home
RSS
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. cdsa

    For this Catholic it is easy to follow the Church. Problem is we as catholics are baptized as catholics and are never really taught the true meaning of being Catholic. I took the liberty to understand my faith unlike so many, God did give us free will but left behind guidelines. The Catholic church has been there from the beginning interpreting Holy Scripture and we should trust what God has left us. There is no Gray area, but to many there are.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • billHUMAN

      I was taught the true meaning of being a Catholic. Love. Charity. Compassion. Understanding. No more and no less.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  2. Jesus Christ Superstar

    SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER ME. WHAT IS THE GAY AGENDA, AND WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE (CATHOLICS) SO AFRAID OF IT?

    June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • peacefrog

      Catholics are afraid of gay people for the simple fact that if you can talk a man into being Catholic, it won't be a far stretch to talk them in to giving another guy a BJ.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Al

      Can someone please tell me why if you disagree with someone or their lifestyle choices, you either 'Hate' or are 'phobic' of them or the lifestyle? You CAN DISAGREE and NOT HATE you know... (CAPS for emphasis, not anger btw... :D) My gay neighbors ironically, have expressed alot of hate towards me and my family, I wonder how they justify it? Revenge against those who don't agree with them? Possibly. Hate? you bet..

      June 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • My Gay Agenda

      I was going to cut the lawn in my backyard, but decided to go molest somebody instead.
      --------------------------------------–
      Al

      Can someone please tell me why if you disagree with someone or their lifestyle choices,
      --------------------------------------–
      Because its not a choice.
      There are only two reasons to be anti-gay.
      1 – Religion.
      2 – Lack of education.

      Get rid of the first, and get more of the second.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  3. billman

    Another false poll from the left-we don't believe your polls! The American people are not stupid CNN-the answer is civil unions. Marriage, for traditional, and religious reasons should remain between 1 man and 1 woman. Civil unions should be available in all states for gay couples...end of story.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • midwest rail

      The SCOTUS will be the " end of the story ". And you probably won't like the ending.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Yup, separate, but equal . . . it worked so well for former slaves . . .

      June 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • billHUMAN

      billman – I suppose in your simple-minded view of the world it is the end of the story. But sadly there's a pesky little thing called Equal Protection and as long as you maintain a distinction that mandates marriage for some and civil unions for others you violate Equal Protection. End of THAT story.

      As a lifelong, devout Catholic myself, I turn to Jesus' words about gay marriage....oh that's RIGHT! He didn't actually say anything...!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  4. cnnmembuh

    What's with CNN's daily pot stirring of all issues Catholic?

    June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      Because Catholics are evil and full of hate

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      What's with Catholics being overly sensitive and butthurt about even the slightest criticism?

      The Christian persecution complex is hilarious, and nobody whines like the Catholics. Where's that little troll Bill Donahue?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Ghost

      Yea,
      I wish they would rail against all faiths.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  5. waterman

    Being catholic has nothing to do with it. Regressive will be against it, progressives will be for it. Gay marriage opposition just shows how primitive and backward you are, regardless of which religion you follow.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Scarpia

    This article is BS!

    June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • sam

      Everyone's a critic.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  7. Chuck

    I sometimes openly wonder about the statistics being used by the media and whether or not these so called studies are being used to engineer opinion to support its openly liberall position. 59% of Catholics supporting gay marriage seems rather high.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      Yes, I'd be curious to see the underlying figures. They didn't poll anybody in my parish, to my knowledge.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Conservative research centers have found about the same results. They tend not to publish their results.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  8. marie deVille

    I am amazed at how much cnn seems to push the gay agenda. This is why they are losing a lot of their viewers. They need to wake up. most of Americans do not agree and feel strongly about having the gay agenda forced upon us and our children. The polls they take are set up to get the answers they want and you absolutely cannot trust them. I do not hate anyone and do my best to be kind and considerate, however, I will not sit back while a very small percent of the population forces itself upon the rest of us and tries to tell my children that being gay is ok. It is not in anyway ok. I've seen its destruction in the lives of so many. It is a choice just as adultery is choice. I know several people who have made the choice to come out of that life style. All the so called medical research that says they are born this way, again is tainted and manipulated to get the kind of answers they want.

