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Can 'true Catholics' support same-sex marriage?
Ex-priest Jim Smith, opponent of Minnesota's ballot to ban same-sex marriages, says these are difficult days to be Catholic.
June 20th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Can 'true Catholics' support same-sex marriage?

By Chris Welch, CNN

Minneapolis (CNN) - Jim Smith is a former Roman Catholic priest who left his post with the church 10 years ago. He's an ex-priest for several reasons, he says, but one of his main concerns was the church's stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues.

But Smith remains a Catholic - though he says being a Catholic who actively campaigns for legalized same-sex marriages can be difficult these days.

"I'd much rather this wasn't happening," Smith says of the division that the issue has created among Minnesota  Catholics. "But it does provide some real opportunities because it challenges us to talk to each other, Catholics talking to other Catholics."

Minnesota has become the newest epicenter in the same-sex marriage fight. This November, voters will decide whether they want an amendment added to the state's constitution that would ban marriage between members of the same sex.

Smith will be voting "no." And he has helped spearhead efforts in the state to persuade other Catholics to do the same.

A group he helped form,  Catholics for Marriage Equality-Minnesota, aims "to encourage Catholics to consider the profound sacredness of same-gender relationships and to defeat this marriage amendment," Smith says.

Vatican edicts against same-sex marriage often give Catholic same-sex marriage supporters the impression they're in the minority.

Related story: Same-sex marriage by the numbers 

But a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggests 59% of American Catholics support rights allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. One reason behind that statistic - says PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones - is because U.S. Catholics "overwhelmingly reject the idea that sexual orientation can be changed." A PRRI poll bears that out – with 69% of Catholics nationwide saying a person's sexual orientation cannot be changed.

In the Midwest alone, Catholics are evenly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage -– with 46% in favor, 47% against.

Opinion: GOP support for same-sex marriage growing

Related story: Both sides re-energized for upcoming same-sex marriage fight

Like Jim Smith, Michelle LaFrance is a Catholic who has also taken the bold step against the church in support of marriage equality.

"I remember thinking 'wow, maybe I shouldn't [remain a Catholic],' " LaFrance said. Ultimately they've remained with the Catholic faith, citing its many positive aspects including going to church. It's an important weekly ritual for LaFrance, her husband and their three kids.

"The Catholic Church, despite the media [attention] it typically gets, does a lot of great things, a lot of great social justice," LaFrance said. She noted the church "feeds the poor, houses the homeless, takes care of the abused."

The LaFrance family belongs to the Church of St. Margaret Mary in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley, a congregation which LaFrance describes as fairly progressive. She says the majority of her fellow parishioners agree with her stance on same-sex marriage.

But when LaFrance hears the archdiocese telling people how they should think about it, she can't help but sometimes feel like less of a Catholic.

"I don't think anybody - whatever their religious denomination - whole-heartedly follows every single rule down to the letter."

Related story: U.S. history of same-sex marriage

On the other side of the debate stands Dave Deavel.

Although he agrees with LaFrance to an extent, he says he believes there are certain pillars of the Catholic faith that people should follow. One of those is the church stance that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.

"The whole point of what the church teaches is to form people's consciences," Deavel says.

For Deavel, his wife and their five children, attending church is so important they strive to go multiple times a week.

He's active with Minnesota for Marriage, which supports of the same-sex-marriage ban, and has written various blog posts on the topic for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Asked whether he believes a person can be "less of a Catholic" for disagreeing with the church, Deavel says the Vatican "doesn't really have a certain category for 'less of a Catholic.' "

"But they certainly don't represent what the church teaches," he said. "Is it a spiritual problem? I think yes."

Opinion: The secret gay agenda

In a written statement the MCC said groups such as Catholics for Marriage Equality "do not have any right to call their organizations 'Catholic.'"

In the past, the conference has issued statements accusing Catholics for Marriage Equality of trying "to confuse Catholics and the public about authentic church teaching" on marriage.

"Catholics for Marriage Equality MN attempts to convince Catholics that they can be in good standing with the church and oppose church teaching about human sexuality and marriage, which centers on the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual self-gift of loving spouses in marital union," said an MCC statement.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis declined CNN's request for an interview, but it agreed with sentiments expressed by the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Does church doctrine make it impossible for same-sex marriage supporters to be true Catholics?

"There is no judgment intended about an individual's 'Catholicity' or 'Catholic-ness,' " says MCC spokeswoman Jessica Zittlow.

Minnesota's November ballot proposal to ban same-sex marriage isn't an amendment against LGBT individuals, say the MCC and the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese. Instead, they say it should strictly be viewed as an amendment supporting traditional marriage.

