but by the Catholic teaching on Social Justice, Modern Catholics should be fighting FOR Legal same-sex marriage not against it. Pope Paul VI made it very clear during Vatican II that the church has a responsibility to protect the dignity of all people, especially those who are vulnerable and persecuted. Same-sex couples are certainly members of the vulnerable and persecuted, the very existence of Prop 8 shows that. Having marriage related Civil rights, such as end of life visitation, burial decisions, and the right to call your partnership the same thing others do, is important to protecting gay people’s dignity. It’s high hypocrisy to say you are out to protect the vulnerable and persecuted, while supporting a law that persecutes a vulnerable group.
Now I don’t think one man pointing out the hypocrisy of current Church leadership is going to change anything. But I have to try, I can’t just leave an institution I believe in because some people within the Church have hardened their hearts. I encourage all my Catholic Brothers and Sisters to think and pray on this. I think you will find in your hearts that support of Proposition 8 is wrong. Proposition 8 does nothing to protect the Sacrament of marriage, but it marginalizes a group of people. Jesus said:
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Let us all say “Yes” to God’s command to love, give LGBT folks a fair shake and fight for gay rights.