Asked if he agreed with a Vatican letter barring the blessing of same-sex unions, Archbishop John C. Wester said: ‘It’s too complicated a point to respond to that, I’m afraid. The letter is multifaceted.’

Archbishop John C. Wester declined to back a Vatican letter calling same-sex marriage sinful but also stopped short Wednesday of endorsing same-sex marriage.

Wester, who oversees the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, spoke in response to a letter issued Monday from the Vatican that states that same-sex unions, or marriages, are not permissible in the Catholic Church.

Wester said in an interview that Catholicism accepts and honors gay people. The church values members of the LGBTQ community as people with dignity, he said.

The church teaches that same-sex activity is wrong, but that should not suggest that the individuals are bad, he said.

“Human sexuality is a gift from God, and it’s also something that’s very complex and mysterious,” Wester said. Morality is subjective, he said, and only God and the individual involved really know if an act is a sin.

Asked if he agreed with the letter, Wester said: “It’s too complicated a point to respond to that, I’m afraid. The letter is multifaceted.”

The letter said same-sex unions don’t conform “to the Creator’s plan” and that God “does not and cannot bless sin.” Some observers saw the letter as closing the door on a subject they hoped Pope Francis would shed new light upon.

The Rev. Vincent Paul Chávez of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus in Albuquerque, said he was “very discouraged” by it. It was written by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said the missive received Pope Francis’ approval.

Many people hoped the pope’s blessing of same-sex unions might be imminent, Chávez said. In Francesco, a feature-length documentary that was released last year, the pope said that “homosexual people have the right to be in a family.”

Chávez said he personally favors such unions but would preside over one only if the Catholic Church approved. A religion can grow and mature, he said, noting that the Catholic Church “had no problem with slavery” until about 200 years ago.

“So sometimes the church comes close to figuring out God’s opinion on something,” he said. “And sometimes the Catholic Church falls short.”

The letter is about two pages long and doesn’t summarize what the pope thinks on the topic, Wester said. The letter wasn’t meant to settle anything and doesn’t change anything in Catholic teaching, he said. The letter itself says God and the church love every person and reject discrimination.

The church is “a living organism,” Wester said. “To be a teaching church, we also have to be a listening church.”

But he said there is a difference between blessing a union and blessing a person.

Kevin A. Bowen, president of the Human Rights Alliance of Santa Fe, called the letter disappointing and unfortunate. “But it’s totally to be expected,” Bowen said. “There’s too many conservatives in the church that would not agree” to bless gay unions.

Bowen’s organization oversees the Santa Fe Pride Festival in June. The event celebrates the LGBTQ community. He said for a while it appeared Pope Francis leaned toward acceptance of gay marriage but then backed off. The pope was quoted as saying eight years ago, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with goodwill, who am I to judge?”

Many people were excited by such comments, said Bowen, who attended a Jesuit high school in Florida but no longer practices Catholicism.

Wester recently signed a letter promoted by the Tyler Clementi Foundation that expressed support for the LGBTQ community and condemned bullying. Clementi was a gay college student in New Jersey who committed suicide in 2010 after being intensely harassed.

Wester said it’s important that the church stays in touch with people and values the LBGTQ community. He said: “The church blesses people and supports them and affirms them.”

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe covers a large chunk of New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Raton, Clovis and Santa Rosa. To his knowledge, Wester said, no priest in the archdiocese has presided over a same-sex union.

(43) comments

Mari Martin

The same sex marriage goes against the moral law. Sadly, our Archbishop supports immorality, he should be supporting the Law of God, He is a politically correct Bishop,

Emily Hartigan

Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets were summed up in the Two Laws of Love.

zach miller

its more immoral to pretend you have morals while belonging to a religion built on genocide after genocide after genocide after......

Theo Harris

Good afternoon when I hear about Catholic I hear how the community wants to put Catholic in a place of responsibility but with no respect toward the Catholic many people might believe there is a God and if you truly do believe that then it’s not the Catholic that has come up with the teaching of marriage or unity but in fact the creator from the very beginning he himself said That he created male and female and that a man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife in the two would become one meaning the purpose of male and female is to be fruitful and multiply this is for any person who believes that there is a God and this is his creation we are his creation the pope The priest the bishop the man and the woman will all have to answer to him but let’s just say you don’t believe in God nature itself shows us male and female producing children not two males Mating with each other or two females mating with each other To any spiritual person remember The lord himself said Let your yes mean yes and your no me know anything more is from the evil one

Prince Michael Jauregui

Adam and Steve, sadly, are their own "gods". Be blessed, Mr. Harris.

Mari Martin


Prince Michael Jauregui

For decades, I've exposed Corporate Christianity (Read: Presbyterian, Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Et Al.) for what it truly is: Big business, with a Church front. Just this week, the "Holy See's" financing and reaping profits from a film about a blatant homosexual, -"Rocketman"- has been exposed.

