Bishop Strickland’s Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Joseph Edward Strickland
By the Grace of God and the Apostolic See
Bishop of Tyler

TO THE PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED RELIGIOUS AND CATHOLIC FAITHFUL OF THE DIOCESE OF TYLER, OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF OTHER FAITH TRADITIONS, AND ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL IN THE THIRTY-THREE COUNTIES OF NORTHEAST TEXAS THAT MAKE UP THE DIOCESE OF TYLER:

On the morning of June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 decision establishing the legal right of two individuals of the same sex to legally marry in all 50 states. By doing so, the Court has acted in contradiction to their duty to promote the common good, especially what is good for families. I join with the Bishops of the United States in calling this decision a “tragic error.”

Let me unambiguously state at the outset that this extremely unfortunate decision by our government is unjust and immoral, and it is our duty to clearly and emphatically oppose it.  In spite of the decision by the Supreme Court, there are absolutely no grounds for considering unions between two persons of the same sex to be in any way similar to God’s plan for marriage and the family. Regardless of this decision, what God has revealed and what the Church therefore holds to be true about marriage has not changed and is unchangeable.

Marriage is not just a relationship between human beings that is based on emotions and feelings. Rather, our Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Traditions tell us that God established true marriage with its own special nature and purpose, namely the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

While taking a strong stand for marriage is the duty of all who call themselves Christian, every type of unjust discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies should be avoided. We must treat these individuals with loving kindness and respect based on their dignity as human persons. Christ rejects no one, but he calls all of us to be converted from our sinful inclinations and follow the truth He has revealed to us. Nevertheless, our continued commitment to the pastoral care of homosexual persons cannot and will not lead in any way to the condoning of homosexual behavior or our acceptance of the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

While some of us may have family members who have same-sex attraction, and there are even some who are members of our local churches, this decision to require the legal recognition of so-called marriage between homosexual persons should in no way lead us to believe that the living out of this orientation or the solemnizing of relationships between two persons of the same sex is a morally acceptable option.

We know that unjust laws and other measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience, thus we must now exercise our right to conscientious objection against this interpretation of our law which is contrary to the common good and the true understanding of marriage.

Given this and recognizing my responsibility and moral authority as the shepherd of this Church of Tyler, I will shortly issue a decree in this Diocese establishing, as particular law, that no member of the clergy or any person acting as employee of the Church may in any way participate in the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages, and that no Catholic facilities or properties, including churches, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or any places dedicated or consecrated, or use for Catholic worship, may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.

Finally, I call on the Catholic faithful of the Diocese to turn in prayer to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, asking their intercession for our nation that all of us may come to a greater understanding of the beauty, truth and goodness that is found in marriage as revealed to us by our Savior.

I instruct that this letter is to be publicly read by the priest-celebrant following the proclamation of the Gospel at all Masses of obligation in the parishes, missions and chapels of Diocese of Tyler on the weekend of July 4-5, 2015. *

Given at the Diocesan Chancery
On the 26th day of June
Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler

Read this Letter in Spanish (Español) – Translation Revised 4 July 15

* Bishop Strickland has further instructed the clergy of the Diocese of Tyler that this letter is more suited for personal reflection and that printed copies should be made available to the faithful at all parishes of the diocese throughout the month of July, and that it is no longer required to be read publicly at Holy Masses on July 4-5.

59 comments

  1. Brenda Rochelle

    Thanks be to Our Father in heaven for your statement of truth this day.
    I appreciate you.

  2. David F. Aguilar

    Thank God we have a faithful Catholic Bishop.

  3. Rev. Lawrence Love

    Thank you, Your Excellency, for your statement. The truth is unbending. I will be honored to read this at Masses on the weekend of July 4-5, although it is sad that we have come to this. Thank you very much.

  4. Thank you dear Bishop for your courage to address this important matter so quickly and in a firm, strong, sensitive and fully catholic manner. Praying rosaries
    for you and our holy Catholic Church in Tyler and the U.S.

  5. Debbie Berkley, Bellevue, WA

    May God bless you as you courageously follow him.

  6. I disagree strongly with Bishop Strickland’s statement on same-sex marriage, even though it is Catholic teaching.

    Included in Bishop Strickland’s statement is the following sentence: “While taking a strong stand for marriage is the duty of all who call themselves Christian, every type of unjust discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies should be avoided.” I believe this statement is contradictory. In my view, taking a strong stand for marriage would be legalization of same-sex civil marriage as ruled by the Supreme Court, while not allowing same-sex marriage would be unjust discrimination against people who should have a civil right to marriage. I have not seen anyone explain how same-sex marriage is not good for families or will destroy families.

