Easter Sunday morning turned out to be an opportunity for senior Catholic clerics to hit the airwaves with messages about LGBT issues. Not a surprise, given the fact that the Supreme Court heard two cases this past week about marriage equality.
Yesterday, we reported on New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan message of pastoral outreach to lesbian and gay Catholics. We urged him to open a dialogue with lesbian and gay people as the way to follow through with his suggestion that church leaders need to listen better to those who feel alienated from the church. Cardinal Dolan also took the opportunity to defend the hierarchy’s view that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples.
Washington, DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl also made a television appearance yesterday in which he discussed welcoming lesbian and gay people, but his outreach was a little more restrained. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Wuerl was asked if the Catholic church should welcome gay and lesbian couples who are legally married. His answer, according to the news website Rawstory, was:
“. . . we do that same thing with people who are married, divorced and remarried. We say, you know, you’re still part of the family, but we can’t recognize that second marriage. It’s never been a great problem. It’s painful for all of us to have to realize that making our way through life is difficult and that we can’t always be as perfect as we like to be.”
Cardinal Wuerl should check with remarried people to see if, in fact, they feel as welcomed by the church as he thinks they should be.
Wuerl also used his television appearance to make a quasi-religious liberty argument, saying that those who, like himself, oppose marriage equality need to be tolerated better by society:
“The only thing I worry about is someone saying to me, ‘You, because you believe that sex is intended for marriage and because you believe that marriage is indissoluble and because you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman that somehow you don’t belong here, that somehow this is bigotry or this is hate speech.’ That’s what I worry about. There has to be room enough in a society as large, as free as pluralistic as America to make space for all of us.”
Wuerl’s predecessor as Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick appeared on Bloomberg’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt, and defended the idea of civil unions for lesbian and gay couples. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
“Cardinal McCarrick said he has ‘no problem’ with civil unions for gay couples that confer the same rights as marriage.”
“I certainly would prefer that to what I could call ‘a marriage,’ in quotes,” Cardinal McCarrick said.
McCarrick joins a growing chorus of bishops, including Pope Francis who have endorsed civil unions as an alternative to marriage–a compromise that was unthinkable only a few years ago.
McCarrick also acknowledged that society faces more challenging tests to heterosexual marriage than marriage equality:
“ ‘Same-sex marriage is not at this point prevalent in our society, and probably won’t be’ because gays are a minority, McCarrick told Bloomberg. Children whose parents divorce or are born out of wedlock, he said, ‘find themselves out on a limb,’ which ‘is a serious problem in our society.’ ”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry