The following comes from a June 27 Catholic News Agency article by Matt Hadro and Adelaide Mena:

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling against the traditional understanding of marriage may pose huge obstacles to the free exercise of religion and conscience across the US, the nation’s bishops have said in response to the decision.

Though it is also unclear how the ruling will specifically affect Catholic individuals, families, businesses, and ministries, it is clearly far-reaching, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. bishops conference’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, told EWTN News Nightly June 26. It will affect a myriad of marriage laws and regulations at the state and local levels.

“Today’s ruling does not just affect one law, but in fact hundreds if not thousands of federal, state, and local laws and regulations that implicate marriage, spouses, and so forth,” he said. People of faith who believe in the traditional understanding of marriage “ may very well see a difficult road ahead.”

Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. bishops conference, addressed some specific areas where controversies might arise, such as tax exemptions, employee benefits, employment, and school accreditation.

“We’ve seen already many of these disputes emerge in states that have already recognized same-sex marriage. We’ve seen them in states that have aggressive sexual orientation, gender identity, and anti-discrimination laws,” he commented.

There will likely be social consequences for supporters of the traditional understanding of marriage, Picarello added.

The Supreme Court’s decision “makes a nod in the direction of religious liberty but not enough of one,” Archbishop Lori said.

While it grants the right of religions to teach and advocate about marriage, the majority opinion says nothing of the free exercise of religion that is central to the First Amendment – and this is extremely problematic, the archbishop explained.

The free exercise of religion means the ability for people to live their religious beliefs while “interacting with the broader society,” Archbishop Lori continued. For the majority of the court to omit this in its discussion of religious freedom could “give rise to a lot of legal controversies,” he warned.


“As believers, we should be prepared, whatever the cost is, to bear witness to our faith. To do it lovingly, but also to do it truthfully and to do it persistently.”

Catholics should take heart that this is not the first time they have faced the prospect of persecution in the U.S., Archbishop Broglio added.

“This wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve experienced ostracism for our beliefs. All you have to do is go back to the 19th century with the Know Nothings and the reactions there,” he said.

“So we survived that. We’ll survive this.”


[Editor’s note] The full statement of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB news release) follows:


Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.


Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.