    As Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah, GA wrote, “This decision of the Supreme Court is primarily a declaration of civil rights and not a redefinition of marriage as the Church teaches.” The Church is not required to recognize same-sex marriage as a sacramental marriage.

    With an informed conscience as a Catholic, I will continue my support of same-sex marriage.

    • Mr Pickett. Thank you for your comment. As Bishop Strickland said, let us all turn to the Holy Family in prayer for a better recognition of the Divine and Catholic understanding of marriage.

    • Mr. Pickett-

      There is nothing “discriminatory” about traditional Marriage. The pure definition and intent of Marriage is non-Discriminatory stated as between “One Man and One Woman”. In spite of this misguided discrimination rhetoric, traditional marriage laws do not discriminate against same-sex persons. They do not, because gay marriage is not an issue of who should be able to marry, but about what marriage is.

      To believe otherwise, especially as a Christian, is imaginary and counterfactual.

    • I recommend to you a careful, prayerful, and thoughtful reading of “Making Gay Okay” by Robert R Reilly, Ignatius Press 2014. This author does not approach the subject from a religious perspective, but on how the public masses have been guided down this slippery slope. I believe you will discover the source of your reasoning, and thereby realize the error therein. Even adult children raised in households of same-sex couples acknowlege the extreme error and harm done to them by the living out of this morally errant lifestyle. May God have mercy upon our country, upon our families, and lead us all to His Light and Truth.

    • mairead conroy

      I cannot understand how you can worship God our Father as creator of all at Mass and not realise that there is a divine order to all created things.Life is transmitted through the union of opposite sexes of the majority of species living on the planet.Every human needs a mother and father to come into this world and marriage is the sacrament that protects this union and the resulting family.Catholics should know better than most that marriage is for life and is a sacred vow and pledge until death.There is ample material to support this in the bible which as a catholic you should be familiar with.A man and woman enjoy partnership with God in the creation of new life.This is a sacred privilege.The devil has always tried to destroy God’s plans ad because God cannot interfere with free will the devil has a free hand to get people to cooperate in trashing marriage and all that it stands for.The devil is enjoying great success as has also been foretold in the bible but only for a limited time,.He wants to drag as many with him to hell as he can for his time is short.Please check out the truth before it’s too late.

    • William Kinsom

      “With an informed conscience as a Catholic, I will continue my support of same-sex marriage.”

      You are misinformed. Your conscience is not properly formed.

      The conscience of a faithful Catholic is configured to the Magisterium of the Church. The Church is given the authority by Jesus Christ our Lord to speak in His name. The bishops in communion with and under the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome, constitute the Magisterium.

      A successor to the Apostles, i.e., His Excellency Joseph Strickland, Bishop of Tyler, has spoken on the matter at hand. A true Catholic readily embraces the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, teachings which have implications for Catholics in the public square. After all, the Catholic Faith is both a personal intimate communion with Christ and His Church, and at the same time a public faith which commands that we testify to the Gospel in the public square by our words and deeds.

      Unless a bishop falls into heresy or schism, Catholics must defer to the authority of one’s bishop. Obedience to Christ and His Church is, arguably, the hallmark of the faithful Catholic (St. Luke 10:16). I invite you to reconsider your misplaced support and trust in Holy Mother Church, not the state. The state has no competency with regards to faith and morals. If you value your salvation in Christ, trust in His Church, our teacher and mother.

      Refer also to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2242.

  7. I would like to see the direct statement by the Supreme Court.

  8. Your Excellency,
    THANK YOU! Continue to lead us fearlessly. We need strong shepherds now more then ever before. Continue to preach the gospel and challenge us toward holiness.

  9. Darlene J. Davis

    I Stand in prayer for the Family and the children that God has given us with the Holy Spirit. Bishop Strickland I stand with you on your statement and my hand are together for any time and any moment for prayers.

  10. What a beautiful letter. Thank you Bishop Strickland for your service to the Church, for being a true shepherd. I wish the bishop in my diocese published such a letter. We just received a brief statement with no request to read at mass. May God grant Bishop Strickland many more years of service. We need him.

  11. V. Let us pray for Bishop Strickland of the diocese of Tyler
    R. May he stand courageously and tend your flock, O Lord, in your sublime name.

