Marriage Equality Court Cases Raise Opposition from Catholic Bishops

In recent weeks, bishops and archbishops in various parts of the U.S. have been speaking out against marriage equality as the issue continues to be debated in different states.  Below is a round-up of a variety of actions which have made the news.

Cincinnati, Ohio

As an appeals court begins to weigh the arguments about lifting the ban on same-gender marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati has called on Catholics to pray for maintaining marriage as an institution only for heterosexual couples. reported that the archbishop sent an email to thousands of Catholics in the 19-country archdiocese, reminding them that Ohio’s Catholic bishops supported the ban on same-gender marriage in 2004. The article quoted an excerpt from the email:

” ‘Traditional marriage, the union of one man and one woman for life, is the cradle of the family, which is the basic building block of society,’ said Schnurr, who suggested an ‘appropriate prayer’ would be the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Prayer in Defense of Marriage.”


An interfaith prayer service in support of marriage equality was recently held in Lansing, Michigan, to support the same court case which is affecting Cincinnati.   While many people of different faiths gathered to pray together, reported that the Michigan Catholic Conference issued a statement against marriage equality.  The article excerpted the statement:

“For the sake of future generations and to uphold the common good for all of society, the Catholic Church recognizes and teaches that marriage is rooted in natural law and as such cannot be redefined. By no means should the Catholic Church’s teaching in support of natural marriage between one man and one woman diminish the dignity or sensitivity that must be afforded to all human persons, regardless of their orientation.”


In Texas, where the state attorney general is appealing a decision which reversed the state’s ban on same-gender marriage, Catholic bishops there have put their support behind this initiative.

According to

“Catholic Bishops said in a statement they hope the U.S. 5th Court of Appeals will objectively review the case and ‘affirm the right of the people of Texas to continue to upholding marriage as a union between one man and one woman.’ ”

Miami, Florida

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami spoke out against a recent court ruling in that state which said that same-gender couples have the right to marry.  Wenski called the decision “another salvo in the ‘culture wars’ that ultimately seek to redefine the institution of marriage as solely for adult gratification,” according to The Catholic Sentinel.

The court case, which was initiated by same-gender couples in the Florida Keys, invalidates the voter-endorsed constitutional ban from 2008, but only applies to the state’s Monroe County.


When an appeals court in Virginia recently ruled that the state’s ban on same-gender marriage was unconstitutional, the two Catholic bishops there spoke out against the ruling.   Bishop Paul LoVerde of Arlington and Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond issued a statement  which called the ruling“a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters,” according to a Catholic News Service story.

At the same time, the two bishops affirmed that  “those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity.”


While Catholic bishops continue to speak out against same-gender marriage, Catholic people continue to grow in their support for equality for lesbian and gay couples.   More important than the political realities, bishops need to understand the harmful pastoral realities that their negative statements cause.  It’s time for bishops to be pastors, not politicians.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry






6 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    They remind me of the shipboard band which played upbeat music on the Titanic, after it struck an iceberg and started to sink. Only when it was clear to everyone that the ship was doomed did the ship’s band begin to play, “Nearer My God To Thee”. That song strikes me as the hymn which everyone in our Catholic Church should be singing on this issue of loving and faithfully-bonded partnerships. What would The Lord Himself say about loving and faithfully-bonded partnerships among those who take refuge in Him? Draw your own conclusions, based upon your own sincere faith and conscience.

  2. winterhavenlarry
    winterhavenlarry says:

    I find it interesting that many bishops across the country are making similar statements to the one quoted from the bishops in Virginia and Michigan:

    that “those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity.”

    It seems to me that to treat someone with respect, sensitivity, and compassion, one would first have to be willing to listen, really listen, to that person. The bishops must have real conversation with LGBT people and their allies.

    – They could compassionately listen and try to understand why marriage matters. For example, try to see that there are 1,138 civil rights that are denied to gay couples. – Or listen to stories of how tax and social security benefits are being denied. – Or ask about how children are being hurt when their LGBT parents are discriminated against. – Or try to understand the suffering caused by the firing of LGBT people — they need to work for food clothing and shelter, too.

    Just a few things, but this is what it means to be “respectful and compassionate.”


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] by government contractors.  In the past, Wenski has called pro-equality court rulings “another salvo in the ‘culture wars’ that ultimately seek to redefine the institution of marriage as solely for adult […]

  2. […] for LGBT people, and in fact, some of his comments and actions have been quite negative.  In August of this year, he spoke out against a Florida court’s ruling that same-gender marriage could be approved in […]

  3. […] America’s bishops have not ceased opposing marriage equality, even as several anti-LGBT campaigners admit it is a lost cause. There is a […]

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