    I would like to encourage everyone to read the book called the Marketing of Evil. Very enlightening and uncovers the gay agenda.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      What is the "gay agenda"? Is it having equal rights as other people? Because that's all they want, is equal rights. Why are you and people like you so against equal rights for all citizens?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Ghost

      Marie,
      I don't believe much of what your saying here.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Replace the word "gay" in your little rant, with "christian," and I'll completely agree with you.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      I just read the rest of your post. Really? You're comparing being gay to being an adulterer? I actually know more straight people to cheat than gay people.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Nare

      Sounds like you have an agenda of your own.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • mamatiger92

      Gay Agenda

      1. Spend time with family
      2. Be treated equally
      3. Buy milk

      June 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "They need to wake up. most of Americans do not agree and feel strongly about having the gay agenda forced upon us and our children"

      This is about equal civil rights for gay marriage. The U S Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a civil right.

      "I will not sit back while a very small percent of the population forces itself upon the rest of us and tries to tell my children that being gay is ok"

      It's not a small percent. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      yea, we gotta stop that "gay agenda" how dare they want to LOVE the person they want to LOVE! They'll love who you tell them to and they'll like it, or else!! That's the Marie deville way!!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Andrew

      Actually, you're wrong Marie and in the minority. Welcome to 2012. You thinking CNN is "pushing the gay agenda" is like someone in the 50s thinking racial desegregation was "pushing the black agenda." You are a dinosaur, and in the future the world will look back at you for the bigot you are, and just shake their heads.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • People believe what they want to believe

      They want to seduce our children into interior design...!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Hoo Myself

      I would like to encourage everyone to ignore Maria.
      You can always find something to enforce your hate.
      She wants to believe what she does, so she seeks out an excuse for hatred, and finds it.
      Ignore science.

      I would hate to be her kids.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • HeavenSkunt

      "I will not sit back while a very small percent of the population forces itself upon the rest of us and tries to tell my children that being gay is ok. It is not in anyway ok"

      I'm going to laugh when you catch your son blowing his best friend.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  9. JG

    no.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. Al Ford

    For those who believe in the bible, do you believe everything or do you chose to be selective?

    June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • JG

      do democrats follow everything the democrat Gods say,yes.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • ME II

      Isn't the Bible full of allegory and parable? How can one believe it is all "true"?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  11. tom

    Another day, yet another great article on how bad CC is. Gee? Maybe you should do a report about growing persecution of Christians around the world and silence of major media on the topic.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Wheels Of Steel

      Did they start feeding you to the lions again ?
      Maybe they should.
      Then you will have a reason to whine.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Why is it wrong to be gay but not wrong to be Catholic?

    Because according to most Catholics, being gay is a choice. So is being Catholic. So why is 1 choice ok, but not the other?

    June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • QS

      Easy answer – religious arrogance and self-righteousness.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Brian

      According to the article most Catholics do not believe being gay is a choice.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      Because, it seems God judges you based on what where you choose to put your penis.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • People believe what they want to believe

      There is no standard.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Webster

      Congrats for having the STUPIDEST argument on a message board essentially covered in stupid observations and analyses.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  13. NutGrinder

    Anyone who follows the teachings of the bible has to hate on and pray that god kills the gays... Just saying.. that's the Hate the bible teaches. I love how people use their religion to justify hate. Oh humans, you're so stupid.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • 2/8

      Speak for yourself....

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      @2/8 penny for your thoughts?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Al

    This is simply DEPOPULATIONIST PROPAGANDA, of which CNN, Ted Turner and others are publicy in favour of. Same gender relationships are naturally INFERTILE, so it fits with their agenda... 'A recent poll..' suggests Catholics are in favour of same gender marriage? Simplly PROPAGANDA..

    June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yah, and I heard the moon landing was FAKED!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam

      I saw Elvis at Burger King the other day.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Damn – I was looking for Elvis at McDonalds! :/

      June 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Al

      Yes, well wisdom vindicates itself and seems like foolishness to those who are unfamiliar it.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • HeavenSkunt

      "Yes, well wisdom vindicates itself and seems like foolishness to those who are unfamiliar it"

      Yes, and delusional fuktards will continue to go on the internet and make fools of themselves.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Smagma

      I dont know Al,
      I was pretty fertile this morning.
      Want to hear about it ?

