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LOS ANGELES (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a new interview, Bp. Robert Barron of Los Angeles signals to Catholics he would not "legislate" against so-called gay marriage because doing so would cause "problems and dissension and difficulty."
The interview, with self-described "married homosexual" Dave Rubin at his home in Los Angeles, was released on YouTube on January 30. In the latter half of the interview, which turns to sexual morality, Rubin asked him what one does when "your religious belief and secular society don't match up," using abortion, gay "marriage" and pornography as talking points.
Rubin asked if Barron believes Obergefell v. Hodges — the Supreme Court ruling legalizing so-called same-sex marriage in the United States — was a "wrong decision."
"I do," Barron answered, "but I don't think I would want to press it much further. I think where we are right now in the states — I'll apply the Aquinas principal — I think it would probably cause much more problems and dissension and difficulty if we kept pressing it."
Rubin asked, "Do you not see gay marriage as one of the ones you said was so pressing earlier when you said abortion was one that was so pressing that it could shift, alter the course of a country ... do you not see gay marriage at that level of severity?"
Barron replied, "No, I do think it has a negative impact on the wider society. I do think it is, in a certain way, a compromising or an undermining of an institution that's key to the health of a society."
Earlier in the interview, Barron had spoken about his vocation, the existence of God, faith and abortion. Rubin had asked Barron if he thinks abortion should be illegal.
"If we start disrespecting human life in that fundamental way, the very moral foundation of society [will] collapse and that will manifest itself in all sorts of ways," Barron answered. "So I think we've recognized that, quite properly as so fundamental, that we have to legislate against it where it's wise for the society for that to be proscribed legally."
He declared the right to life to be the most fundamental human right, reasoning that an attack on innocent human life is "the most outrageous moral problem." He went on to say that since the right to life is so fundamental to the "right ordering of society," then laws must be made to guard it.
Channeling St. Thomas Aquinas, he noted, however, that a law could "cause a problem so enormous on the other side [that] prudence dictates you shouldn't legislate against it." According to Aquinas, not all immoral things should be forbidden or punished by civil law.
Barron agreed. "That's probably right. I wouldn't want to just fully say 'that's great, off you go.' At the same time, I wouldn't want to get on a crusader's tank and try to reverse that."
He further explained, "And I certainly don't want gay people to have the impression the Church is in some special warfare against them; it's not. The Church is, at its best, reaching out in love and reaching out with the offer of divine life. That's what matters."
He noted that the Church teaches that sexuality has "a structure, an intelligibility built into it by God," adding that it's for "intimacy and procreation." He said that even married people "fall short of that."
He noted that the Church's moral teaching on sexuality is "the high bar," and the Church offers "the lavish mercy of God" for those who fall short of it.
"If the only thing a gay person hears from the Church is 'you're intrinsically disordered,' we've got a very serious problem on our hands," Barron said. "That's what the message has become."
"The first thing a gay person should hear is: 'You're a beloved child of God.'" he continued. "If that's the way our message has been coming out, we were disordered. We got a problem there in the way that message was being conveyed."
Rubin then asked "how much room should there be for the Church or the temple or the mosque or whatever else to influence policy?"
"The Church should propose, not impose Her teaching in the public space," Barron responded, "and not aggressively so, not using the arm of the state, but arguing, making the case publicly."
After backlash, Barron responded on his Facebook account clarifying that he does not support same-sex marriage, while directing criticism towards his critics.
"My aim in the Rubin Report interview was to show its secular viewers that there is a lot more to Christianity than the 'pelvic issues,'" Barron shot back.