I recently received this question on my blog:
Father, I have just heard of the Supreme Court’s decision that all states will have to allow same sex marriages. Governor Rickets said on T.V. that NE will comply with the Supreme Court’s mandates. Probably has not choice right now. My first concern is what does this mean for Catholics and the Catholic Church? Will the Catholic Church or any other religion who believes marriage is between a man and a woman be required to perform Catholic marriage ceremonies? Or will freedom of religion prevail? My guess is there will be court suits based upon several grounds. I know you can’t answer this now, but will you address this issue in the future? We live in such scary times. God will help us.
Below is my response:
Dear Saint Michael parishioners and fellow Catholics,
We are living in a time in which the world and the Church is experiencing change at a whiplash speed. As a boy growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I could have never imagined the things that we would face in the first part of the 21st-century. The week of June 21, 2015 will be a week that will be remembered in American history as a week that forever changed the United States.
The United States Supreme Court decision “legalizing” same gender marriage is one that, from just human reason alone, is plainly and simply wrong and impossible. “Same-sex” marriage is an oxymoron if there ever was one. The decision redefines thousands of years of marriage understood as being between one man and one woman – one that is permanent and exclusive and open to the transmission of life.
For thousands of years all of humanity, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, and every other category, understood and accepted this definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Just in the last few years has this understanding been challenged. This is a basic understanding of human nature that can be understood without any higher or religious instruction.
In commenting on the 5-4 Supreme Court decision legalizing “same-sex “marriage, President Obama said that this decision makes us as a country more united and more free. Mr. President, you can’t be serious????
I fear that this decision is going to have far-reaching and long-lasting repercussions for the Catholic Church, Christians and people who hold that marriage is between one man and one woman. Business owners and professionals have already seen a backlash of so-called “discrimination” for holding to their principles. Florists, caterers, photographers, printers, lawyers, and any number of people who choose not to provide goods or services in situations that are contrary to their beliefs will be fined and possibly imprisoned for their beliefs. It has already happened in the United States. Business owners and professionals have been put out of business because they have not been allowed to live and or operate their businesses according to their beliefs.
I really believe that the next battle front in the “cultural” wars will be a frontal assault on religious freedom. Under ObamaCare it is already underway. Institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, adoption agencies, universities, and any other host of religiously affiliated agencies and institutions will be forced in their employment practices and outreach to provide services that are morally objectionable or be forced to shut down operations or lose their tax exempt status. I can even envision a scenario where what we preach and teach as truth will be labeled as hate speech.
I think Cardinal Francis George, the retired Archbishop of Chicago who died recently, was very prophetic when he said, in relationship to these varying matters: “most likely I will die in my bed; my successor, very likely will die in jail and his successor, very possibly could die a martyr.”
I believe that we as Catholics are going to face severe persecution in our lifetime and that there might even come the possibility that some of us may face severe consequences for speaking the truth.
I strongly encourage you to get and read the book by William May, “Getting the Marriage Conversation Right.” It is brief, simple and to the point and clearly outlines this very issue in a Catholic context.
I would like to leave you with two quotes from a great churchman who was monumental in our lifetime – Saint Pope John Paul the Great. He too was prophetic.
My fellow parishioners…. Do not lose heart or your courage and do not be discouraged or despair.
It was Jesus who promised that He would be with us until the end of time and that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think the wide circle of the American Society, or the wide circle of the Christian Community realizes this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…”
–Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, 1976, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla
“We must prepare ourselves to suffer great trials before long, such as will demand of us a disposition to give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ. With your and my prayers, it is possible to mitigate the coming tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only this can the Church be effectually renewed. How many times has the renewal of the Church sprung from the shedding of blood? This time too, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong and prepared and trust in Christ and in his Holy Mother and be very, very assiduous in praying the holy rosary.”
–St. John Paul’s response to a question about the Third Secret of Fatima, Fulda, Germany, 1980