The National Catholic Review

“The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the women and men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” ("Gaudium et Spes," no. 1).

With this now-famous line, the Second Vatican Council opened its “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (1965). This passage immediately came to mind this morning as I heard of the U. S. Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) that upheld the constitutional right to same-sex marriage. My personal response was emotional in the way that the reaction of so many others has been in the wake of this landmark case. My reaction has been solidarity for a population of people who have indeed been “afflicted” and whose experience for so long, millennia perhaps, has been more “grief and anxiety” than “joy and hope.” But today, at least in the United States, things appear to be changing.

As a Christian, the “joys and hopes” of the LGBT women and men who have cried out for the recognition of their human dignity and value, these are the “joys and hopes” of me today.

There is doubtless contention on the subject of whether or not this is good news or bad news for the church. On the one hand, church leaders such as the current president of the USCCB, have decried this high-court decision and compared it to Roe v. Wade. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz stated in a press release that today’s decision “is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.”

Yet, on the other hand, authoritative church teaching seems to offer us other ways to reflect on today’s decision. For instance, returning to "Gaudium et Spes," we read: “True, all [women and] men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent. For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are still not being universally honored" (no. 29).

LGTB women and men have indeed suffered—and continue to suffer from—discrimination based on their sexual orientation. In some parts of the world this discrimination is made manifest with the threat of execution! It would appear that today’s decision could align well with this call for the church to “overcome and eradicate” such discrimination and affirm the “fundamental rights of the person.”

Similarly, we might look to Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions” ("Nostra Aetate") for parallel wisdom in how to approach reflecting on today’s decision. Early in the text, the Council Fathers write that there are truth and wisdom in the cultural and religious traditions, practices, and perspectives of those who do not affirm the Christian faith. We read: “[The Catholic Church] regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all [women and] men” (no. 2).

Perhaps we might look at what is affirmed in today’s decision about the inherent dignity and value of all women and men, regardless of their sexual orientation, as something to be referenced in the spirit of that which reflects a “ray of that Truth,” which is the love of God in Christ.

We should recall of course that the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects the Catholic Church—and other religious communities—from being compelled to perform religious services for same-sex spouses. What has taken place today is a matter of civil rights, literally. The definition of marriage has not changed for the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church, but perhaps this court decision like the recent referendum in Ireland should have us asking difficult theological and moral questions, questions that have been largely avoided for some time. After all, it is interesting that 56 percent of Catholics express support for same-sex marriage, according to a 2015 Pew survey.

So what is the right way to respond to today’s decision? The Christian response is love. And the Second Vatican Council has challenged the church to remember this amid the complex realities of our world. I understand the church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Marriage, firmly accepting and holding all that is taught definitively. Still, I can’t help but embrace what "Gaudium et Spes" and "Nostra Aetate" exhort all Christians to do in celebrating the dignity of the person, as well as the joys and hopes of all women and men.

Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., is a Franciscan friar, a columnist for America, and the author of several books. 


Mike Brown | 9/25/2015 - 12:12pm

As Christians we have to except the rights of the LGBT community. We don't turn our backs on men and women who choose a similar occupation as Mary Magdalene therefore, we have no choice but to welcome with open arms members of the LGBT community.

JOSEPH GAYNOR | 7/20/2015 - 5:25pm

Lily Wilson thank you for your recommendation to view "The Third Way.

Patrick Murtha | 7/3/2015 - 9:28pm

I find it rather odd that Fr. Horan, as well as all the other writers on this marriage matter in AMERICA, do not recall Pius XI's Casti Connubi nor Leo XIII's Arcanum. Both encyclicals written specifically on marriage, nor is Canon Law mentioned which states quite clearly that marriage is for the good of the spouses and for procreation and education of children. The first Code of Canon Law, wisely, notes that procreation of children is the first purpose of marriage. But I will leave this debate for another time.

Mr. Gutierrez, once again you pounding at the patriarchal priesthood! While I have taken up this gauntlet before and, accepting your challenge, have tossed a few words at you but have gotten nowhere, I now remind you of the words of Christ Himself, who acknowledges patriarchy, not as tyranny as you see patriarchy but as simple authority, "When you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. Thus therefore shall you pray: OUR FATHER..."

Ed Hawkins | 7/3/2015 - 4:04pm

Great piece, Father Dan! Like the Holy Father, you get it! Pax et bonum!

Henry George | 7/3/2015 - 4:12am

While the Christian response should always be "Love"
that does not mean we are morally right in choosing to do whatever we so choose to do.

