LGBT advocates cheered Vice President Joseph Biden last week for officiating the wedding of a same-sex couple who work at the White House, but high-ranking U.S. Catholic bishops aren’t so happy.
In a blog posted Friday on the website for U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, three prominent bishops denounced the idea that a “prominent Catholic politician” would marry a same-sex couple.
“When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnize the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics,” the bishops write. “What we see is a counter witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth.”
Although Biden’s name is never enumerated, recent events leave little doubt the vice president, who’s Catholic, is the focus of the blog post. Last week, Biden presided over the wedding of Brian Mosteller, director of Oval Office operations and special assistant to President Obama, and Joe Mahshie, a trip coordinator for first lady Michelle Obama.
The three bishops who wrote the blog post are Joseph Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, Ky., and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Richard Malone, bishop of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami, Fla.
The bishops in a blog post invoke the words of Pope Francis, saying they join him “in preserving the dignity and meaning of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”
“The two strands of the dignity of the person and the dignity of marriage and the family are interwoven,” the bishops write. “To pull apart one is to unravel the whole fabric.”
Although Francis has a reputation for supporting LGBT people and lessening the church’s condemnation of LGBT right advances, he hasn’t changed the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Just before the vote in Italy to legalize civil unions, Francis said January in a speech to the Roman Rota “there can be no confusion between the family as willed by God, and every other type of union.”
Recognizing “faithful witness can be challenging,” the bishops remind all Catholics to uphold the church’s views, especially those like Biden who’ve “embraced positions of leadership and public service.”
“Let us pray for our Catholic leaders in public life, that they may fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage and offer a faithful witness that will bring much needed light to the world,” the bishops conclude. “And may all of us as Catholics help each other be faithful and joyful witnesses wherever we are called.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to verify the “prominent Catholic politician” discussed in the blog post is Biden, nor did the White House respond to a request for comment on the remarks.
Prior to the blog post, each of the three bishops has previously expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. When Maine was first seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009, Malone called it “a dangerous sociological experiment.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Wenski compared the ruling to the Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott decisions, reminding members of his diocese they could lose their jobs for supporting same-sex marriage. Kurtz called the ruling “a tragic error.”
Biden, on the other hand, came out in favor of same-sex marriage on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2012, preceding President Obama’s announcement in support of marriage equality by a few days.
Although the three bishops oppose same-sex marriage, the majority of Catholics in the United States support gay nuptials. According to a May poll from the Pew Research Center, about six-in-10 Catholics, or 58 percent, now support same-sex marriage.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, offered Monday on Twitter a contrasting view to Biden’s decision to wed a same-sex couple, reminding the bishops “we are all God’s children.”
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) August 8, 2016