I’ve been struggling as I think about what to write in this column. I want to address the SCOTUS decision made recently concerning same-sex marriage as it is well known that the ruling is in opposition to Catholic teaching (which means to say that it is opposed to what the Church believes has been revealed to us by God in the person of Jesus Christ). I am constrained given the complexity of the issue and the limited space available here (or even the limited time in a homily). However I would like to make two important suggestions.
First, it seems to me that many people easily make blanket statements which oversimplify the issue. For example, opponents may say only “It’s against Catholic teaching” without ever explaining why. What are the values that the Church is trying to uphold? Supporters on the other hand may say, “Love needs to win” without recognizing that the issue goes far deeper than just how two people feel about each other. So my first suggestion is to take some time to find out what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality and why. What did Jesus say to us about marriage, sexuality, and human dignity which we need to apply to this particular issue? I have been spending quite some time reading articles and online websites which attempt to uncover the many complicated issues involved. However there are many ways in which we can get the information that is important for our consideration in a version that is more condensed & easily readable. I might suggest that you take a look at the official website for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) which has a page dedicated to the “Frequently Asked Questions About The Defense Of Marriage.” They ask & answer questions such as “Where does marriage come from? Why can’t marriage be redefined? What about equality and fairness?” and many other such important questions, the answers to which are summarized in just one paragraph for each question. I have found that there is a consistent and logical wisdom to the teaching of the Church which is always based on the Word of God as revealed in the scriptures and in the teachings of Jesus. It is imperative that as Catholics we know not only what the teaching is, but why it is. How else can we enter into an intelligent conversation with others who may have an opposite point of view?
Secondly, I believe that with this or any issue, we must remember that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (another resource for Church teaching but which may require some further commentary or explanation), it says of the homosexual person that they “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” This second but equally important statement needs to integrated within all of our conversations concerning this issue. We all know and love family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers who have had to deal with sexual confusion or uncertainty, the possibility of rejection or scorn, or the difficult task of living out a faith which is often in opposition to the morals and values of the society in which we live. We all struggle to live a life of faithfulness and truth and virtue no matter what our unique circumstances are. As a Church, we are called to challenge and to comfort, to use both reason and faith, to strive for virtue but to trust in mercy when we fail. May our prayer be that we may all seek to know and live the will of God, who calls us not to an easy life but to a loving one.