Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin O'Brien were publicly at odds over O'Malley's support of same-sex marriage earlier this summer, and The Washington Post reports on private letters between the two that are now public:
“I have concluded that discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust,” O’Malley wrote to the archbishop. “I have also concluded that treating the children of families headed by same-sex couples with lesser protections under the law than the children of families headed by heterosexual parents, is also unjust.”
O’Brien’s appeal to O’Malley was made in starkly personal terms.
“I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage,” O’Brien wrote. “As advocates for the truths we are compelled to uphold, we speak with equal intensity and urgency in opposition to your promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith, not to mention the best interests of our society.”
O’Brien continued: “It is especially hard to fathom your taking such a step, given the fact that our requests last year for you to sponsor legislation to repeal the death penalty and support students in Catholic and other nonpublic schools went unheeded.”
O'Malley, who attends daily Mass several times each week, cites several issues where he is aligned with the church, including the eradication of poverty, labor, and tax issues. He further writes:
“I do not presume, nor would I ever presume as governor, to question or infringe upon your freedom to define, to preach about and to administer the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church,” O’Malley wrote. “But on the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same-sex couples, you and I disagree. . . . I look forward to working with you on other issues of mutual agreement. And I respect your freedom to disagree with me as a citizen and as a religious leader without questioning your motives.”
What is the proper relationship between a Catholic public servant and his or her bishop? Is it appropriate for a Catholic to disregard a church leader's advice regarding public policy? Do letters such as this constitute formal lobbying on behalf of the Catholic Church? Are bishops acting merely as private citizens or do they represent a powerful political organization?
Read the full article here.