Author: Eric

The Catholic Church’s Support for Gay Marriage

The Catholic Church’s Support for Gay Marriage

Young, Gay and Single Among the Nuns and Widows

As Pope Benedict XVI prepares for a major tour of Africa and Europe next month, there are signs that the church may be more in tune with its laity than its priests.

According to data compiled by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life based on surveys from 40 countries, the Catholic Church has a higher percentage of young people – most of them Catholics – compared with other major religions, and about a third of the country’s Catholics are single.

But while the church has had to adapt to the changing face of American Protestantism, it has maintained its appeal as an institution, even though it has lost some of its conservative constituency.

Although the American bishops’ office has recently taken steps to broaden the church’s appeal, including by moving into the media, Pope Benedict’s first full trip to Africa is part of a pattern of church involvement in American life. That includes supporting gay marriage, as this week’s vote in New York affirms the right for gay couples to marry.

Although the church’s support for same-sex marriage is often described as a matter of doctrine, in reality it is more a matter of cultural and economic realities.

The church’s role in the gay rights movement and its embrace of a new openness about homosexuality have roots that date back to the 1950s.

Many Catholics who came out at that time were not immediately accepted by the church, especially the growing number of American gays who did not have families or stable lives, and who found it difficult to support themselves on their own.

The Rev. James Martin, then a priest at St. Pius V Parish in Boston, said the church’s rejection of homosexuality was not based on church doctrine, but on the broader reality of the church’s opposition to divorce.

“There is no such thing as a church that doesn’t divorce,” he said. “What is happening out there now for gay and lesbian relationships is nothing to do with the Catholic Church.

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