Still, fast-forward past Corporate Christianity's man-made doctrine and an immutable Truth remains: Homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of Almighty Yahweh - per The Holy Bible itself. Yet, incredulously, homosexuals and others expect Christian Spirituality to some how change to meet their own personal needs? Not unlike, an arsonist demanding the fire department to distribute lighters - to meet his own selfish needs.

I heard Churches once described as a "Hospital for Sinners", and surely, we've all "injured" ourselves. So, should the "Hospital" approve actions (or choices) that make us unwell? Why even go to the "Hospital", if we really don't want to get better?

Be sure: Those making comments proclaiming their disbelief in The True and Living God of Heaven, Earth, and All that are in them, is purely asinine - in reference to an article involving, well, Religion.

Come to think about it, I've never believed in the Easter Bunny. I wonder where I can go and endlessly debate his non-existence? That'll show that rabbit.

Khal Spencer

I'm not going to get into debates about the existence or non-existence of a Creator or Creator Force, or whatever one wants to call it. Way above my pay grade. That said, I always admired my good friend Vic Stenger (we and our wives were all colleagues at the U of Hawaii; from many house parties the Stengers threw, I am familiar with his anti-religion work more than his experimental physics ) for his endless energy in his quixotic attempts at disproving God. But as far as religions, I think Vic said it best and bluntly after 9-11: "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings." So when someone tells me that God disapproves of homosexuality, I just shrug.

As far as what people say about homosexuality based on their interpretation of a supreme being? At my most optimistic, I think religions never see the whole elephant, should it exist.


Anita McGinnis

Its not fair to compare science as always being superior to religion. Each has a purpose and discipline in their own area. There are exceptions in both fields, for example,

evil scientists who are just as, or more destructive than the worst of deceptive or distorted religious maniacs. Neither education or arrogance makes any particular scientist "better than". Flying to the moon is wonderful, yet we haven't advanced very far in curbing our tendency to selfishness and violence. Maybe religion , by reminding us to act civilized, could help a little there. By the way, we continually hear ridicule and disparaging remarks about religion. Yet no one questions scientists. Lately I've read about research becoming political and influenced by who's providing the money for the research. This affects the type of research that a scientist wants to pursue and the results. It's wonderful to go to the moon but we are all affected by personal greed and ethical considerations. Maybe religion can help in that regard. The scientist will see the elephant but the philosopher will not.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Ms. McGinnis, If I may be so bold? I'm often impressed by your powerful application of sheer logic and reason. You, are truly a blessed individual. Anyway, when an "argument" devolves into ridicule and insults, it's pointless. Beside, many respected scientists internationally concur: The Big Bang, followed by Intelligent Design was the result of a "Higher Power" (Read: The The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Almighty Yahweh).

I'd sure LOVE to debate the non-existence of The Lucky Charms Leprechaun with you some time...I DESPISE his little green derby.....Ms. McGinnis, stay blessed.

Khal Spencer

Science involves asking questions, i.e., formulating a hypothesis, and then trying to disprove it or as my doctoral advisor said, you should try to destroy your own ideas and if they survive the attempt, maybe they are right but that is no guarantee you are not full of s***. Engineering is easier. One can calculate the trajectory and boost to get to the moon. Or, the trajectory into the World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, religion is an exercise in question begging. One asserts the veracity rather than attempting to falsify the existence of religion. I've yet to hear of a sermon where the preacher spent an hour trying to convince the congregation of the need to disprove God in order to falsify the existence of God.

Neither religion nor science is immune from immorality. We have burned people at the stake in the name of religion, flown planes into buildings, subjected humans to torture in human experiments in the name of science, or what passed for science. Whether Dr. Mengele, the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, or the Japanese Unit 731 Experiments, we know that science is not immune from atrocity.

Neither science nor religion is sure of seeing the elephant. But at least science, if done properly, knows it sees only a portion of the elephant if it sees it at all. There are some who say they "believe in science". That is a bit of an oxymoron. One does not believe in science.

Angel Ortiz

I once watched a man suffering from a massive heart attack. He was highly educated, Anglo and did not believe in the presence of a higher power. I am not going to argue or debate the existence of Heaven or the Lord but on that critical day, that man who was dying was reaching for strength from above. We'll all find out what's on the other side someday.

Khal Spencer

Yep. My wife was raised Hindu. Maybe we will all come back as cockroaches in our next life.

Angel Ortiz

Hey Khal. Cockroaches? Sounds like a step up for some of the gente in this forum.

Khal Spencer

Ms. Eyler nails it in her comment. Its religion, and religions all claim to know The Ultimate Truth From That Guy in the Sky without having to defend their beliefs in a court of law or public opinion. Religion doesn't have to be fair or rational. Ask the people burned at the stake. Well, I guess we can't do that.

