Washington’s Archbishop Donald Wuerl has published a letter in his diocesan newspaper, and sent a copy of the statement to all pastors for them to use, stating that his opposition to same-sex union is not rooted in anti-gay prejudices. “Our support for marriage is not meant to discriminate against any individual or family,” Archbishop Wuerl wrote. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church upholds the dignity of every person and condemns any form of unjust discrimination (2358).”
The statement articulates the Church’s teaching on the traditional marriage but goes on to say: “For our parishioners who are homosexual, I recognize that the teaching on marriage established by our Lord may be difficult. Please know that you have my pastoral care and prayers, and the support of this local Church, as you live out your journey of faith and seek a closer relationship with Christ and the eternal life promised through him. It is my prayer that you continue to draw closer to the Lord through participation in the sacramental life of the Church.”
The issue of same-sex marriage is currently before the local D.C. Council, which is expected to endorse such unions. But, given the quirky nature of D.C. constitutional status, the United States Congress can override local laws. Archbishop Wuerl and other pastors have been vocal in their opposition to the measure but this latest statement is vital. It shows that the Church’s stance is not rooted in bigotry nor driven by an unhealthy animus towards our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It is doubtful that the statement by Wuerl will appease vocal supporters of the measure, but it speaks well of the archbishop that he issued it nonetheless. Any gay and lesbian Catholic who reads this letter will certainly feel less alienated from the Church. Wuerl has done what good bishops do. Following the example of the Master, he has gone off in search of the lost sheep.
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Not incidentally, if you are a human being, you are one of the lost sheep, perhaps not on the issue of same sex marriage, but on something. Be glad to have a pastor who cares enough about you to seek you out. This highly public statement is a much needed nail in the coffin of anti-gay bigotry that sadly still keeps some from seeing that the bonds of faith unite them with their gay brothers and sisters.
Read the full text of Wuerl's letter here.