Weighing in on what he called the “misguided” ruling by a federal judge who struck down California's Proposition 8 last week, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona declared on Tuesday evening, what “is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability.”
On Aug. 4, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8, an initiative which passed in November 2008 with the support of seven million Californians, both “unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The constitutionality of Prop. 8 was challenged immediately after it was approved in 2008. Last week's ruling was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by traditional marriage supporters and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a statement released on the Diocese of Phoenix's website on Tuesday, Bishop Olmsted wrote that the “misguided decision of Judge Vaughn Walker, striking down as unconstitutional the California Marriage Law called Proposition 8, cannot be passed over in silence.”
“Labeling homosexual 'marriage' as 'a right' is not an enlightened idea of the 21st century,” the bishop asserted. “It is a novel form of a resurrected falsehood from more than 2000 years ago. It will not stand the test of time, just as it cannot withstand popular opinion now.”
“In every state in our nation where this issue has been put to a vote of the people (31 of the 50), traditional marriage has won,” Olmsted noted. “It is only some activist judges, exercising raw judicial power over and against the will of the people, who have pushed their agenda of so-called 'homosexual marriage.'”
The bishop also warned that what “is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability. Defending the clear nature and purpose of marriage is not discrimination against homosexual persons.”
“Why did God create both men and women, not just one sex?” the bishop asked. “Is it really all that difficult to fathom that God had a plan for marriage, which He wove into the very fabric of human nature? This plan is so deeply embedded in our human nature that every culture in history has recognized it and enshrined and protected it in law and custom.”
“Marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman was not an idea created by these cultures but, rather, a truth received by them as something handed down from a higher authority,” the prelate underscored.
“We need to again recall the key distinction, when considering homosexuality, between the homosexual inclination on the one hand and homosexual acts on the other,” Bishop Olmsted said.
The Phoenix bishop also clarified that although Scripture and Christian tradition hold that homosexual acts are sinful, “persons with homosexual inclinations but who do not engage in homosexual acts are not guilty of sin at all. No more or less than other persons, Christ calls them to holiness of life, inviting them as He invites us all to take up our cross each day and follow after Him.”
“All who follow Christ are given the grace to live the virtue of chastity; and they can joyfully do so with a clean heart.”
Seeking 'true happiness' for those with same-sex attraction
“Love and truth go hand-in-hand,” the bishop continued. “Everyone who experiences true love knows this – we want those we love to know the truth. As Catholics, we want to love people authentically and not in a mediocre way that would ignore dangers in a person’s life out of a shallow concern for political correctness.”
“We need never worry that speaking the truth clearly and charitably is a violation of love,” he stressed.
“Both Church teaching and the study of reality, the natural law, show that homosexuality is an objective disorder – that is, it does not correspond to the God-given reality of the sexually differentiated human being.
“Therefore, to condone the homosexual lifestyle is never a move in favor of a person’s true happiness,” Bishop Olmsted wrote. “Moreover, to change the legal and societal definition of the fundamental institution of marriage in order to suit an adult sexual preference is a selfish and irresponsible corruption of the truth.
“The truth is that the reason why the state cannot redefine marriage is because it never defined it in the first place; it is a truth received, not created. It is God who defined marriage.
“For the state to redefine marriage will certainly have a negative impact on love, especially for children, who suffer most when marriage is weakened,” he warned.