August 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
U.S. bishops rebuke Biden for officiating same-sex wedding
Vice President Joe Biden married a same-sex couple. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Joe Biden married a same-sex couple. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

14 Comments
  • The bishops need to be reminded that the VP is acting within Civil Law, not Catholic law. Can anyone tell us the Section or Clause from the US Constitution that places Catholic law above the US Constitution, and thus US Law?

    Reminds me of the woman I formerly worked with – she was Catholic and wanted to marry a divorced man. Her priest wouldn’t do it, but a priest in a nearby parish would and did, based on the ;recommendation’ of her priest. (BTW, the marriage was in NoVa.)

    • Can you site for me where in the Federal Constitution it gives the Supreme Court the right to pass laws? Please read Article 1 Section 1 it states that all legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. That means only congress can pass laws not judges. Also read Article III both section 1 and 2. No where in the constitution does it give the federal judiciary the right of Judicial Review (to decide the constitutionality of a law or regulation.) Also you will not find that right in anywhere in the constitution. The court just started doing it in 1803. What you will find is that Amendment 10 says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. The Supreme court on same-sex-marriage unconstitutionally declared laws of six states banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional which does not constitute a law but is just an opinion. What needs to happen is that congress must pass a law then the states or the people need to rule on the constitutionality. The laws of my Apache People where more simple, less conveluted and workable.

      • ‘. . . site. . . .’ not ‘cite’?

        The rest of your rant is ignored if you are sooo ignorant to think ‘site’ means the same as ‘cite’.

        • I meant to type site but I wouldn’t expect one like you who never makes a mistake to understand that. Have you bothered to read Article 1 Section 1? You probably don’t know where to find it.

      • in a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held in a 5–4 decision that “the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
        So it clearly was not a law pass by the justices of court.

  • Why? Why is any gay man STILL a member of this organization? Why is any LGBT still Catholic? Really!

    • As a “replacement ” consider Humanism. A non-theistic alternative to religion.

      • There are plenty of Christian churches available for gay men and women….. The Catholics and their child raper Priests are just one option among many.

        • But we must remember that the Christian churches for centuries has been our enemy and has inspired our killings and our suppression, and rejections, and our suicides. it is only recently, VERY recently that being gay was an acceptable way to be a Christian. How can that be? And those churches that are “welcoming” must close their eyes and ignore numerous verses in their book of “god’s word”. in order to be this way. No, they are too late to the table to be acceptable. Their sins are too great, there is too much blood and suffering on their hands. Christianity is a flawed and damaged and unacceptably view of the world. Humanism is better.

          • The problem is that people who living in the 20th and 21st century try to act like the mores of the 1st century are current—in a backward time travel thing—it is incongruent with reality—in other words –they want to believe in the unreality that we are still in the first century when most of the population was ignorant and could not read or write, had no electricity, cars et al and today we do.
            The Thinking intelligent person will not accept many of the myths of the scriptures but see them as outright lies and distortions.:Perhaps Jesus did not walk on water–he surfed it but we are not told that by the writer to make it seem supernatural. There was nothing miraculous about raising Lazarus—CPR was well known i Jesus’s time. No reasonable person would really believe that given the number of species of all the earth’s animals, and other creatures –that Noah could have fit them all in a boat (which was round shaped).. WE still have floods and rainbows that are simply the manifestation of a prism effect. Heaven is not above in the sky–we have been there and have not seen any streets paved of gold–instead we have seen other planets and stars. traveiing through a vacuum.
            The main difference between science and religion is that religion pretends to tell the truth but instead tells lies and half truths. Science always seeks the absolute truth and while it may make errors in telling the truth–it always seeks to correct them. Religion almost never does.

  • I’m so sure the bishops have also chastised Catholic politicians and civic leaders who married Protestants, or divorced people, right?

    Of course, one could argue that continuing to conduct the largest criminal conspiracy in human history, comprising obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting rapists and defrauding parishioners would be more damaging to the morals of church members, but that would be mean.

    (Note: I was confirmed into the Catholic Church in 1984, but have long since left it).

  • Instead of rebuking Priests who rape kids, they just move them to a different area, with more kids.

    Is gayness worse then rape to these Neanderthals?

  • What else to you expect that the Roman Catholic Church would finally give up their superstitions about gay people? Strange as it may be–the Church was perfectly comfortable with its LGBT members until 1000 AD when all the anti-lgbt cannons began to be enacted. We owe much of these anit-lgbt canons to The Emperor who made Christianity the official religion of the Europe and what now Turkey.

    • Also the Bishops are denying Bidden the right to participate in the Eucharist–the essential component in all Christianity. IF you cannot win within then join a group where you can–in this case that would be among several others the Episcopal Church in the United States.

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