DC OKs Same-Sex Unions; Church Renews Pledge to Poor

Church’s Mission to Regulate Future Cooperation With City

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WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As the Washington, D.C., city council redefined marriage to include same-sex unions, Church leaders in the national capital renewed their commitment to serve the poor.

The council voted Tuesday to consider same-sex unions as marriages; the legislation now needs the promised signature of  Mayor Adrian Fenty to become law in the national capital. Five U.S. states also recognize same-sex marriages.

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., sought unsuccessfully to have conscience rights protected in the legislation. In November, Archbishop Donald Wuerl explained in a Washington Post editorial why the bill threatens to force the Church to restrict its charity programs.

«[T]he District requires Catholic Charities to certify its compliance with city laws when applying for contracts and grants. […] Since Catholic Charities cannot comply with city mandates to recognize and promote same-sex marriages, the city would withhold contracts and licenses,» he explained.


A statement from the archdiocese on Tuesday lamented the consequences of the council vote.

It noted that «the archdiocese advocated for a bill that would balance the council’s interest in redefining marriage with the need to protect religious freedom. Regrettably, the bill did not strike that balance.»

The statement reiterated the Church’s commitment to «serving those in need, regardless of race, creed, gender, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.» It said this commitment is «integral to our Catholic faith.»

The statement noted how religious organizations «have long been eligible to provide social services in our nation’s capital and have not been excluded simply because of their religious character.»

The Church is still committed to serving the needs of the poor, the communiqué stated.

But it added that future collaboration must be consistent with the Church’s mission: «We are committed to serving the needs of the poor and look forward to working in partnership with the District of Columbia consistent with the mission of the Catholic Church.»

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