No law can change truth of marriage, local bishops say about Supreme Court decision

The U.S. Supreme Court’s closely divided ruling, opening the door to same-sex ‘marriages’ across the United States, drew criticism from Colorado’s bishops who called the decision “gravely unjust” and erroneous for its blatant ignorance of the truth of marriage.

“Sadly, the Supreme Court has rendered a decision that is gravely unjust; redefining marriage throughout the entire country,” stated the Colorado Catholic Conference, the state lobbying arm for the Church, on behalf of the state’s three bishops June 26. “Marriage precedes the creation of states and by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman.  No court, no law, and no amount of political correctness or wishful thinking can really change what marriage is.”

The three bishops— Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo—said men and women were designed by God to complement one another in marriage and form a conjugal union.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex, including when it was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. Thirty-seven states permitted same-sex ‘marriage’ before the court’s ruling.

Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the decision calling same-sex ‘marriage’ a right. He said same-sex couples are not seeking to disrespect marriage, but that they want to seek fulfillment in it themselves.

“Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions,” he wrote. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, dissented saying the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject.

“If you are among the many Americans, of whatever sexual orientation, who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

The decision is expected to trigger same-sex ceremonies across the states and in those that ban the practice.

Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, also responded today stating no court decision or ceremony can alter marriage.Wedding rings isolated on white , 3d render

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is deeply flawed and extremely disappointing. Marriage by its very nature is the union of one man and one woman and no court decision can change that,” she said.

While the ruling was erroneous, she said she hopes faithful will continue to defend marriage.

“It is our sincere hope that the religious freedom of those with differing views on marriage will in fact be respected,” Kraska said.

She added that the court noted, “…religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

Colorado’s bishops also stated those in support of marriage should continue to pray and express their beliefs without fear.

“We are concerned that hateful rhetoric and discrimination against those, whose religious and moral beliefs support the true definition of marriage that has existed for millennia, will intensify,” they stated. “We will continue to pray that people with differing views on marriage will be able to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation or hostility, and more importantly that religious freedom and liberty will be supported and defended.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also responded June 26 stating the Supreme Court’s decision is “profoundly immoral and unjust.”

Marriage must be protected, especially for the sake of children, he stated.

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.”

The bishops added that marriage is an institution that concerns everyone.

“Protecting the meaning of civil marriage should concern all people because stable marriages and family life are the foundation of a fair and prosperous society,” the Colorado bishops stated.

The bishops urged faithful to take courage, have strength and pray that those of good will remain united in defense of marriage.

“All people of good will must remain united in defense of marriage between one man and one woman, while bearing witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ,” they said.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash