U.S. bishops emphasize traditional marriage after Supreme Court action

Jim Derrick and Alfie Travassos exchange rings as they get married at the Salt Lake County Government Complex in Salt Lake City Oct. 6. In reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court declining to review rulings overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, U.S. Catholic bishops reiterated church teaching on traditional marriage, that it is a union between one man and one woman. (CNS photo/Jim Urquhar, Reuters)
Jim Derrick and Alfie Travassos exchange rings as they get married at the Salt Lake County Government Complex in Salt Lake City Oct. 6. In reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court declining to review rulings overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, U.S. Catholic bishops reiterated church teaching on traditional marriage, that it is a union between one man and one woman. (CNS photo/Jim Urquhar, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After the Supreme Court Oct. 6 declined to review rulings overturning five states’ bans on same-sex marriage, several U.S. bishops criticized the court’s inaction and reiterated that according to church teaching, traditional marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said the court’s failure to review the Circuit Court decisions was “deeply disappointing.”

“Marriage is not merely a human institution that can simply be redefined at will, but one established by our creator and necessary for human flourishing. Children deserve a mother and a father who are committed to a faithful and permanent union,” he said.

North Carolina Bishops Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte and Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh said in a statement: “Millions of Americans have looked to the Supreme Court to put this issue to rest by supporting marriage as being between one man and one woman. We know from our Catholic teaching that marriage is a permanent, faithful and fruitful covenant joining a man and a woman. It is our duty to continue to affirm marriage in this way, and it is our hope that the Supreme Court will ultimately agree.”

The Colorado Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said the court’s failure to review the rulings was “disappointing and advances a misunderstanding of the institution of marriage.”

The statement said that the court declining “to act will have a lasting and profound effect on the family structure.”

“Our desire is for people of good will to continue to grow in the truth and joy of marriage, so that when society begins to see the bad fruits of this decision, our families and the church will be there as joyful witnesses of the truth about the family and human sexuality,” it added.

Colorado’s bishops also said the situation shows how important it is for Catholics to be “involved in political life” and speak the truth about human sexuality, marriage and the human person.

“While the church has been forthright in its longstanding teaching on marriage, it has likewise taught that every person has an inherent dignity.”

The bishops of Indiana said it was unfortunate that the Supreme Court “did not take up the cases and respect the will of people of Indiana and other states.” In a statement by the Indiana Catholic Conference, the bishops said that although “same-sex marriage may be legal in Indiana, the church is not obligated to solemnize such ceremonies and will not change its teaching.”

Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, said that “there is still a possibility that other appeals courts will rule differently and therefore the U.S. Supreme Court will have to resolve the issue.”

The Virginia Catholic Conference said the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to review the ruling that overturned Virginia’s law “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and represents an injustice to over a million Virginia voters, whose decision was to enshrine the understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman into our state’s constitution.”

The state’s bishops said they will “continue to affirm the truth about marriage, the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as its essential importance to the common good. As pastors, teachers, and faith leaders, we can do nothing less. It is our fervent hope that the Supreme Court will reconsider this fundamental issue in the future.”

On Oct. 7, three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the equal protection rights of same-sex couples to legally marry.

A day later, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked the ruling allowing same-sex marriages in Idaho, after state authorities requested an emergency stay. According to The Associated Press, the delay is expected to last just a few days. About five hours later, Kennedy clarified that the stay applies only to Idaho, not to Nevada, which did not request such an injunction.

A statement from Bishop Randolph R. Calvo of Reno, Nevada, said the appeals court decision “does not change the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has consistently taught and will uphold that marriage is a covenant of life and love between one man and one woman which is open to procreation and is faithful and permanent in nature.”

He added that Catholic teaching about marriage “is not a judgment about persons who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about how the church has always understood the nature of marriage itself.”

“While the church has been forthright in its longstanding teaching on marriage, it has likewise taught that every person has an inherent dignity,” he added.

Bishop Calvo noted that “our gay sisters and brothers — members of our families, our communities and our churches — are beloved children of God who deserve to be treated with respect, sensitivity and compassion.”