SEATTLE — Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle has sent a “policy refresher” to Catholic parishes following the success of Nov. 6 ballot measures recognizing same-sex “marriage” and legalizing marijuana, reiterating that the drug is still barred on parish property and the Church cannot recognize or accommodate same-sex “marriages.”
The archbishop said Nov. 29 that the change in civil marriage law is “not in the best interest of children or society.”
He said he was “disappointed that so many voters failed to recognize marriage between a man and a woman as the natural institution for the permanent, faithful covenant of love for a couple, for bringing children into the world, and for nurturing and educating those children.”
Washington state voters voted to affirm the state legislature’s recognition of same-sex “marriages” by 53.7% to 46.3%.
The refresher acknowledged that Catholic canon law now diverges from civil law. It responded to several frequently asked questions about the impact of the new law.
It reiterated that priests, deacons, or lay ministers may not officiate at a same-sex “marriage” or offer “wedding preparation” for same-sex couples. Catholic churches or school facilities also may not be offered for such events or used for receptions after such events.
The statement said there is no legal obligation to solemnize same-sex unions, or legal penalties for a Catholic church or school that refuses to provide accommodations, facilities or services related to same-sex “marriage.” Local governments and state agencies may not retaliate against religious officials who refuse to recognize these unions.
Washington state voters, by a margin of 55.4% to 44.6%, also approved Initiative 502, allowing adults 21 years or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana under state law.
Archbishop Sartain noted that the drug is still illegal under federal law and it is unclear how federal authorities will treat the law.
The refresher told parishes that marijuana, like alcohol, is prohibited on parish property.
Alcohol is allowed only at official pastor-approved parish events at which the beverages are served.
The archdiocese’s refresher noted that it is still illegal to open a package containing marijuana in view of the general public.