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Catholic Universities Draw Bishops' Ire Over Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

Catholic Universities Draw Bishops' Ire Over Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses


The Roman Catholic hierarchy is not pleased with decisions by universities, including Creighton and Notre Dame, to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

A Jesuit university's decision to offer health benefits to same-sex spouses of its employees has drawn the ire of the archbishop of Omaha, Religion News Service reports.

Nebraska bans same-sex marriage, so Creighton University's decision to recognize the spouses of employees who wed in marriage equality states isn't legally mandated.

The decision by university president Rev. Timothy Lannon was blasted in a statement issued by Archbishop George Lucas, who said:

"I am disappointed in Father Lannon's announcement that Creighton University will extend healthcare benefits to same-sex spouses of employees who have attempted marriage in states where this practice is legal. I disagree with the decision. Despite Father Lannon's claim that this is not a statement of approval of same-sex marriages, this is precisely the message that the University is giving. I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice. Both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love. When we experience tension in ensuring respect and just treatment for all persons, including those with same-sex attraction, we have a right to expect a Catholic university to help us see a just path forward, rooted in faith and founded on the rich Catholic intellectual tradition. Creighton has failed to fulfill this expectation in this expansion of benefits."

Notre Dame, alsoa Catholic institution, has announced that it too will extend benefits to same-sex spouses of employees (though it did so with the note that it still opposes the right of same-sex couples to wed). In Notre Dame's case, it is now located in a marriage equality state (Indiana). Still, it also garnered a less-than-enthusiastic response from Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Here is an excerpt from Rhoades's column for Today's Catholic News:

"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 Catholic 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.

"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. ... 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."

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