Baltimore Catholic Pastor Preaches in Support of Marriage Equality and Conscience

Fr. Richard Lawrence

Father Richard Lawrence of St. Vincent dePaul parish in Baltimore, Maryland, preached yesterday about supporting marriage equality in the upcoming referendum on the issue in the state.  While Baltimore Archbishop William Lori asked pastors to read a letter opposing marriage equality, Father Lawrence did so, but then added his own view on the matter.

You can watch the 17 -minute homily by clicking here.

You can also listen to just the audio of the homily by clicking here, and then clicking on “October 28.”

You can read a National Catholic Reporter news story of the homily by clicking here.

Here’s a summary of his remarks:

Fr. Lawrence transitions from reading Archbishop Lori’s letter by stating that it cannot be ignored by faithful Catholics. He also states that in his homily, he will provide “some other thoughts that might be considered in your process of conscience formation.”

He makes the following points:

1) There is a separation between religious law and civil law.  While there are some civil laws we cannot accept, there are others than we can accept, even if we disagree with them.  He makes the case that Catholic institutions (parishes, schools, hospitals) hire and provide benefits to people whose marriages are not canonically valid.  We may not agree with the civil law in this regard, but, as Catholics, we support that law.

2) Fr. Lawrence states that “personally, we can go further than that,” as he explains a hope for the eventual change in church teaching regarding same-sex relationships. Citing Vatican II’s change in theology of sacramental marriage by making the procreation of children an equal function to the mutual support and common life of the couple, he notes that both became primary functions of marriage.

Developing this idea, he notes that the church marries elderly couples who cannot procreate because they are able to exemplify this other function of mutual support and common life.  The same, he says, can be done for gay and lesbian couples, for whom reproduction is not possible, but mutual support and common life is.

3)  If it is possible for church teaching on marriage to change, than why can’t civil law on marriage change, he asks.

4)  He notes that Genesis his two different verses which are used to define marriage:  “Be fruitful and multiply” and finding “a suitable partner or helpmate” for the human being.  A suitable partner for a heterosexual person is someone of the other gender, while a suitable partner for a gay or lesbian person is someone of the same gender.

Fr. Lawrence concludes by urging parishioners to develop and follow their consciences.

He received thunderous applause and a standing ovation at the conclusion of homily.  New Ways Ministry adds our own applause to that of his parishioners!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

13 replies
  1. Terri Hemker
    Terri Hemker says:

    This was so beautiful! Something as a Catholic and the mother of a gay transgendered son that I can finally feel proud of sharing with those who are angry with the Church as I have been for some time.

  2. joan
    joan says:

    As a Catholic working on the marriage equality campaign in my home state, I wish we had a priest with his wisdom and courage! Thank you Fr. Lawrence, and God bless you!

  3. Wayne Hergott
    Wayne Hergott says:

    Why isn’t the homily still available on video or audio? It hasn’t been deleted because of age as many older homilies are still available.

  4. ermadurk
    ermadurk says:

    Oh! that every Catholic, at this particular time, could hear Father Lawrence’s comments after reading the Archbishop’s letter! It is indeed an instruction and reflection of great psychic worth. Would that every Catholic parent of a gay or lesbian child could hear this; would that every GLBT person, discouraged by what they are hearing from the Bishops now, could hear these compassionate, hopeful words of Fr. Lawrence. My wish is that every person who has viewed this Video would make the effort to share it with others.


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