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N.Y. bishop warns politician on same-sex marriage

In recent years, Catholic bishops have won headlines by condemning – and in some cases saying they would deny communion to – Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Several have said the position held by former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others, is incompatible with Catholic practice.

Now a New York bishop has added same-sex marriage to the list of deal-breakers.

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"While homosexual orientation is a neutral reality on a moral level, homosexual acts are not morally neutral. They are wrong, and they are sinful," Bishop William Murphy writes in the Long Island Catholic. "Abortion is wrong, and it is sinful. We bishops, the authentic teachers with the pope of the Catholic faithful, have made this abundantly clear. Our teaching is unambiguous, faithful to the Lord and binding on all Catholics. No Catholic is free to ignore or disregard this teaching. "

Murphy, who heads the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, was responding to Nassau County Executive and former New York gubernatorial candidate Tom Suozzi. In a recent op-ed piece published in The New York Times, Suozzi identified himself as a "practicing Catholic," and then reversed his previous opposition to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

"I have listened to many well-reasoned and well-intentioned arguments both for and against same-sex marriage," he wrote. "And as I talked to gays and lesbians and heard their stories of pain, discrimination and love, my platitudes about civil unions began to ring hollow. I have struggled to find the solution that best serves the common good.

"I now support same-sex marriage. … Under current New York State law, same-sex couples are deprived of access to the employment benefits, life and health insurance and inheritance laws that heterosexual couples have. If the state were to institute civil unions for same-sex couples, that discrimination would end, but we'd still be creating a separate and unequal system."

Murphy calls Suozzi's argument "wrongheaded," "difficult to discern" and "wrong."

"I am not singling out Mr. Suozzi," he writes. "I am speaking to all Catholics in our diocese and beyond, reminding them that what we bishops teach is not 'another opinion' among many that Catholics may choose or not choose. Instead, such truths are 'non-negotiable,' binding on all of us who claim to be 'practicing Catholics.' Otherwise we are not faithful to our Lord, to His Church and to the ultimate truths about the human person which alone can bring us freedom, justice, joy and peace."

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