  12. Bishop Strickland,
    Thank you for your stand.

  13. Bishop Dr. Dele Olukotun

    Thank you sincerely Bishop,
    We stand by you on your biblical conviction. More of His grace upon you.

  14. Brad Germann-Wilson

    God bless you Bishop for standing up for Catholic values and morals!

  15. Bishop Strickland,
    I thank God for your firm stand in the faith. May our common Lord bless you in the work of dealing with this situation in our diocese. May all your priests and the faithful stand firm with you. May our catechist broaden the marriage teaching in RCIA and youth instruction. Again, thank you.

  16. Thank you from Australia too! God bless you and keep you. The Church needs courageous bishops to lead us and inspire us, and you are showing the way.

  17. Thank you Bishop Strickland for your beautiful truth.

  18. may the Lord continue to bless you as you strongly stand on what the word of God says in a society like the United states. we say no to same sex marriage.

    for your firm stand on your faith to direct the world on the word of God. God bless you again

  19. Thank You Bishop. May God Bless You for your strength and clarity. As we pray for this nation so will we pray for You and your flock.
    John in Huntsburg, Ohio

  20. Thank You dear, dear Bishop Strickland. Reading your message brought tears to my eyes. Am so moved by your stand for Jesus. May God Almighty continue to bless and preserve you in Jesus name. Amen.

  21. Alexander Nikas

    God Bless you Bishop Strickland! Thank you for being a courageous witness to the truth!

  22. Thank you, Bishop Strickland, for issuing such a cogent and charitable response to this terrible decision.

  23. Randal Mandock

    In some dioceses the bishop does his job as shepherd in the manner that Christ would have him do it. In others, the job is left up to the laity and whichever priests are willing to stand with them. Thank you for a clear, forthright statement of Catholic reality. May God bless you abundantly. Randal Mandock, DRE, St. Francis de Sales Parish, Mableton, Georgia.

  24. Bishop Strickland,
    Thank you for your courageous leadership and clear affirmation of the truth. Joining you in prayer from Lexington, Kentucky.

  25. Bishop Strickland,
    Thank you from the Archdiocese of New York. You are in my prayers.

  26. A clear, direct and pastoral letter from a real shepherd. This kind of leadership in crisis gives the sheep hope.

  27. Thank you, Dear Bishop for standing up for the truth, i join my prayer with those of other faithfuls that darkness shall never overshadow light in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

  28. Thank you, Bishop Strickland, I can only hope and pray that other bishops and priests will speak as boldly as you and with you will lead us in the Way of Truth. Joining you in prayer from NH.

  29. Thank you Bishop Strickland from Memphis. Joining you and the Diocese of Tyler in prayer to the Holy Family for the well being of our families.

  30. Thank you from Canada. Bishop Strickland, you courage in standing up for the truth, rings out at the Throne of God and he is very pleased with your words.

  31. While I agree with Bishop Strickland’s statement and appreciate that he makes very clear the Church’s teaching on marriage, I think that the statement “While taking a strong stand for marriage is the duty of all who call themselves Christian, every type of unjust discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies should be avoided” is not strong enough. Unjust discrimination should be condemned not just avoided.

  32. Bishop Strickland, may God continue to guide you and enrich you in your courageous leadership. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have found your statement (I am a member of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston but heard about your statement on the radio). These times call for love of all our fellow sinners while not accepting the morality of sinful behavior. Jesus was countercultural; Bishop Strickland is countercultural; God give me the courage and faith to be countercultural!! Thank you for your witness and leadership.

  33. Dear Bishop Strickland. May God bless and guide you and keep you safe and strong in standing up for our faith and the true meaning of marriage – one man and one woman as God and nature intended. You will be in my very special prayers every day.

  34. Sir, while I am not catholic, I salute you as a fellow Christian. My pastor has already made his stand, and I hope many, many others have as well. Again, I salute you. Bishop Strickland. Thank you!!!!

  35. Harold (Nick) Nicholson

    Thank you and God’s blessings to you Bishop Strickland from Overland Park, Kansas. Will keep you in our prayers each day.

  36. Muuuy interesante. Ojalá todos los Obispos decretaran algo asi en todas las Diocesis. Creo que muchas de las veces apoyamos por ignorancia. Sin embargo, como Cristianos, estamos llamados a respetar y defender lo que en la Santa Biblia esta escrito. Me da gusto que en Tyler tengan un Obispo valiente…Ya que muchos malinterpretaremos lo que ensi seria irrespetuoso, injusto o incorrecto. Sad, sad:(

  37. Thank you Bishop Strickland! God Bless you

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