“Ask a Priest: May I Attend a Same-Sex Wedding Reception?”

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Q: I am a 19-year-old college student. My best friend and I have been best friends since we were 6 years old. A few years ago, she discovered that she was a lesbian and now has a girlfriend, whom she intends to “marry.” I know that I probably should not attend the ceremony, but what about their reception? Is there any problem with that? I have heard instances where Catholic persons did not attend the non-Catholic wedding of a Catholic person, but attended the reception afterward. -S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear about your friend. It might be painful to see a beloved childhood friend go down such a path.

You say that you probably should not attend the ceremony. It might be good to examine your reasons for not going to the “wedding.” Perhaps you don’t believe in such unions and you don’t want to give the impression that you approve of this event.

In that case, would it be consistent to go to the reception? Receptions are for celebrating. Do you agree with what is being celebrated?

And if you attended the reception, what kind of signal would that give? These are questions you might want to take to prayer.

In the meantime, you might want to consider praying intensely for your friend. She probably has some deep-seated problems in her life.

Here are a few numbers from the Catechism that might help to put her problem — and your possible response — in perspective:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. [end quoted material]

So your friend needs compassion. She is called to live a life of chastity. Perhaps you can look for ways to remind her of your real love for her, and to remind her of her dignity as a daughter of God. (For more perspective, see “The Third Way”.)

Still, you might want to be realistic. Your friend has chosen a path much different from yours. As life goes on, those paths might grow further apart. Or perhaps you can help her change course. It is hard to say what will happen. We pray that they will be open to the Holy Spirit.

As for going to the reception, I pray that you choose wisely.

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