Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine has elicited a strong response from his bishop for his comments suggesting the Catholic church will eventually recognize same-sex marriage, and a prominent Catholic scholar is also disputing his words.
Giving the keynote address to a group of approximately 3,700 at the 20th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C. Sunday, the U.S. Senator from Virginia expressed his "full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality." Although he acknowledged his stance "is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend ... I think that's going to change, too."
Although the press frequently describes Kaine as a "devout" Roman Catholic, Mary Hasson, director of the Catholic Women's Forum at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center believes that is an adjective the media "particularly likes to attach to Catholic politicians who loudly disagree with the Church on matters of sexual morality."
In addition to serving the Church for over twenty years in leadership positions in Catholic marriage preparation programs, Hasson has written extensively on marriage and sexual ethics and is the editor of the 2015 book, Promise and Challenge: Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity, and The Church.
"Because we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church to proclaim the truth, we truth-seekers need to take seriously the Church's moral teachings," Hasson said in a Wednesday interview with The Christian Post. "We believe those teachings will guide us about how we are to live, particularly when we live in a culture that rejects those teachings."
"Put simply," she continued, "Catholics are obliged to form their consciences in light of the Church's moral teachings, not in light of the Democrat or Republican party platforms."
Hasson declined to speculate as to why Kaine supports same-sex marriage but suggested that maybe Catholics ought to "take up a collection and buy him a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church — and the Bible," adding that it "sounds like he needs some trustworthy reading material on the campaign bus."
In order to reconcile his pro-gay marriage views with those of the Catholic Church Kaine pointed to the words in Genesis where God proclaims his creation very good, noting, "Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family ... I think we're supposed to celebrate, not challenge it."
Kaine's Bishop, Francis X. DiLorenzo, was unequivocal in his response.
Though he did not mention Kaine by name, "[D]espite recent statements from the campaign trail, the Catholic Church's 2000-year-old teaching to the truth about what constitutes marriage remains unchanged and resolute," the bishop said in a diosecan statement Tuesday.
"Redefining marriage furthers no one's rights, least of all those of children, who should not purposely be deprived of the right to be nurtured and loved by a mother and a father," he continued.
"We call on Catholics and all those concerned for preserving this sacred union to unite in prayer, to live and speak out with compassion and charity about the true nature of marriage — the heart of family life," Bishop DiLorenzo concluded.
Hasson concurs. "The Church's doctrine, drawing from the Bible and tradition, teaches clearly that sexual activity outside of the marriage between a man and a woman is not good — it is harmful and destructive, like all sin."
Moreover, she emphasized, "the Church can't change Christ's teaching on marriage, because the Church is the guardian — not the creator — of doctrine. The Church hands on the revealed truth of Christ, but has no authority to change it, no matter how many polls or politicians insist they've got a better idea."