.- Same-sex marriage is not an issue of civil rights, said Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence in a recent letter to the editor.
"There’s never a right to do something wrong," he said. "Human freedom is not unbridled license; it must be grounded in truth."
The bishop’s letter was published Oct. 14 in the Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s largest daily newspaper, after a Rhode Island lesbian couple — Wendy Becker and Mary Norton — was legally married in Massachusetts on Oct. 8, reported NBC 10.
In the letter, the bishop said same-sex marriage is “spiritually harmful to individuals and families and erodes the foundation of society”.
"Homosexual acts are contrary to the law of nature and gravely immoral,” the bishop wrote. “The state has no business encouraging immoral behavior or ratifying illicit unions."
The bishop, however, did not mention the couple by name and said his remarks were not directed at them personally.
“I wish them no harm and I sincerely pray that God will bless them and the children with them with much health and happiness,” the bishop wrote. “Nonetheless, their attempt to have the state ratify their homosexual relationship is disturbing and morally objectionable."
Becker and Norton were the plaintiffs in a case, decided by a Massachusetts superior court judge. The judge ruled that there was nothing in Rhode Island statutes or case law that prevented Rhode Island same-sex couples from being married in Massachusetts. The ruling was issued in September.
The bishop said he hopes Rhode Island would not follow Massachusetts’ lead by legalizing same-sex marriage.
The bishop insisted that marriage is between a man and a woman and explained Catholic teaching on this point.
“Contrary to some current ideologies, this teaching does not discriminate against homosexual persons. The Catholic Church has consistently taught that homosexual persons are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and must be respected,” he wrote.
“Nonetheless, we have to recognize the possibility, sometimes even the necessity, of respecting individuals even while opposing their immoral behavior," he stated.