A few Questions:

a) If there had been no Original Sin would there be Same Gender Desires/Divorces...

b) Given we are all sinners - who has not lusted in their heart - what is a person who is
deeply attracted to someone of the same Gender supposed to do ? This is a very lonely world
and it seems to be getting lonelier.

c) Granted the above - clearly there can only be Marriage between opposite genders - are we, as a Church
willing to bless/support civil unions ?

d) It seems, following the Sociological Logic of Justice Kennedy - isn't he a Catholic if so why is he not
being denied communion for forcing the States to accept "Same Gender Marriages" - that anyone who
says they are in love with anyone else should be allowed to marry since the Government has no right nor
need to interfere with such bondings - so given what Justice Kennedy said why not Polygamy, why not
three people in a marriage is one or two or all are bisexual, why can't a 15 year old say they love their
22 year old boyfriend and demand the right to marriage ? I can find nothing in Justice Kennedy's decision
that would allow the government to say "No" to such loving relationships.

d) Can we please try to be more civil to each other on America's Comments pages ?
Is there no one monitoring what is said ?
I am retired now and I would be quite willing to volunteer via sending little suggestions to Commentators
that it would help if you modified your language and avoided personal attacks and sweeping condemnations.

Michelle Peter | 7/2/2015 - 7:42pm

Thank you Fr. Dan, for your hope-filled and refreshing article. I heard you at Spiritual Directors International and God is gracing you with many gift through which God is speaking to God's people.

Luis Gutierrez | 7/2/2015 - 4:23pm

The first step to foster a loving reaction is to recognize the fully redeemed humanity of baptized women, and ordain celibate women to the priesthood. As long as the Church hierarchy remains exclusively male, other issues of human sexuality cannot be resolved in a Christian manner, doctrinally and emotionally.

The patriarchal priesthood is not a dogma of the Catholic faith. Based on the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and John Paul II’s "Theology of the Body," my understanding is that the ordination of women to the priesthood would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition:

Nuptial Balance in the Priesthood and the Episcopacy

This is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone. But this is not about what women (or men) want either. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls. Would Jesus, in today’s globalized world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?

Let us pray for the ordination of celibate women to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. Then, and only then, can other issues that are not so well defined be resolved.

Anne Danielson | 7/2/2015 - 3:40pm

What this post failed to mention is that any act, including any sexual act, that does not respect the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person, is not, and can never be, an act of Love. This is true for all persons. Regardless of our desires or inclinations, Love does not discriminate, it is ordered to the Good of every son and daughter. We cannot transform the essence of Love, God, Who Is The Author of Love, Life, and Marriage, transforms us. To deny that God Is The Author of Love, Life, and Marriage, is to deny the essence of God.

Richard Booth | 7/2/2015 - 5:42pm

God = marriage? Hmm...

Michael Gent | 7/2/2015 - 3:29pm

If nothing else, the Supreme Court's decision adds to the already super-heated feelings Catholics have concerning all-things gay. Expanding gay rights will inevitably mean additional conflict for believers, both from without and from within the Church. In addition, Catholics who attempt to remain loyal to tradition and scripture regarding marriage, while at the same time attempt to treat gays as persons fully worthy of respect, are likely to be subject to considerable misunderstanding and opprobrium from the gay community. Trying times. Another shadow of Satan, the great divider, passing over us?

REV T OWENS | 7/2/2015 - 3:18pm

A statement found in the brief (amicus curia) filed by the USCCB in the recent Supreme Court decision seems appropriate to Father Horans reflection, "It is not bigotry when something is genuinely different to treat it differently". Every person deserves respect and the full range of civil rights in a democracy. What appears to be lacking in a culture is a profound respect for the beauty and power of intimate friendship. Relationships such as these foster human flourishing.The delicate balance between male and female is so essentially important to the health and well-being of children, especially in the developing years. Marriage is that privileged institution that must remain normative and privileged. Love relationships genuinely different from marital love are treated differently – but they deserve no less respect.

Nicholas Myra | 7/2/2015 - 1:25pm

You know - Christ was tempted in the desert and said NO to Lucifer again and again. Reading this is likened to negotiating with evil. "Oh brothers in sisters, you are all possessed by the devil in thought word and deed, but I understand, please come into the Church and corrupt our children" And that is what I read when I read this article. If you LOVE Christ then keep HIS Commandments - those that remain obstinate in their sin will not inherit the Kingdom.

Robert Lewis | 7/2/2015 - 3:05am

Braco! "By their fruits you shall know them"--and these are very good "fruits," indeed!

G Miller | 7/2/2015 - 12:26am

If as some of you like Mr. Villa and Mr. Schutzius and Mr. MacDonald, to name three, think that heterosexual marriage is the zenith of human existence. Let me try to open your eyes with the work being done by two of my friends in their "godless world of same sex attraction." And what I just put in quotes is paraphrasing all you right-leaning folks who have written comments to follow Fr. Horan's piece on the Obergefell decision handed down last Friday.

My two friends, both are gay men, and each adopted children from failed heterosexual families.

