Creighton University, a Catholic institution, has decided to begin extending benefits to same-sex spouses of university employees. The proponents of this move are painting it as a civil rights victory, a matter of social justice, and a win for progress.
Kate Howard of the Omaha World Herald interviewed and quoted professors from Creighton's theology department for her column on Creighton's decision. I think these lines illustrate Creighton's view on the matter:
Gail Risch, an adjunct faculty member who teaches the theology of Christian marriage at Creighton, said offering benefits is not a conflict with church teachings because it’s not a theological issue.
“Providing benefits is clearly a matter of respecting the dignity of the person, and the dignity of a person is not based on one’s sexual orientation,” Risch said.
Of course the same-sex attracted have dignity! Everyone has dignity! The Catholic Church has no interest in assigning or removing dignity because it has no power to do so. Instead, the Catholic Church is saying that those in same-sex relationships are not married. It follows then that those who are not married in the eyes of the Church should not receive marriage benefits from Catholic institutions.
Today, so-called "same-sex marriage" is illegal in Nebraska, and Creighton aims to extend marriage benefits to university employees' spouses who have attempted marriage in states where "same-sex marriage" is legal. Even if "same-sex marriage" became legalized everywhere, this would not change Catholic Teaching on marriage. In the future event the government would try to force Catholic institutions to provide marriage benefits to same-sex couples, Catholic institutions would have a moral obligation to disobey the government. Providing marriage benefits to same-sex couples amounts to what we call "material cooperation with evil." In other words, the Church would be providing money to something that the Church finds morally wrong. It is a great scandal to the Catholic Church that Creighton's president, Rev. Timothy Lannon, S.J., has decided to disobey Archbishop George J. Lucas' wishes that Creighton uphold the Church's definition of marriage by extension of the University's marriage benefits policy.
We should be wary when we see a Catholic institution go rogue in the name of "social justice." Catholic Teaching and social justice are not at odds with one another. As Archbishop Lucas points out, a Catholic institution of higher education should be a pioneer in uniting the two together. Instead, Creighton is choosing to pit social justice against the Catholic Church, demonizing the Church's teaching on marriage and the faithful who uphold it. Below is Archbishop George J. Lucas' response to Rev. Timothy Lannon's decision:
“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.” (Emphasis mine.)
Thank you, Archbishop Lucas, for upholding Church Teaching and for serving as a steadfast shepherd.