A new archbishop has been appointed to the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco—Salvatore Cordileone, former bishop of Oakland and well-known supporter of traditional marriage, i.e., marriage between one man and one woman. With shouts of bigotry, discrimination, and even oppression from gay marriage advocates, it is easy for the public to think that Catholic teaching is incorrect, unfair, or even cruel. In order to prevent people from misunderstanding or misrepresenting what Church teaching says, I would like to make a few points.
There is no need to take the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and turn it into personal judgment. Sexuality is one dimension of our lives; it does not, or at least should not, determine all of who we are or what we do. Life is not one-dimensional. It is an error to place sexual relations at the forefront of our lives, as if we could define ourselves by our sexuality. This is a distortion of what it means to be human. The Church rejects all forms of discrimination towards anyone.
The Church’s public support of traditional marriage is based on what it means to be a man and a woman and what it is for a husband and wife to become one in marriage and then raise a family. When the Church engages in public support for traditional marriage, the reasons for support are not only religious but also moral and social.
As the new Archbishop has pointed out in a June Catholic News Agency interview, “Marriage is about fundamental justice for children,” because “children do best with a mother and a father.” His reasons are clearly social and personal—for the good of society and the good of the family as a whole. No matter how it happened, it is an indisputable fact that each and every one of us was born from the union of one man and one woman.
Supporters of gay marriage cannot say that the Church, or that Archbishop Cordileone, is “oppressive” or “unjust” to gay or lesbian individuals, but they can say that the Church does not approve of any other definition of Marriage other than that it is between husband and wife. The Church is no more anti-gay than it is anti-straight in that both are incorrect if they distort the meaning of marriage by creating their own definitions—be it by polygamy, gay marriage, or multiple divorces and attempts at new marriages.
If you believe that humans were made in the image and likeness of their Creator and if you believe that God instituted marriage between a man and a woman, then you accept that human beings do not have the right to ignore what God has blessed, let alone attempt to re-create it in misguided attempts that ignore human nature and God’s will.