D.C. archdiocese won’t say if they’ll cover same-sex spousal benefits
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of the Supreme Court decision creating gay “marriage” nationwide, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is leaving it unclear for now whether they intend to allow employees in same-sex “marriages” and offer them same-sex spousal benefits.
In a blog post on June 26, the day of the ruling, Cardinal Donald Wuerl indicated the archdiocese is struggling over the issue.
“On a very practical level, there is a concern about the new definition of ‘spouse’ and its legal ramifications,” he said. “In this area for example, we must find a way to balance two important values, the provision of appropriate health care benefits for all Church personnel including their spouses, and the avoidance of the perception that by doing so we accept a definition of marriage and spouse contrary to faith and revealed truth.”
LifeSiteNews sought clarification from the archdiocese, and a diocesan spokesperson sent the following response, reiterating what the cardinal had said:
The Supreme Court’s ruling does not change the Church’s teaching on marriage. The Archdiocese of Washington will not be doing same-sex marriages. As for the question regarding benefits, the archdiocese must find a way to balance two important values, the provision of appropriate health care benefits for all Church personnel including their spouses, and the avoidance of the perception that by doing so we accept a definition of marriage and spouse contrary to faith and revealed truth.
The archdiocese did not respond to follow-up inquiries asking for clarification.
While there were numerous strong responses to the decision from Catholic bishops, some even upholding the possible need for civil disobedience, Wuerl insisted the Church “will abide by the law,” while also insisting the Church would stay true to its teaching on marriage.
“The law of the land is the law of the land,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “We certainly follow what the law says. That doesn’t mean we change the word of God. That doesn’t mean we change the scriptures, or the church’s millennia-long tradition of what marriage is.”
"The Church has better things to do than spend millions of dollars on lawsuits," he added. "The Church will abide by the law."
The Catholic Church’s highest teaching authority has emphasized Catholics’ duty to oppose same-sex unions, while also allowing for prudential decisions on how best to do so.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), made the Church’s most direct statement on the issue in 2003, with the approval of Pope St. John Paul II. All Catholics are “obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions” and where such unions are given the legal status and rights that belong to marriage, “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty,” said the document, titled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.
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In addition to Catholics in general having a duty to clearly oppose homosexual “marriage,” a Catholic politician “has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against” such unions, and if it already is the law, the politician still must oppose it and has a “duty to witness to the truth,” it continued.
“The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society,” it added.
In a 1992 document approved by Pope St. John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “Finally, where a matter of the common good is concerned, it is inappropriate for Church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions.”
“The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws (cf. no. 17),” it added.
Cardinal Wuerl made confusing comments at last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family about the indispensable relationship between doctrine and discipline when, speaking in regard to divorced-and-remarried Catholics, he said the reception of Communion was not a doctrinal position.
The Archdiocese of Washington publicly rebuked a parish priest in 2012 for upholding Canon 915 by denying Communion to a woman who identified herself to him just prior to her mother’s funeral as an open lesbian.