Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
For a few days, the media was abuzz with Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato si, Care for our Common Home. Its seventy-four pages are filled with many beautiful ideas and reflections, focusing on ourselves as gifts of God and how, in a real sense, are we living our baptismal promise to return to the Lord what He has given to us, individually and collectively. I, personally, have found it to be one of the most profound encyclicals of modern time. At the heart of Laudato si we find this question, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” My own interpretation of this question is, “How well do we love one another?”
As we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, God made us. He chose us for Himself. Because of our baptism, we begin our time in this world holy and without blemish before Him. From our birth, we are here for the praise of the glory of His grace. We can ascend to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy, and creation in the risen Christ continues onward until the fullness of God. Each one of us has a purpose, none is superfluous.
We are a part of the body of Christ; we do not live in isolation. We are a community, we live in our common home, and as such, we are responsible for each other. Understandably, we also feel a sense of responsibility when we learn the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Hopefully you understand that the U.S. Supreme Court cannot change the way Scripture defines marriage, the context of which was born long before the birth of Catholicism. In Genesis, we read God makes female and male out of love, for love. The love between a husband and wife is placed in their hearts by God to fulfill His design for each person. The sanctity of marriage unites the entire being of spouses in love and is a sign of God’s love for humanity. It is the joining of a man and woman to be co-creators with God to bring children into the world. No court can change our belief in the Sacrament of marriage.
The ruling also does not change our responsibility toward one another as a community of God’s creation. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. We are not called to disparage the human person because of our differing faith beliefs.
The recent ruling does highlight the countercultural nature of Jesus Christ and, as Pope Francis has spoken, our own yielding to separation from God. It challenges us to be fervent in building a culture of marriage as Sacrament. It requires us to be heralds of the Gospel and stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending marriage as a Sacrament, the joining together of a man and woman to be co-creators with God to bring children into the world. It begs us, as people of faith, to be courageous against this tide of disbelief and lead others as the first apostles also did to Christ. It requires us to apply the tenets of faithful citizenship as we consider our vote for elected officials. It calls us to prayer; to ask forgiveness for our neglect, and for those who review the Court’s decisions and their implications. It demands our evaluation of the common good and the future of our society under God.
What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? How well do we love one another?
May we live a life of faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Bishop John Noonan
Diocese of Orlando