An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Friday Fast: Pray and Fast for Engaged Couples

Posted May. 31, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For engaged couples, that their time of preparation for marriage may be richly blessed as they prepare to give themselves fully and irrevocably to each other as a sign of Christ’s love for His Church.

Reflection: In September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI gave the following pieces of advice to engaged couples in Ancona, Italy:

“As engaged couples, you find yourselves living a unique season that opens you to the wonder of the encounter and enables you to discover the beauty of existence and of being precious to someone, of being able to say to each other: you are important to me. Live this journey intensely, gradually and truthfully. Do not give up following a high ideal of love, a reflection and testimony of God’s love!”

“Dear friends, all human love is a sign of the eternal Love that created us and whose grace sanctifies the decision made by a man and a woman to give each other reciprocal life in marriage. Live the period of your engagement in the trusting expectation of this gift.”

“Fidelity, indissolubility and the transmission of life are the pillars of every family, the true common good, a precious patrimony of society as a whole. From now on found your journey towards marriage on these pillars and witness to this among your peers, too: such a service is precious!”

Did you know? As the summer “wedding season” begins, take a look at the many resources on the USCCB website For Your Marriage for engaged couples: blessings and prayers for engaged couples, 10 tips for planning a Catholic wedding, FAQs for engaged couples, and a directory of marriage preparation resources. These are great pages to share with family and friends who are tying the knot this summer!



Sunday Pope Quote: Bl. John Paul II on Marriage and the Trinity

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

Sunday, May 26 is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. In his 1988 apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem, Bl. John Paul II wrote about the likeness between the Trinity and human persons.

Bl. John Paul II: God, who allows himself to be known by human beings through Christ, is the unity of the Trinity: unity in communion. In this way new light is also thrown on man’s image and likeness to God, spoken of in the book of Genesis. [link] The fact that man “created as man and woman” is the image of God means not only that each of them individually is like God, as a rational and free being. It also means that man and woman, created as a “unity of the two” in their common humanity, are called to live in a communion of love, and in this way to mirror in the world the communion of love that is in God, through which the Three Persons love each other in the intimate mystery of the one divine life.

Mulieris Dignitatem, no. 7 (italics original, bold added)


Friday Fast: Pray and Fast for Abortion Supporters and Providers

Posted May. 24, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For the conversion of all who support abortion, that Christ’s love may open their hearts to the truth and that, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they may experience the depths of God’s healing mercy and forgiveness.

(If you or someone you know is suffering after abortion, confidential help is available. Visit or

Reflection: Although we may understand intellectually what abortion is, after 40 years since its legalization, we may start to become numb to its reality. However, the recent convictions of the Philadelphia abortion provider, Kermit Gosnell, for the killing of three babies who were born alive, manifested in yet another vivid way the horrific details of the abortion culture that confronts the Gospel of Life. These children remind us of the urgent necessity to promote and defend the sanctity of all human life.

We can do this by being witnesses of Christ’s love to all those who support abortion and by praying for their conversions. We must strive to imitate the absolute character of God’s longing and love for each of them, which can then evoke the conversion that each needs. Remembering the conversions of St. Paul and Mary Magdalene, which show us that with God all things are possible and that no one is beyond the reach of His mercy and forgiveness, let us pray for every heart to be opened, reconciled, and united with the Lord.

Did you know? In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, today is a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the crimes against the sacredness of human life, especially in the womb. It is also the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Join in prayerful solidarity with the faithful in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they unite their prayers and penances with the same intentions for the Church in China.



New! Nationwide Bulletin in Spanish: "El Matrimonio y La Corte Suprema"

Posted May. 21, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 2 comments

New from the USCCB: a Spanish translation of the nationwide bulletin insert, “Marriage and the Supreme Court.”

“El Matrimonio y La Corte Suprema”

Like the English bulletin insert, this one-page document is meant for distribution in parishes during May and June, in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s rulings on two marriage cases at the end of June.

If you have Spanish-speaking friends and family, or attend a church with Spanish-speaking parishioners, please share this great resource!


Friday Fast: Pray for religious freedom, and the courage to live our faith at all times

Posted May. 17, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

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Intention: As we approach the feast of Pentecost, we pray for the Church and that our faith might not be simply a private matter, but rather that the Holy Spirit will help us witness to Christ in all areas of our lives.