There is a reason for the Establishment Clause. If the Catholic Church wants to condemn or not recognize same sex marriage in its sacraments it can do so. No one is forced to be a Catholic and the government cannot impose its will on religious belief nor can the Church impose its beliefs through force of law. You can walk away and find a religious tradition that suits your thinking. The state, on the other hand, has to respect your right to marry, as was made clear in Obergefell v Hodges.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Church to change on this. Move on.

zach miller

yeah I'm sure. Just like the Catholics support the Inca and Aztecs, well just the ones who converted to Catholicism anyway, they don't like to acknowledge killing everyone that disagrees with them is a bad thing, because they pretend its God's will.

Anita McGinnis

What? Are you referring to the Aztecs who are infamous for cannibalism and human sacrifice? Neighboring tribes supported and cooperated with the Spanish because the Aztecs were viciously using their neighbors to attack and torture sort of like today's abortions are promoted by the satanic religion. Give the green (co-exist) folks a little time and we'll hear that cannibalism is a good idea, for the sake of mother earth.

zach miller

apparently saying genocide is wrong means you agree with cannibalism. I don't paint all natives with the same brush, but I don't expect much from the religion the kills everyone that disagrees with them and then pretend they are the ones doing good.

zach miller

The wholesale murder of peoples just because they have a different set of beliefs than you is wrong, regardless of the set of beliefs.

zach miller

and I am curious since the Aztecs deserved it, what did the Inca do, in your mind, that it is acceptable for Catholics to kill everyone who didn't convert, and even after they were still killed?

Daniel Valdez


Don't get too high on your horse there.

Native Americans were slave masters also... Too bad people don't want to talk about the truth.


zach miller

what does slavery have to do with killing everyone who doesn't convert to your religion?

Angel Ortiz

Unbelievable! Bad taste Zachary

zach miller

I'd rather have bad taste, than be a part of a papacy that is responsible for killing 10s, perhaps even 100s, of millions of people, especially if I have to pretend that I have the moral high ground because I belong to this murderous sect.

Rope Wolf

Dear Irrelevant Church, LGBTQ folks don’t need your approval nor the hate of some of your followers.

Anita McGinnis

There are quite a few actively homosexual prelates (e.g. bishops) who are politically involved and active in the church. It would be more honest of them to choose membership in one of the many protestant churches that welcome sodomy.

Andrew Lucero

Dear Mr. Wolf... If the church is so "irrelevant" and you don't need it's "approval", then why do the LGBTQ folks keep trying to get it? Your talking out of both sides of you mouth. Just like this sorry excuse for an Archbishop.

Mike Johnson

He really should be a politician, he can take both sides of an issue at the same time and appear to be saying something when he is not. Disgusting.

Anita McGinnis


Mari Martin

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

Emily Hartigan

I'm sorry Pope Francis did not take more care, as Ratzinger's relatively recent proclamation about "inherently disordered"gays was so short-sighted.

But I am delighted the Archbishop affirms the love and respect for all. The Catholic Church tends to be about a century behind times, but it changes. The more it is a Church of Love, grounded in Mystery, the more its fallibilities can be redeemed.

It is no small thing to move from civil unions, which Francis affirmed a while back, to the realm of sacrament. But maybe we could speed it up to being only 50 years out of date?

Anita McGinnis


Khal Spencer


Emily Hartigan

Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

Margaret Eyler

a reverend in another denomination instead of a leader in a church who’s principals he doesn’t agree with.

Anita McGinnis


Margaret Eyler

It’s mind-blowing that our Archbishop can’t have the courage to come out and just say, “The Catholic Church has never and will never bless same sex unions.” It’s a 2,000 year old tradition. If you don’t agree with it, don’t be Catholic. I’m not storming into mosques and temples demanding that other religions change their practices, so why is this such a hot button issue? The priest in Albuquerque should just be

Maria Bautista

Samething applies to Basilica. I know what's gone on behind closed doors, do you?

Steve Martinez

Tell us, what do you know?

Mari Martin

It’s pretty obvious, that is why many parishioners have moved to other churches.

zach miller

Whenever we ignore Catholicism like we should they end up murdering everyone in a crusade or inquisition or the like. If Catholics were humane it would be a different story.

zach miller

And this behavior is observed as recently as 1994:

"The Catholic Church in Rwanda for more than a century was a witness to the atrocities of genocide. One million Rwandans died in 100 days while many Catholic priests and nuns stood by offering no assistance. Others participated in the slaughter. The majority of those killed were killed in churches or on church grounds. Since Belgium's acquisition of Rwanda, there have been ties between the Catholic Church and the government of Rwanda. The Catholic Church blamed Belgium for the ethnic class designations and for disturbing the native culture. The Church and priests, however, remained silent and maintained their silence to keep teaching and practicing in Rwanda. While over 60,000 were charged in connection with the genocide, imprisoned for hate crimes, and later released, fewer than twenty, including priests and nuns, were tried and sentenced."

Anita McGinnis

Those awful Catholics. We know they are not humane because they speak against late term abortion, or removing an aborted babies heart while its still alive to get a good sample or a profitable organ for sale.

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