For ex-priest Jim Smith, grappling with the issue has been difficult - a personal struggle that extends to the heart of his faith.

The inner conflict between what Smith believes is right and his love for the church has pushed him to consider leaving the Catholic religion altogether.

In the end, Smith vows he will stay. "It's in my bones."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith • Minnesota • Politics • Polls • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (2,849 Responses)
  1. Janet

    "God never changed the union of man + woman."

    The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  2. James

    "God joined a male and female together in GENESIS. REVELATION never changed it."

    The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  3. YeahRight

    "You are correct, marriage laws are not up to me. I follow what it says in Scripture. If I am presented with a ballot for a vote to cast on this matter, I most certainly have a say."

    Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

    The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

    Oh by the way a federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  4. John

    "Man + woman combo. God set it up that way."

    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  5. John

    Your religion has no place in politics. People would not even care about this if voters kept them seperate.

    June 22, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  6. Kathy

    Love the person, hate the sin! Do I agree with it no I don't, but I could not hate anyone or hurt anyone. It's between them and God.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  7. MathProf

    I got a proof

    June 22, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • MathProf

      I cant get it in here, because of the c3ns0ring

      June 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  8. MathProf

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    June 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  9. MathProf

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    June 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  10. MathProf

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    June 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  11. MathProf

    b

    June 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  12. ImLook'nUp

    @ Bet

    It's REVELATION no S. It's spelled Jesus –thanks.

    ACTS chapter 1 tells us that Jesus will come back in the same way He was taken up into heaven. I don't believe He will be "sitting". The rainbow in REVELATION 4 is emerald; a greenish color. Green depicts life. It can also depict poison, as in the Word of God being poison to those who do not grasp it.

    GENESIS chapter 9 explains how the rainbow (in the clouds) was the sign of the covenant between Noah and his sons and their descendants, for every living creature that was with them –the birds, the livestock, wild animals, all those that came out of the ark –every living creature on earth. God said never again would all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.

    Mind you, just before God established His covenant with Noah, God tells Noah and his family to be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.

    Man + woman combo. God set it up that way.

    June 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nah. Bet PWND you, Lookin'Stupid.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Dorothy

      nobody is objecting to prayer.....just bigotry.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • perversion is a crime

      not a right, there is no bigotry in opposing disease, unnatural filth and crime.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      It isn't a crime to be gay in this country. You're overloaded with the bigotry and prejudice inherent to the teachings of religion. You do NOT need a bible to know how to love someone, but no greater tool has ever been invented to teach hatred.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 22, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  14. NativeBornAmerican

    Simple answer not really..........and why again should they? Can liberal support sharing blame for the economy? Apparently that is far less possible. All this Gay marriage crap and this will help the defiict and get people back to work how again? I know wag the dog to place attention away from a dismal disappointing hatefilled record of division and lack of honesty or leadership coupled with the greatest lack of fiscal accountablity and uncontrolled spending in history..........

    June 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Right....because civil rights have never been an American value (sarcasm off)

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      NBA, civil rights cannot take a back seat to economic issues.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, marriage is big business in this country. Gay marriage can create jobs in the wedding industry as well as the travel industry (think about the honeymoons.)

      June 22, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  15. Biblical

    I CONFESS

    last time I stepped foot in a church was ten years ago

    Just trolling here

    looking up wierd article and citing other things out of context. Kind of playing devils advocate as to how a real right winger would argue.

    Frankly dont care a rats ass whether gays get married or not.

    Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. ImLook'nUp

    Great picture...

    I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written of Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and His name is the Word of God.

    God joined a male and female together in GENESIS. REVELATION never changed it.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Dorothy

      And at the time of Galileo, the Church and those that followed them blindly, made Galileo sign a statement that said that the notion that the earth rotated around the sun was "repugnant" to Holy Scripture. I am sure they were as convinced as you are of the "infallibility" of their stance.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ Dorothy

      God never changed the union of man + woman.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Dorothy

      im lookin up – And I am sure that at the time of Galileo people would say that God never changed the way he created the Universe. As Galileo said, "I am not contesting the authenticity of Holy Scripture, only man's interpretation of it."

      June 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      ImLook'nUp, marriage laws aren't up to you or your church or Jeebus. Not a single marriage can be legal unless sanctioned by the state; therefore, your religious rites are unnecessary and superfluous. You and your fundy pals aren't going to decide this issue. It will almost certainly be decided by the SCOTUS, and you won't have a thing to say about it.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ TTtPS

      You are correct, marriage laws are not up to me. I follow what it says in Scripture. If I am presented with a ballot for a vote to cast on this matter, I most certainly have a say.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nobody's vote will matter, dimwit, if this goes to the SCOTUS. Get it?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Revelations also says:

      Rev 4:3
      And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a carnelian stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in appearance like unto an emerald.