Reflection: As faithful Catholics, the beliefs that we profess in Church on Sunday carry over into our personal and professional lives. Christ invites us into loving relationship with Him, and His love infuses our actions, helping us to love Him in return by following His commandments in our daily lives. However, the proposed HHS “contraceptive mandate,”  in effect, attempts to restrict the practice of our faith to the private sphere. As explained by the USCCB general counsel, the mandate’s current definition of “religious employer” (a definition used to determine which employers are exempted from the mandate) excludes “a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious,” including organizations that “contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services,” such as Catholic schools and hospitals. Telling faith-based organizations that they are not “religious enough” to qualify for an exemption to the contraceptive mandate is a violation of religious freedom.

As we approach the feast of Pentecost, let us ardently pray to Christ to send forth His Spirit so that we will be filled with His peace and strength to live our faith at all times.

Did you know? “This year’s Fortnight [for Freedom] occurs just weeks before August 1, when the administration’s mandate coercing us to violate our deeply-held beliefs will be enforced against most religious non-profits. During the Fortnight the Supreme Court’s decisions on the definition of marriage will likely be handed down as well. Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come.” Archbishop William E. Lori, News Release (May 13, 2013)



USCCB News Release: Archbishop Cordileone Calls Minnesota's Move to Redefine Marriage Shortly After Mother's Day the "Height of Irony"

Posted May. 15, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 2 comments

USCCB News Release (May 15, 2013)

  • Men and women bring different gifts to parenting
  • Redefining marriage in law serves no one’s good
  • Truth of marriage not going away

“It is the height of irony that the Minnesota legislature decided, and the governor signed into law, the redefinition of marriage just after we celebrated the unique gifts of mothers and women on Mother’s Day,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. Archbishop Cordileone chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. He said further, “It is all the more so given the fact that in the last election Minnesotans were led to believe that there was no need to define marriage in the constitution, that nothing would change if the marriage amendment didn’t pass.”

“It also renders senseless the very idea of President Obama’s National Fatherhood Initiative, in that a bill now becomes law in Minnesota that effectively claims that a mother and a father together are superfluous and can be replaced by two men or two women,” he added.

Archbishop Cordileone noted that Minnesota is the third state in just over a week to redefine marriage in the law.

“There are many of us Americans, including many Minnesotans, who stand for the natural and true meaning of marriage. They know that men and women are important; their complementary difference matters, their union matters, and it matters to kids. Mothers and fathers are simply irreplaceable,” he said. “Instead of strengthening, the Minnesota legislature’s decision to redefine marriage weakens motherhood and fatherhood, and so strikes a blow to all children who deserve both a mother and father.”

“Some wish to believe that sexual relationships outside of the marital context of husband and wife are innocuous, choosing to ignore the fact that they are actually harmful to individuals and to society as a whole,” he added.

“We know that now is the time to redouble our prayers, efforts and witness. The truth of marriage is not going away,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “We know what it takes to work toward a culture of life even in the midst of laws that work against us. The same is true for rebuilding a culture of marriage. No matter what the horizon may bring, we will continue in charity and truth to stand for justice and for the most vulnerable among us.”

The Minnesota law highlights further implications of marriage redefinition in the law. For example, the law states that terms such as “husband,” “wife,” “mother,” and “father” that denote spousal and familial relationships in Minnesota law are to apply equally to persons in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship. The law also states that “parentage presumptions based on civil marriage” will also apply, thus allowing for children to have two mothers or two fathers.


From the Minnesota Catholic Conference:


An open letter from Minnesota faith leaders to the Minnesota legislature, urging lawmakers not to redefine marriage (April 18, 2013)


Read other recent USCCB news releases:




Archbishop Lucas (Omaha): "The truth of the nature of marriage is a beautiful sign of God's creative love"

Posted May. 11, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

In his latest column (The Shepherd’s Voice: May 9), Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, wrote about marriage.

He spoke of marriage as “a holy vocation,” and said that “it is essential that the community of believers help our young people understand the vocation of marriage and support them in a generous and faithful response.”

He also noted that the Church is doing this work of promoting marriage “in an increasingly confusing cultural context.” Citing the current Supreme Court cases about marriage (the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8) and legislative attempts to redefine marriage, Archbishop Lucas writes, “There is a great deal of pressure being exerted on judges and legislators to redefine marriage under civil law,” and that “Catholics and others who recognize and support the age-old understanding of marriage are often being depicted as unjust and intolerant.”

Because the language of “rights” and “discrimination” can seem so convincing, even to Catholics, says the Archbishop, “it is important for Catholics to be able to think clearly and speak clearly about marriage…we have no reason to be defensive or feel awkward. The truth of the nature of marriage is a beautiful sign of God’s creative love, and this truth is an important gift we can share in this confusing time.” (emphasis added)

Noting that he will return to the topic of marriage in coming weeks. the Archbishop referred readers wanting to learn more about marriage to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1601 and following), to chapter 21 of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, and to the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website, particularly the FAQs.

