Catholic Judge agrees to civil unions

A judge in Middlesex County , NJ who is also training to become a Roman Catholic deacon has said he is willing to perform civil unions in his position on the bench.

John A. Jorgensen, a municipal court judge for the past 15 years had worried gay-rights activists because he has refused to perform civil unions. After officiating what he estimated as hundreds of marriages, Jorgensen stopped doing weddings in January 2007, shortly after New Jersey's civil union law was signed.

But Monday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee took up his nomination to become a Superior Court judge, Jorgensen said he is willing to perform either type of ceremony and has been available to do so since November.

"I'm fully in support of the civil union act. I think that any time we can have an expansion of the rights and equalities of individuals, it's a very good thing," Jorgensen said at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Well he has traded one problem for another. That being the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The church said Monday that clergy must consider their faith at all times, regardless of their other roles.

"The Catholic Church teaches unambiguously that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Therefore, priests and deacons may never officiate at same-sex unions," said the Rev. Msgr. William Benwell, vicar general of the Diocese of Metuchen, where Jorgensen is studying.

"Ordination produces a permanent change in a deacon's fundamental character that cannot be separated from his secular profession or other responsibilities. In other words, a deacon, or a priest for that matter, cannot step "outside' of his priesthood or diaconate to officiate as a civil official at a union not recognized by the church."

It seems like Mr. Jorgensen has a decision to make. Does he want to be a deacon and serve God or a judge and serve man?


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