An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Defense of Marriage in Rhode Island: Helpful Web Resource

Posted Apr. 30, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

A great webpage from the Diocese of Providence: “Protecting Marriage in Rhode Island.”

Resources include columns by Bishop Thomas Tobin:

And articles by others:

There is a link for Rhode Islanders to contact their state representative and urge them to protect marriage: “Let’s Fix the Economy and Protect, Not Redefine, Marriage”

(Rhode Island is facing a legislative challenge to marriage, and on Wednesday April 24, the State Senate voted in favor of a bill that would redefine marriage to include persons of the same sex. The bill goes back to the House for a vote, and is expected to be sent to the governor for his signature. Pray for Rhode Island!)


Sunday Pope Quote: Bl. John Paul II on St. Gianna Molla

Posted Apr. 28, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Today, April 28, is the feast day of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a married saint whom we profiled earlier in our married saints series. In honor of St. Gianna’s feast day, today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from the 2004 mass in which Bl. John Paul II canonized St. Gianna along with five others.

Bl. Pope John Paul II: “Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: ‘Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women’.

Following the example of Christ, who ‘having loved his own…loved them to the end’ (Jn 13:1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.

Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!”

Homily at the Canonization of Six New Saints (May 16, 2004), emphasis added

All Sunday Pope Quotes


Friday Fast: Pray for those facing adverse prenatal diagnosis or unexpected pregnancy

Posted Apr. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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This week’s intention: For all mothers and fathers facing a poor prenatal diagnosis or unexpected parenthood; that they may know the Lord’s deep love for them and their child and trust in His providential care.

Reflection: There are times in our lives when the path is unclear and the future uncertain. We may not know what lies beyond the present moment, and we may feel frightened and anxious. However, we are not alone. Each of us is deeply loved and cherished by the Father, and we can trust in His care for us, knowing that He pays close attention to our lives: “Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mt 10:29-31). Recognizing the Lord’s love, we can trust that the path on which He leads us is one that leads to our ultimate happiness – even if the path looks different from what we expect. Let us therefore run to our Blessed Mother and ask, as Pope Francis did in a tweet earlier this week, for her aid in helping us know and follow the voice of Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Did you know? The following is the optional closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy: “Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”

Resources are available at the end of this article for those facing poor prenatal diagnoses. If you or someone you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, call 800-712-HELP (4357) or text “HELPLINE” to 313131 for free, confidential help.



Minnesota Faith Leaders to Minnesota Lawmakers: Protect Marriage

Posted Apr. 20, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 5 comments

Faith leaders in Minnesota, representing hundreds of faith communities, have written an open letter to Minnesota lawmakers urging them to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“The promotion and protection of marriage is a matter of the common good,” the signers write. “It serves the wellbeing of the man and woman, of children, of civil society, and all people.” The signers call “essential” the continued affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman because redefining it would degrade the cultural understanding of marriage to an emotional bond between any two adults.

Signers include leaders of Muslim, Baptist, Jewish, Evangelical, Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, and Buddhist communities.

As religious leaders, the signers caution that the idea that religious freedom is restricted to a house of worship “is wrong and dangerous.” In that light, the idea that religious freedom would be protected as long as ministers were not forced to preside over same-sex “marriages” is misguided. “The real peril,” say the signers, is “if marriage is redefined in civil law, religious individuals and other organizations – regardless of the foundational tenants of their faith – will be required to consider same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries, and operations.”

Read the entire letter here (PDF).

Read the press release from the Minnesota Catholic Conference (April 18, 2013)


Friday Fast: Pray to protect conscience rights for health care workers

Posted Apr. 19, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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This week’s intention: For the approval of laws which will protect health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences.

Reflection: In today’s first reading from Acts 9:1-20, we are reminded again of Saul’s fervent persecution of the early Christians, those disciples of the Lord “who belonged to the Way.”  While Saul’s persecutions occurred over 2,000 years ago, the persecution of Christians occurs even today.  Currently, government agencies are trying to coerce many Christians, including devout Catholics, into violating their consciences.  But it is important to remember that we are not alone.  Earlier this spring, Rep. Diane Black and other members of Congress introduced H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.  A press conference gave many medical professionals the chance to tell their personal stories of persecution or attempts to force them to violate their consciences.

Please join with us in prayer today, especially in union with the early Christians, for health care professionals who are being or who have already been coerced into violating their consciences.  We pray for their fortitude and ask that they are blessed with the knowledge that they are not alone in this fight.

Did you know? There are now 127 House co-sponsors of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, welcomed the bill’s introduction:

“While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective.  This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act.”

For more information, see Archbishop Lori’s letter on the importance of conscience rights.



