Homosexual rights supporters celebrate outside the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington after the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that the U.S. Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry.

CNS PHOTO | JIM BOURG, REUTERS

Homosexual rights supporters celebrate outside the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington after the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that the U.S. Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry.

July 13, 2015
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

The president of the U.S. bishops' conference called the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage "a tragic error."

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz urged Catholics to move forward with faith "in the unchanging truth about marriage being between one man and one woman.

"Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable," he said.

"It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage," he said.

In a 5-4 decision, the court said states must license same-sex marriage.

"Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over 40 years ago," when it legalized abortion in the U.S. virtually on demand, Obergefell v. Hodges "does not settle the question of marriage today," Kurtz said.

The court had several marriage cases to consider and bundled them under the title of Obergefell v. Hodges.

"The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female," Kurtz said in his statement.

Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said analyzing the ramifications of the ruling for the Catholic Church at the national, state and local levels will take time.

It has implications for "hundreds, if not thousands" of laws at all levels, and there is "a difficult road ahead for people of faith," Lori said.

Anthony Picarello, associate general secretary and general counsel at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said legal disputes are likely to arise for the Church over issues such as tax exemptions, campus housing, academic accreditation, employment and employee benefits.

Picarello said free speech protections for opponents of same-sex marriage were already under attack. Within a couple of hours of the court decision being issued, a newspaper in Pennsylvania announced it will no longer accept op-eds criticizing same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Justice Kurtz

Archbishop Justice Kurtz

"Other things will take time to unfold," like challenges to churches receiving tax exemptions, he said.

CULTURAL SHIFT

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, said, "It is evident we are living in an age of dramatic cultural shift."

The Church has to think about how to share its teaching and "announce the good news . . . as creatively as possible in the current cultural context," he said.

Flores added that the Church's teaching on marriage "also has something to do with bringing children into the world" and about stable families.

"We ought to have our eye not on ourselves or our own emotional needs . . . but the needs of the young."

Flores said rhetoric such as calling opponents of same-sex marriage bigots is used at times "to avoid understanding the rationale" of what the Church teaches.

"For our part we have to be prepared for that kind of rhetoric and simply respond with charitable but persuasive" explanations of the Church's rationale, he added.