In Minnesota, Catholics Support Marriage Equality.

Despite the high profile opposition of many of our bishops, we know that Catholics as a group are firm supporters of legal recognition for same  – sex unions, and are more likely than most other Christians to support full equality in civil marriage regulations. Now, it seems that the bishops’ vigorous efforts to prevent marriage equality are spurring many Catholics to open disagreement in formal groups publicly supporting same-sex marriage. In Maine last year, Maine Catholics for Marriage Equality was the first such group, spurred into action by Providence Bishop       fund-raising for the Prop 1 campaign to overturn marriage equality in that state. “Catholics For Equality”  took that campaign to a national level earlier this year – “Equally Blessed” is another national initiative, a joint effort by New Ways Ministry, Dignity USA and others.  In Minnesota, just as in Maine, the efforts of Archbishop  Nienstedt to influence state elections to stall same-sex marriage have spurred another local group in support of justice for same sex couples.

“Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” is an initiative by local groups and individuals who are concerned at the Archbishop’s intervention, which emphasises one element of Vatican doctrine on sexual ethics while totally ignoring broader Church teaching on justice and equality for all. A thoughtful statement the group issued last month, which I read at Michael Bayley’s The Wild Reed, has much to commend it. (Michael heads the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, which is one of the partners in the project, together with Dignity Twin CitiesCatholic Rainbow Parents and the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform). This says that Catholics for Marriage Equality MN supports same-sex marriage for the following reasons:

  • Point of Social Justice
  • Point of Constitutional Law
  • Point of Catholic Moral Teaching
  • Point of Ethics

Arguments from Social Justice and Constitutional Law are familiar, but too easily become derailed into the sterile supposed opposition of “civil rights” and “religious obligations”. It is refreshing therefore to see that these principles are expressed here in terms of Catholic belief:

Of any religious group in the U.S., American Catholics are among the strongest supporters of equality for LGBT people. We recognize that this support is intrinsic to Catholicism as it is a support drawn from the rich tradition of Catholic social justice teachings, grounded in the Gospel message of love.

As the statement reminds us, this commitment to justice for LGBT persons is made explicit by the American bishops in their 1997 pastoral statement, “Always Our Children”.

The statement also goes beyond the principles of Catholic commitment to social justice, to show why orthodox moral theology should have prevented the Archbishop’s intervention:

The Catholic teaching of probabilism holds that when there are good reasons and good authorities on both sides of a debate on a moral issue (in this case homosexuality and same-sex unions), Catholics are free to make up their own minds. The magisterium of the Catholic hierarchy notwithstanding, there is debate among theologians and the faithful, the sensus fidelium, on the issue of homosexual unions.

While Catholics have an obligation to avoid sin, the authors of this statement submit that the “sin” is not homosexuality, but heterosexism:

We do not believe that homosexual sex is in itself a sin. We believe heterosexism (prejudice against people who are homosexual) is a sin. “It is a serious sin because it violates justice, truth, and love. It also distorts the true meaning of sex and thus also harms everyone, including heterosexuals.” (Maguire, Daniel. “A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage.”)

This is entirely consistent with the argument I have presented before, that the real “Sin of Sodom“, or the “Sin That Cries Out to Heaven“, is not homosexuality but the prejudice and discrimination practiced by so-called Christians against sexual and other minorities.

Read the full statement at The Wild Reed.


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2 Responses to “In Minnesota, Catholics Support Marriage Equality.”

  1. Dick Houck President Catholic Defense League Says:

    I suggest that Terrence read the full teaching of the Catholic Church on the issue of homosesuality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and make an attempt to understand the full meaning of it. It is the clear, concise and authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church affirmed by many Popes and Bishops. I don’t think it can be misunderstood by any serious Catholic. The half truths and false statements in Terence’s about the teachings of the Catholic Church are very misleading at best and heretical at worst. If you are going to quote the Church’s teaching then quote it accurately and completely. Mr. Bayley history of doing this absolutely disqualifys him and to use him as any authority on Catholic teaching belies the true Catholic Teaching. Also the quotes mentioned without documentation of source and authority disqualify the article of any authenticity.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Dick, I assure you that I have read the “full teaching” on homosexuality, as far as I have been able to. This includes everything in the Catechism (which is a very poor and inadequate summary), as well as the Vatican documents, and commentaries by several notable theologians. I have also read and considered the relevant scriptures, and reflected on them in the light of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s own guidelines on the appropriate approaches to the interpretation of Scripture. For help in this interpretation, I have also read numerous commentaries on these texts by eminent Scripture scholars.

      As you refer to the popes and bishops, yes I have also investigated church history – and the numerous popes, bishops and saints in Christian history who are themselves known to have had sexual relationships with men, and the changes in formal teaching that have taken place over the past two millenia.

      I do not suggest that I know it all – I am certain that there is much more to learn, and that my thinking will continue to evolve as I learn more. But please don’t suggest or imply that I have not read the Catechism – I have gone way beyond that.

      I dismiss the suggestion that my quotes are not documented – they are all taken from the statement discussed, with the relevant link supplied. Not all my observations are referenced here, but they have been elsewhere on this site, in previous posts.

      To quote the Church teaching “in full” is impossible, as it is too extensive – especially if you recognise as I do that Church teaching includes not only sexual ethics, but also issues of justice and of conscience.

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