We Already Have a Statement on Gay Marriage from the Pope

We Already Have a Statement on Gay Marriage from the Pope October 2, 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia https://www.flickr.com/photos/simczuk/
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia https://www.flickr.com/photos/simczuk/

I was like everyone else. I thought at first that the Holy Father’s visit with Kim Davis was exactly what the Vatican has now said that it wasn’t: A form of support. Deacon Greg has the full story. All I care about is the bottom line: The pope’s visit to Kim Davis was evidently meaningless.

That means that we’re back at square zero. Pope Francis has not given us the clarity we crave concerning the family. And the almighty Synod is looming ahead like a bad dream.

Last year’s synod was such a mess that I began to feel the same way about it that I feel about the United States Congress. I was relieved when they went home without doing any real damage. Now, I’ve been reading that serious money is being used to lobby the Synod Fathers on behalf of getting them to support gay marriage.  The African bishops have announced that they will present a united front on behalf of marriage and the family. May God go with them.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided in an absolute sort of way that I’m all through reading the tea leaves of Pope Francis’ various actions concerning marriage. I love Pope Francis. But I don’t — none of us do — need him to give me my marching orders on this issue. Saint John Paul II already did that for us.

The papacy is not a political office. When we inaugurate a new president, that often means that we are also beginning a change of direction for our government. But popes do not come into office with a mandate to overturn the teachings that went before them. In fact, they come into office with a clear mandate to continue the teachings of those who went before them. Pope Francis, has, for instance, reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching that the priesthood is reserved to men so many times I’ve lost count.

He has not reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching on marriage, or at least not as specifically and clearly. But that does not mean that those teachings are no longer valid. Pope Francis is Peter. He is the inheritor of the apostolic succession that goes all the way back to day that the risen Lord told the Apostle to “feed my lambs.” He is, in many ways, the protector of the Church’s teachings and the depository of faith which has been handed to him.

The teachings of Saint John Paul II are just as valid now as when he published them. And, since they were written down and published in explicit form, they have real weight. We could spend all day, trying to interpret off the cuff remarks and random actions by Pope Francis, but none of those things have the teaching authority of Saint John Paul’s official teachings.

I wrote about what this means to our concerns as Catholics and how we should approach the gay marriage issue for Catholic Vote.

Here’s part of what I said:

The pope has spoken about what we should do if our government legalizes gay marriage. Saint Pope John Paul II published a document in 2003 titled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. 

I am familiar with this document because I was a Catholic lawmaker, serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, at the time it was issued. To be honest, I found it troubling because of the onus it put on me as a lawmaker to do things that I knew would affront my gay friends.

I loved these people, love them still, and it was tough, going against them. It cost me dearly on a personal level.

But there is nothing unequivocal about Saint John Paul II’s teaching in this matter. I prayed and blew off steam to my pastor, but there really was never a question that I would obey. The pope was quoting Scripture and talking Jesus. I had no choice.

Today’s Catholics, me included, are hungry for a repeat from Pope Francis. We want something concrete like the document Saint John Paul issued. However, it’s entirely possible that Pope Francis thinks that Saint John Paul has already said all that needs to be said and that all he has to do is make it clear that the pope’s opposition to gay marriage continues.

If that’s true, then, my fellow Catholics, we already have our marching orders.

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8 responses to “We Already Have a Statement on Gay Marriage from the Pope”

  1. Your concerns over that synod reminds me of how we traditional folks in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have felt for years, only WITH significant damage coming out of the General Assembly meetings, in spite of the efforts of our orthodox members (including the visiting Africans, God bless them!). My local church has finally given up on them, since it’s not just the gay and abortion issues (on which PC(USA) is “pro”), but more and more ministers and those in authority are moving to either themselves deny the divinity of Christ, the need for atonement, and other orthodox teachings, or now refuse to boot out those who do these things, in violation of the denomination’s doctrinal statements, and often actively seek to impose liberal “teachers” on congregations that do not want them. 🙁 I sincerely hope your leaders do not fall prey to the same perversions!
    As for the bulk of your post above, I think this is a good set of thoughts on how to deal with the matter of Francis’ “silence.” I think it must be difficult to be the leader of a church that exists in so many different societies, each with their own pressing issues that aren’t easily seen as relevant in other countries, and trying to balance speaking to each on the things they most need. The Spirit obviously has to help, but that’s a lot on one man’s shoulders.

  2. He said on the flight back to the US that a worker could refuse to issue marriage licenses. Also as a Cardinal he said “same-sex “marriage” is a diabolical effort of “the Father of Lies” to “destroy God’s plan … and deceive the children of God.” He said then—only four years ago—that gay “marriage” discriminates against children “in advance,” depriving them of “their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.” He said Gay Marriage was “the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts” and it threatened “the very survival of the human family, with Satan at work.”
    He’s never given any indication that he would allow same-sex marriage. I don’t think that on the table. Since the enollment process has been streamlined I think the Synod is going to be more about how we relate to those with irregular relationships rather than drastic changes in Church teachings or laws.

  3. I wrote a comment here in support of Pope Francis, linking to statements that he has made concerning marriage. They were statements about modern distortions of marriage. I hope that my comment wasn’t misinterpreted; I was trying to point out that Francis has said things to *encourage* Catholics who believe what the Church teaches about marriage. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what-is-being-proposed-is-not-marriage-pope-calls-for-defense-of-family-12766/

  4. “When we inaugurate a new president, that often means that we are also
    beginning a change of direction for our government. But popes do not
    come into office with a mandate to overturn the teachings that went
    before them. In fact, they come into office with a clear mandate to
    continue the teachings of those who went before them.”

    Well said and what is scary is how the secular world, especially the media, does not understand this continuity (which can be seen for years from some of the widespread, commonly-held ideas of what Vatican II was). Even some of the so-called catholic media at Crux and NC Reporter and America Magazine seem to not understand this, or not believe it. And if they don’t understand this, surely catholics in general will sometimes find themselves in a state of confusion.
    With that in mind I think the pope would be wise to speak about such things more often. I know he has cited JPII on women’s ordination, he would be wise to do it on many more topics we are dealing with. And that goes for all the priests and bishops. One reason I think there is such a gap in US/Europe between what self-described catholics believe and what the Church teaches is that the priests at the pulpit do not talk about what the Church teaches as much as they should, and how those teachings do and will conflict with the trends of the secular world. We saw so many people so joyful at the pope’s visit, and I couldn’t help thinking: I wonder how many of them love his catechism as much as they love him.

  5. Note to abb3w. I tried to let your comment through, but disqus wouldn’t let me. It also won’t let me comment. Remind me and I’ll try again later.