The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement of the 1960s should inspire Catholics in their response to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, says Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.
“Martin Luther King Jr. and others did not impose their views on racial justice but they made a proposal and through nonviolent protest they were able to touch the conscience of a nation and change unjust laws,” Archbishop Wenski told CNA in Rome on May 10.
He described the civil right campaign led by King as “in essence a religious movement.”
The Archbishop of Miami is in Rome this week on his “ad limina” visit to the Vatican. He watched from afar yesterday, however, as President Obama told ABC News that it was “important” for him to “go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Archbishop Wenski said he was not surprised by President Obama’s statement as “his administration seemed to be moving in that direction.” He also believes that as a “shrewd politician,” the President must calculate that his stance “is not going to hurt him politically,” although the archbishop said “that remains to be seen.”
He noted that although in the 2008 U.S. General Election Florida was “carried easily” by Barack Obama, on the same day Floridians voted to uphold a traditional definition of marriage. Earlier this week votes in North Carolina also approved a constitutional amendment effectively banning same-sex marriage or civil unions by a margin of almost two to one.
Archbishop Wenski now hopes that the people of the United States will continue to recognize that marriage “is necessary for the flourishing of human society” and that to move away from that “without understanding fully the consequences” seems “to be very foolish.”
“So we have the President of the United States urging the nation to embark in a foolish direction,” concluded Archbishop Wenski.
“Oftentimes people tend to want to bend with the wind rather than to face down a gale, whether or not this recent decision of the President is gale at this point I’m not sure, but certainly it might be in the near future and so we do need to stand strong.”