      Sounds like Jebus is more diverse than you ever imagined.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ Bet

      W h a t ??

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Bet

      Rev 4:3. Look it up. Jebus comes back on a big ole rainbow throne. The symbol of diversity and acceptance.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Bet

      ImLook'nUp says:
      @ BET

      Jesus is coming back to earth on a throne wrapped in a rainbow?
      ACTS 1:11 says: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

      I suggest you do a little bit more reading and studying.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |

      Bet says:
      @ Imlookinup

      You dumb jackwagon, it's in Rev. 4:3. Pick up your bible and look it up.

      King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
      And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a carnelian stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in appearance like unto an emerald.

      It's in the bible in friggin' black and white!

      LOL you don't even know what's in the bible you claim is the word of god and you're telling me to "do a little more reading and studying". You are such a moron.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |

      Bwahahah! My favorite post of the day! These religious bigots don't even know what's in the bible most of the time.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ Bet

      It's REVELATION no S. It's spelled Jesus –thanks.

      ACTS chapter 1 tells us that Jesus will come back in the same way He was taken up into heaven. I don't believe He will be "sitting". The rainbow in REVELATION 4 is emerald; a greenish color. Green depicts life. It can also depict poison, as in the Word of God being poison to those who do not grasp it.

      GENESIS chapter 9 explains how the rainbow (in the clouds) was the sign of the covenant between Noah and his sons and their descendants, for every living creature that was with them –the birds, the livestock, wild animals, all those that came out of the ark –every living creature on earth. God said never again would all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.

      Mind you, just before God established His covenant with Noah, God tells Noah and his family to be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.

      Man + woman combo. God set it up that way.

      June 23, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  17. Biblical

    http://goo.gl/Lv23X

    lots of research into this area

    June 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • junior

      Few people have the courage to face TRUTH, they rely on their feelings as a moral compass.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  18. PrimeNumber

    Marriage is an arrangement between two human beings. Civil government cannot even figure out when a human life begins, never mind WHAT a human being is. A declaration from civil government on the issue of gay marriage is worthless to a real Catholic.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Actually, Catholics don't have that argument down as tight as they think. Thomas Aquinas states that "individualtion" has to exist before a soul can be present.....and one is not a human without a soul. We now know that after conception an embryo can divide into two individuals and actually come back into one individual.....hence, individuation does not exist at conception.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Bet

      Try getting marriage benefits without a civil license, it's required whether you have a church wedding or not.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • gerald

      Dorth, At the instant of any diviision each individual would have a soul and if they reemerged the one soul would leave. Aquinas was not infallible and did not have all the knowledge we do today. Your posts are nothing but liberal, self justification, hogwash.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • gerald

      Supporters of gay marriage will soon be excommunicated.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  19. Dorothy

    You can tell a lot about a group or an individual based on what they are willing to fight for in the courts. Gays are fighting for 1. Marriage – so they can live in legally recognized monogamous, committed relationships. 2. Family – so they can raise their children (many of whom are not wanted by straights) in a stable home environment as a couple. 3. Service to country in the Military. Let's compare that to what the Catholic hierarchy is fighting for in the courts: 1. Control of women's reproductive rights including hormones which have been shown to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer particularly in celibate women. 2. Keeping priests out of jail for illicit contact with those for whom they are supposed to protect. 3. Protection of their worldly assets from lawsuits,

    It would seem to me that even leaving the historical and dogmatic arguments aside, if you look at who has the most moral agenda here, it is the gays upon whom God would be smiling.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  20. Biblical

    No public referendum has ever succeeded so they seek the help of unelected judges. Hippocretes. Thought we lived in a democracy.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Yeah....unfortunately the same argument was used against women getting the vote, desegregation and inter-racial marriage.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's because you were kicked out of high school before you took a civics class, you moron. We do not live in a democracy but in democratic republic. This has been explained to you repeatedly: the founders knew that there might be a tyranny of the majority, in which a minority would be deprived of the rights guaranteed them by law. That's WHY there is no longer segregation, idiot.

      Good grief, how can you be so fvckin' ignorant?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Bet

      You are seriously ignorant about American government. Do the terms "checks and balances" and "tyranny of the majority" mean anything to you? If not, do a google search and educate yourself.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Bet

      And "Hippocretes", w.t.f? Are you trying to spell "hypocrites" or Hippocrates"? Either way, you fail.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.