Recent action by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Catholic Church puts once controversial lifestyle front and center.
Lyndsey Digiacomo sits in the Study Buddy lobby at Calumet College of St. Joseph enjoying a fresh, garden salad. Between bites of mixed greens, the psychology major ponders what some see as a major doctrinal shift emanating from the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican in Rome. The change appears to be a move by the church to be more accepting of gays. Digiacomo remarks that
“It’s actually surprising to hear that the Vatican is saying that gay people should be welcomed into the church because they have a lot to offer. It’s great that the church can have more people to spread God’s word and contribute to helping people in the community who are in need.”
But, Digiacomo may be getting ahead of herself just a little.
Church leaders, according to published reports, still disagree on just how far it will go in bringing gay Catholics into the flock. Nevertheless, Digiacomo’s positive reaction to what could be greater acceptance of homosexuals into the Catholic church, concurs with the views of many CCSJ students.
But a move toward broader acceptance of homosexuality is happening in areas outside of Vatican City.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by five states, including Indiana, to take up an appeal in which a lower court ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s refusal to even consider the appeal in effect legalized same-sex marriage in Indiana.
English major Jenny Deecken responded to the Supreme Court’s decision not to review same-sex marriage cases in five states as she gathered up her belongings following a meeting of the course History and Study of the English Language:
“I am very happy, I have a lot of friends that fall into the gay lesbian category and I am very happy they are being given basic human rights that everyone should be receiving,” said Deeken, who has a gay friend who is about to get married. “I can wait to go to my friend’s wedding.”
Junior English major Amber Hoholek said she supports same sex marriage because she believes people should be able to marry who they want regardless of gender. “I don’t see why people push so hard against same-sex marriage when it doesn’t really affect them,” Hoholek said.
It can be expected that young college students will be more accepting of same-sex marriage.
But what about professors?
Sitting in his office on a reprieve from the day’s classes, English professor Kirk Robinson stated that its people’s view of same-sex marriage as a civil right that has energized the struggle. But with lower courts continuing to overturn states’ same-sex marriage bans, Robinson doesn’t think this struggle will go on much longer, at least in the courts. “This particular fight might be over but it will play out in classrooms, in workplaces, in policies,” Robinson said.
With these recent changes in the Supreme Court and the Catholic Church, it shows American is in the midst of a major civil rights change regarding marriage equality.
But what about attitudes beyond the walls of a Catholic institution like CCSJ?
At Goodfellas Bar and Grill in Cedar Lake, local musician Nick Carpenter checked his volume levels on his Fender Twin Reverb amplifier before performing at a recent open-mic event. For Carpenter, the issue of same-sex marriage “is an issue that shouldn’t even be in contention. To deny anyone a social institution as commonplace as marriage is basically implying that they are subhuman.”
His view is not shared by all.
Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese, Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, wrote a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in an article for Today’s Catholic News.
“I and many others have been worried about the many possible threats to our religious freedom as a result of the redefinition of marriage. Changing the legal definition of marriage may threaten the liberty of the Church and our institutions in numerous ways.” Rhoades wrote in a lengthy response, “Living in conformity with our Catholic teaching that marriage by its nature is between one man and one woman needs religious liberty protection so we are not forced to treat same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage.”
Pope Francis and an assembly of 200 bishops met to discuss issues of family. As part of the assembly, the Vatican released new documents with much more open attitudes to gay marriage and even divorce. According to the Associated Press, the document asked, “Are our communities capable of providing (a welcoming home,) accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
At the same time, the documents did make it clear that the union between same-sex couples is not the same as a union between a man and a woman, even though it has a constructive aspects.
The document went on to say “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home.”
This response to same-sex marriage demonstrates how the church has changed under Pope Francis’ tenure towards more humanitarian views.
The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis posted a letter from Bishop Waynick that demonstrated the new attitude among churches within that religion.
In it, Waynick writes, “Whether or not there are any same gender couples in the congregation, whether or not a priest feels able to preside, same gender marriage is now a legal reality, and the Church as a whole can benefit from reflection on the meaning of marriage, how the provisional rite meets the needs of same gender couples (or not) and what is at stake when decisions about same gender celebrations are made.”
Given the changing positions on the topic of same sex relationships, one thing is clear: America and the world are moving toward greater acceptance and humanity regarding homosexuality.
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