HRC Blog

Pro-Equality and Roman Catholic Is Not an Oxymoron

This post comes from Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality:

Few, if any, reading this blog doubt a person’s sanity based on their sexual orientation or identity. Many easily express grave doubts about the sanity of pro equality Catholics!

I am pro-equality because I am a Catholic committed to freedom and fairness for all God’s people. The majority of U.S. Catholics -- anywhere from 53% - 73%, according to 2012 polls -- are like me.

Most people recognize that marriage equality could not have prevailed in ME, MD, MN and WA this fall if a majority of Catholics hadn’t voted for justice over their hierarchy’s preference for dogma. Over $2 million for dogma notwithstanding, Catholic faithful were not persuaded that their consciences were “improperly formed.”

This support doesn’t mystify me. Indeed, one of the largest pieces of our Catholics for Marriage Equality struggle is convincing the secular press and campaign staffs and demonstrating to judges, legislators and other elected officials that Catholics vote their own consciences, not their bishop’s political decrees.

From Cardinal John Henry Newman we learned that conscience is the “law written by God” in our hearts. Jesus preached that law must always demonstrate God's all-inclusive love. The Church instructs us to respect and defend the dignity of all people.  Our conscience tells us how to demonstrate those teachings in our daily lives.

Catholics know that granting same-sex couples marriage licenses does not change the fact that our Magisterium will not permit or recognize them. But we remember it has been dead wrong and reversed in the past: Joan d’Arc -- heretic to saint; earth from flat to round; un-baptized babies released from non-existent limbo; justifiers of slavery to civil rights proponents.

There are three important sources of truth in the Catholic tradition: the hierarchy, the theologians, and the wisdom of the laity. When all three converge on an important teaching, that teaching becomes the standard for the future.  Since up to three quarters of Catholics, many theologians, and some priests (secretly) support civil same-sex marriage, there is certainly no convergence of agreement with the hierarchy on this issue (or most other matters related to sexuality).

Vatican II confirmed Jesus’ teaching -- it is the people of God, not their rulers, who represent the Kindom of God. We Catholics in the pews, the voting booths, at our lesbian and gay family and friends’ weddings – we are the Church. We are speaking proudly and increasingly loudly as Church.

When HRC’s Chad Griffin publicly acknowledged the importance of our Catholics for Marriage Equality organizations to marriage victory, he confirmed the new power of pro equality Catholics. Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program, is skillfully mentoring and judiciously promoting us to speak more courageously and assertively as the voices of the Church. Pro-equality and Catholic is not an oxymoron. It is an honest description of the growing majority of Catholics who constitute the Church.

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