Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, said everyone is welcome in the Church but the faithful must still be obedient, which means homosexual Catholic couples should not expect the Church to embrace their marriages, even if they are recognized in law.
"You're not supposed to be following a moral law apart from what Christ has said to us," Wuerl said on "Fox News Sunday."
The Church faces the prospect of a surge in gay marriages if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a California law banning same-sex marriages. Wuerl said the clergy would have to find an accommodation with homosexual parishioners who are legally married.
The situation is probably closest to that of heterosexuals who go against Catholic Church teachings and get divorced and remarried, Wuerl said.
Homosexuals would probably be treated the same, he said -- allowed to remain members in good standing but with a clear reminder that their arrangement is frowned upon.
"We do that with people who are married, divorced and remarried," Wuerl said. "We say you are still part of the family, but we can't recognize that second marriage. We do that...and it has never been a great problem."