CLEVELAND, Ohio, October 26, 2020 (Alliance Defending Freedom) — Faced with a federal lawsuit, Cuyahoga County has agreed to a proposed court judgment filed Friday that allows a Cleveland-area minister and wedding business owner to operate consistent with her belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
In July, ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Kristi Stokes and her business, Covenant Weddings, to challenge a law that the county now agrees cannot be used to force her to use her ministry and business to officiate and compose homilies, vows, and prayers for same-sex weddings even as she continues to officiate and promote weddings between one man and one woman.
Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.
Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).
As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.
In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.
Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:
"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.
Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.
Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."
Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."
And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."
But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.
We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/cardinal-burke-on-popes-homosexual-civil-union-remarks-contrary-to-the-teaching-of-sacred-scripture-and-sacred-tradition
'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/cdl.mueller-popes-words-on-gay-civil-unions-purely-private-expression-of-opinion-which-every-catholic-can-and-should-freely-contradict
'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/archbishop-vigano-and-bishops-tobin-strickland-respond-to-popes-approval-of-homosexual-civil-unions
'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/deepest-sadness-cardinal-burke-condemns-pope-franciss-remarks-supporting-civil-unions
As part of the agreed-upon proposed judgment, the county will not enforce its law — which threatens fines of $1,000–$5,000 per violation, depending on their frequency — against Stokes or other ministers because Stokes’ business is not a place of public accommodation and because she and other ministers should not be forced to act contrary to her religious beliefs.
“No one should be forced to officiate ceremonies that conflict with their religious beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. “Cuyahoga County’s law made Kristi face an impossible choice: disobey the law, defy her own faith, or ditch her business. She no longer faces that choice. No matter one’s views on marriage, we all lose when the government can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, speak messages they disagree with, and stay silent about beliefs they hold dear. We commend Cuyahoga County for understanding and respecting this essential American freedom and acting quickly to ensure that Kristi and countless others need not fear punishment for merely living and speaking consistent with their conscience.”
ADF attorneys and attorneys for the county jointly filed their notice and proposed judgment in the case, Covenant Weddings v. Cuyahoga County, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
The judgment, which the court must approve, states that the county agrees not to compel Stokes and her business “to offer officiating and writing services against their sincerely held religious beliefs for the following reasons: 1. Neither Kristi Stokes nor Covenant Weddings currently qualify as a ‘place of public accommodation,’ as defined by [county law], because they do not have a physical storefront from which they provide goods or services in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. 2. Even if [their] services could be considered a place of public accommodation, the Accommodations Clause does not mandate or force Kristi Stokes, or any other minister, to officiate or solemnize weddings against their sincerely held religious beliefs. 3. Even if [their] services could be considered a place of public accommodation, the ‘Accommodations Clause’ does not mandate or force Kristi Stokes or Covenant Weddings to author specific prayers, homilies, vows, or other writings that are inconsistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Last year, in other ADF cases, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of filmmakers and artists who brought similar challenges against laws like Cuyahoga County’s.
Published with permission from the Alliance Defending Freedom.