As a faithful Catholic in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I cannot in good conscience allow Archbishop Charles Chaput's June 26 response to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality to be the final word. His message does not reflect the Catholic voice of inclusion and equality. The Church is made up of all the baptized, and the majority of Catholics in the United States support same-sex marriage.
The archbishop is right that the truth of God's word does not change. Our understanding of it, however, has, does, and should. Our understanding of God's word has changed on slavery, capital punishment, war, and now, on marriage. It is not in spite of my Catholicism that I support marriage equality, but because of it.
Our Church teaches a preferential treatment for the marginalized. It teaches the dignity of all human beings. It teaches the primacy of conscience — the idea that it is our obligation to prayerfully consider tradition and doctrine, as well as our experience and the experience of those around us, in discerning what is moral and just.
My conscience has been formed with the help of family, friends, teachers, clergy, theologians, and strangers. Most of all, it has been formed through my relationship with God and my Church. As a straight, married person, here's what I know about marriage, family life, our laws, and our social institutions:
Married people work together in love (and in a Catholic marriage, in faith) to bring life and love to the world. There are many nonreproductive ways to do so, and all couples in loving, committed relationships have the potential to create life and love in a myriad of ways.
Parents do our children (and society) the greatest service by modeling supportive, loving, day-to-day adult relationships. It is not our job to show them how to be male, female, masculine, feminine, straight, gay, or anything else they were born to be. There is no right way to be any of these things — in these respects, we are all exactly what God intended us to be.
I feel the same solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents that I feel with straight ones. We face all the same challenges and joys, as do our children.
Civil marriage entitles the married to many benefits that help them support each other and contribute positively to society. It is wrong to deny LGBT people that opportunity and security.
Same-sex civil marriage, in addition to being a civil right, is no danger to children, society, or the institution of marriage. Healthy marriages benefit all of us. Opponents of the court ruling will live as they have before, as will those of us who support it. But now more legally married people will have access to the financial and legal support they need to keep their families strong and safe.
I hope and pray that Church leaders will hear and understand the majority who support those in loving same-sex relationships. Love is of God and adults who have formed their consciences in faith are very capable of making good decisions about how to express their love for other human beings.
Christa Kerber lives in Wynnewood. firstname.lastname@example.org
The archbishop's statement on the court ruling can be found here.