The incident drew intense criticism on social media as well as from Booneville city officials, who said on Facebook that they were "aware of the comments recently made by a privately owned business located within the city of Booneville. The City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status. Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not object to interracial marriages. In fact, when the Catechism speaks about "mixed marriages," it is in reference to couples of mixed creeds who marry - for example, a Catholic marrying a Protestant (or other baptized non-Catholic).
"Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ," the Catechism states.
"But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home," it adds.
The Catechism, and other Catholic documents, do not mention interracial marriages as immoral for any reason.
The Catholic Church does teach, however, that the sacrament of marriage must be between one man and one woman: "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."
The Catechism adds that men and women must give themselves to each other in marriage freely, totally, and fruitfully, meaning that the couple must be open to life. The sacrament of marriage also "requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses."
For a same-sex couple, marriage is impossible according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, because sexual acts between same-sex couples are "contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved," the Catechism states.
Instead, people with same-sex attractions "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and are "called to chastity," the Catechism states.
Anderson clarified that interracial marriage differs from same-sex marriage, because the biological sex of the individuals involved is directly relevant to the nature of marriage, unlike their race.
Because the Catholic Church is concerned for the good of spouses, children, and the greater society, Anderson said, it teaches that marriage must be between a man and a woman.
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"While marriage must be a colorblind institution, it can't be sex-blind. Only a man and a woman can unite as one-flesh, and every child has a mother and a father," he said.
"So it's for good reason that marriage is about uniting the two halves of humanity--male and female--for a common good they participate in that, in turn, benefits the general common good."
Mary Farrow worked as a staff writer for Catholic News Agency until 2020. She has a degree in journalism and English education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.