My friend Yann, adopted three brothers. He and his husband work very hard to help the boys heal from the damage done by their original biological family situations. Yann confided in me that sometimes the boys have screaming episodes that go upwards of an hour. Tell me Mr. Villa or Mr. Schutzius, or Mr. MacDonald, or any one of you people who rail against gay marriage. What is so holy and scared about a straight marriage that produces children damaged to the point that they have those kinds of outbursts?? These men have dedicated their lives to healing these children and have provided a better and more comfortable life materially if these children had been taken to an orphanage or if they had remained with their straight, biological parents.

My other friend Lee has a boy named Jay. For the first three years that he had Jay, he had to have an occupational therapist come in SEVEN days a week to work with Jay. So tell me what was so great about the heterosexual couple who produced Jay?? He still works with Jay every day. And they go through periods. And Jay has special schooling. How could it be that such a godless man could be so loving and patient and try to sow healing where there has been none.

Yet, you would deny these children a cohesive family life because it fails to fit in with your theoretical view of how the world "should" work? Have you ever left your comfortable life behind to realize that gay married couples are filling in, and doing a great job, of raising children when their biological families fell completely apart??

Perhaps you should make friends with some gay or lesbian married couples who have adopted children. Perhaps if you talked to them, you might find they have the same or greater challenges you had in raising your children. Perhaps you will find them to be good and moral people who feel not that they left the Church, but, that the Church left them in its lurch to the right.

Perhaps you should go and bind up the wounds of a gay person who has been beaten for no other reason than that they are gay. Perhaps you can talk to them about how they have always "been this way" just like you have always been straight. Perhaps then you might have eyes to see, and ears to hear, that this world is not, and has never been, the perfect reflection of that Catholic documentation.

The Catholic Church thinks this world should completely fit into nice tidy categories that it has developed over time. And if you don't fit into those categories, YOU are the problem, not the categories the Church developed. Well think again. The Church works for God, and God has filled this world with surprises to challenge us to grow in ways none of us imagined. The Church is supposed to minister to all of humanity, not just those who fit into its preconceived roles. So get to work and quit pointing fingers and blathering on about hell and sin. Start loving everyone.

Anne Chapman | 7/2/2015 - 5:00pm


Will any of the judgers pay attention though? One must have an open heart as well as an open mind. But perhaps those who judge are not loved enough, it seems that they don't even know the God of love, but live in fear, and so try to build themselves up by condemning others. So perhaps we who condemn the judgers should not condemn them either. We become what we are judging. Perhaps just pray that all will come to understand that God's love embraces all.

Steve Perzan | 7/1/2015 - 6:22pm

This is a very positive and proper reaction to the Supreme Court Decision on same-sex marriage. Whenever a law passes that seems to contradict or erode the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, the first reaction to condemn is not necessarily the best reaction. I think you have caught that truth in your essay and I believe there is an unseen benefit to all this even for the Catholic Church.

According to all reports, about 55% of gays/lesbians will seek to finalize their relationship in civil marriage. I find that remarkable for how it can influence all of us seek stronger bonds in the gift of marriage as a permanent expression of love.

I imagine, for a confessor, who learns in confession that a man and a woman have been living together in a stable relationship for a good number of years, yet in a situation where a sacramental marriage is impossible, might advise: “Have you ever thought of at least taking the step to make your relationship a “civil marriage?” The reasons that the confessor might justify doing this would be for the sake of the children, and for all the same practical reasons that gays/lesbians sought, through the Supreme Court, to have their relationships recognized as a “valid marriage in law.”

The reason for the confessor’s advice to the “un-married couple” to get married holds much the same weight. It helps stabilize a relationship with the hope that someday it may be able to be “con-validated in a sacramental church wedding.” The “civil marriage” therefore acts as a step toward the sacred marriage. It also means that husband and wife in that civil marriage have more assuredly committed themselves to God’s law of remaining faithful to each other.

Apply that to the same-sex marriage. It means that both partners have committed themselves to a faithfulness that is binding on each other, and if broken has serious and lasting consequences, legally, morally, socially and economically.

In the end good, strong and faithful same-sex marriages can have a moral and exemplary effect on the traditional marriage in America.

James Addison | 7/1/2015 - 12:27pm

I would like to ask yet another question of those who write in opposition to the recent extension of the right to marry to gay couples. Some below have noted the Church's teaching that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." (CCC section 2357). I would hope that we all understand that the Church also teaches that masturbation is "intrinsically and gravely disordered." (CCC section 2352). Yes, the Catechism does offer some interesting wiggle room on the moral culpability of those who masturbate, yet still it remains intrinsically and gravely disordered.

So, to my question: when will hear our priests and bishops preach from the pulpit against masturbation? Masturbation, I would venture to guess, is by far a more common and frequent act amongst the faithful than homosexual acts. And the act is intrinsically and gravely disordered. So why are we not regularly, loudly and publicly reminded of this sin?

