The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., said in a statement that it found the court's decisions "very troubling," but noted that while the "government might choose to use the word marriage to apply to a whole range of unions of people, it cannot change what marriage is in its very essence."
"Marriage is not a creation of the state," stressed the archdiocese, adding that while governments may create legal definitions, they "do not have the ability or authority to change created human nature."
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City echoed the Archdiocese of Washington's statements, saying that "we as Catholics reaffirm that no court decision can recreate reality or change the truth about marriage."
He asserted that the difference between men and women "matters, in general, but it especially matters for marriage and parenthood."
The archbishop lamented that the court rulings will likely result in many people losing "the conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman and the freedom that comes from living in that conviction."
"Genderless marriage and parenthood is a costly illusion that deliberately deprives children of the knowledge of that truth," he said.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia observed that "(a)ffirming the true definition of marriage denies no one his or her basic rights. On the contrary protecting marriage affirms the equal dignity of women and men and safeguards the basic rights of children."
"Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman," the archbishop stated, noting that the Supreme Court did not go so far as to require a redefinition of marriage or proclaim "gay marriage" as a "right."
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who heads the U.S. bishops' religious liberty committee, warned that the rulings pose "a serious threat to religious liberty and conscience rights for countless people of faith" who cannot in good faith recognize "gay marriage."
"This threat to religious freedom is one of many, locally and nationally, that has prompted our current Fortnight for Freedom, which we hope will inspire people throughout the country to prayer, education, and action to preserve religious liberty," he stated.