Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, surprised at least some LGBT Catholic activists last week when he appeared to set a conciliatory tone in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
“The law of the land is the law of the land,” Wuerl said at a news conference called to announce Pope Francis’s schedule of activities during his visit to Washington in September.
“We certainly follow what the law says,” he told reporters. “That doesn’t mean we change the word of God. That doesn’t mean we change the Scriptures, or the Church’s millennia-long tradition of what marriage is.”
But he added, “Nobody is turned away because of their sexual identity, because of their race, because of their ethnic background. And are we not all struggling to live the gospel?”
As reported by WTOP News, Wurel told the news conference, which was held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue, N.W., that while church teaching won’t change, Pope Francis has been more inclusive.
“He keeps saying, ‘Go out. Go out and meet people where they are. And in that encounter, walk with them, accompany them,’” Wuerl said. “I think that’s what the church is saying. We all need to walk together as we try to make our way closer to God.”
WTOP cited a recent Pew Research Center poll showing that 56 percent of U.S. Catholics support same-sex marriage compared to 55 percent of Protestants, who say they do not support same-sex marriage. According to the poll, 85 percent of “religiously unaffiliated people” support the right of gays to marry.