Press Conference on Where the Church Stands Regarding Same-sex
ALBUQUERQUE- Friday, February 20, 2004- IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 20, 2004, 3:30
The Catholic Center
4000 St. Joseph Pl NW
Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan will hold a press conference today, 3:30 PM at The
Catholic Center, 4000 St. Joseph Pl NW, Albuquerque, NM.
The following article is from the Archdiocese
of Santa Fe monthly newspaper People of God,
Where Does the Church Stand Regarding Same-sex Marriages?
By Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan
The Catholic Church believes that marriage is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong
union between one man and one woman joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of
life and love. We
believe God established this union and that He gave it to us as a great gift for the continuation
of the human race. We must use marriage as God intended it, according to the plan shown to us
in the Bible, and in Christian tradition or we run into trouble.
Jesus brought marriage to the
level of a sacrament for Christian people. Marriage exists for the mutual love and support of
the spouses and for the procreation and education of children.
The Church teaches that the institution of marriage, as the union of a man and a woman, must
be protected and promoted in both the private and public realm. Recent statements of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops note the opposition of the Church to attempts to grant legal status
of marriage to same sex unions.
Dignity of All Persons
Our opposition to same sex marriages is
in no way an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons. The Church
teaches that individuals and society must respect the basic
dignity of all persons, including those with a homosexual orientation. Homosexual persons have
a right to and deserve our respect, compassion and defense against bigotry, attacks and abuse.
Church has always taught that the sexual act belongs in a marriage of a man and a woman. Homosexual
acts are taught to be sinful, based on the Bible and on tradition. There are many
texts from the Bible that deal with this matter. (Gen. 19:1-29, Rom. 1:24, 1 Cor. 6:9,
for example). There are some proponents of a homosexual lifestyle who try to explain away these
and other texts,
but serious Scripture scholars do not agree with them. They would like to change the meanings
of the text to suit their own agenda. The Teaching of the Church is stated in a fresh way in
the Church’s new Catechism (paragraph 2357 and following). Some will choose to disagree
with this teaching.
Our teaching makes a distinction between homosexual orientation, which is
not immoral, and homosexual acting out, which is immoral.
There are same-sex couples who live
together as more than roommates. There are many heterosexual couples who are living together
without marriage as well. Both situations would be seen as sinful
by the Church. The Church’s sexual teaching can be difficult, especially for those who
are struggling with homosexual orientations. I am well aware that there are many persons, who
sincerely wish to live lives of Catholic Christianity, who struggle with their homosexual orientation,
and who might well have deep affection for their partner of many years. I know the pain and anguish
of your heart as you struggle to be in obedience to God and yet deal with the demands of your
affections. You are called to do the best you can to live a life of chastity. By the support
of Christian friends, by prayer, and by the grace of the sacraments, you can obtain the peace,
which the world cannot give. If you fail along the way, do not despair, but return to Christ
who is ever ready to receive you.
Support of Traditional Marriage
Many of our sexual problems are
due to the breakdown of marriage and the family. Traditional marriage needs all the support it
can get. Same-sex marriage would be harmful for the institution
of marriage, and it would also be placing approval on activity that the Church considers morally
wrong. Although this truth may be a difficult one for some, there is no way that as a bishop
in the Church, I can refrain from teaching it if I am to be honest with myself. The Church seeks
to teach the truth but always with compassion and so do I. Gay people are welcomed and appreciated
in the Church as we all struggle to live the life that Christ has called us to.