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EXTRA: Pastoral note of clarification

In the recent Sunday Telegram of May 16, 2004, it was reported that David J. Rushford, Worcester City Clerk, believes that "allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry ... is in line with Catholic teaching which emphasizes 'inclusivity, universality, and respect for the dignity of each individual.'"

As chief teacher of faith and morals in the Diocese of Worcester, it is incumbent upon me to point out that Mr. Rushford's opinion, as stated, is morally incorrect and pastorally misleading.

The Catholic Church's moral and social teaching is rooted solidly in the fundamental moral principle of the dignity of the human person. This inviolable dignity is not derived from social convention or political consensus. It derives from the theological fact that each person is a child of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ and sanctified by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, this human dignity is further enhanced by the fact that each person is destined for eternal union with God.

The God who bestows the gift of human dignity on each of his creatures is the same God who established the natural institution of marriage. From the beginning of time and throughout history, marriage has been recognized as the union of one man and one woman. Jesus Christ, during his public ministry and in the founding of his Church, raised the natural, primordial institution of marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, thereby making marriage between husband and wife a privileged means for each of the spouses to grow in holiness and in the life of grace.

The moral teaching of Jesus Christ has been confided to the bishops of the Catholic Church in communion with the Holy Father, the supreme pastor of the universal Church. The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as articulated by the chief pastors and teachers, the bishops, has consistently and authentically presented marriage as a monogamous, life-long relationship between a man and a woman. The purposes of this marital union are the establishment of a communion of life and love between spouses and the procreation and education of children both for the Church and the common good of society.

Same-sex unions are clear and serious violations of the law of God and moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. In no way can they be "in line with Catholic teaching," as Mr. Rushford mistakenly thinks. Same-sex unions contradict the moral wisdom of natural human reason and the cultural patrimony of the thousands of years of civilization. The judicial decision of a court can never make morally right what is by nature morally wrong.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral unacceptability of same-sex unions is not an exercise of unjust discrimination against people with a homosexual orientation. The Catholic Church recognizes and embraces people with homosexual orientations as brothers and sisters in the human family. In the case of baptized Christians, they are, indeed, brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet this acceptance of our brothers and sisters with homosexual orientations cannot morally justify a situation like same-sex unions that are morally flawed.

Moreover, it must be pointed out that Catholics, especially public officials, who willingly and with approval facilitate the legal sanctioning of same-sex unions are involving themselves in cooperation with evil. Such cooperation is not free from serious moral and spiritual harm.

Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester


Diocese of Worcester MA, US
Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, D.D., S.T.D. - Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, 508 791-7171



Gay, Homosexual, Marriage, Catholic

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