In a pastoral letter responding to the California Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, Bishop of Oakland Allen Vingeron said that Catholics must respond to this “profoundly significant” issue by bringing a proper understanding of marriage into public life. The failure to do so, he said, would result in a difficult situation where Christianity becomes a counter-cultural way of life.
Writing in a May 16 letter, Bishop Vingeron said the “most fundamental point” is that “marriage is a reality authored by God in his very act of creating the human race.” A marital relationship is only possible between one man and one woman for the purposes of “mutual loving support” between them and for their “loving service of life” by bringing children into the world.
All Catholics implicitly affirm this conviction when they profess to share the Church‘s faith in their baptismal promises, the bishop said.
However, he said, this conviction about marriage can be known from reason. Therefore, its position in society is not an ideological imposition but an aspect of the common good.
“This wisdom about the nature of marriage is not a form of discrimination, but undergirds our freedom to live according to God’s plan for us,” Bishop Vigneron said. “No government has the power to change the order which God has inscribed in our nature.”
Bishop Vigneron said future challenges related to same-sex unions can be divided into short term and long term categories.
In the short term, Catholics are called to bring marriage laws into conformity with their knowledge about the nature of marriage.
If such efforts fail, the bishops said, “our way of life will become counter-cultural, always a difficult situation for Christians -- one our forebears faced in many ages past, one that the Lord himself predicted for us.”
Bishop Vigneron recommended Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body as a resource for Catholics to use in renewing both their own and their society’s understanding of marriage and human life.
Recalling Pope John Paul II’s constant reminder to “be not afraid,” he concluded:
“Christ is risen. His vision for our world, and for the place of marriage in it, will, according to the time he has appointed, become the truth of our world.”