The Archbishop writes, “When we read this teaching through the eyes of faith and take time to reflect on it in prayer, we begin to recognize the plan of God that transcends merely cultural arguments. We have always believed the origin of marriage is in God. It is not for civil society or even the church to try to define it as something that it cannot be.”

In conclusion, Archbishop Lucas encouraged his readers to pray the Defense of Marriage Prayer found on this website.

Read Archbishop Lucas’ entire column: “Truth about marriage is important gift Catholics can provide in confusing time” (May 9, 2013)


Friday Fast: Pray for Mothers

Posted May. 10, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For mothers: that they may discover the depths of love through their gift of themselves to their children, and in so doing, serve as a witness of the love to which we are all called.

Reflection: In his Letter to Families, Pope Blessed John Paul II reminds us that we can’t “fully find [ourselves] except through a sincere gift of self” (no. 11, quoting Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 24). The self-sacrifice of a mother’s care for her child reveals the continuous gift of self that love entails and invites others to follow her example. There is no doubt that “love is demanding,” as Bl. John Paul II said. However, “this is precisely the source of its beauty: by the very fact that it is demanding, it builds up the true good of man and allows it to radiate to others.”

We must keep our eyes fixed on Christ, who helps us to see the people in our lives through his eyes and love them with his heart. As we celebrate this Mother’s Day, remembering our own mothers’ gift of life to us, let us take seriously our own call to self-sacrificial love, allowing that love to radiate to others.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!

Did you know? We’ve all heard it said that our hearts become bigger the more we love, but did you know that during pregnancy, a mother’s heart actually physically increases in size? (See: Health on the Net Foundation and British Journal of Radiology).

Also, read more about how we can follow the most perfect example of motherhood  in the newest Life Issues Forum column, “Mary, Pro-Life Inspiration.”



New Resource: "Lead Messages" on Marriage Redefinition

Posted May. 9, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Also new from the USCCB, along with a new nationwide bulletin insert on “Marriage and the Supreme Court”: a list of “lead messages” on marriage redefinition. These points are intended to help clergy and leaders talk about marriage to those whom they serve, and to help everyone know what to say when marriage comes up in conversation with their friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

Click here to open a PDF of “One Man, One Woman, For Life: Lead Messages on Marriage Redefinition.”

A snippet:

The big picture

Marriage is a great gift to men, women, children, and society. The Church serves and strengthens marriage by providing pastoral care to engaged couples and marriages at all stages, and in any difficulty. The Church promotes and defends marriage by preaching and teaching about marriage’s authentic meaning.

Challenges facing marriage

Marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. Cohabitation, divorce, and contraception all erode marriage’s meaning as a public, total, lifelong, and fruitful communion of persons between husband and wife. The latest challenge to marriage, the proposal that sexual difference doesn’t matter, removes the very basis of marriage’s meaning as a one-flesh communion, open to children, making the definition of marriage in law (and thereby culture) open to limitless variation and ultimately meaningless.

Read “One Man, One Woman, For Life” for all of the lead messages.


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USCCB News Release: Archbishop Cordileone Decries Serious Injustice in Delaware

Posted May. 8, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 12 comments

USCCB News Release (May 8, 2013)

  • Redefining marriage in law is a serious injustice
  • Children have a right to be raised by mother and father
  • Changes meaning of terms regarding marriage, affects birth certificates

“The Delaware Senate passed an unjust bill that attempts to redefine marriage,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

“The claim of this bill to redefine marriage is in vain; marriage cannot be redefined, because its unique meaning lies in our very nature. It is also a serious injustice to the most vulnerable among us: children,” said Archbishop Cordileone.

Archbishop Cordileone went on to emphasize the importance of marriage for children. “Marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union,” he said. “Our society either preserves laws that respect the fundamental right of children to be raised by their moms and dads together in marriage, or it does not.”

The Delaware bill also includes further implications of marriage redefinition in the law. For example, the bill states that terms such as “husband” and “wife” denoting a spousal relationship in Delaware law are to apply equally to persons in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship. The bill also allows two “parents” of the same sex to be entered on the original birth certificate, thus allowing for two mothers or two fathers to be on the certificate.

The Governor of Delaware signed it into law.


New Nationwide Bulletin Insert: "Marriage and the Supreme Court"

Posted May. 8, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 27 comments

Hot off the press: a new bulletin insert – for nationwide circulation in May and June – about “Marriage and the Supreme Court.” This bulletin insert is being shared with all of the U.S. bishops, along with a set of “lead messages” on marriage redefinition, which we’ll feature in a later blog post.

