The Catholic Church has come out swinging against the rights of gay people to get married even in civil ceremonies let alone in religious weddings. The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, even drilled home the issue non-too-subtly in his two prayers at the Republican and Democratic conventions. Both parties were reminded that "happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature's God" and the cardinal asked God to "empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making", adding for the Democrats' benefit,"...or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community."
The message isn't taking root with some of those in the ranks. One priest in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, has been reprimanded by his superior, Archbishop Henry Mansell, for taking part as a lector in the same-sex Lutheran marriage of his cousin in New York. Fr. Michael DeVito, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Suffield, was not vested but did wear his Roman collar. His participation last month in the marriage of his cousin Richard Termine, a freelance photographer, and Roger Danforth, would have remained anonymous but for a write-up in the New York Times.
The Archdiocese issued a statement saying that, "Archbishop Mansell informed Father DeVito that his participation in this ceremony was understandably perceived by many Catholics as an implicit endorsement of same-sex marriage, which is contrary to Church teaching. As a consequence, and in accordance with canon law, the Archbishop formally rebuked Father DeVito and informed him that the rebuke would be a permanent part of his record. Fr. DeVito said that he would not participate in any way in same-sex marriages in the future."
Meanwhile in Minnesota, which is facing a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban same-sex marriage, one priest is helping to fund the opposition. While the Diocese of Duluth has given $50,000 to support the "Marriage Amendment", one priest in the diocese, Fr. Peter Lambert, pastor of St. Louis parish in Floodwood, has given $1,000 of his own money to Minnesotans United for Families, the primary group opposing the amendment. A spokesperson for the diocese indicated that Fr. Lambert did not expect his contribution to be made public and declined to say what actions if any might be taken against the priest. Stay tuned...