Archbishops have hit out at US Vice President Joe Biden, who is a Catholic, for officiating a same-sex wedding.
The Vice President, a devout Catholic, is one of the strongest supporters of LGBT rights within the Obama administration, both at home and abroad.
During his seven years in office, VP Biden famously strong-armed President Obama into coming out early in favour of both equal marriage and LGBT anti-discrimination protections – while also admitting run-ins with four other world leaders on LGBT rights.
In perhaps the best display of his boundless support for LGBT equality, the VP officiated a same-sex wedding last week for two White House staffers in his own residence.
But that move has landed him in trouble with the US Catholic Church, which is still staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage.
In a blog post, three leaders of the the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz, Bishop Richard J Malone and Archbishop Thomas G Wenski – condemned Mr Biden’s actions.
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They wrote: “When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnise the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics.
“What we see is a counter-witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth.
“Pope Francis has been very clear in affirming the truth and constant teaching of the Church that same-sex relationships cannot be considered ‘in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’.
“Laws that redefine marriage to deny its essential meaning are among those that Catholics must oppose, including in their application after they are passed.”
They added: “Catholic politicians are called to ‘a heroic commitment’ on behalf of the common good and to ‘recognise their grave responsibility in society to support laws shaped by these fundamental human values and oppose laws and policies that violate [them]’.
“Faithful witness can be challenging—and it will only grow more challenging in the years to come—but it is also the joy and responsibility of all Catholics, especially those who have embraced positions of leadership and public service.
“Let us pray for our Catholic leaders in public life, that they may fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage and offer a faithful witness that will bring much-needed light to the world.
“May all of us as Catholics help each other be faithful and joyful witnesses wherever we are called.”
US-based Catholic groups have been linked in the past to secret funding for the anti-LGBT National Organisation for Marriage.