On thursday, Rhode Island became the 10th State to recognize the legality of same-sex marriage. Good news, right?
Well, not so fast.
Rhode Island’s Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin immediately penned a “pastoral letter” to all Catholics in the state in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage. And what a touching, warm-hearted letter it is. In part, it reads as follows:
As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.
Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)
At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.
So let me get this straight (to coin a phrase), the Catholic Church has “respect, love and pastoral concern” for gay people. But gay people are “intrinsically disordered” and acting on their feelings is “always sinful.” Further, all good Catholics should refuse to recognize members of their own family and friends who choose to participate in or endorse same-sex unions. This is hate, pure and simple. It is also an attempt at intrusion by a religion on the secular, civil recognition of marriage. In this country, no religion can impose its views on the state.