Sunday Pope Quote: Gregory XVI on Perpetual Companionship

Posted Apr. 14, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Pope Gregory XVI (2 February 1831 – 1 June 1846) served in a chaotic period of European history. The French Revolution had uprooted the traditional way of life from most Europeans. Gregory was concerned that too much of the Christian tradition was being set aside. In one paragraph of his encyclical Mirari Vos, he defends the sacramental and indissolubility of marriage.

Now the honorable marriage of Christians, which Paul calls “a great sacrament in Christ and the Church,” demands our shared concern lest anything contrary to its sanctity and indissolubility is proposed. Our predecessor Pius VIII would recommend to you his own letters on the subject. However, troublesome efforts against this sacrament still continue to be made. The people therefore must be zealously taught that a marriage rightly entered upon cannot be dissolved; for those joined in matrimony God has ordained a perpetual companionship for life and a knot of necessity which cannot be loosed except by death. Recalling that matrimony is a sacrament and therefore subject to the Church, let them consider and observe the laws of the Church concerning it. Let them take care lest for any reason they permit that which is an obstruction to the teachings of the canons and the decrees of the councils. They should be aware that those marriages will have an unhappy end which are entered upon contrary to the discipline of the Church or without God’s favor or because of concupiscence alone, with no thought of the sacrament and of the mysteries signified by it.

—Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos #12, August 15, 1832 (Italics original, bold added)


Friday Fast: Pray to Uphold DOMA

Posted Apr. 12, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

This week’s intention and reflection

Printable version

Intention: For the justices of the Supreme Court, that they would respect the authentic meaning of marriage by upholding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Reflection: The following are key quotes from the USCCB amicus brief in the case United States v. Windsor, about the Defense of Marriage Act, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

“There is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex” (p. 2).

“For well over a century, this Court has held that marriage is a fundamental right, but those decisions, which expressly reference the link between marriage and procreation, make clear that by ‘marriage,’ the Court means the union of one man and one woman” (pp. 8-9).

“If this Court were to conclude that the Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage to include persons in same-sex relationships…it is unclear where the logical stopping point would be. This Court will ultimately be asked why other interpersonal relationships are not entitled to similar inclusion, and why other ‘barriers’ to marriage (such as those posed by youth, kinship, or multiplicity of parties) should not also have to be struck down as inconsistent with this redefinition” (p. 20).

Did you know? The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was passed in 1996 with strong bipartisan support. DOMA defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law, and ensures that states will not be forced to recognize so-called same-sex “marriages” enacted in other states. The part of DOMA that defines marriage is currently under review by the Supreme Court, with a decision expected by June. The USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold DOMA (see amicus brief).




Sunday Pope Quote Indissolubility of Marriage as a Good

Posted Apr. 7, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

In late January or early February, the Pope begins the judicial year with an address to the Roman Rota, the Church’s appellate court. In 2002, Pope John Paul II used the occasion to discuss how indissolubility is good for both the family and the common good, because annulments are large part of the tribunal’s work.

I want to examine indissolubility as a good for spouses, for children, for the Church and for the whole of humanity.

A positive presentation of the indissoluble union is important, in order to rediscover its goodness and beauty. First of all, one must overcome the view of indissolubility as a restriction of the freedom of the contracting parties, and so as a burden that at times can become unbearable. Indissolubility, in this conception, is seen as a law that is extrinsic to marriage, as an “imposition” of a norm against the “legitimate” expectations of the further fulfilment of the person. Add to this the widespread notion that indissoluble marriage is only for believers, who cannot try to “impose” it on the rest of civil society.

Marriage “is” indissoluble: this property expresses a dimension of its objective being, it is not a mere subjective fact. Consequently, the good of indissolubility is the good of marriage itself; and the lack of understanding of its indissoluble character constitutes the lack of understanding of the essence of marriage. It follows that the “burden” of indissolubility and the limits it entails for human freedom are no other than the reverse side of the coin with regard to the good and the potential inherent in the marital institution as such. In this perspective, it is meaningless to speak of an “imposition” by human law, because human law should reflect and safeguard the natural and divine law, that is always a freeing truth (cf. Jn 8,32).

—John Paul II, Address to the Prelate Auditors, Officials, and Advocates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota 28 January 2002. (italics original, bold added)


Interview: Head of Pontifical Council for the Family talks about the importance of the family for society, and more

Posted Apr. 4, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 4 comments

In an interview with John Allen published in the National Catholic Reporter on March 27, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council of the Family, spoke at length about the importance of the family for society. Below are selections with emphasis added; click here to read the entire interview.

Question: You run the Vatican’s Council for the Family. What message regarding the family do you expect from Pope Francis?

Answer: I believe this Pope will propose a comprehensive message about the family. We’ve already heard him talk, when he was Cardinal of Buenos Aires, about the family in his speeches for this dicastery, and he’s touched on all aspects of the subject: from the themes on morality and bioethics, to the matters about education, work, the importance of respect for the elderly, and a spirit of welcome for the newborn. He realizes that the family is the most robust resource for our society. He’ll put it at the center not only of the life of the Church, but also political, economic and cultural life.

