This afternoon, the Rhode Island House is completing the final pro forma vote on marriage equality, with Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) planning to sign the bill at 5:45 PM. With this conclusion inevitable, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin has offered guidance to Rhode Island Catholics about what the advent of marriage equality portends. In his pastoral letter, Tobin suggests that attending a same-sex wedding will compromise their faith and “cause significant scandal”:
At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.
Tobin’s “disappointment” that he didn’t successfully defeat marriage equality seems to have manifested itself in spite. By advising Catholics not to even attend the same-sex ceremonies, he is openly endorsing not just a religious view on marriage, but open stigma against the gay community and their families. Per this guidance, Catholics should openly shun and condemn their friends, family, and loved ones for choosing to make a life commitment — what Tobin calls a “serious regression in the public morality of our state.” Such family rejection cannot be justified as “respect, love, and pastoral care” — it is, by definition, the very opposite.