WASHINGTON — Just days after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden officiated at a same-sex “wedding” ceremony, three leading bishops aimed for clarity: Such actions counter Catholic teaching and aren’t a faithful witness.
“When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnize the relationship of two people of the same sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics. What we see is a counter-witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth,” said an Aug. 5 message on the U.S. bishops’ conference blog.
The statement was signed by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. bishops’ conference; Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., who chairs the committee on laity, marriage, family life and youth; and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who chairs the committee on domestic justice and human development.
The message did not mention Biden by name; however, the vice president officiated at a same-sex ceremony on Aug. 1
In their statement, the bishops affirmed the dignity of all people and the need to accompany those in need.
“In doing so, we also stand with Pope Francis in preserving the dignity and meaning of marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” the bishops continued. “The two strands of the dignity of the person and the dignity of marriage and the family are interwoven. To pull apart one is to unravel the whole fabric.”
They said Pope Francis has been “very clear in affirming … that same-sex relationships cannot be considered ‘in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”
Acting under the authority of the District of Columbia, Biden presided at a same-sex ceremony for two men who are longtime White House aides. The ceremony took place at the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.
Biden is the first Catholic vice president of the United States. His 2012 comments approving same-sex “marriage” helped lead President Barack Obama to announce that he, too, believed such unions should be recognized as marriages.
The prominent solemnization appears to have prompted an episcopal response.
“Faithful witness can be challenging — and it will only grow more challenging in the years to come — but it is also the joy and responsibility of all Catholics, especially those who have embraced positions of leadership and public service,” the bishops said.
“Let us pray for our Catholic leaders in public life, that they may fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage and offer a faithful witness that will bring much needed light to the world.”