Question: People often see the church’s message on the family largely in negative terms – opposition to divorce, artificial reproduction, gay marriage, and so on. Can it be reintroduced in a positive key?

Answer: There’s no doubt that up to now, the church has stayed too much in the sacristy. We have to get out into the squares and into the streets. In those places, you can see that the family – mother, father, and children –is right there, and it’s the most important resource for our society. In this time of financial crisis, if it weren’t for our families we would already have been submersed by a sort of unimaginable tsunami. If the church, which, as Paul VI said, is an expert in humanity, is animated by a compassionate gospel spirit, it will see this reality and be able to talk credibly about it in a positive way. We’ll be able to see that the sick would be abandoned without their families, the elderly would be lost, small children wouldn’t know how to grow up, the young wouldn’t know where to go. In a time when it’s hard to find work, and in which young people often have to stay at home longer, what would happen to them without their families?

I believe that this is one of the first responsibilities I have as president of this pontifical council – to make these realities clearer, and to help us talk about them in a convincing way. The family is the foundation of every human society, whether they’re Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, or whatever. There’s a need for a new start, a new cultural approach. The first point ought to be that the family doesn’t belong to the Catholic Church. This isn’t a confessional subject, but one that’s imminently human and social. If I can put it this way, Jesus, knowing how central the family in human life, elevated matimony to a sacrament in order to introduce the couple in a new dimension of grace.

I’m a Roman, so let me quote Cicero, who wasn’t a Catholic and not even a Christian. He defined the family this way: Familia est principium urbis et quasi seminarium rei publicae, meaning, “The family is the fundament of the city and like a school of citizenship.” Without strong families, we would have disfigured cities and unsustainable societies. Centuries ago, the great jurist Justinian said that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and he didn’t say it as a believer but as a citizen of the world. We have to rediscover this basic reality and help people see that the importance of the family is not something the church is imposing, but it’s a fact of life.

Recent sociological studies, for example, show that the family composed of a mother, a father, and two or three children, has significant advantages with respect to all the other modes of living together. People in traditional families live longer, they produce more, they have fewer psychological disturbances, and they create a much stronger social fabric. A study in the United States, for instance, recently found that 85 percent of inmates in correctional facilities for youth come from families without a father. Here’s another confirmation. The tendency to limit families to one child, whether it’s imposed by the state or the result of personal choice, leads to the aging of societies. I also find myself asking, after twenty years, what will these millions of one-child citizens understand about the terms ‘brother’ or ‘sister’? Will they be cancelled from our vocabulary? Unfortunately, we’ll probably come to understand the gravity of some of these choices only when it’s too late.

Question: Why is the traditional family a tough sell?

Answer: That’s a good question. We have to ask ourselves why, if the desire for a family is actually written into the human heart, fewer people are getting married and so many are getting separated and divorced. In my view, the problem is that what I would call the ‘culture of the individual’ is ever more prevalent. It’s the exaltation of the ‘I’ as the custodian of every right, holding the right to have all possible rights. By the way, English is the only language in which ‘I’ is capitalized!

This cult of the ‘I’ finds its prime obstacle in the family. Today, the ‘I’ is destroying the ‘we.’

Sociologists talk more and more about the ‘individualization’ of society, and you see its consequences everywhere. For instance, you see it in a political trend of states or regions to close in on themselves. In Italy, someone from North asks, ‘Why should I give money to the South?’ People in Europe ask, ‘Why should I be concerned about Africa?’ In reality, this growing individualization of society, and its corresponding tendencies toward withdrawal and isolation signifies an epochal confrontation against the very nature of the person, who is essential relational. We have to return to the first book of Genesis, and on this point Pope Benedict has been prophetically forward-looking. The first chapter of Genesis says, ‘It’s not good for man to be alone.’ Today’s culture says, ‘It is good to be alone,’ but that’s not true.

Question: You’re saying that in this epochal confrontation, the family is the most important ‘weapon’ to combat hyper-individualism?

Answer: Exactly. It’s the role of this dicastery to promote an evangelical alternative, so to speak, within the ecclesial family, though doing so in positive terms – to help the Church make a positive proposal about the family. For example, we have to help engaged couples to understand what marriage is all about. We have to support young families, because they can’t do it all by themselves. They need a community, a network of friendship. We have to make sure that Sunday allows for a meeting of families within the larger family of faith. This is an enormous task.

We also have to undertake a long journey in the cultural arena to persuade people anew that not only is the family possible, it’s beautiful. It’s simply not true that young people today don’t want it. Quite often, they’re not helped to realize the dream of having a family by the culture, by the economy, even by the ecclesial community sometimes.

