08 August 2016, The Tablet

US bishops speak out on gay marriage after Biden officiates at same-sex ceremony

The Catholic Vice President has previously said he is comfortable with same-sex couples marrying

Just days after US Vice President Joe Biden officiated at a same-sex wedding, three US bishops have released a statement criticising gay marriage.

Without specifically naming Catholic Biden, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Joseph Kurtz, and USCCB chairmen, Bishop Richard Malone and Archbishop Thomas Wenski, wrote on the USCCB blog: “When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnise the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics.”

According to news agency Associated Press (AP), the wedding of Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller – two longtime White House aids – took place at the Vice President's official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory. The two asked Biden to officiate, AP said, adding that the Vice President had to get a temporary license to do so from the District of Columbia to make the marriage legal.

"Questions revolving around marriage and human sexuality are deeply felt in our homes and communities," wrote the bishops. "We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in affirming the inviolable dignity of all people and the Church's important role in accompanying all those in need.

"In doing so, we also stand with Pope Francis in preserving the dignity and meaning of marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

The three bishops quoted from Pope Francis' address to Congress last September in which the Pope reminded all politicians that they are called "to defend and preserve the dignity of [their] fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good".

"Catholic politicians in particular are called to 'a heroic commitment' on behalf of the common good and to 'recognise their grave responsibility in society to support laws shaped by these fundamental human values and oppose laws and policies that violate (them),'" the three added, again quoting from the Pope's words to US lawmakers.

In 2012, Biden said as a Catholic he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex couples marrying, adding they should get "the same exact rights" heterosexual married couples receive. Shortly after that, President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage and in a June 2015 ruling, the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in the nation.

In their blog post, Archbishops Kurtz and Wenski and Bishop Malone said that "faithful witness can be challenging and it will only grow more challenging in the years to come – but it is also the joy and responsibility of all Catholics, especially those who have embraced positions of leadership and public service."

The bishops ended their blog by encouraging Catholics to pray for Catholic leaders in public life to be “faithful and joyful witnesses wherever we are called".

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