TIME faith

Pope Francis’ Modern Family Evolution

Extraordinary Consistory On the Themes of Family Is Held At Vatican
Pope Francis greets cardinals as he arrives at the Synod Hall for the morning session of Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Franco Origlia—Getty Images

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

Thorny issues surrounding family life, the LGBT community and divorced and remarried couples will be at the fore of the Pope's 2015 visit stateside

After months of speculation, Pope Francis made it official Monday: he plans on visiting the United States in September 2015. For his first ever trip to the nation, Francis will go to Philadelphia for the 8th World Meeting of Families.

This much anticipated gathering will take place just weeks before the Vatican’s 2015 Synod of the Family. The meeting and the synod will serve as the conclusion of a year long discernment process by the Church on the best way forward in approaching thorny issues surrounding family life, particularly pastoral outreach to the LGBT community and communion for divorced and remarried couples.

Last month, the Church began this discernment process at an extraordinary synod called by Pope Francis. The meeting’s blockbuster midterm report affirmed the “gifts and qualities” of the LGBT community and courageously asked, are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?” Though the attending bishops rejected this language in the final report, it’s clear that this conversation about family life has advanced forward and will dominate the Church in the next year.

On all these issues, Pope Francis has consistently been revealing his cards throughout the process. For one, Francis has asked the Church to be open to a new way forward. In a September homily, the pope debunked the worst myth in and about the Catholic Church: that it doesn’t change. In fact, the Church asks us, Pope Francis says “to leave aside the old structures: they are of no use! And to take up new wineskins, those of the Gospel.”

The Church that Pope Francis dreams of is a home for everyone: “the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.” This Church is with people and engaged in their sufferings. Francis puts it this way: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” And finally, this is a Church that distributes its sacraments widely and doesn’t use them as a weapon to divide its flock. The Eucharist, Francis says, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

Pope Francis is hoping that the Church that gathers in Philadelphia will be open to what he calls the “newness” of God. But clearly not everyone is on board with the Francis agenda. American Cardinal Raymond Burke–who was recently demoted–has been Francis’s most vocal critic: “The pope rightly speaks of the need to go out to the peripheries….The people have responded very warmly to this. But we cannot go to the peripheries empty-handed….Faith cannot adapt to culture but must call to it to convert. We are a counter-cultural movement, not a popular one.”

Cardinal Burke’s critique perhaps lays out the biggest question of the 2015 meeting in Philadelphia. Yes, the Church must go and encounter the world. But what must be the contours of this engagement look like? And how far is the Church willing to modify its practices in this effort? Even Francis doesn’t know the answer to these detailed questions, but less than a year away from this historic gathering in the City of Brotherly Love, he’s sure of his basic hope: “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial. He helped lead national Catholic outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Courts

Federal Judge Strikes Down S.C. Gay Marriage Ban

But marriage licenses can't be immediately handed out

(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — A federal judge has struck down South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Wednesday ruled against the state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But marriage licenses can’t be immediately handed out. Gergel gave state Attorney General Alan Wilson a delay until Nov. 20.

A spokesman for Wilson says he’s reviewing the ruling.

Last month, Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley applied for a same-sex marriage license in Charleston County.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to hear an appeal of a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia. That development opened the way for same-sex marriages in other states in the 4th Circuit. South Carolina was the only state in the circuit refusing to allow such marriages.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Interstellar, SEAL Who Shot bin Laden, and Gay Marriage Bans

Here are four of the biggest stories for the first week of November

This week, a former Navy SEAL admitted he fired the shot that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. Robert James O’Neill, who now works as a motivational speaker, hadn’t come forward because of privacy and safety concerns.

Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in almost a decade.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld laws against gay marriage in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

And Interstellar opened two days early in limited release at theaters around the country, earning a whopping $1.35 million.

TIME Courts

Gay Marriage on Way Back to U.S. Supreme Court

6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upholds ban in four states

(CINCINNATI) — A month after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on gay marriage, the issue is headed its way again.

A federal appeals court Thursday halted a run of rulings supporting same-sex marriage by the U.S. courts that are the last line for appeals just below the Supreme Court. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel instead upheld laws against the practice in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Attorneys for gay plaintiffs say they will ask the Supreme Court to hear their arguments, and the split created Thursday among the federal appeals courts makes it more likely they will agree to this time.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had explained in a September speech in Minnesota that the lack of a split in the appeals courts made Supreme Court review of the issue unnecessary. But she said “there will be some urgency” if the 6th Circuit allowed same-sex marriage bans to stand.

