Omaha World Herald

Rev. Lannon, credit of Omaha World Herald

I’m concerned about an article that I found while roaming Twitter. It says that the President of Creighton University, a Catholic Jesuit University in Omaha has altered it healthcare policy to include benefits for same-sex spouses. The Archbishop disagrees with this move.

I’m troubled by this report, though I am not at all shocked. This is my Archdiocese so I’m naturally concerned.

Here’s the main statements from the article which includes emailed statements from the President, Rev. Timothy Lannon and Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha.

One might be persuaded in this situation to side with Creighton as an employer, that they should provide the same benefits to all employees regardless of lifestyle or orientation. The reply is that what we have are benefits being extended to family, and the Church recognizing what the family unit looks like, versus how the University, in this case, is causing it to appear. The real concern is the public benefits extended to a family member that’s not really a spouse at all.

Let me be clear: There is no marriage. There is no actual marriage between two men or two women. By a college or university to apply these benefits, they are affirming the civil code that says that same-sex “marriage” is indeed a real matrimonial.

A supporter of Creighton might then argue from the point of view of sin, claiming that any such denial of benefits would be discriminating a person based on their lifestyle or orientation. This objector would ask, “What about the people who don’t go to Mass, those who cohabitate or contracept?” The person in support of Creighton this way is asking why the Church doesn’t deny benefits to other people who live in a sinful lifestyle or at least one that are not in line with Church teaching.

The error in this argument is in the difference between public and private sin. Look at what the Catechism says on this:

2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.
2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.” This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”

It is not only a matter of sin, though. The issue again is marriage, of which, there is none. The question is: what is the character of the marriage in which the two people live? Again, by a college or university to apply these benefits, they are affirming the civil code that says that same-sex “marriage” is indeed a real matrimonial. The Church teaches that it is not and by making any effective action that contradicts that, would in turn contradict Catholic teaching.

Heywood claims that it would “confuse Catholics.” She’s right, but I assure you, there is no shortage of confusion among Catholics. Perhaps the better question and solution would be a concerted effort to actually catechize and evangelize Catholics, routing the epidemic we face in the first place. To correct her, the actual message people will ultimately take from this is that it is okay to move against the wisdom of an Archbishop. Take a look at the identical decision of Notre Dame to make the policy change after receiving an objection from their Bishop.

To make the point further, in a legal point of view, the State of Nebraska does not recognize same-sex “marriages.” That would simply put this policy at odds with State Law. The question is the jurisdiction and tort, which I do not have the on-hand details to; you can read some related Nebraska law here. But the fact is that, when the state observes the document of marriage and the documents of healthcare, the state would not recognize the “marriage.” Plain and simple. However, considering the force of states recognizing same-sex “marriage,” Creighton is likely, in all reality, just being proactive.

In the end, I support my Archbishop. One early Church Fathers, who are referenced for everything other than when it is inconvenient, can be observed providing the following admonition:

You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God’s law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop’s approval. … Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. – Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8. On his way to give his for his life for his faith.

Lannon is right in one thing: Jesus would have accepted someone for their dignity, but not like this. He would not confirm a marriage to be something that it is not.