Bishop Rhoades: Notre Dame Chooses Indiana Law on Same-Sex Unions

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades: Notre Dame Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Today’s Catholic News

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

Last week, I and the other Bishops of Indiana expressed our disappointment with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on October 6th not to review Indiana’s appeal of the court ruling that the prohibition of so-called “same-sex marriage” is unconstitutional.

The Church continues to oppose the redefinition of marriage to include two persons of the same sex since such redefinition denies the truth and reality of what marriage is: the lifelong partnership between one man and one woman ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. In God’s plan, sexual difference is essential to marriage. Marriage is a unique form of love and commitment, a “communion” in which “the two become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

The Church believes that homosexual persons are certainly equal in dignity to heterosexual persons. The Church teaches that “every sign of unjust discrimination in regard to homosexual persons should be avoided” (CCC 2358). Not allowing two persons of the same sex to marry is not unjust discrimination. The “right to marry” is the right to enter into a relationship that is unique and rooted in a nature that includes sexual difference.

I and many others have been worried about the many possible threats to our religious freedom as a result of the redefinition of marriage. Changing the legal definition of marriage may threaten the liberty of the Church and our institutions in numerous ways. One example could be the government forcing religious institutions to extend any special spousal benefits they afford to actual marriage to “same-sex marriage” as well. This past week, the University of Notre Dame decided “to extend benefits to all legally married persons, including same-sex spouses,” since “the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages” (quotes from public statement issued by Notre Dame).

Notre Dame

Many have asked for my opinion on this decision of the University of Notre Dame. I must admit my uncertainty at this time about the legal implications of Indiana’s law for our Catholic institutions. 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.

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 known by (right) reason and revelation. As a Catholic university, it is important that Notre Dame continues to affirm its fidelity to Catholic teaching on the true nature of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. I have communicated to Notre Dame my conviction that this affirmation should also include efforts to defend the religious liberty of our religious institutions that is threatened in potentially numerous ways by the legal redefinition of marriage, including the government forcing our Catholic institutions to extend any special benefits we afford to actual marriage to same-sex “marriage” as well. I have asked the Notre Dame administration to work together with the Indiana Catholic Conference on these efforts.

Living in conformity with our Catholic teaching that marriage by its nature is between one man and one woman needs religious liberty protection so we are not forced to treat same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage. Just as it is not unjust to limit the bond of marriage to the union of one man and one woman, the Church teaches that “it is not unjust to oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice belong to (true) marriage alone” (USCCB, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination”). It is important that this not be interpreted as an attitude of intolerance or bigotry against homosexual persons. The Church strongly upholds the human dignity of homosexual persons while also strongly upholding the truth about marriage. The Church affirms that “persons with a homosexual inclination have the same basic rights as all people” (ibid). The Bishops of the United States, in the Pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” stated the following:

Basic human rights must be afforded to all people. This can and should be done without sacrificing the bedrock of society that is (true) marriage and the family, and without violating the religious liberty of persons and institutions.

I wish to extend my own commitment as bishop to all persons in the Church with a homosexual inclination, especially to your pastoral care and growth in holiness. 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. I hope you know the Church’s love for you. You are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I encourage you to persevere in your faith within the Catholic community as together we strive to be faithful disciples of Jesus.


Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

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12 comments to Bishop Rhoades: Notre Dame Chooses Indiana Law on Same-Sex Unions

  • Mary Hoff

    I am unapologetically Catholic and support Bishop Kevin Rhoades response to the scandalous behavior and choices coming out of the office of the president of the Notre Dame UniversitySo when does John Jenkins plan to take off the Roman collar? He should have before he invited Obama, Biden, and Ginsburg . Glad Maryann Glendon declined her invitation several years back.

  • Coleen

    If an institution is owned by a religion that doesn’t allow Blood Transfusions, should they be allowed to deny this coverage to their employees who aren’t of their faith? Should Jewish employers require all male employees to wear a skull cap? A much as some folks would like, we can’t make the whole world Catholic.

  • Jon C.

    Notre Dame made the correct decision.

  • Br. Christopher B.P.P.

    This was a great post. I agree with every word. Since 2009 I have been completely free from homosexual attractions. However my former gay friends who demand tolerance have no tolerance for who I have become. They claim I betrayed them. They fail to believe that I am no longer gay. So they ridicule. They are blind towards the possibilities of God. Conversions only come about when we humble ourselves at the foot of the cross. God Bless.

    • Ryan

      Br. Christopher
      I am so happy for you. I am so happy that God has graced you with the ability to stop haveing same-sex attraction. But I am also saddened and feel bad for you that you’re former friends have treated you the way they did. Brother I think if they were truly your friends they would have been happy for you. At least if it was your desire to no longer be burdened with same-sex attraction. You never know why people feel the way they feel or say what they say. Who knows deep down inside your former friends might be jealous of you or insecure of there own homosexuality. Please do not let them bother you. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that Jesus wasn’t loved by everyone either. Again I am so happy for you I will keep you in my prayers. God bless.

  • Ryan


    You are completely right about Notre Dame. And you are partly right about the way the Catholic Church talks to homosexuals. I am a 38-year-old man with same-sex attraction ” gay “. However I am also a conservative and a devout Catholic. I am against gay marriage, gay adoption, abortion etc. unfortunately I am the minority in the gay community. Most gay people out there if you disagree with them they call you names like bigot, homophobe, hater. I’ve even been referred to as a self hater. I don’t care what anyone says those people “Gay mafia” have such a hatred for anyone who disagrees with them they will never listen to reason. They preach tolerance and diversity yet they have none for anyone else. They’re the ones who attacked the Chick-fil-A pres. and duck dynasty. However there are many gay men and women who do believe in God they are moderates and they struggle with their same-sex attraction. I think they would be happy to come into the Catholic Church. Unfortunately many of their gay friends have brainwash them to think we Catholics hate them. I believe that is what the Catholic Church is trying to do. They’re trying to show Gay people that they are welcomed and love in the Catholic Church. For those people who aren’t gay it’s almost impossible for you to understand. I struggle with same-sex attraction every day. Imagine walking through the grocery seeing a man and being sexually attracted to him. And then feeling completely disgusted with yourself knowing that you are an abomination in the eyes of our Lord. I go through that on a daily basis. So when I hear a bishop saying that he loves all gay people and that I am welcome in the Catholic Church it gives me a lot of strength and encouragement. I told my parish priest that I was gay and he was also very kind and understanding. Anyway that’s what I think the Catholic Church is doing. There reaching out to those men and women who are gay but who also have received call from The Lord to come to the Catholic Church. My prayer is that all of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are gay will realize that there is salvation for them as long as there are those Who are willing to spread the word. God bless

  • Ted

    This was well stated and I will pray this Bishop continues to make the right decisions

  • tg

    If I were a parent, I would never send my kids to Norte Dame. It’s a joke to call is a Catholic university. They are not anymore Catholic than Georgetown University. Catholic bishops are so charitable to homosexuals. All this language of the same dignity, blah blah. The homosexual lobby doesn’t treat Christians with the same respect. Just ask all the business owners that have lost their businesses because of the homo mafia.

  • Kevin McGavin

    the primary drive of any organism is toward unity. a man with ssa is trying, unconsciously, to heal his alienation from his masculinity by being sexually active with another male. this alienation may have its origins in hormonal irregularities/abnormalities, his father/son relationship or lack thereof, his environment, etc. as such, the homosexual act is unnatural and immoral.

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