Tuesday, September 09, 2003
PATRICK ‘THE THEOLOGIAN’
“U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy has charged into the debate over same-sex marriage, criticizing the Vatican for its opposition to laws recognizing gay and lesbian couples.
A member of the country's most legendary Roman Catholic political family, representing the most Catholic state in the nation, Kennedy said he refuses to follow the Vatican's edict, issued last week, imploring Catholic lawmakers to oppose same-sex unions.
"I see the policy of opposing same-sex marriages or unions, whatever you call it, as bigotry or discrimination," Kennedy said yesterday in an interview.
"We are talking about the law here and whether the law is going to treat people equally here. I don't see where the church or anyone else dictates what the policy is going to be with respect to treating people equally," he said.
Kennedy is the most vocal member of the Rhode Island delegation in both his support for same-sex unions and his willingness to defy the Catholic Church on the issue.
Kennedy dismisses the distinction between civil unions and gay marriage as merely semantics. But other members of the delegation say it's a significant difference in the eyes of many Americans, saying marriage should remain exclusively between a man and a woman.
Vermont, the only state to recognize same-sex unions, established a separate legal code for same-sex or "civil" unions. Vermont does not call them marriages, but affords the same rights to homosexual couples as heterosexual couples.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who also is a Catholic, said he supports extending legal protections and benefits to same-sex couples, but does not sanction gay marriage. U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, a Catholic, supports same-sex unions, but not gay marriage.
Likewise, U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, an Episcopalian, said he supports civil unions, but not marriage for gays and lesbians, saying the country is not ready to call it by that name.
…It's not the first time Kennedy has clashed with the Catholic Church. In the past, he has bucked the church with his support for abortion rights and calling for the ordination of female priests.
On the issue of gay rights, Kennedy said the church has strayed from its teachings. "The church has its doctrines. I don't agree with this doctrine. I don't agree with many others," he said.
Kennedy continued a short time later: "The very foundation of the church is about love," he said. "This notion of discrimination is so far afield of what Jesus' life was all about."
Kennedy said his Catholic identity is important to him.
"The life of Jesus Christ influences my whole notion of public service," Kennedy said. "It's all about following the example of Jesus, of service, humility and love."
Kennedy continued: "I am speaking to you as someone who when I hear the Scripture, I get a very different message of what Jesus was teaching me than what the church seems to be representing."
…Langevin said in a written statement that the Catholic Church guides his personal life.
"However, I believe in a strong separation in church and state. The greatest influence on an congressperson's decision must be the Constitution and the interests of his or her constituents. "
FR. SISTARES RESPONSE (printed in Providence Journal after much persistence!)
“…you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:18).” After all the debates and discussion have taken place with regards to the morality of homosexual unions and active homosexuality itself, those sacred words of Jesus Christ addressed to St. Peter will continue to echo! Unfortunately, some religious leaders and politicians have closed their ears to the voice of reason and divine revelation on the immorality of active homosexuality. In fact, some of these so-called leaders have even go so far as to play semantics with the very words of Sacred Scripture, promoting their own private personal interpretation. However, the Catholic Church will stand firm upon the rock, St. Peter, to whom Jesus entrusted the keys of kingdom. Some politicians have remained defiant and have continued to manifest hypocrisy as they identify themselves as Catholics yet live and speak as pagans. Recently, some politicians have spoken with such arrogance, that they seem to think Jesus built His Church personally upon their illustrious surnames. Fortunately, Jesus never said ‘you are Patrick…’ but rather “…you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.”
Our consolation as Catholics is that we can rest upon the rock of St. Peter, firmly positioned in the person of Pope John Paul II. The Vatican has reiterated the constant Church teaching, based upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The Catholic Church is bound to safeguard and promote the Truth that marriage is the total union of a man and woman, for the procreation of the human species. In a world of moral relativism and rugged individualism, the Catholic Church stands for moral absolutes and the common good of society. Some politicians and religious leaders with a lack of understanding of human sexuality and the nature of marriage will continue to lead our nation down a slippery slope of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Catholic Church will always stand for the Eternal Truth revealed by almighty God, continuing to lead all souls to the Heavenly Jerusalem!
Rev. John A. Sistare