Do most Catholic theologians support same-sex marriage?
Fresh from their scrape with the White House over its birth-control mandate, Catholic bishops may represent the most unified resistance to any attempt by President Obama to turn his personal support for same-sex marriage into a policy position. Yet while many non-Catholic Americans may take the political position put forward by the bishops as the final word in American Catholic life, progressive Catholic thinkers and theologians say it is time for the church to step back from political arguments about same-sex marriage, and reconsider its own position.
Among the theologians who say the bishops are in the wrong is Paul Lakeland, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Catholic university in Connecticut. “That’s not really an argument that has a theological justification,” Lakeland said of the church’s opposition to same-sex civil marriages. “It’s an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.”
“There is a lot more to be said about these issues than one stream of words from the hierarchy,” Lakeland said.
While Catholic bishops were quick to rise in unified opposition earlier this year after President Obama announced a health-care mandate that would require all employers to ensure that their health insurance plans covered birth control, they have not yet mounted a similar campaign in light of Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, did release a statement on Wednesday saying he found Obama’s decision “deeply saddening.” Dolan went on to say that, “We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society.”
The USCCB’s most recent public pronouncement on the issue of same-sex marriage was a statement released Thursday in which the bishops expressed their approval of a vote in North Carolina in which citizens passed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. “This is not a partisan issue, but a matter of justice, fairness, and equality for the law to uphold every child’s basic right to be welcomed and raised by his or her mother and father together,” Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB’s subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said in the statement. [More]