Again, to those opposed to the extension of the right to marry:

Will you soon be protesting the divorce laws of your state? Seeking their repeal? (See my previous post for context)
Will you ask your pastor and bishop to remind the faithful of the evils of masturbation? As gravely and intrinsically disordered, surely this represents a threat to the salvation of a number of souls, who may be completely unaware if the Church's teaching on the matter.

Nicholas Myra | 7/2/2015 - 1:43pm

James, really? St. Brigid stated clearly that homosexual acts are so disordered even Satan turns his head while its going on. And, yes, masturbation according to St. John Bosco is what he feared would lead his altar boys straight to Hell - I guess you guys over at America Magazine don't believe in Our Lady of Akita.

James Addison | 7/2/2015 - 9:26pm

Nicholas, I don't entirely follow the point of your comment. As interesting as the positions of Saints Brigid and John Bosco may be, the question I pose relates to the Catechism's description of these 2 examples of intrinsically disordered acts. What would be your answer to my question of whether our priests and bishops should now loudly and publicly remind the faithful of the grave and intrinsic disorder of masturbation? And your opinion of whether our states' laws on divorce should be amended or repealed would be welcome as well. Peace.

Richard Booth | 7/2/2015 - 3:27pm

Many of the sexual "sins" were designated so in a time when procreation was a sociological issue and population survival was threatened, not to mention the hegemony of Natural Law theory. "Wasting one's seed" and being with a same-sex person could not reproduce; hence, the theology of some sexual sins. Theology and church history have historically been underpinned by politics and perceived cultural necessity. The Church's dicta regarding the above is an extension of the Jewish notion of reproducing their people. If more people would read some history and anthropology, they might see an aspect of how God and His church reflect and have reflected "reality on the ground."

Bill Mazzella | 6/30/2015 - 9:02pm

Thankfully we are not going to be judged on our view of same sex marriage and abortion. It is always Matthew 25-36-41. People in Europe and the US are busy condemning the millions of immigrants are fleeing war zones, as they starve and die of illness. Most of us come from Immigrants. In fact except for the native Indians we all are. Keep fighting the culture wars while ignoring those who live daily malnourished and ill.

John Schutzius | 6/29/2015 - 10:23pm

Brother Daniel, what about the eternal salvation of the LBGT person? Do you not care about that? Do you no longer believe in hell, or satan, or sin? The sexual orientation of a person to a member of the same sex is intrinsically disordered. It is against the natural order that God created, and is surely a result of original sin. A person who engages in sexual activity outside of marriage is guilty of a serious breach of the sixth commandment. However, at least they are acting in a way that is natural to the way God created us - male complemetary to female. Only the union of a male and female can bring a new, immortal soul into the world for the glory of God. The main purpose of marriage is to effect this good. Need I remind you that the pleasure associated with sex is for the procreation of the human race, but that our fallen nature wars against our better inclinations (concupiscience)? Homosexual activity, on the other hand, even in "committed relationships" can never be considered a moral good, regardless of the suffering that it entails for the afflicted person - and they are afflicted. They, like all people, are called to chastity of life according to their state, which, if single, precludes the use of the sexual faculties.
By appearing to support "gay marriage", you are supporting the damnation of your brothers and sisters afflicted with homosexual tendencies. Gaudium et spes, flawed as it is, does address human dignity. Show me how it is dignified to confirm my brother or sister in mortal sin? How is that charity? How is that love? Instead, we should be encouraging these people to live chaste lives, and striving to create a culture where the temptations to fall are reduced, rather than encouraging them to waste this short earthly life on pleasures that pass away, on fleeting comforts that lead to the abyss.
You also cited the Pew Research poll that 56 % of Catholics support gay marriage. This is something to celebrate??? This is an indictment of the past 50 years of failed catechesis and moral training by bishops, priests, and religious. This is a reason to don sackcloth and ashes and do serious penance.
Brother Daniel, the response of true love to these afflicted people is to pray for them and to encourage them to remain chaste, not to celebrate the legal fiction that judicial tyranny has forced on this unfortunate land.

Richard Booth | 7/2/2015 - 7:18pm

If it is "intrinsically disorded," why do we find it in Nature? Same-sex connection is present not merely in humans, but in many other animals as well. To deny this fact is to believe blindly and without the brains God gave us.

THOMAS HEYMAN MR/MRS | 7/2/2015 - 5:44pm

This commentary is wrong in ways to numerous to recount. Primarily the concept that "sexual orientation of a person to a member of the same sex is intrinsically disordered" is wrong scientifically medically and psychologically. As Justice Kennedy in his slip opinion for the majority in the Obergefell case cited (at pages 7-8) the amicus brief filed on behalf of the American Psychological, American Psychiatric and American Medical Associations. Each of these knowledgeable organizations recognize that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and is immutable. In light of this there is no way that homosexuals can be denied the right to marry. That is it plain and simple. There is no room in this dialogue for the ignorance expressed in this posting by Mr. Schutzius. Unfortunately the ignorant leadership of our hierarchy has for too long encouraged and fed this ignorance. Tom heyman

Beth Cioffoletti | 6/29/2015 - 10:37am

This morning I read an interview (The Last Interview) with James Baldwin where he talked about his homosexuality (and his blackness), and how that was such a private, personal thing between himself and God. How he was to be in the world. He used writing as a way to find his way through that mysterious coming to be. When asked why he thought people hated homosexuals so much he replied, “Terror. Terror of the body”.

I tend to think that most of us are not forced, like Baldwin, to come to grips with our own terror at who and how we are. We hide from ourselves and who we are called to be.

ron chandonia | 6/29/2015 - 9:17am

You had come far from the days of Fr. Thomas Reese. With this disingenuous assault on the foundations of any just society, you have returned there now. I'm sorry to see that; we badly needed - and still need - a media voice faithful to the full spectrum of Catholic teaching.

James sullivan | 6/28/2015 - 11:41pm

First of all it is faulty logic to compare one moral/ethical situation to the other as the USCCB did with respect to comparing abortion to same sex marriage. Secondly marriage is not redefined, but the right to it is extended. The question that is raised in my mind as a Catholic is first of all what is popular is not necessarily ethical or moral.Secondly, as far as the popular view, "What caused people and Catholics in the pews to change their mind? I have worked in the Catechetical ministry with the Jesuits for 30 years. I am Jesuit trained. They analyze a situation and are proactive and not reactive as many of these comments are.Vey rarely was their good catechesis concerning Marriage and Orders or any at all on the local level. Listening to Cardinal Burke, the most conservative opponent of same sex marriage, he stated with respect to annulments" You cannot revoke the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony, but the Church must provide a means by which an annulment occurs."Annulment and divorce is the danger, but no one finds that repulsive. The issue now is family and children, and when discussing that issue you have to clearly explain the word" right" because does anyone have a right to have a child?

Anne Danielson | 6/29/2015 - 11:59am

In order to "extend" the newly created definition of marriage, the Court had to remove the necessary requirement for marriage, which from The Beginning, is the ability and desire to exist in relationship as husband and wife. There is only one Christian response; God, Who Was In The Beginning, Is Now, and Forever Will Be, Is The Author of Love, Life, and Marriage.

alan macdonald | 6/28/2015 - 10:33pm

I don't know what it is with Jesuits but they are the most leftist element in the RC church and their support for homosexual marriage is against everything the Church stands for. They should be catechising people, not politicizing Americans.

alan macdonald | 6/28/2015 - 10:36pm

I realize the author is not a Jesuit but he certainly fits the modus operandi of this Jesuit mag.

Edward Burton | 6/28/2015 - 7:11pm

I found myself wondering if it is possible that same-sex attraction is rooted in DNA, and possibly if it is not a biological or Divine intervention to reduce the expansion of the human race in the light of our demonstrated ability to pollute the environment to the extent of submerging the coasts, evicting millions of people, and turning Western farmlands into desert. 108 degrees in the shade, with irrigation water being rationed ... cactus in our backyards?

Richard Booth | 7/2/2015 - 7:23pm

You raise an interesting point. Moreover, homosexuality has some positive sociological benefits, for instance, the freedom to take care of a straight sibling's children, giving them a time-out. This may seem like a small thing, but ask a mother of several children who has no one to sub for her whether or not she would like someone to depend on.

Leonard Villa | 6/28/2015 - 5:57pm

I don't know if the right word is disingenuous in describing this essay especially cherry-picking quotes from Church documents in order to reach the punch-line question:"asking difficult theological and moral questions, questions that have been largely avoided for some time. ....56 percent of Catholics express support for same-sex marriage, according to a 2015 Pew survey." Those questions have been asked over and over again and been answered. Many don't like the answer. The authors of "Gaudium Et Spes" would be surprised that it was pointing to the hopes for gay marriage. Fr. Horan does not cite the appropriate Church-precedent directly on point re homosexuality and discrimination : “Sexual orientation” does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. SCDF Letter On Pastoral Care Re Homosexuality. Gay can have two meanings: it can mean a person who experiences homosexual inclinations and it can also mean the acceptance of gay political ideology such as LGBT now LGBTQ. Not all persons experiencing homosexual attraction sign on to the ideology. The ideology is incompatible with Catholic teaching because it is based on relativism with the notion that human sexuality has no proper order or health and can be adjusted at will via power-politics. Hence various sexual identities are raised to metaphysical status: gay human nature, transgender human nature, bisexual human nature and so on and on. Once you admit that a Court can define marriage, that can continue to happen based on future sexual-arrangements. Who's to say marriage is only two men or two women; why not a menage a trois or straight-gay combo? In reality the Court/the State has no power to define marriage since marriage was never a creation of the State but preceded it and is superior to it according to Catholic social teaching /natural law. What the Court's decision amounts to is an attack on marriage/family, the basic unit of society according to Catholic social teaching with the corollary that children don't need a father/mother but the sexes are interchangeable and equally beneficial to children (gender ideology). The dictatorship of relativism is a hubris that humans are in complete control and can will into existence anything desired with an internal bent to an anti-democratic all-powerful State. It's not an accident that socialistic/communistic regimes have tended to attack the family with the notion that the family is whatever the State says it is. Yes indeed the Christian response is love but true live is beholden to the truth. Love must speak the truth in order for it to be true love.