One month ago Thursday, the Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to uphold their same-sex marriage bans. That action had the effect of further expanding gay marriage.

The 6th Circuit panel, in its 2-1 ruling, said changing the definition of marriage should be done through the political process, not by judges and lawyers.

“Surely the people should receive some deference in deciding when the time is ripe to move from one picture of marriage to another,” wrote Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for himself and a fellow George W. Bush appointee.

The dissenting judge suggested that Sutton and Judge Deborah Cook might have wanted to push the issue on to the high court.

“Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split,” Judge Martha Craig Daugherty wrote. The Bill Clinton appointee added that the Supreme Court could put an “end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threaten.”

The ruling ran counter to a remarkably rapid string of victories for the gay rights movement over the past few months that have now made same-sex marriage legal in at least 30 states.

Four other U.S. appeals courts in other regions of the country ruled in recent months that states cannot ban gay matrimony.

“This anomalous ruling won’t stand the test of time or appeal,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, in a statement about the 6th Circuit ruling.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which argued in support of the voter-passed 2004 Ohio ban on gay marriage, said it was “pleased the court agreed with our arguments that important issues such as these should be determined through the democratic process.”

The question now is timing.

Generally, the court would have to decide by mid-January whether to hear the case in time for a decision in June. Otherwise, the case would be pushed back to the following term and probably not decided until June 2016.

The ruling followed more than 20 court victories for supporters of same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.

___

Associated Press writers Mark Sherman in Washington, Brett Barrouquere in Louisville, Kantele Franko in Columbus, and Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed.

TIME LGBT

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Arizona is the latest state where gay marriage is legal following an earlier Supreme Court move

Arizona is now the latest state with legalized same-sex marriage after a federal judge on Friday struck down the state’s ban on the practice and ordered that his decision take effect immediately.

In a concise four-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick cited rulings from higher courts to dismiss Arizona’s ban as unconstitutional.

“It is clear that an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed,” Sedwick wrote, referring to the higher court that has jurisdiction over a potential appeal in the case. The judge added that the United States Supreme Court has suggested that it would not hear an appeal in the Arizona case.

Arizona is the latest in a slew of states where same-sex marriage was effectively legalized after the Supreme Court earlier this month declined to hear cases addressing the issue. The court’s move effectively brought the total number of states with same-sex marriage to 30, while paving the way for legalization in other states as well.

TIME LGBT

Colorado Allows Clerks to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Same sex marriage licenses issued
Jason Woodrich (L) and Ben Hauth share a kiss after signing their marriage license at the Denver County clerk's office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. John Leyba—Denver Post / Getty Images

County clerks who defied a state-wide ban cleared the last legal hurdle to issuing licenses

Colorado county clerks were free to issue same-sex marriage licenses on Tuesday shortly after Colorado’s Supreme Court lifted an injunction against the practice.

The Denver Post reports that three clerks challenged a state-wide ban on gay marriage in June, issuing roughly 350 same-sex marriage licenses despite cease and desist orders from the state’s Attorney General. A Colorado court placed an injunction against the clerks until their case had received a final ruling in the courts. That final decision came Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear all appeals on same-sex marriage cases, deferring to a lower court’s decision that Colorado’s clerks could rightfully defy the ban.

The removal of the injunction on Tuesday was the last legal hurdle for the clerks, several of whom jumped ahead of the decision and issued licenses as early as Monday afternoon.

[Denver Post]

TIME Republican Party

GOP Candidates May Benefit From Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Demonstrators in support of same sex marriage stand during the second annual "March for Marriage" in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on June 19, 2014. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

Some strategists hope the legal decision helps push the issue of gay marriage off the political agenda

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday clearing the way for same-sex marriages in five states may benefit an unlikely group: Republican lawmakers who can’t wait to stop talking about gay marriage, an issue that is increasingly becoming a drag for the party.

Advisors to multiple likely 2016 candidates told TIME after the news broke that they are hopeful that swift action by the Supreme Court will provide them cover. “We don’t have to agree with the decision, but as long as we’re not against it we should be okay,” said one aide to a 2016 contender who declined to be named to speak candidly on the sensitive topic. “The base, meanwhile, will focus its anger on the Court, and not on us.”