      June 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Steve

    Really??? I don't know of ONE catholic who supports gay "marriage". Maybe my catholic friends/relatives are lying.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jason

      I do.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Maybe you don't really have any friends . . . lol

      June 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Smagma

      I dont know one person named Steve.
      Proves nothing.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. A scientist

    I have a hard time seeing how the Bible has any relevance to discussions of legalizing gay marriage. The Bible is very clear that worshiping other gods is a sin. Does that mean that all true Christians should oppose freedom of religion? Of course not. There are many rules laid out in the Bible that are not laws in the US - only 3 of the 10 Commandments are laws in the US. Intelligent people understand the difference between using their religion to set their own moral code and imposing their religious code on others.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      Intelligent people don't practice mythology.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Tower Of Babel

      So, if the bible says that you will be decieved.
      How do you know that you are not in fact worshipping the Devil instead of god ?
      How do you know that it wasnt God that was cast out of heaven, and Satan
      won the battle ?
      Hey, its in your book.

      I think its you "Christians/Catholics" that have been deceieved.
      Your own book tells you this but you are too stupid to see it.

      If there is an "anti-Christ" where is the best place on earth to "place" him ?
      In the Vatican !
      Seen any pictures of him lately ?
      Evil blood shot eyes, like he just drank the blood from an alter boy.
      Walking around wearing that fish hat (pagan symbol) in front of an upside down cross.
      Yet millions flock to the Vatican every year to kneel at his feet (False idol)
      Its you Christians/Catholics that have been decieved.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  17. Brett

    Im not too sure why anyone in this day and age would want to be told how to think and act by anyone. I would think that we are free to live by our own conscience and why wouldn't we want to be able to make our own decisions. Church is a great place to come together, share our religious lives, but im sorry, the way the catholic church still tries to control people like they did in the middle ages is ludicrous.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Steve

      You forget that there are RESPONSIBILITIES which come with Liberty. Our Founders did not set up this nation to be a free-for-all. They set it up as a REPUBLIC (which today many mistakenly call it a 'Democracy') – and a nation of God-given Rights (Bill of Rights) and Laws.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam

      The Bill of Rights is not god-given, Steve.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Al

      Yes Sam, it is.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • fred

      The Bill of rights does not mention God.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  18. svatoid

    Does anyone really care what an organization of child molesters thinks? The Vatican has no moral authority whatsoever.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      They care. Because they are the loudest in the room. And we all know whoever shouts the loudest in the room is always right. Just look at the Catholics and the Republicans.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      Absolutely! Until the Church cleanses itself of the molesters and those that looked the other way, including Pope's John Paul and Benedict & Cardinal Mahoney they have ZERO moral authority. When they come clean and repent, maybe, just maybe, I'll care what they think.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Mack

      I continue to be amazed that the media is trying to play these and other matter up for their own gain. The fact is that the rank and file Catholic is actually a 'cafeteria Catholic" who is not subject to thinking that they must follow the church 'dogma' in order to be a practicing Catholic.
      If the media was to be believed, unless I 'tow the party line' 100 per cent, then I am not a Catholic. And, yet, nothing could be further from the truth.
      Unfortunately, this type of 'media sinsationalism' is what is hurting the Catholic who would actually pay attention to this type of press. And, no, I am not 'less of a Catholic' because I am a 'cafeteria Catholic'. Yet, one of my own cousins has fallen for this type of sinsationalism and has stopped attending church rather than evaluate the entire situation.
      Our rank and file priest will tell you that they are not 'hooked' on this type of dogma. Yet, because our dicesan bishop requires all priests to have studied a year in Rome before entering the parish ministry, the younger priests have started to fall for this dogma line. Thankfully, a few years on the front lines of reality will change their thinking.
      The church has survived 2,000 years of attack. And, yes, the church will survive this media attack.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  19. sumsanity

    No, they can't. Neither can the majority of voters, incase nobody noticed.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • UrAverageJoe

      No, actually a majority of voters can and do. You'll soon be left to join those in history that denied other their civil and human rights, like slave owners and anti-desegregation folks . . .

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not so. Polls are showing that most people are in favor of allowing gays to marry.

      And it won't be decided by the voters or the Catholic Church. It will probably be decided in the SCOTUS.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  20. snowboarder

    i think educated individuals find it increasingly difficult to condemn people for purely dogmatic reasons.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Carlton

      As always a lost secular person who thinks being educated elevates you above God and some level above others! This is exactly what gets most people into eternal hell, pride and arrogance!!! Oh yeah, thanks for calling us followers of Jesus Christ bigots and stupid. Coming from an educated person who graduated in the top 10% of my Masters program and a member of Alpha Chi National College and University Scholarship Society. While I'm educated, I'm not an educated fool because I'm wise enough to know I need the only "true and living" God in my life every day!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • HeavenSkunt

      A well educated nutbag.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Advertisement
About this blog

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.