Catholic Bishops Oppose Violence Against Women Act Because of LGBT Protections

After a lengthy political battle centered around specific LGBT, American Indian and migrant protection, President Barack Obama finally signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act yesterday, but not before five Catholic bishops announced their opposition to the legislation in a statement released Wednesday.

Lauren Markoe writes in The Washington Post about the bishops’ rejection of this legislation that strengthens and funds federal initiatives to further protect domestic violence and human trafficking victims. The 2013 re-authorization added explicit protections for victims regardless of their “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” which is the source of Republican legislators, as well as the bishops’, concerns. Markoe writes:

“[The bishops] are opposing the newly authorized Violence Against Women Act for fear it will subvert traditional views of marriage and gender, and compromise the religious freedom of groups that aid victims of human trafficking…

“That language disturbs several bishops who head key committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that deal with, among other issues, marriage, the laity, youth and religious liberty.”

The bishops signing the statement include Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. Several of these bishops previously opposed marriage equality and LGBT civil rights in prominent ways, making this letter only the latest in the narrative against full equality.

In 2010, during the last re-authorization vote in the Violence Against Women Act, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supported the legislation as an effective measure to reduce gender-based violence. At that time,  emphasis on Catholic teachings around human dignity, justice, and non-violence played a central role in the decision to support the legislation. The recent action of these five bishops re-orients episcopal judgement on the bill to sexual ethics exclusively.

Will the bishops continue to make their view on sexual ethics the only litmus test for all social policy?  Such a position would be socially disastrous.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Terence
    Terence says:

    Catholic teaching on homosexual persons (as opposed to genital acts) is clear: all unjust discrimination is to be opposed, and we should be protected from all violence of malice, in words or in actions ( or words to that effect).

    It is appalling (but on past form, entirely predictable) that when it comes to practice rather than fine words, the bishops once again should be acting in direct contradiction of Church teaching.

  2. Linda Karle-Nelson
    Linda Karle-Nelson says:

    It seems the bishops have gone beyond the beyond in their opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, When will they see the hypocrisy in their claim to support Church teaching on human dignity, justice, and non-violence and their refusal to support this legislation which will advance all of these areas of social justice? Shame on them!

  3. Daniel Douglass
    Daniel Douglass says:

    I wish the good bishops would read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “They (homosexual men and women) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” 2358

  4. ermadurk
    ermadurk says:

    As a Catholic woman, I find it difficult to respond to such a blindly out-of-touch, ridiculously pompous statement made by these men who claim to know about the effects of the violence perpetrated upon women. Their logic leaves me stuttering, stammering and getting tongue-tied. Unbelievable!

  5. Clare
    Clare says:

    Is there any EFFECTIVE way to protest this uncaring, unjust, and hugely un-Christlike action by those in leadership posiitons?

  6. Ryan Sattler
    Ryan Sattler says:

    After watching the President’s press coverage and signing the Violence Against Women Act, it was one of those “good feeling” moments. This morning at our 7am Liturgy, we recognized and prayed the Prayer of St. Francis to mark the International Women’s Day. We ended this prayer with these words…”Help us to see the strength and goodness in all women and men. Transform our hearts to celebrate the love and grace of all GOD’s people.” And then I read Bondings 2.0. Once again, we are saddened by the exclusionary words of our Church Hierarchy. So sad, so disappointing to read the words of our own Archbishop Lori, who basically said…we can’t support this legislation to protect women against violence because it includes protecting Lesbian women. Oh I now get it…these five bishops say we should protect women against violence as long as they are not Lesbian women. Very sad.

  7. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    The action of these bishops is nothing short of obscene. They have truly put their arrogance and pride in place of their call to love and service. The truly scary thing is that all other bishops who refuse to speak out in opposition to these five, are complicit with them – in giving tacit approval. Shame on all US bishops.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  4. […] state education and signed onto a letter by several bishops opposing the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it now includes ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as […]

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