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Are Catholics Forbidden to Attend Gay Weddings?


I was recently told that Catholics are forbidden from attending the weddings of gay couples.  Is this true? While very rare in the past, with changes in the laws, these celebrations are becoming far more common.  We might have reservations about homosexuality but many of us have gay friends and family.  We would not want to hurt them or come across as bigots.  What should we do?


A similar question arises when Catholic heterosexuals attempt marriage outside the Church.  Of course, we are still talking about what we consider a natural bond.  The Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending a marriage presumed as invalid. One would have to make a personal judgment in conscience, weighing the possibility of scandal and undermining the dignity of marriage as sacred. If you should decide that as a matter of principle you cannot attend or participate, then you should be honest with the couple and affirm your love and prayers for them. Given marriage is strongly defined by the Church as a bond between a man and woman that is open to human generation, the fidelity of spouses and a unity realized by corporeal complementarity; I see no way that one might attend or celebrate a “same-sex” marriage without compromising an essential teaching of Catholic moral and sacramental doctrine. In other words, if you believe what the Church teaches, it would be impossible to attend as a good Catholic.

2 Responses

  1. If this is a wedding of a close family member and one does not attend the ceremony would, in the interest of charity and family cohesiveness would it be ok to attend the reception afterwards?

    FATHER JOE: That is a decision you would have to make. I can well appreciate charity and compassion. However, speaking for myself, I could have no part of any of it.

  2. “It would be impossible to attend [a gay wedding] as a good Catholic”. Because that assumes one endorses it just by being there? Seems then that it’s impossible for you to live in the US as a good Catholic, as it allows gay marriage. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable in the Middle East.

    FATHER JOE: One would not want to associate Islamic intolerance and censures with the religious liberty that we would like to preserve in the West for Christians and others. We can love people without being compelled to approve or support every decision they make. You do touch upon an important point and that is the Church’s current collaboration with the state in allowing our ministers to witness marriages. Some critics contend that since the secular and the religious definition are now at odds, that Church ceremonies should be separated and distinct from civil recognition. Certain countries follow this pattern: there is both a religious service and a signing of the contract before a judge or notary public.

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