Archbishop Wilton Gregory on the SCOTUS decision

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There has been a flood of response and reaction today to the Supreme Court's decision on marriage between persons of the same sex.  I have read a number of statements from writers on both side of the question. I offer for your consideration the statement of Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  His response is even-tempered and insightful:
Each U.S. Supreme Court decision that has ever been rendered has resulted in deep disappointment for some people and vindication for others. If we all agreed on the outcomes of these divisive cases, there would simply be no reason for the Court to convene. This most recent decision is no different.
By the same token, every court decision is limited in what it can achieve; again, this one is no exception. It does not change the biological differences between male and female human beings or the requirements for the generation of human life, which still demands the participation of both. It does not change the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony, which beautifully joins a man and woman in a loving union that is permanent in commitment and open to God’s blessing of precious new life.

This judgment, however, does not absolve either those who may approve or disapprove of this decision from the obligations of civility toward one another. Neither is it a license for more venomous language or vile behavior against those whose opinions continue to differ from our own. It is a decision that confers a civil entitlement to some people who could not claim it before. It does not resolve the moral debate that preceded it and will most certainly continue in its wake.

This moral debate must also include the way that we treat one another – especially those with whom we may disagree. In many respects, the moral question is at least as consequential and weighty as the granting of this civil entitlement. The decision has offered all of us an opportunity to continue the vitally important dialogue of human encounter, especially between those of diametrically differing opinions regarding its outcome.

The decision has made my ministry as a pastor more complex since it demands that I both continue to uphold the teachings of my Church regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony while also demanding that I insist upon respect for the human dignity of both those who approve of the judgment as well as those who may disapprove.
I appreciate Gregory's wisdom here: It is a decision that confers a civil entitlement to some people who could not claim it before.  It does not resolve the moral debate that preceded it and will most certainly continue in its wake.  The Supreme Court's vote was not unexpected, in fact some might consider it predictable. A decision has been made regards a point of law but that decision brings no end or neat conclusion to a debate that will continue to be engaged on questions of faith and relationships that are embedded in the hearts of individual lives and woven into the fabric of human society as well.

As the debate continues may all of us enter it obliged by the civility and charity that characterize truly human dialogue. 

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1 comment:

  1. Fr. Fleming,

    Prayers ascending.

    While we can certainly concentrate on conveying our teaching in a dignified way, we cannot water it down, nor lead anyone to ever think that Church teaching will change as a result of dialogue. It will not.

    An excerpt from a post by the distinguished canon lawyer Ed Peters:

    Two thoughts re the Supreme Court decision on ‘same-sex marriage'

    ...First, we need to recall that the State has long recognized as married some persons who are not married, namely, when the State allows divorced persons simply to remarry. We have lived with persons in pseudo-marriage for many decades; so now the pool of such people is larger. The pastoral challenges in consequence of this latest decision are greater as will be the sacrifices needed to meet them. But so far—and this is a key point—State power has not been applied to try to force Churches or their faithful to treat as married those who, by doctrine or discipline, are not married. This brings me to my next point.

    Second, Catholic doctrine and discipline can never, ever, recognize as married two persons of the same sex, and any Catholic who regards “same-sex marriage” as marriage is, beyond question, “opposed to the doctrine for the Church” (Canon 750 § 2). I am sorry so many Catholics apparently think otherwise and I recognize that many who think that Church teaching on marriage can and should change, do so in good faith. But they are still wrong and their error leads them, among other things, to underestimate how non-negotiable is the Church’s opposition to the recognition of same-sex unions as marriage.
    The Church (and for that matter our nation) will have great need of Catholics who understand and accept the teaching of Christ and his Church on marriage if the damage done by the Supreme Court today is ever to be repaired. Appreciating the infallible character of this teaching on marriage is the first step.

    As for whether we succeed in righting this wrong, that’s not our concern. The question we will be asked at Judgment will be, Did we try?


    "Concord Parishioner"


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