The following editorial will appear in the July 12 issue of
Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in
Huntington, Ind. It was written by the newspaper's editorial
With the Supreme Court's sweeping legalization of same-sex
marriage June 26, the church is facing a difficult road ahead
-- a truth spelled out in the pointed remarks by the four
dissenting justices in the Obergefell v. Hodges
Wrote Chief Justice John Roberts: "It is one thing for the
majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right
to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray
everyone who does not share the majority's 'better informed
understanding' as bigoted." Justice Samuel Alito concurred:
"I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to
whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if
they repeat those views in public, they will risk being
labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments,
employers and schools."
These concerns are shared deeply by many Catholics whose
understanding of and belief in traditional marriage was the
uncontested law of the land and culture a scant 15 years ago.
But by reframing the legalization of same-sex marriage as a
civil rights battle rather than one that redefines a
millennia-old institution serving as the fundamental building
block of society, advocates advanced their cause in
remarkably rapid fashion and now have declared victory.
So what happens now? We offer five suggestions.
We need to pray. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
published a prayer to St. Thomas More, patron of religious
freedom, which includes: "Give us the strength of mind and
heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are
threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on
behalf of the rights of your church and the freedom of
conscience of all people of faith." We can also petition St.
Joseph and our Blessed Mother, and we should ask particularly
for God's guidance in our conversations on this challenging
We need to educate. One of the primary tasks facing Catholics
will be to educate both ourselves and each other in what the
church teaches and why. As USCCB President Archbishop Joseph
E. Kurtz wrote: "We have perhaps not done enough to teach the
beauty of marriage and the purpose and inherent design of
family life." We have an opportunity now to renew our own
understanding of church teaching on the sacrament of marriage
and to recommit ourselves to engaging in a pastoral education
campaign that relates the beauty of this sacrament to others.
We need to be merciful. When it comes to same-sex marriage,
tensions and emotions are high on all fronts. As Archbishop
Kurtz says, we must remain firm in our beliefs, but also
"speak and act with love." An attitude of charity, especially
to individuals who struggle to accept the church's teaching
on marriage, will most effectively project the message of
We need to be prepared. As the dissenting justices indicated,
the fundamental right to religious freedom for those unable
to accept the redefinition of marriage slowly will be eroded.
Lawsuits seeking religious protections will be considered
guises for discrimination and will be fought at every turn.
Catholics must be prepared for a difficult road ahead.
We need to remember that all is not lost. We are a people of
hope, and the church has faced more difficult times than
these. While praying, educating and advocating for the truth
of Christ, we also must remember to take the long view. We
may have suffered a setback in the battle for marriage, but
Christ has already won the war. Now is the time to live
faithfully and work together to witness Christ to the world.