Here is the latest column from Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, reprinted from the Southern Nebraska Register.
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God is a communion of persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — the mystery of the Trinity. We are created to live in families patterned after the divine communion of the Most Holy Trinity, the divine family of God.
Sacred scripture reveals that “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Marriage, in a unique way, reveals the divine community of God. The unity of men and women—their complementarity, and their procreativity—reveals the unified, complementary, and creative love of the Most Holy Trinity.
We are created to live in the image of God—each one of us is created in a family that begins with complementary and procreative love of one man and one woman. Because God created us to live in the image of his divine communion, children have a natural right to live in families of one man and one woman. This is God’s plan for human flourishing. While this is certainly the ideal, we know that, for a variety of reasons, not every child is able to enjoy this right. But no one has the right to completely redefine the family, as we have always known it—to deny the meaning of marriage, or to undermine its import.
In 2003, in a document on the subject of same-sex marriage, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote: “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts ‘close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.’”
Furthermore, the Church teaches that governments have a solemn obligation to protect and support the true meaning of marriage and of the family. Governments which repudiate that obligation deny reality, and deny the truest sense of the common good which they are obliged to serve.
In June, the Supreme Court of the United States attempted to redefine marriage, and compelled state governments to ignore their solemn obligation to support, regulate, and protect the family. Because of the Obergefell vs Hodges decision, every state must now deny the sacred origins and meaning of marriage, and sanction unions of same-sex couples by calling them “marriage.”
The Supreme Court compels government officials—county, state, and municipal administrators and clerks, to deny the sacred meaning of marriage. But Catholics cannot deny reality.
The CDF document states that “in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”
Catholics cannot directly facilitate any government action to sanction same-sex unions as marriage. And they must resist even cooperation in same-sex marriage. In many cases, the Civil Rights Act establishes an obligation for employers and government agencies to respect and accommodate the convictions and obligations of Catholics, to provide protections for those who object to it on religious grounds. But when no such respect or accommodation can be found, Catholics must do all that they can to avoid cooperation with a false notion of marriage. In some cases, this might require resignation—a heroic witness to the sacred meaning of marriage.
In the Diocese of Lincoln, there may be Catholics who find that their employment requires them to act against their conscience, and against the teachings of the Church regarding the meaning of marriage. I ask any Catholics who find themselves in such a situation to visit with their pastors about this issue. The Church is eager to support Catholics standing, in the full freedom of their conscience, in witness and commitment to the truth.
The Trinity is revealed to us in marriage. And God gives us the grace to live in imitation of his Holy Trinity. Everything we do should be in gratitude to that grace. And each of us should do all that we can to reveal that truth to the world.