Truth is Never Discrimination

Of the Catholic Church’s many teachings, perhaps some of the most challenging for people in today’s culture involve human sexuality, including homosexuality.  As state after state considers changing its laws on the definition of marriage, all of us have had to think about the nature of love, the meaning of marriage and the teaching of the Gospel.  The Church, in fulfilling her mission to preach the Good News of God’s faithful love, has an obligation to teach the truth, especially in the face of a culture and governmental actions which undermine the truth.  This gives rise to many misconceptions about the Church, as well as confusion about what it actually is that the Church proposes to the world.

If someone describes marriage as inherently something between a man and a woman only, is this somehow discrimination, bigotry or even hate speech?  Until just a few years ago, this question would be looked upon as absurd.  But today it is a real inquiry and an open challenge to the truth about human sexuality, the complementarity of man and woman, and the nature of marriage.  The assertion is made that for the Church to profess that some activities are immoral is in itself wrongful and, therefore, Catholics should not be free to publicly proclaim the Church’s revealed and received tradition.

In the debate over the nature of marriage, even the White House chose to use words like “discrimination” to describe the position of people in good faith who simply disagree with the President’s stance.  It is not possible for anyone to read the hearts, minds and souls of others and to come to a conclusion concerning their motives.  Is everyone who votes against public funding of parochial schools simply an anti-Catholic bigot?

In states where traditional marriage has been challenged in the legislative process and/or the courts, words like “bigotry,” “discrimination” and “hatred” have been bandied about with nothing more to support them than the actual fact that some people think that the definition of marriage really and truly is between a man and a woman.

Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of the current trend of gratuitously defaming people based on the suspected rationale for their positions is the majority opinion in the recent Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Here we find justices of the Supreme Court asserting that they are able to read the minds, hearts and souls of people, including Congress and the President of the United States, and have determined that the supporters of DOMA acted with malice, with the “purpose…to disparage and to injure” same-sex couples.  The same majority opinion goes on to claim some sort of superhuman power to read men’s and women’s hearts, allowing the court now to announce that the motivation for DOMA was “to demean,” to brand as unworthy and to humiliate.  The invocation of these angelic powers to penetrate the souls of people might be amusing if it were not for the raw injustice done to anyone who accepts Jesus’ declaration, “Have you not read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two should become one flesh’?  …Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).

What is particularly alarming about the new tactic of branding one’s political opponents as intolerant, discriminatory or bigoted is that what follows easily is the declaration that we who have been declared extremists are told what we say is now “hate speech.”  Almost everything Jesus says in Saint Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5 through 7 could be condemned today by someone as “hate speech.”

Too often the people who claim to be able to read the minds of other people and thus can denounce them as bigots are prepared to say in the next breath not only are your opinions not welcome, but neither are you any longer.

For example, earlier this year, we heard demands that Father Greg Shaffer, Catholic Chaplain working with Catholic students and faculty at the Newman Center at George Washington University, be subjected to a disciplinary investigation at the University for having given voice to the Church’s teachings on human sexuality and marriage in the course of providing spiritual direction to Catholic students at the Newman Center.  In 2010, Professor Kenneth Howell was actually fired from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for pointing out that in the long-standing Judeo Christian tradition rooted in the Scriptures held sacred by that tradition, marriage was considered to be something between a man and a woman.  Action was taken against him on the grounds that this was “hate speech.”

Different people may bring various points of view to an issue, and therefore, discussion is the forum for collecting information, sharing opinions, weighing opposing positions and then rationally and reasonably coming to some judgment for the common good.  When discussions occur within the secular community, the assumed context is called civil discourse and it should not be stifled by gratuitous charges of discrimination against those who hold differing positions on an issue.

This is the fourth in a series.

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22 Responses to “Truth is Never Discrimination”

  1. Felicia Massari says:

    Dear Cardinal Wuerl,

    Thank you.

  2. Christine says:

    This is so true, thank you Cardinal Wuerl. I wish there were links to the other three parts of the series, as this is the first one I have had a chance to read. Am sending this link to others, unfortunately I am preaching to the choir.

  3. Daniel Meola says:

    I would like to also add that gratuitous charges of “bigotry” beyond stifling discussion is also an insult to followers of Jesus who seek to love everyone including our homosexual brothers and sisters while still proclaiming the truth by word and deed. Perhaps this is the deepest reason that charges of “bigotry” stifle civil discourse because an insult is not an argument. Thank you for your great article Cardinal Wuerl. I really appreciate your leadership in this area.

  4. Daniel Meola says:

    Of course, I do want to clearly point out that bigotry is real even sadly among some Christians, but not in the majority of Christians who try to love those struggling with same-sex attraction. It is the latter I have in mind when I say the charges of “bigotry” are an insult because they are groundless in regard to the way the majority of Christians treat those who are struggling with same-sex attraction.

  5. Your Eminence

    Thank you for your clarity, fidelity and courage

  6. Right on Cardinal Wuerl!

  7. I wonder what the world is coming to when a difference of opinion is
    considered as hate speech,and that as humans ,some people profess to be able to read other peoples minds.God help us all.I believe that we
    all need a little more of this……Ps 46:10 Be Still and Know that I am

  8. Paul Leddy says:

    Great job
    Thank you for writing this. Much appreciated.
    all the best,

  9. Bob Greenpoint says:


    A couple thoughts, if I may.

