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Civil and sacramental ceremonies
August 22nd, 2016
By Jim McCrea

Re “Biden ‘counter-witness’ to church teaching, prelates say,” Aug. 11:

The story points out how the three prelates being quoted have failed to differentiate between civil/secular marriage and sacramental matrimony.

The vice president of this country presided at the civil wedding of his two fellow White House staffers who had requested that he do so. Biden had never officiated a wedding before and got a special temporary certification from the District of Columbia to make it legal.

Catholic civil servants preside regularly at secular, non-sacramental marriage services in civil license bureaus throughout the country. They are expected to carry out the requirements of their position and if they have moral objections then they usually apply for a transfer to a different form of civil position or resign.

That Biden chose to do so should be of no surprise. As stated in your article: “In 2012, Biden said as a Catholic he was ‘absolutely comfortable’ with same-sex couples marrying, adding they should get ‘the same exact rights’ heterosexual married couples receive.”

I doubt very seriously that he or the two men being married thought for one minute that there was a sacramental wedding taking place. Since the advent of Obgerfell v. Hodges in 2015, civil, secular marriages are legal. The vice president is in full agreement with the results of this 5-4 Supreme Court decision and, in this case, chose to act as a civil servant, not a Catholic official, performing an action that is fully legal, and which he fully supports.

Jim McCrea

From August 25, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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