The initial comments of politicians also hinted at a desire to turn the page. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 contender locked in a tough re-election fight this fall, told the Associated Press that the fight to prevent same-sex marriage would end. “It’s over in Wisconsin,” he said.

“The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land and we will be upholding it,” Walker added, echoing the statement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called the issue “settled” in his state over the summer, despite his personal opposition to such unions. Christie declined to address the decision when asked about it Monday.

At a forum in Washington, D.C., Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is also considering a run for the White House, said the issue was moving out of the political sphere. “The law is certainly in the Court’s court,” Jindal said. Neither man said the court ruling had dented their own opposition to same sex marriage, but their statements indicated they hope to set the issue aside as they eye bids for the White House.

Wary of this possibility, evangelical leaders vowed election year fights. “For candidates running in 2014 and those who run for president in 2016, there will be no avoiding this issue,” said the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed in a statement after the Supreme Court ruling. Yet many in the party are preparing to do just that.

“The GOP is a culturally conservative party and should remain so,” said Alex Castellanos, one of the dozens of GOP political operatives to sign on to an amicus curiae brief against the Defense of Marriage Act last year. “Increasingly, there is less room in the GOP for ‘big-government’ social conservatives, i.e., social conservatives who believe in using the power of the state to tell people whom they can love or marry. Instead, there is growing agreement, in an ever younger and increasingly libertarian Republican party, that the role of the state in prohibiting relationships should be minimized.”

In the decision Monday, the high court declined to hear challenges to appellate court rulings that five state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, effectively approving the rulings and erecting a legal barrier to states seeking to prevent the practice from taking hold. The decision is the latest step in a whirlwind legal push in support of same-sex marriages that has the backing of the majority of the national electorate, but has polarized the GOP.

Fifty-five percent of all Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, including 30% of self-identified Republicans and 31% of self-identified conservatives. But the issue is far more pronounced among younger voters, for whom it is more likely to be a threshold issue: 78% support same-sex marriage according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this year.

Over the summer the Republican National Committee took control of the primary debate process with the expressed goal of reducing their focus on social issues, in hopes of keeping the eventual nominee from emerging from the primary process as unelectable to the national public.

Evangelical conservative leaders are likely to call upon Republican candidates to support a federal “marriage amendment” to prohibit same-sex coupling. Such an effort has the backing of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is preparing to mount another campaign for the White House, and has been backed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. An aide to Jindal said Monday he remains supportive of efforts to pass a federal marriage amendment. But few, if any, of its proponents, believe it can be passed in practice, given Constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states’ legislatures.

Sen. Ted Cruz announced Monday he would introduce a Constitutional amendment preventing the Supreme Court from striking down marriage laws. “The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible,” he said in a statement, declaring the Court’s decision not to hear arguments on the gay marriage cases “judicial activism at its worst.”

Keith Appell, a Republican political consultant working with many social conservative groups, predicted that Republicans will turn the debate to focus on the judicial appointments likely to open up under the next president. “Filling those vacancies will shape the court for the next generation and it’ll be a huge issue in both the primaries and the general election,” he said. “Do we want activist judges who literally make the law up from the bench and impose it on the people, as is happening with these appellate rulings? Or do we want judges that fairly apply the law and leave the lawmaking to Congress, state and local legislatures?”

TIME Senate

Ted Cruz: We Must Amend U.S. Constitution to Defend Marriage

Conservatives Gather For Voter Values Summit
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Sept. 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The Texas senator called the Supreme Court's rejection of appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans in five states "judicial activism at its worst"

Senator Ted Cruz (R—Tex.) announced Monday that he will introduce a constitutional amendment barring the federal government and the courts from overturning state marriage laws.

The announcement follows the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to reject the appeals requests of five states seeking to outlaw same-sex marriages, permitting gay unions to go ahead in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution,” Cruz said in a statement. “The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.”

Cruz described the court’s denial of appeals, which paves the away for an expansion of legalized same-sex marriage to as many as 30 states, as “judicial activism at its worst” and “a broad interpretation of the 14th Amendment” guaranteeing equal protection under the law, with “far-reaching consequences.”

The Texas Republican isn’t the first to propose amending the constitution over same-sex marriage. In 2013, following the Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R.-Kan.) introduced legislation for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (formerly R-Va.) proposed a similar amendment back in 2006.

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Passes on Gay Marriage Debate for Now

Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States Phil Roeder—Getty Images

The top court could still decide to hear one of the seven gay marriage cases pending before it.

