Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Criticizes Notre Dame Benefits Policy for Gay Spouses

Another view inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades writes in an online Catholic publication that Notre Dame was hasty in its decision to extend employee benefits to same-sex spouses.

Two federal courts ruled Indiana’s gay marriage ban earlier this year. The Supreme Court effectively legalized marriage equality in Indiana last week.

“Notre Dame believes that the law requires the university to extend the legal benefits of marriage to ‘same-sex married couples’ in its employ. I would like to see further study of what the law requires as well as what religious liberty protections Notre Dame and our other Catholics institutions have so as not to be compelled to cooperate in the application of the law redefining marriage. Our Indiana Catholic Conference is studying these issues,” Rhoades says.

“In announcing its decision to extend benefits to ‘same-sex spouses,’ I am glad that Notre Dame affirmed that as a Catholic university, it ‘endorses a Catholic view of marriage,’ though I would say that Catholic teaching on the heterosexual nature of marriage is more than ‘a view.’ The heterosexual nature of marriage is an objective truth.”

Catholic institutions, including universities such as Notre Dame, should not be required to follow the marriage law governing their state in terms of spousal benefits for employees, Rhoades maintains. The bishop says that these institutions need “religious liberty protection so we are not forced to treat same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage.”

Rhoades was careful to note that the Catholic Church “strongly upholds the human dignity of homosexual persons” and said that the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese was committed to “all persons in the Church with a homosexual inclination”.

“Our Courage groups in Fort Wayne and South Bend exist to help you in this growth. All of us have the vocation to love. This vocation is lived not only through the vocation of marriage, but also through chaste friendships,” Rhoades writes.

The defensive tone from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese is in contrast to recent developments from the Vatican, where Pope Francis has signaled a changing attitude on gay rights.

Pope Francis famously declared, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

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