The Bishops of Virginia, represented by the Virginia Catholic Conference, filed an amicus curiae brief today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In January, District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen struck down the provision in Virginia’s constitution that affirms marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The brief filed on behalf of the Virginia Catholic Conference explains, “Virginia’s interest in marriage is based in the Commonwealth’s foresight that changing the legal definition of marriage would unavoidably change the way Virginia’s citizens view marriage and make the Commonwealth’s marriage laws adult-focused rather than child-focused. If the message and function of marriage is changed in concept, the cultural significance attached to marriage will also change.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage voiced his support of the legal action. “The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States are united in their desire to preserve the institution of marriage, and we support the Virginia bishops in their effort to defend Virginia’s recognition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. For the good of children, it is critical that society preserve the true meaning of marriage.”
With the Virginia Catholic Conference, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will also be filing an amicus brief in Bostic v. Schaefer, along with four other institutions. Oral arguments in this case will be heard on May 13, 2014.
Friday, April 04, 2014
Once again, a federal district court judge has taken it upon himself to redefine marriage, this time in the state of Michigan. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued a ruling on Friday that overturns the Michigan Constitution, which voters chose to amend in 2004 by defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
In a press release issued Friday, the seven Catholic Bishops in Michigan stated, “Today’s decision from federal district court Judge Bernard Friedman to redefine the institution of marriage by declaring Michigan’s Marriage Amendment unconstitutional strikes at the very essence of family, community and human nature. In effect, this decision advances a misunderstanding of marriage, and mistakenly proposes that marriage is an emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the dictates of culture and the wants of adults. Judge Friedman’s ruling that also finds unconstitutional the state’s adoption law is equally of grave concern.” By working through the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Bishops “will collaborate with those who are upholding Michigan’s Marriage Amendment and adoption statute and will assist to the greatest extent possible efforts to appeal Judge Friedman’s most regrettable ruling.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette immediately filed an emergency request for a stay of the ruling, which was provisionally granted Saturday afternoon and will put Judge Friedman’s decision on hold until at least Wednesday, March 26th.
For the Bishops’ full statement on Judge Friedman’s ruling, click here.
March 24, 2014
Virginia’s Catholic Bishops Issue Statement on Attorney General’s Refusal to Defend State Constitution on Marriage
On Thursday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced his decision not to defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment protecting marriage, but instead will join plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging it. Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington and Diocese of Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo expressed extreme disappointment with the Attorney General’s decision.
“Virginia voters put this provision in the Constitution, and no politician should be able to reverse the people’s decision. We call on the Attorney General to do the job he was elected to perform, which is to defend the state laws he agrees with, as well as those state laws with which he personally disagrees. We will continue to defend marriage between a man and a woman, an institution whose original design predates all governments and religions.”
The Bishops’ full statement can be found here.
On Wednesday, Hawaii became the fifteenth state to redefine marriage. In his statement regarding the legislation, Most Reverend Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu responded,
“It is very sad that many of our State legislators and our Governor have confused a manufactured civil right with a true civil right based on the centuries-old respect for marriage as a stable union between one man and one woman established and publicly recognized primarily for the welfare of children. This manufactured world view is not what God, our Maker, has revealed to us, and it is symptomatic of a profound misunderstanding of the purpose of human sexuality.”
For Bishop Silva’s full statement, click here.
Marriage redefinition in Hawaii ‘disappointing,’ says Archbishop Cordileone
Defending marriage promotes a culture of the family in service to most vulnerable
November 13, 2013
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, responded today to the bill passed by the Hawaii legislature and signed by the governor to redefine marriage.
“The decision in Hawaii is disappointing and shows the need for rebuilding a culture of the family in our country,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “Changing the meaning of marriage in the law does not promote the common good or protect authentic rights.”
“When referring to the family,” the Archbishop said, “Pope Francis put it this way: ‘I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage.’ The very point of marriage having the unique status in the law that it has is to promote the right of children to have a mother and a father. Only a married man and woman can provide that. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: How can we honestly justify a law that in principle denies children this right?”
Archbishop Cordileone added, “My prayers are with the many people who helped defend marriage in Hawaii in a spirit of charity and truth, and by so doing, helped defend a culture of the family. Their efforts were not in vain, and their witness will continue to bear fruit.”