The Supreme Court skipped an early opportunity to wade back into the national debate on gay marriage Thursday.

The nation’s top court did not include the seven different pending cases regarding same-sex marriage on a list of arguments it has agreed to hear that was released Thursday, ahead of the beginning of a new term on Monday, USA Today reports.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Supreme Court won’t weigh in on the cases this term. The court often holds off on deciding whether to hear high-profile cases until later in its term.

The cases in question revolve around gay marriage bans in five states: Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin. The Supreme Court last year ruled that the federal government could not deny benefits to same-sex couples but did not take a position on whether states are constitutionally allowed to ban same-sex marriage.

According to USA Today, 31 states currently have marriage bans in place. But since last year’s Supreme Court ruling, judges in more than a dozen of those states have overturned the bans, leaving them in place pending appeals.

[USA Today]

TIME 2016 Election

A Study in Contrasts for Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Cruz delivers remarks at Values Voter Summit in Washington
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers his remarks at the morning plenary session of the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Sept. 26, 2014. Gary Cameron—Reuters

Two potential presidential candidates come to a conservative Christian cattle call

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, two Tea Party senators in the hunt for the White House, find themselves in a nearly identical position these days. Both sons of celebrated conservative leaders, they regularly speak at the same events, criticize the same Democratic President with a similar message of back-to-basics constitutionalism, and poll nationally at about 10% among Republicans in the way-too-early 2016 polls.

But on Friday, as conservative Christians gathered in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, their differences were far more apparent than their similarities. Paul stood behind the podium in blue jeans, quoting the Founding Fathers and modern authors off a teleprompter, ever the iconoclastic intellect. Cruz roamed the stage in a boxy suit, preaching a passage from Psalms again and again in a call for spiritual rebirth.

Both cast the political crisis now facing the country as a crises of the spirit, but from there they began to diverge. While they both boasted of anti-abortion credentials, only Cruz raised the issues of gay marriage and Iran, building his nearly hour-long address around Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” The night, he said, was the current rule of a Harry Reid in the Senate and Barack Obama in the White House, and dawn would come in two stages, in this year’s midterm elections and in 2016, with twin Democratic defeats.

“How do we turn this country around? We offer a choice not an echo,” Cruz said, offering himself as a sort of condensed Republican, without the fluff of the others. “We defend the values that are American values. We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel.”

Paul was introduced to the stage with a different sort of branding. “He is on the edge, he has an edge and it gives him and edge,” went the sales pitch, and he did his best to cast himself as a non-conformist over the course of about 17 minutes. At multiple points, he noted that both political parties had failed to adhere to the proper path, which he described as faith in God and close adherence to the Constitution. “What America needs is not just another politician or promises,” he said. “What America really needs is a revival.”

It was a neat recasting of the revolution metaphor that has accompanied his—and his father Ron Paul’s—rapid political rises over the last decade. Unlike Cruz, who limited his foreign policy criticism to the President and the lack of effort to make Christian persecution a priority in diplomatic relations, Paul called for a shift in the way the nation approaches intervention, arguing that even detestable secular dictatorships in the Middle Sast were preferable to the chaos following their toppling. “It’s time to put a stop to this madness,” Paul said, “And take a good heard look at what our foreign policy has done.”

Paul has generally been more supportive than Cruz of efforts to negotiate a resolution to the nuclear stand-off with Iran, and chose not to raise the issue specifically before the Christian, Zionist audience. Cruz, by contrast, joked of U.S. diplomats “swilling chardonnay in New York City” with their Iranian counterparts.

Cruz spoke at length about his pastor father, Rafael, his journey to the United States from Cuba and his Christian faith. Paul made no mention of his father, who won delegates for both the 2008 and 2012 Republican National conventions.

Judging from the noise of the applause, at the Omni Shoreham ballroom, Cruz’s presentation was received with somewhat more enthusiasm, though both were rewarded at the end with standing ovations. But the two men had come to the room with different missions. For a Cruz campaign, Christian conservative support will have to be core pillar of support. For Paul, the focus in on assuaging Christian conservative doubts as he focuses on building out new parts of the electorate from more libertarian leaning Americans.

“Where the spirit of the lord is there is liberty,” Paul said in conclusion, quoting from Corinthians 3:17. Then he said the opposite was also true. “Where there is liberty, there is always space for God.”

The message: The conservative Christian community, long an anchor of the Republican Party, has nothing to fear from the new edgy candidate in their midst.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser