Monday, April 23, 2018
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Most people know that the Catholic Church teaches that the true nature of marriage is a comprehensive “two-in-one-flesh” union capable of uniting children with their mothers and fathers, a union which only a man and a woman are biologically capable of forming. Most people also know that the Catholic Church teaches that sexual intimacy which promotes bonding between the couple and may result in new life is meant exclusively within a marriage between a man and a woman. Thus, the Catholic Church dissents from the view of marriage increasingly held by many that redefines marriage as being only about the affective gratification of consenting adults.
The Gospel proposal about sexuality and human flourishing has always been challenging to believers and a stumbling block to non-believers — regardless of their sexual orientation (cf. Matthew 19: 9-11). For we all are sinners. The Church is, as Pope Francis has said, a “field hospital” tending to those wounded in the battlefields of life with the healing balm of God’s grace and mercy. The “medicine” of the gospel is denied to no one. And, on any given Sunday, there are gathered in our parishes people who are at different stages in their faith journeys. They are always welcomed — and often those who are not yet “there,” i.e., able to participate in Holy Communion — do approach the minister for a blessing.
And while more than a few may not agree with the Church’s teachings, it should be obvious that faith-based schools cannot promote their distinctive educational mission, in accordance with those teachings, unless they are free to select teachers who are committed to that mission — and free to dismiss them if they are not.
There are bound to be difficult moments in ensuring the Church remains free to preach the Gospel and exercise her ministry in any society, let alone one as diverse as the U.S. and Miami in particular. This is why the courts have generally recognized that teachers in faith-based schools are similar to clergy, and that there is thus a “ministerial exception” to the application of antidiscrimination laws. As pastor of this local church, I recognize that such situations can cause some to feel pain or exclusion, especially those who have likely experienced unjust discrimination during their lives. The last thing I — or any priest — would want to do is add to any sense of abandonment by the Church for anyone.
But we must find ways to ensure legitimate differences do not harm us as a community, or result in the eclipse or diminishment of the relationship of the Church with the community in which she serves people of all nationalities and ethnicities, people of all social-economic backgrounds, and people of all sexual orientations, “not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”
I agree with Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote in his dissent to Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same sex marriages: “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.” But I also appreciate that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted for the majority in Obergefell v. Hodges, acknowledged that people who oppose “same sex marriage reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.” In other words, one who defends the traditional understanding of marriage as a conjugal union between a man and a woman is not for doing so a “hater.”