FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A northern Indiana Catholic bishop said he believes University of Notre Dame leaders should have waited before deciding to extend benefits to same-sex spouses after court rulings legalized gay marriage in the state.
Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades wrote in the diocese newspaper that he’s uncertain about the impact of gay marriage legalization in the state on religious institutions.
“I would like to see further study of what the law requires as well as what religious liberty protections Notre Dame and our other Catholics institutions have so as not to be compelled to cooperate in the application of the law redefining marriage,” the bishop’s column said.
Rhoades said he believed it was important for Notre Dame to “affirm its fidelity to Catholic teaching on the true nature of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.”
Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne told The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ugmLvr ) that officials of the South Bend school believe the new policy doesn’t go against church teachings by providing the same benefits to all legally married couples.
Notre Dame notified its employees about the policy change last week, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider appeals of rulings throwing out gay marriage bans in Indiana and 10 other states. Saint Mary’s, a Catholic women’s college affiliated with Notre Dame, has adopted a similar policy.
The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, issued a statement Thursday saying he consulted with Rhoades before and after announcing the policy.
The bishop doesn’t oversee Notre Dame, which is governed by an independent board of trustees.
Notre Dame has run afoul of the diocese bishop before, including in 2009 when the late Bishop John D’Arcy, and several other Catholic bishops around the country, objected to the university’s decision to have President Barack Obama as its graduation speaker and award him an honorary degree.
The University of Saint Francis, a Catholic school in Fort Wayne, hasn’t made any decisions about benefits for married same-sex couples and will be “leaning heavily” on guidance from the diocese, spokeswoman Trois Hart said.