US Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on US Supreme Court Ruling

11.50am ET – Just issued, the following is the statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, its signatories listed as the body’s president, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and the subcommittee chair for the Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco:

 

Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth.

These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.

Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.

When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

 

Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.

 

Meanwhile, the following op-ed has likewise just emerged from the DC-based head of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese for the Military Services, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, whose responsibility for all Catholic servicemen and women and federal employees abroad has seen his charge often placed in the crossfire of recent changes on social policy….

In two decisions today the US Supreme Court avoided a firm declaration about same sex-marriage but signaled that attempts by the federal government to limit rights available under state law could be unconstitutional. By sidestepping the issue of marriage per se, the Court shifts the debate to the states where it is now but raises questions about the scope of the federal government’s authority to administer its own programs. 

In ruling DOMA out of bounds, the Court confirmed Congress’ basic authority to establish rules for federal programs including rules about marriage but has called into question the reach of that authority. While marriage traditionally has been defined by the states, the states have no basis to press the variety of those views on the federal government. 

Until today. It is unseemly that the uniformity of the federal system can now be upset by state policies in this area of life and law. 

In light of today’s Supreme Court opinion, it seems imperative to remind the faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services that they must never forget that all, regardless of their sexual inclination, must be treated with the respect worthy of their human dignity. As you know well, the Catholic Faith teaches clearly the biblical principle thatall persons, regardless of their sexual inclination, are called to chastity regardless of their state of life. While today’s decision voids federal law it opens the doors to others: it allows the citizens of each state the opportunity to uphold the true definition of marriage by voting for representatives and legislation that defend the true definition of marriage. I call on all Catholics and men and women of good will to make their voices heard through the democratic process by upholding marriage in their home states. 

I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.

I likewise remain confident that the First Amendment Constitutional guarantee of the “Free Exercise of Religion” will forever ensure that no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of the Catholic Faith will be placed on any Catholic priest or deacon serving in the Armed Forces. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees that no endorsed minister will ever be compelled to perform a religious ceremony contrary to the dictates of his/her faith nor will today’s decision have any effect on the role and teaching ability of a priest or deacon in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks or in the office. 

This Archdiocese remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone- even silently – same-sex “marriages”.

Elsewhere, this response has just come from the de facto dean of the USCCB’s moderate-progressive bloc, Bishop Robert Lynch of St Petersburg – a former general secretary of the conference (emphasis original):

The S-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) comes as no surprise and has been anticipated by the bishops of the United States. Most likely not unlike the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion of 1973, this action of the Court will be debated for a long time also.

Also of interest to me was the decision in the Proposition 8 case arising from a state constitutional referendum barring same-sex marriage. In invalidating that action of the electorate for lack of standing of those who brought the proposal forward,the majority of this court left standing for the time being the Florida constitutional amendment passed here in 2008 and thus there will be no change here.

The Catholic Church has a great interest in the definition of marriage since it is one of its seven sacraments. We firmly believe that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. I pray that no civil legislation will ever require of us or any religion the freedom to define marriage for our own ecclesial purpose.

And in a series of tweets issued shortly after the rulings, Bishop Kevin Farrell – the DC-bred head of the 1.2 million-member Dallas church – said that “In the sheep’s clothing of ‘equality,’ the sacrament of Marriage is being reduced to an ‘exalted conception’ of an institution…. Sexual difference matters… it is essential for marriage. Only through this difference can man & woman speak the language of married love.”

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