Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna has written in the Vatican newspaper that public officials who support same-sex marriage cannot consider themselves Catholic.
Cardinal Caffarra wrote that Catholic politicians must not only promote the public good; they also "have a serious duty to make sure their beliefs, thoughts and proposals concerning the common good are consistent." He further noted that "“It’s impossible for the Catholic faith and support for putting homosexual unions on equal footing with marriage to coexist in one’s conscience - the two contradict each other." If a Catholic lawmaker were to introduce a measure or to vote in favor of gay marriage, that would be a "publicly and gravely immoral act." In that case, said the cardinal, "we will, at the proper moment, give the necessary directives."
These comments are disturbing, to say the least. If the issue of gay marriage should make it to the US Supreme Court, what will guide the five Catholic judges? Will these judges bend to Vatican orders? Will they be excommunicated if they don't? And why the threat on this issue? The Catholic Church vehemently opposes the death penalty. Why hasn't there been a similar statement with the force of this one?
Half a century ago, John Kennedy put to rest any concern that the Vatican would have influence on US policy. Unfortunately, Cardinal Caffarra has put that concern front and center once more.