James Addison | 6/28/2015 - 9:25am

Several of the comments below suggest that the extension of the right to marry to same sex couples will harm the institution of marriage and place children especially at risk. Their argument continues that this potential harm justifies opposition to the SCOTUS ruling and to laws that provide for this extension of rights. I certainly respect the voicing of different opinions as well as the right to organize opposition in the political arena to most any issue. What I am genuinely trying to understand is what position these same people take with regard to the now well established right to divorce. Surely the Church's teachings are clear on this matter. And yet we seem to have found a way to accommodate the Church's position (indissolubility) and the state's without continuing discord or even political protest or opposition. Yes, the Church still teaches that sacramental marriage cannot be broken and many Catholics agree with this teaching. My question, though, is why do we not see or hear greater opposition to the laws of our states that permit divorce? Why do we not see or hear condemnation of those who do divorce? Does the state's allowance of divorce not present a harm both to the sacrament and to the well-being of children? I ask those who write below in opposition to same sex marriage -- would you, will you, advocate for the repeal of divorce laws in your state?

James sullivan | 6/28/2015 - 11:45pm

My position exactly. What is the true root to the opposition?

ed gleason | 6/29/2015 - 4:50pm

Ditto..What's the basis for the uproar in City Hall marriages? And for about two hundred years Catholics could care less who got married in the City Hall basement..with some maybe for the 9th time. Andrew Jackson would shoot you dead if you complained about his marriage... so Catholics learned to shut up about civil marriages. .

Beth Cioffoletti | 6/28/2015 - 9:08am

"One of the treasures of Christianity is that from Jesus and through St Paul also we know that it is even better to remain chastely celibate, than to be married."

This statement is very disturbing. It diminishes our humanity, our sexuality, our bodies. I find myself wondering if this very sentiment is not what went wrong with "religion" and "Church". It denies the Incarnation and mocks Creation itself. Jesus said EAT my BODY!

I am carefully reading Archbishop Kurtz's statement, and I think he is sort of on the right track, but he is coming at it from the wrong direction. If he could first AFFIRM the sacredness of marriage and sexuality, and the sacramentality of life giving marriage within the structure of society, he could let go of the hangup about civil unions of gays.

I'm still wondering why we can't be a BOTH / AND Church, instead of an EITHER / OR Church. Yes, marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and sacramental and central to the structure of society. But God also did not make us, gay and straight, to be alone, and civil unions between gays are fine and conducive to the stability of society.

Putting sexuality on a "lower" spiritual level is "THE TRAGIC ERROR", perhaps the fundamental error of this whole debate.

Bruce Snowden | 6/28/2015 - 8:17am

I can accept SSA folks entering into a Civil Union with legal and secular benefits given akin to marriage, in the interests of their social security, but I cannot accept such a union as a "marriage." Marriage, or matrimony, is a Sacrament of the Catholic Church between one woman and one man, synonymous of the love-relationship between Christ and his Church, according to St. Paul. SCOTUS has attempted to redefine marriage without the authority to do so. Since Sacramental marriage is a Divine Institution, instituted by Christ to give Grace, that is, deepen the love-relationship between himself and the Church, only Christ (God) can redefine marriage. The union called "marriage" between one woman and one man has also been for multi-millennia the fundamental stabilizing structure of society - remove it and sooner or later a stabilized society will collapse. So, for theological as well as social reasons I cannot accept the term "marriage" as applicable to SSA folks.

L Campbell | 6/28/2015 - 3:38pm

So, you would have our government refuse to recognize any marriage not performed by the Catholic Church? Are marriages performed by protestant ministers, Rabbis, Imams, Hindu Priests, and Justices of the Peace also invalid, and to be denied the use of the term?

