Catholic Leaders Object As Public Attitudes Shift

Catholic leaders rejected President Obama’s declaration during a television interview on May 9 that “personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

“President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement released the same day. “We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” he added. “The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”

Advertisement

In December 2010, Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving” and that he “struggles with this,” adding he would continue thinking about the issue. On May 10 the president said he had wanted to announce his support for such unions “in my own way, on my own terms” but acknowledged that remarks a few days earlier by Vice President Joseph Biden prompted his announcement.

On May 6 Biden, a Catholic, said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex couples marrying, adding they should get “the same exact rights” heterosexual married couples receive.

“I pray for the president every day, and will continue to pray that he and his administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal Dolan said.

The Catholic Church upholds the sanctity of traditional marriage as being only between one man and one woman and also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful, but across the country the views of many Catholics appear to be trending toward support of same-sex marriage. A poll conducted in March jointly by the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service found overall Catholic support for same-sex marriage to be 59 percent, with 36 percent opposed. Support by Americans overall is at 52 percent, with 44 percent opposed. Among white Catholics 57 percent support same-sex marriage and 37 percent oppose it.

According to polls conducted over the past five years by a number of different research and media outlets, public support for same-sex marriage has risen from 40 percent in 2006 to majority support today. The demographic groups that showed majority opposition to same-sex marriage were respondents age 65 and up, white evangelicals, Republicans, African-Americans and those with a high school education or less.

In a statement on May 9, the Archdiocese of Washington said it “opposes the redefinition of marriage based on the clear understanding that the complementarity of man and woman is intrinsic to the meaning of marriage. The word ‘marriage’ describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman open to generating and nurturing children. Other unions exist, but they are not marriage.” The archdiocese said it would “continue to strongly advocate for the federal government’s existing definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla clash with military police in the Policarpo Paz Garcia neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan. 20, 2018. Following a disputed election marred by irregularities, incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez was declared the victor and will be inaugurated on Jan. 27. The opposition does not recognize Hernandez's victory and are protesting against the result. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
“You will see many protests during his mandate...because Honduras hasn’t fixed its age-old problems of inequality, exclusion, poor educational and health system, corruption and impunity.”
Melissa VidaJanuary 23, 2018
I want to be able to serve the state better. I want to be able to serve more of the state.
Nathan SchneiderJanuary 23, 2018
Formed in 2011, The Oh Hellos' Christianity is one of their foundational inspirations, evident in lines like "the only God I should have loved."
Colleen DulleJanuary 23, 2018
People gather at a June 14 candlelight vigil in Manila, Philippines, in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Philippine Catholic bishops called for vigilance against bullying, ostracism and harassment of gay people in the wake of the incident in which police said a lone gunman killed 49 people early June 12 at the club. (CNS photo/Mark R. Cristino, EPA)
“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why,” said Bishop Mark O’Connell.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 23, 2018