Bishop warns Catholics against attending same-sex weddings

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, in the state of Washington, to witness the state-sanctioned, church-blessed wedding of my gay cousin and his partner of more than 35 years. The sister of one of the grooms, a devout (and I would have to say downright conservative) Roman Catholic, was one of the lay readers at the service. Another RC cousin in attendance expressed unqualified joy about this long-awaited family celebration. Both brought small children who ate too much cake and ran happily amok at the reception. I thought of them today when I read that Bishop Thomas Tobin in Rhode Island is warning Roman Catholics to "examine their consciences very carefully" before attending same-sex ceremonies. From

Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin says he's "profoundly disappointed" that Rhode Island is likely to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday, and he's warning Catholics to think hard before going to the weddings of local gays and lesbians.

"Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others," Tobin wrote in a pastoral letter to the faithful released on Thursday afternoon.

Read full story here, and Bp. Tobin's pastoral letter here, in which he states, "at this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,' ... and always sinful."

Comments (10)

Last Saturday I had the privilege of presiding at the blessing of the union of Katherine and Cecilia -- two fabulous members of All Saints Church here in Pasadena. During the wedding prep Cecilia told me "We're expecting about 80 people. 40 are our Catholic relatives who aren't sure God shows up in Episcopal Churches and 40 are our lefty friends who aren't sure there is a God. Good luck with that!"

And they all came. And it was wonderful. And almost to a person they came to the communion rail -- as invited -- either to receive the bread and wine made holy or a blessing as we shared together the joy we had in celebrating the love Katherine and Cecilia have for them and for each other.

A parting word for Bishop Tobin: What's "instinsically disordered" here is homophobia ... not homsexuality. And as I'm working on my sermon for Sunday and looking at John 5:1-9 the question that comes to me is "Do you want to be healed?"

Hmmmm ... I think I just talked myself into a new sermon illustration!

Susan Russell
All Saints Church, Pasadena

Poor Bishop Tobin - first, Rhode Island falls to the *second* most RC state in the Union (the first is now Massachusetts), and then the people of Rhode Island "disappoint" him like this.

In his dealings with the body politic Bishop Tobin has often acted as if he thought his role was to outline the One True Christian position on an issue (be it marriage equality or what the Governor ought to call the big decorated evergreen tree that's in the State House rotunda every December) and the role of the people of Rhode Island was to obey. Having his will ignored so flagrantly by his subjects must be a bitter pill.

I confess to harboring a certain amount of schadenfreude right about now...

Bill Dilworth

These attempts at control are futile. Bishop Tobin, get over it or at least be quiet. You aren't winning anyone to Christ with your B.S.

Hell yes, I am angry.

Meanwhile, I think same-sex weddings/blessings in our Episcopal churches, are one of our BEST vehicles of evangelism! Per always, the phobes' loss is (CAN BE) our gain. Let everyone know!

JC Fisher

As the Bishop of Comments for the Diocese of e-cafe, I caution all who might attend Roman Catholic services to examine their consciences carefully, for in attending services you might seem to imply endorsement for the Roman Church's continuing issues with clergy misconduct. Such behavior can and does cause grave scandal and is a grave sin, particularly when covered up by other clergy.

Eric Bonetti

Bp Tobin is holding up his hands against the tide. We saw similar things in the run-up to the MN election last fall, where there were numerous examples of families being told to reject their gay loved ones.

Meanwhile, he has already lost. The Roman Catholic laity is not going to reject their gay friends and family. Catholics in the pew continue to be robustly supportive of civil marriage equality.

My wife and I married in 2008, in the brief window prior to Prop8. Despite our wedding being held in the home diocese of anti-gay zealot Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, despite the bile and vitriol dripping from the local pulpits during that election season, we were blessed by the presence of our many Roman Catholic friends who joyfully celebrated with us as we exchanged our vows.

Of course, after Prop8 passed, my wife left the Catholic church and became an Episcopalian. But that's another story....

Susan Forsburg

Pete? The various Susans? It might interest you to know that the Creator of the universe neither has nor needs a Congress, that there isn't going to be a United States of America in heaven and that morality is His determination and not ours. But you'll find that out soon enough.

Guess we all will Christopher -- might be a lot of surprises

@CJ: That is the wonderful thing about The Episcopal Church: It's okay for me to suspect that we may all eventually discover that we got it all wrong.

And I still have a loving, caring parish to call home in the meantime.

Eric Bonetti

Will there ever be a time when (I assume CJ's straight) people get over the idea that they KNOW the Mind of God. I'm old and really getting so tired of it over and over. Sorry just had to let off some steam.
There is so much need for any kind of love in this world. Indeed, kyrie eleison.

Lan Green

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