Bruce Snowden | 6/28/2015 - 3:54pm

Mr. Campbell, I was talking only about marriage from a Catholic point of view.The various religious persuasions you mention have a different point of view as to what marriage is all about, and obviously even some Christian denominations do not agree with the Catholic Church. But of course and without having to say so, but I should have, the marriages they perform are all true marriages as they understand marriage to be, meaning they are genuine, and are very honorable, including those professing no religious persuasion. The catholic teaching however, on marriage, is something all together other. Thanks for commenting

monica carley | 6/27/2015 - 11:33pm

Fr Horan,

I have re-read your commentary several times and I commend your deep concern for people who experience discrimination, often even very brutal discrimination. I am deeply troubled however by a couple statements you make and one glaring omission. First, it does not at all logically follow that legal redefinition of marriage somehow affirms the inherent dignity of all persons. Second, citing the statistic that "56 percent of Catholics express support for same-sex marriage" to bolster the argument that the church should reconsider her teachings on marriage is outrageous. Back in the early 1900's, I bet a poll of Catholics would reveal majority support for segregation and in the 1800's slavery, and on and on. Are you suggesting the church should pay attention to polls? Last but by no means least, I notice that nowhere in your discussion is there any mention for the most vulnerable people who will be affected by the redefinition of marriage. I hoped somewhere you would express solidarity with that population who always suffer the most in our world: children. A society's greatest responsibility is to its children. Any discussion about marriage cannot be separated from a discussion about children and what is best for them. Their needs should take precedence over the desires and ambitions of the adults in their lives.

Richard Booth | 7/2/2015 - 7:29pm

Do you really think that a remote and generally unaccountable group of curial men sitting in Rome has a better understanding of things than learned groups of laity? I'm not so sure. And, btw, the Curia does monitor the perceptions of its laity, whether through polls or other methods.

Gregory Ladewski | 6/27/2015 - 8:35pm

I am partly saddened, partly outraged, and mainly bemused by the "turd in the punchbowl" response of so many pious Catholics to this triumph of freedom and love. I have for years been an LGBT "ally" -- a straight (and God-fearing) person who sees Christ in my gay brothers and sisters. To call their love "blasphemy" is perverse. To liken approving gay marriage to condoning abortion is the logic of blind hate. (Forgive me for that.) The loving God who made us man and woman also made us straight and gay. Does God damn (do you have a nicer word?) the loving commitment of two adults? "It is not good for a man [or woman!] to be alone." Gays who do not feel the call to be celibate (most people do not!) now have the dignity of living their love. God bless them!

Lily Wilson | 6/27/2015 - 4:00pm

Fr. Horan, to celebrate the dignity of the person is to recognize that, precisely because of this dignity, we have the responsibility to do everything we can, in charity, to help the person live a life of virtue. Sin is unbecoming to the dignity of the human person. Whether the person struggles with food addiction or with same-sex attraction, to say YES to sin is to deny the human person his God-given dignity. Do we really want to embrace the emptiness that self-gratification leads us to? No, we want every human person to find true peace, and that peace can be only found in Christ, by living a life centered on God and on others. I highly recommend the documentary The Third Way, straight from the mouths of Catholics with same-sex attraction.

Fr. Horan, I will share something my 10 year old son told me yesterday. He had been feeling unhappy, not at peace, because all he had been thinking about for a while was Minecraft. He would play for a little while, and when his computer time was up, he'd do chores in order to earn more computer time for later, and he would spend the day thinking about this game even during times such as family time. These days were very "me-centered" - centered on fulfilling his own idea of "happiness". And yet he felt empty, and deep down, unhappy. One night, I suggested to him that instead of spending his time thinking about Minecraft or earning computer time, he could start thinking about how he could help others, and he could help around the house not to get computer time, but simply because he loves his family. So he did. And it was hard--sacrificial. But a few days later (yesterday), he said to me, "Mama, I'm noticing that ever since I started doing stuff for others just because, and not because I wanted computer time, I'm a lot happier." I thank God for letting my son see that sin will not give him happiness, no matter what the lie tells him. And sin, of course, is nothing more than self-centeredness.

Let's stop treating marriage as an institution for self-gratification, and instead see it as God made it, an avenue for sanctification through self-gift: the mutual, sacrificial self-giving of the spouses and their sacrificial self-giving to their children. There is no room for self-centeredness in marriage, and if you believe in upholding the dignity of the human person, your duty is to help each one live a life of sacrificial self-giving. This is authentic love.

Anne Chapman | 6/27/2015 - 5:06pm

It seems that you equate living a lifetime without a loving mate as the equivalent of ten year old giving up Minecraft. You also imply that your son's understandabale fondness for his game is a "sin". Really?