Click here to open the PDF of “Marriage and the Supreme Court.”

Content, in text form:

For the first time in our nation’s history, the Supreme Court is considering two cases about whether or not marriage should be redefined to include two persons of the same sex. These cases involve the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June. A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined with many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and thereby to recognize the essential, irreplaceable contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children.

What You Can Do

Pray, Fast, Sacrifice

The Bishops have encouraged Catholics to participate in a Call to Prayer for Life,  Marriage, and Religious Liberty during this Year of Faith. Visit to learn more and commit to praying and fasting for life, marriage, and religious liberty.

The Bishops have also called for a second Fortnight for Freedom June 21-July 4. Visit

Please consider contributing time, talent, and/or treasure to local or national efforts seeking to protect the unique meaning of marriage.

Advocate for Marriage (Lead Messages)

Be a witness for the truth of marriage in word and action. Take advantage of opportunities to speak about marriage’s unique meaning in conversation with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers. Share the truth in love.

Everyone has inviolable dignity and deserves love and respect. There are many ways to protect the basic human rights of all, but redefining marriage serves no one’s rights, least of all those of children.

What is marriage? Marriage is the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman, for the good of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children. One man, one woman—for life. (See Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 48).

The difference is the difference. Men and women matter. They are equal but different.  Sexual difference is essential to marriage.

Mothers and fathers matter. They aren’t interchangeable. Every child has a basic, natural right to come from and be raised in the loving marital union of his or her own father and mother.

Protecting marriage matters to everyone. It’s Catholic social teaching 101: pro-woman, pro-man, pro-child. Redefining marriage in the law says many false things: women – mothers – are dispensable; men – fathers – are dispensable; what adults want trumps what a child deserves and has a basic right to.

Learn More

Visit for more resources on the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. For resources for engaged couples and married couples, visit and






Sunday Pope Quote: Benedict XVI on Saint Bridget of Sweden

Posted May. 5, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI gave a conference at a General Audience on Saint Bridget of Sweden, because “this holy woman has much to teach the Church and the world.” A married woman, she reflected sanctity in her domestic life. Forming families is something that can truly make us holy.

Pope Benedict XVI: “We can distinguished two periods in this Saint’s life.

“The first was characterized by her happily married state. Her husband was called Ulf and he was Governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted for 28 years, until Ulf’s death. Eight children were born, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a Saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget’s dedication to her children’s education. Moreover, King Magnus of Sweden so appreciated her pedagogical wisdom that he summoned her to Court for a time, so that she could introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture. Bridget, who was given spiritual guidance by a learned religious who initiated her into the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family which, thanks to her presence, became a true “domestic church”. Together with her husband she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She generously practiced works of charity for the poor; she also founded a hospital. At his wife’s side Ulf’s character improved and he advanced in the Christian life. On their return from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which they made in 1341 with other members of the family, the couple developed a project of living in continence; but a little while later, in the tranquility of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf’s earthly life ended. This first period of Bridget’s life helps us to appreciate what today we could describe as an authentic “conjugal spirituality”: together, Christian spouses can make a journey of holiness sustained by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. It is often the woman, as happened in the life of St Bridget and Ulf, who with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and gentleness succeeds in persuading her husband to follow a path of faith. I am thinking with gratitude of the many women who, day after day, illuminate their families with their witness of Christian life, in our time too. May the Lord’s Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 27, 2010 (emphasis added)


Friday Fast: Pray to uphold Proposition 8

Posted May. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

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Intention: For the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, that they would respect the authentic meaning of marriage by upholding California’s Proposition 8.

Reflection: The following are key quotes from the USCCB amicus brief in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, which is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships” (p. 2).

“Redefining marriage…not only threatens principles of federalism and separation of powers, but would have a widespread adverse impact on other constitutional rights, such as the freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association” (p. 4).

“If the meaning of marriage is so malleable and indeterminate as to embrace all ‘lifelong and committed’ relationships, then marriage simply collapses as a coherent legal category” (p. 14-15).

“A law is not constitutionally impermissible because it overlaps with a religious teaching” (p. 20).

Did you know? California’s Proposition 8 is the marriage referendum approved by California voters in 2008. It defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the California State constitution. Proposition 8 was challenged as being unconstitutional and is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a ruling expected in June. The USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 (see January 2013 amicus brief). A negative ruling could mean that marriage would be redefined nationwide.



