USCCB News Release: Archbishop Cordileone Calls Minnesota’s Move to Redefine Marriage Shortly After Mother’s Day the “Height of Irony”
May. 15, 2013
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:
- Statement on Senate Vote to Redefine Marriage in Minnesota (May 13, 2013)
- Statement on House Vote to Redefine Marriage in Minnesota (May 9, 2013)
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 Cordileone Decries Serious Injustice in Delaware” (May 8, 2013)
- “Archbishop Cordileone Decries Marriage Redefinition in Rhode Island” (May 3, 2013)
Archbishop Lucas (Omaha): “The truth of the nature of marriage is a beautiful sign of God’s creative love”
May. 11, 2013
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)
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.
May. 8, 2013
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.
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 www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty 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 www.Fortnight4Freedom.org.
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.
Visit MarriageUniqueForAReason.org 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 ForYourMarriage.org and PorTuMatrimonio.org.
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.
May. 3, 2013
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.”
Apr. 30, 2013
A great webpage from the Diocese of Providence: “Protecting Marriage in Rhode Island.”
Resources include columns by Bishop Thomas Tobin:
And articles by others:
- “Marriage should be strengthened, not redefined” (Fr. John A. Kiley)
- “Civil unions are not the answer” (Rhode Island Catholic editorial)
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!)
Interview: Head of Pontifical Council for the Family talks about the importance of the family for society, and more
Apr. 4, 2013
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.
Apr. 3, 2013
The following is a statement published on April 2, 2013 by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, OH, with hyperlinks added.
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 http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/.
Mar. 27, 2013
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, the chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage spoke at a rally yesterday as a part of the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. The march was timed to coincide with U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments about California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act .
I want to begin with a word to those who disagree with us on this issue and may be watching us right now: we love you, we are your neighbors, and we want to be your friends, and we want you to be happy.
Please understand that we don’t hate you, and that we are not motivated by animus or bigotry; it is not our intention to offend anyone, and if we have, I apologize; please try to listen to us fairly, and calmly, and try to understand us and our position, as we will try to do the same for you.
And to you, my friends gathered here, I say, thank you for being here, thank for your courageous support of the defining issue of our day. Why, really, are we here? One simple reason: marriage matters to kids. It’s the simple principle that children deserve a mother and a father, and that society needs an institution that connects children to their parents. What could be more beautiful, or even more sacred, than a man and a woman coming together to create new life? Marriage is the only institution that does this, that connects children to their parents and parents to their children and to each other.
Sometimes that isn’t possible, sometimes due to circumstances beyond people’s control the ideal doesn’t happen. Those parents, too, need and deserve our love and support. This isn’t about parenting skills, though; we know that sometimes kids can do well in less-than-ideal circumstances. Rather, it’s about rebuilding a marriage culture, which begins – certainly doesn’t end! – with preserving in the law the principle that children deserve a mother and a father, and that society should do everything it can, and offer all necessary support, to help insure that children get what they deserve. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother, and children need both, and no matter how happy their childhood may be, to grow up without one or the other is always a deprivation. This is not discrimination; on the contrary, marriage benefits everyone, including those of us who are not married and those who disagree with us.
And finally, to the nine justices on the Supreme Court, I say: please, for the sake of the children, please, preserve the meaning of marriage in the law, a meaning common to every human society since the beginning of the human race. For the sake of the children, please.
-Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco