Church risks alienating generations over same-sex marriage

The Church risks alienating two generations of believers if it has a defensive and strident reaction to the US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

That was the warning issued by researcher Kaya Oakes after an historic 5-4 US Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the nation.

The ruling’s interpretation of the US Constitution means that states must grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognise lawful same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

Ms Oakes, who studies how young people interact with faith, said the Church risks alienating at least two generations of believers if its leaders issue a “defensive, strident” reaction.

“Catholics under 50 were brought up in a time when same-sex relationships were more and more accepted and presented to them in media, so they’re acclimated to that as a fairly normal thing,” she said.

“When they hear the opposite message coming from faith leaders, it’s alienating.”

She said that at the parish level, some priests are good at engaging young adults on this issue.

But, institutionally, the Church’s message has been perceived as “rejection, intolerance, and bigotry”.

“Even just a change of tone would be a step in the right direction,” she said.

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, called the Supreme Court’s decision “a tragic error”.

Comparing this to the 1973 Roe V Wade Supreme Court abortion ruling , Archbishop Kurtz said ”Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail”.

“Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”

Bishop Michael Jarrell of Lafeyette said the ruling would create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office.

He urged Catholics not to attend same-sex marriage ceremonies.

US bishops have expressed fears as to the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Church’s ability to operate in the public sphere.

The Obama administration has hinted that the tax-exempt status of some institutions could be at risk over the issue.

In their dissenting opinion, the Supreme Court justices who made up the minority also expressed fears over Americans’ rights to express dissent.


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