Archbishop Cordileone Decries Marriage Redefinition in Rhode Island

Posted May. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 3 comments

USCCB News release (May 3, 2013):

  • Decision to redefine marriage in law a serious injustice
  • Marriage by its nature union of one man, one woman
  • Every child deserves a married mother and father

The passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly yesterday to redefine marriage “is a serious injustice,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

“The meaning of marriage cannot be redefined, because its meaning lies in our very nature. Therefore, regardless of what law is enacted, marriage remains the union of one man and one woman – by the very design of nature, it cannot be otherwise,” he said.

Archbishop Cordileone emphasized the importance of marriage for children.

“Marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union. While those making great sacrifices to raise their children in less than ideal circumstances need and deserve our love and support, we cannot claim to have a just society if we do not look out for the most vulnerable among us: children. That means preserving in the law the principle that every child deserves a mother and father united in marriage. That means supporting in our institutions and in our culture the true and unique meaning of marriage,” he said.

The Governor of Rhode Island signed the bill into law.

See also: Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence’s statement re: marriage redefinition in Rhode Island


Bishop Tobin of Providence Reacts to Passage of Marriage Redefinition in Rhode Island

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

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence released the following statement following the passage of marriage redefinition in Rhode Island yesterday, May 2, and its signing into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee.

“Since the legislative approval of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island, a number of people have requested that I offer some guidance on this development. It is for that purpose that I write at this time. In particular I wish to invite members of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island to a moment of prayer and reflection as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered.

“First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize ‘same-sex marriage.’ The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.”

Read the rest of Bishop Tobin’s statement.

Read how the Diocese of Providence is promoting and defending marriage – a task that continues.


Archbishop Wenski (Miami) on the law, marriage, and moral relativism

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

Preaching at a “red mass” on Tuesday, April 23, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami told the attendees, many of them members of the Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, that redefining marriage in the law “will open a Pandora’s Box of unforeseen and, to be sure, unintended consequences.” His words have a particular poignancy now, as the Supreme Court is currently reviewing two cases involving the definition of marriage: United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8. If the Court rules negatively in either or both of these cases, marriage could be redefined throughout the country. A ruling is expected by June.

In his homily, Archbishop Wenski reminded the judges and lawyers in attendance that “we should oppose any and all unjust discrimination” (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). He added, however, that when it comes to the law, “the state has long provided benefits and concessions to encourage or reward behaviors that serve the common good of all.” Marriage is one of these behaviors. Society has long supported marriage because “only in the marriage of a man and a woman can ‘two become one flesh’ (cf. Genesis 2:24) and thus create a conjugal society – a family – which provides that the individuals who give life to children should be the ones to raise them in a bonded and enduring relationship.”

In other words, marriage is the only institution that brings a man and a woman together for life, bonding them to each other and to any children that come from their union. Catholic social teaching describes marriage as the “cradle of life and love” and says that “the unborn child must be guaranteed the best possible conditions of existence through the stability of a family founded on marriage, through the complementarities of the two persons, father and mother” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 209 and 235).

Archbishop Wenski cautioned that the approval of so-called same-sex “marriage” would redefine marriage “for all” from an institution “expressive of the complementarity of sexual difference between a man and a woman, ordered for the raising of children” to something “existing solely for the gratification of two (and why just two?) consenting adults.”

In the second half of his homily, the Archbishop provided an analysis of how we arrived at the current debate about marriage’s meaning. He described two opposing worldviews: On one side, those who claim “a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things but by one’s own will.” Those who share this view believe “that one’s individual desires are the locus of authority and self-definition.” Archbishop Wenski said that the question about marriage’s meaning is “only [the] most current poster child” of this way of thinking. He drew a connection between this worldview and abortion, for example, pointing out that once truth is based not in reality but in one’s will, every ethical principle is negotiable, “including every human being’s fundamental right to life.”

On the other side is a worldview steeped in Judeo-Christian principles and beliefs. Those on this side believe “that men and women are not self-creators but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received, and it must reflect the reality of things.” The natural law tradition fits squarely in this worldview, as does the belief that marriage is not created by the state, or by a religious entity for that matter, but is rooted in the nature of the human person, created male and female (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1603.)

Archbishop Wenski said that when a society loses its connection to a “common truth” found in natural law, and rooted in the reality of things, “the only recourse is that of judicial positivism,” basing truth and law in the will of the lawmaker. This, warned the Archbishop, is “on its way to totalitarianism. The might of right quickly becomes might makes right.” Pandora’s box, indeed.

Read Archbishop Wenski’s entire homily on the Archdiocese of Miami website.

More from Archbishop Wenski:





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