You imply that gays who love one another are self-centered and not as self-giving and as self-sacrificing as other married couples. I know a couple of gay couples (who have been together for decades - self-giving and loving one another)) and you are wrong. Gay people are much like straight people. Some are self-centered people, unable to give of self, and their relationships probably won't last. Certainly this happens with straight couples all the time - the divorce rate shows that. Other people - both gay and straight - are loving, committed, unself-centered, self-sacrificing, and giving people whose relationships will probably last, getting stronger as they meet life's challenges together. Gay couples often face more challenges than straight couples, since they are too often the viewed with hatred and disdain. Some are rejected by their own families for refusing to deny their God-given natures. Others may not be guilty of actual hatred, but they judge and condemn gay couples, calling their love "sin" instead of just calling it love. It might be good for them to reread the gospels.

Bruce Snowden | 6/28/2015 - 5:00pm

Hello Anne, It's been awhile since we exchanged points of view, so I'm pleased to offer the following regarding one point having to do with fondness for playing with those electronic gizmos (that word intends to cover the multitude of them) that kids love, many adults too, which the post above immediately yours called, "sin" and which you contest.

Well, in my humble opinion coming from a man who knows a little about many things, but not very much about anything, I think it would take more than mere "fondness" to constitute sin - maybe obsession could. As you know sin is in the Will, not in any external action. But having activated that moral principle, it is also true that, "inordinate attachment" (excessive attachment) to anything including the above-mentioned gizmo, can constitute at least an occasion of sin, easier to fall into because of the inordinate attachment, pulling into play to some degree "idol" worship, contrary to the First Commandment, "Thou shall not have strange gods (gizmos!) before me."

This is of course an extreme example, valid nonetheless, but a "sin" easier to hook into because of gizmo obsession could be the sin of disobedience for a minor told repeatedly by parents to put it away, or the sin of deliberate neglect of some duty, or responsibility, like looking after a sick person awaiting to be changed, or whatever, because of gizmo obsession. There are many probabilities but I think probably enough has been suggested so let me stop. Do hope you have been well and may God continue to bless you!

Elizabeth Durack | 6/27/2015 - 6:29pm

In the end it is far more sad to go through life in an unchaste relationship situation of whatever kind than to be peacefully (or even struggling-ly!) single and chaste. With God, and with friendships, this is by no means a lonely or empty life. In the end, everyone regrets unchastity, be it unchastity with the opposite sex, the same sex, or alone in one's bed, or even in the dank caverns of the imagination. But in the end NO ONE regrets having repented of past sins and sought God's mercy, and in the end no one regrets coming into the presence of our just and merciful Judge possessing chastity or any other virtues. Are the virtues not gleams of the image of God shining through the dust our souls have on them in this life? Chastity in our state of life is part of being who God made us to be.

I have known various homosexual couples that were dedicated to each other, where one cares for the other even on his deathbed. Friends can do that for friends too, without being sexually involved with each other, I know of that happening as well, in fact I have been there myself. The homosexual relationships are kind of equivalent of contracepting or sterilized opposite-sex couples, with the exception that they lack the sexual complementarity and unless they are sexually abstinent they are engaging in intrinsically disordered sexual acts. It is not the kind of relationship through which children can be conceived, so it is never the kind of relationship that married family life is. Even in your own explanation, Anne, it is about the needs and wants of the couple themselves. You're right when you suggest this is a lot like unfortunately many opposite-sex couples today whose relationship is also about their own needs and wants but not about a lifelong covenant marriage, having children through one another (and one another only) and raising and educating them.

David Scire | 6/27/2015 - 3:47pm

I wonder if the reason some of God's children were created left handed could be the same reason some of God's children are created with same sex attraction? When did the Church finally accept lefties?

Elizabeth Durack | 6/27/2015 - 3:12pm

As a layperson vowed to celibate chastity for life for the sake of the kingdom of God, I have always felt a deep solidarity with same sex attracted people who must live chastely. All are called to holiness, and we must never demean or discriminate against same-sex attracted people by assuming their disorder renders them incapable of chastity, because that is patently not true. Their human dignity is so great that they are indeed capable of being great saints. Saint Paul referred to this dignity when he said it is not right to unite the body of Christ to the body of a prostitute, and similarly it is not right to involve Christ's body in sodomy. It is loving to be witness to the good of marriage (in the real sense, man and woman) and of chastity. One of the treasures of Christianity is that from Jesus and through St Paul also we know that it is even better to remain chastely celibate, than to be married. So it is no indignity for the same-sex attracted person or anyone else who is not able to marry. It is loving to let people know sodomy is wrong and is a sin that cries out to heaven, and those who commit it unrepentantly will not inherit the kingdom of God. Sadly they harm themselves and others. We must pray for the intercession of Saint Peter Damian and must love people with a spiritual love that understands integral and human ecology, is pure and undeceived by the devil, and desires great good for everyone, both body and soul, forever.

Beth Cioffoletti | 6/28/2015 - 8:42am

"One of the treasures of Christianity is that from Jesus and through St Paul also we know that it is even better to remain chastely celibate, than to be married."

This statement is very disturbing.


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