The Vatican's most senior American has forcefully condemned the Supreme Court's decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying it will lead to violence, death, and the eventual destruction of the nation's culture.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's equivalent to a Supreme Court, told Newsmax the decision "is one more step down a path which is destructive."
"The lack of respect for the good order which God has placed in nature, especially human nature, will lead to violence," he said. "It will lead to death for individuals and eventually it will destroy our culture."
In a 5-4 decision on June 26, the Supreme Court struck down
part of DOMA, ruling it denied legally married same-sex couples' equal protection under the law. The high court's majority were joined by Catholics Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor. The four justices in the minority are all Catholics.
Burke, who described the decision as "a very serious matter," called on citizens of the United States to "reawaken and insist on the respect for human life, and also for the integrity of the marital union."
"Marriage and the family are the first cell of the whole life of society," he said, but stressed this is not exclusively a Catholic issue. "The Catholic Church teaches the moral law, but this has to do with the moral law written on every human heart."
"You can't tell me the founders of the United States of America didn't have a respect for nature and a profound sense of it," said Burke, who was appointed prefect of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict in 2008.
The former archbishop of St. Louis called on the church to "teach very effectively and also encourage her members to be active in politics, in education, and every aspect of society to promote a sound understanding of marriage and the family."
In a speech in Rome on Friday to the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a Christian think tank, Burke warned against "virulent strains of secularism," but also argued that millions of Christians are rising up in response to a "culture of death."
He gave as examples the vast number of families and individuals who earlier this year protested on the streets of Paris against attempts to redefine marriage, as well as other significant protests in Ireland and Brazil.
"We cannot permit such attacks to continue," he said. "The family shapes society, and by advocating for and promoting strong, traditional family life, we will continue to replace the culture of death with the culture of life and love for which God calls us to work."
The DOMA decision has already sparked widespread outrage in the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was
"a tragic day for marriage and our nation" and that the Supreme Court had "dealt a profound injustice to the American people."
"The court got it wrong," the bishops said. "The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so."
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