I got married in New Jersey. Since I’m not Catholic, I didn’t have a Catholic wedding.
Newark Archbishop John Myers seems to think that shouldn’t count as a legal wedding. And he says any Catholic who disagrees with him should be cut off from the rest of the sacraments as well:
In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote “in defense of marriage and life,” and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.
… He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.
By “lack of clarity,” apparently, Myers means that some of the other bishops are not also theocrats willing to shred Vatican II and their church’s acceptance of religious pluralism under secular government.
Myers is not a smart man, and American law seems beyond his grasp, so I will try to put this as simply as I can.
The legal right to marry is wholly and completely separate from any sectarian teaching on marriage. No church or sect may be compelled to marry anyone its doctrine forbids marrying. Nor can any church or sect interfere with anyone’s right to be married in a civil ceremony.
Civil marriage is a civil right over which the Catholic church has no jurisdiction. The Catholic sacrament of marriage is a religious rite over which civil authorities have no jurisdiction. This is why the Catholic church is free to deny marriage to people who are legally divorced, and why such people may still be legally married in a civil ceremony or in another denomination.
Baptist couples may legally marry in New Jersey. That does not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey is legally required to marry Baptist couples. Nor does the freedom of Baptist couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.
Atheist couples may legally marry in New Jersey. That does not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey is legally required to marry atheist couples. Nor does the freedom of atheist couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.
And when, sometime soon, same-sex couples may legally marry in New Jersey, that will not mean that the Catholic church in New Jersey will be legally required to marry same-sex couples. Nor will the freedom of same-sex couples to marry entail a loss of religious freedom for Catholics.
Newark Archbishop John Myers does not believe, and does not understand, the preceding paragraph. He does not believe or understand any of this.
Myers really seems to think that if civil authorities recognize that civil rights belong to all citizens, then somehow his authority as a bishop over his church will be diminished.
That is nonsense, but due to such nonsensical fears, Myers has abandoned any pretense of belief in secular government and is calling for theocracy. He is saying that every Catholic must support civil laws that apply Catholic doctrine to everyone — even to non-Catholics. He is saying that any Catholic who believes in the First Amendment, any Catholic who believes that non-Catholics need not be bound by government enforcement of Catholic doctrine, must therefore be denied access to the grace of God.
Is there any way to limit Myers’ pronouncement so that it only applies to LGBT non-Catholics? No there isn’t. If civil marriage law must comply with Catholic doctrine, then Protestant marriages and civil marriages are also contrary to “what we believe to be the truth.” If John Myers is right, then any marriage not presided over by a Catholic priest in good standing is not truly valid. If you haven’t kissed Myers’ ring, then you’re living in sin.
Here you go, Myers, let me Google that for you.