Read the entire interview here.


Statement on Marriage from Toledo's Bishop Blair

Posted Apr. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

The following is a statement published on April 2, 2013 by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, OH, with hyperlinks added.

Bishop Leonard Blair

Bishop Leonard Blair

On March 26, 2013, a “March for Marriage” was held in Washington. D.C., as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, the first of two marriage cases before it. On March 27 the Court heard oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The Roman Catholic Church condemns violence and hatred against anyone, including homosexuals. It teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358) Good pastoral practice encourages families to accept their children, no matter what their sexual orientation, and not break relationships with them. The church believes that it is possible, by the grace of God, to live chastely, no matter what a person’s sexual inclination may be, and it looks for ways to offer hope and support for this to happen.

At the same time, however, for reasons that go far beyond the issue of homosexuality, the church continues to be at the forefront in upholding marriage as a union of one man and one woman that is marked by permanence, exclusivity, procreation and family.

The U.S. bishops put it this way: “By attempting to redefine marriage to include or be made analogous with homosexual partnerships, society is stating that the permanent union of husband and wife, the unique pattern of spousal and familial love, and the generation of new life are now only of relative importance rather than being fundamental to the existence and well-being of society as a whole.” Such an attempted redefinition reduces marriage to “a private matter, an individualistic project not related to the common good but oriented mostly to achieving personal satisfaction.” (Marriage: Love & Life in the Divine Plan, 2009, pp 3,21ff)

Law is a teacher that is meant to inform and uphold the common good. Calling homosexual relationships “marriage” means that a romantic co-habitating partnership is sufficient. The inevitable effect is to further weaken people’s understanding and commitment to marriage, not only as permanent and exclusive, but also as procreative in a way that only opposite sexes can be.

Cardinal George of Chicago summarizes the situation as follows: “[N]o matter how strong a friendship or deep a love between persons of the same sex might be, it is physically impossible for two men, or two women, to consummate a marital union. Even in civil law, non-consummation of a marriage is reason for annulment. Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race…. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is … an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible.” (Catholic New World, Jan 6-19, 2013)

Redefining a fundamental institution of life and society simply on the basis of feelings and sympathy for others should give us pause. The state and its laws do not create marriage, but only regulate and promote it for the sake of the human flourishing that marriage provides, as the social sciences have shown time and again. If the state can create a fiction of marriage, then what other realities and relationships will it claim the right to redefine, regulate or create, just as it is already doing with human life itself? And if society, on the basis of demonstrated values, is no longer able to refuse any claimed “right,” then what behaviors can we expect to be sanctioned in the future? What prevents these behaviors not only from being accepted, but also promoted and enforced, as equal to other behaviors? And what about the freedom — religious or otherwise — of those who cannot and will not accede to society’s “brave new world?”

As our former pope, Benedict, has cautioned: “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself.” (Dec. 21, 2012)

For more information on Catholic teaching on marriage, questions and answers on this topic, and additional resources, please visit


Read other bishops’ statements here.


Dr. Morse at Marriage March: "We need to keep talking about the meaning of marriage."

Posted Apr. 1, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Below is the text of the speech given at the March for Marriage by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute. Click here to read Archbishop Cordileone’s speech.


This year was the fortieth anniversary of Roe v Wade.

We are gathered here to send one simple message to the Justices of the Supreme Court: allow the conversation about marriage to continue. Do not try to short circuit the debate over marriage the way Roe v Wade short circuited the debate over life.

We need to keep talking about the meaning of marriage.

This year, over a half million people gathered for the March for Life.

Of course,  the Elites of Washington, can’t be bothered to notice the March for Life. But if they had taken the time to look out their windows, they would have seen that the average Marcher was about 17 years old.  The Life Movement is a youth movement.

Why? Because young people eventually figured out that abortion set aside the interests of children for the convenience of adults.

Eventually, young people will figure out that redefining marriage sets aside the interests of children for the convenience of adults.

If the Court redefines marriage, forty years from now, the young people will be asking us one simple question:  What were you thinking?

Dad, you and your partner were good parents. I love you. But did you really think I would never need a mom?  What were you thinking?

Mom, you and your partner are lovely people. I’m grateful for my life. But the biological connection that was so desperately important to you, did you really think it would never matter to me?  What were you thinking?

But all of us who are here today, all of us who couldn’t be here today but who are cheering us on from home, all of us will be able to tell our children and grandchildren:

We were thinking of you and your peers.

We were there at the very First March for Marriage.

The Marriage Movement isn’t going away, America.

Win, lose or draw at the Supreme Court: the Marriage Movement is here to stay.

Here to keep thinking of the children.

Here to be the conscience of America.

Forty years from now, it will be clear to everyone that Marriage, one man, one woman for life, is the right side of history.