    The Supreme Court’s majority opinion that DOMA disparaged and injured same-sex couples was due to the fact that moral condemnation of homosexuals was actually written into DOMA. Not acknowledging this is disingenuous.

    Yes, “Congess and the President of the United States” approved DOMA, but it is well-known that DOMA was deliberately introduced during the 1996 election cycle, forcing the President and several members of Congress to vote for the measure or risk losing their offices. Sad and political, but realistic at the time.

    President Clinton signed DOMA quietly and far from enthusiastically. He has since come out in opposition to the act.

    Minds and hearts are changing so rapidly that it is fair to say that while one may not have been “anti-gay” 16 years ago for simply supporting man/woman marriage, it’s now very near to the point where someone in opposition to marriage equality is fundamentally anti-gay.

    Thanks for listening.

  10. Claude Jacques Bonhomme says:

    There is a difference between freedom of speech and exercising religious freedom, and actually imposing the doctrine of religion to non-believers or skeptics. When religious speech lead to violence and open discrimination in secular society, as has happened, this is no longer religious freedom. Religion does not hold dominion over government and secular society.

  11. an obligation to teach the truth says:

    American voter support for same-sex marriage is inching up and now stands at 47 – 43 percent, including 54 – 38 percent among Catholic voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll from March

  12. Bob says:


    Truth is based on knowledge of substantiated facts. Got facts?

  13. EVDekely says:

    I’m not “struggling” with anything….YOU however are “struggling” with being a BIGOT.

  14. Stephen says:

    Sir, you can believe what you want. You can’t force me to live according to your belief. That is tyranny. I am a married man. Your faith has no place in my marriage. I pity you. I suspect you understand the longing to make your life with the person who most affects you. I also forgive you.

  15. ed adams says:

    lol. the catholic church is NOT teaching the truth about homosexuality. it is teaching the LIE that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. that position is based on an archaic and incomplete understanding of human sexuality. homosexuality is 100% natural and normal. your church’s arrogance in clinging to such a harmful and erroneous belief reveals that you are indeed anti-gay bigots and you deserve to be treated as such. you are the equivalent of the southern racists of the last century whose sincerely held religious beliefs that blacks were inferior and that god intended for the separation of the races led them to cry, “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” a religious doctrine that is bigoted is still bigotry and does not deserve equal weight and respect in the discussion.

  16. Ester le Roux says:

    Dear Cardinal Wuerl,

    Thank you for this article – between the clarity of lines I experience how truth and love meet in Holiness, suitable for your position as Shephard in the Church on earth. O, for the Beauty of Holiness!

    Greetings in Christ, from the Southern tip of Africa!


  17. DN says:

    “struggling with same-sex attraction?”

    Yeah that’s compassionate and kind.

  18. Nick Costello says:

    Cardinal Wuerl,

    Thank you for your comments on this issue. We have come to a crossroads in American culture over two fundamental issues, life and marriage. We will have to suffer through this together, but stand firm in the truth and help our brothers and sisters who are blinded by the spirit of the age to see the truth as Jesus taught us.

  19. bose luckose says:

    thankyou for writing this….

    I pray that we have church leaders like you to boldly proclaim the word of God without any watering down so the truth of god revealed in the bible stays in tact.

  20. Greg says:

    What a cop out! Your views on LGBT people, their lives, and their families isn’t “truth”, it’s an opinion based on a choice you make to adhere to ancient mythology. The policies you support, which are based on opinions and beliefs that are arguably misguided are, in fact, discriminatory.

  21. Webster says:

    There are marriages in the game of pinochle, and marriages of peanut butter and jelly, and marriages of melody and lyrics, and marriages under civil government between two persons of any gender, and marriages of corporations, and marriages of every kind under the sun. So too, there is also the bride of the Lamb. The English word “marriage” is a human invention and belongs to the English language, to all people, and can mean anything under the sun, and indeed different things in different contexts. No Commandment requires that the English word “marriage”, and likewise the civil institution called “marriage”, be reserved exclusively to refer only to a physical male-female human union. The public is not confused by the multiple, different uses/definitions of the word “marriage” any more than the public believes “the bride of the Lamb” means the Catholic Church supports bestiality, or that the “flock” are but animals. Like marriage in the game of pinochle, civil marriage, as defined in U.S. law, is also not a sex act and does not require a sex act or any desire or ability to engage in a sex act with anyone. A person can obtain a same-sex civil marriage without sinning like a person can score a marriage in the game of pinochle without sinning. No sex is required. So too, you can enjoy a marriage of peanut butter and jelly and support same-sex civil marriage without sinning AND also teach that homosexual acts are sinful. Why? Because the Catholic Church permits, understands and accepts multiple and differing meanings for the English word “marriage”. As Cardinal Wuerl said, “Different people may bring various points of view to an issue”. I would not want to engage in “bigotry” (and ignorance) by insisting that the English word and civil institution of “marriage” must only be applied to opposite-sex couples. For me, it’s a prudential matter.

  22. Cardinal Wuerl says:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment on this blog post.

    For those who express support for these words, I am encouraged by your witness and appreciate your desire to share this message with others. I will pray for you as you seek to speak the truth in today’s society.

    For those of you who respectfully disagree with the points outlined here, thank you for engaging in discussion on this important subject. I hope that you will continue to use this blog as a venue to continue these conversations.