Keywords: U.S. bishops, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco, Hawaii
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Unjust discrimination in the workplace wrong, but ENDA not the answer
ENDA rejects biological basis of gender, equates sexual orientation with race
ENDA undermines marriage, threatens religious liberty
Three chairmen of U.S. bishops’ committees outlined their opposition to the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA) in a letter to the U.S. Senate.
The bishops emphasized the dignity of all people, quoting Pope Francis’ statement that “Work is fundamental to that dignity.” They added that “the Catholic Church has consistently stood with workers in this country and continues to oppose unjust discrimination in the workplace. No one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including his or her sexual inclinations.”
The bishops’ letter said ENDA goes beyond prohibiting unjust discrimination and poses several problems. It notes, for example, that the bill: (1) lacks an exception for a “bona fide occupational qualification,” which exists for every other category of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, except for race; (2) lacks a distinction between homosexual inclination and conduct, thus affirming and protecting extramarital sexual conduct; (3) supports the redefinition of marriage, as state-level laws like ENDA have been invoked in state court decisions finding marriage discriminatory or irrational; (4) rejects the biological basis of gender by defining “gender identity” as something people may choose at variance with their biological sex; and (5) threatens religious liberty by punishing as discrimination the religious or moral disapproval of same-sex sexual conduct, while protecting only some religious employers.
Further detail on these problems with ENDA may be found in a backgrounder, which is available here.
The bishops stressed a desire to advance legislation that protects the common good.
“We stand ready to work with leaders and all people of good will to end all forms of unjust discrimination,” they said.
A vote on ENDA is expected by the full Senate in a matter of days.
9/20/13 USCCB News Release: USCCB Chairmen applaud introduction of the "Marriage and Religious Freedom Act"
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Raúl Labrador.
“This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments – this must not spread to the federal government.”
In a letter addressed to all Catholics in Hawaii, dated August 22, 2013, Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu writes, “The issue of same-sex marriage is in the limelight once again in our community, with a move for a special legislative session to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii.”
The bishop continues, “While the Catholic Church is clear in its insistence that true marriage can only be between one man and one woman, there are many people, even among Catholics, who perceive such insistence as unjust discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Therefore, it is urgent to clarify certain issues.”
In his letter to Hawaii Catholics, Bishop Silva touches on the issue of discrimination, on the long-term effects of redefining marriage, including threats to religious freedom, and on the importance of marriage for children, who will be the “greatest casualties” of marriage redefinition.
The bishop writes, “The issue goes far beyond simply the private relationship of this or that couple, and its implications will be far reaching and profound. The language of the proponents is meant to convince us that this is a civil rights issue and that anyone who does not agree is bigoted. Do not be led astray with such language, and do not allow yourself to be bullied by it.”
He encourages all Catholics in Hawaii to contact their state legislator and urge them to defend marriage, to pray for their legislators (“But do not let your prayer be mere words!” Bishop Silva says), and to be understanding toward those who do not agree with them – “even Catholic legislators who have committed to vote for same-sex marriage.”
On his blog Seek First the Kingdom, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington wrote on August 19, “Of the Catholic Church’s many teachings, perhaps some of the most challenging for people in today’s culture involve human sexuality, including homosexuality. As state after state considers changing its laws on the definition of marriage, all of us have had to think about the nature of love, the meaning of marriage and the teaching of the Gospel.”
The Cardinal goes on to describe the current cultural climate as one where describing marriage as “inherently something between a man and a woman only” is now considered discrimination, bigotry, or even hate speech.
For example, he says, “In the debate over the nature of marriage, even the White House chose to use words like ‘discrimination’ to describe the position of people of good faith who simply disagree with the President’s stance.” And in states where the legal definition of marriage has been challenged in the legislature and/or the courts, “words like ‘bigotry,’ ‘discrimination’ and ‘hatred’ have been bandied about with nothing more to support them than the actual fact that some people think that the definition of marriage really and truly is between a man and a woman.”
The proclivity to label those with whom one disagrees about marriage as “haters” or “bigots,” laments the Cardinal, stifles our ability to genuinely discuss an issue crucial to our society. “Too often the people who claim to be able to read the minds of other people and thus can denounce them as bigots are prepared to say in the next breath not only are your opinions not welcome, but neither are you any longer.”
Read the rest here: “Truth is Never Discrimination”
USCCB News Release: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation," State U.S. Bishops
The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 mark a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The statement follows.
“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.
“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.
“When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.
“Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
Editors: Background information can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/backgrounder-on-proposition-8-and-doma.cfm