An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Indiana Bishops’ Response to Marriage Decision

Posted Jun. 26, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

Eight Indiana bishops gather in May 2014 in Lafayette for a provincial meeting and a meeting with the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference. They are, from front left: Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette; Bishop Charles C. Thompson of Evansville; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend; Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Indianapolis and Bishop Dale J. Melczek, of Gary. Behind them, from left to right, are Bishop Emeritus William L. Higi, of Lafayette; Bishop Emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger, of Evansville and Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis. As they are retired, Bishops Gettelfinger and Higi were not signatories of this statement. 

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled that Indiana’s definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional and that the state’s non-recognition of out-of-state same-sex “marriages” is unconstitutional. Indiana will be appealing the decision.

The bishops of Indiana issued a statement about the decision, noting that it, “ignores this fundamental and natural truth of marriage and opens its definition to the whims of public opinion.”



Pope Francis on Children’s Rights

Posted Apr. 11, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Pope Francis 4-11-14

Pope Francis offered a very clear message today to members of BICE (International Catholic Child Bureau), a Catholic NGO that works to protect the rights and dignity of the child worldwide:

“On a positive note, we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

Click here for his full address.


March for Marriage: June 19, 2014

Posted Apr. 8, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 2 comments

March for Marriage

Save the date!


The second March for Marriage will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 2014. Organized by the National Organization for Marriage, this year’s march will be an important opportunity to promote and defend the beauty of marriage as the unique two-in-one-flesh communion of husband and wife.

In an April 7th letter sent to all the bishops of the United States, Bishop Richard J. Malone, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, encouraged participation in the march. “The March for Marriage will be an important means to promote and defend marriage for the good of our culture, to pray for our federal and state governments, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will. It also complements well the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty ( This is a critical time for marriage in our country, as marriage amendments are being struck down by federal courts and appeals of these decisions are being made. We are deeply grateful for any support you can offer for this march.”


Here are 4 Ways you can get involved and support the March for Marriage:


1.)    Spread the Word!

You can help spread the word through social media by posting why you support the March for Marriage by adding the hashtag #Marching4Marriage. Some examples are below:

  • I support #Marching4Marriage because kids deserve a mom and a dad.
  • I support #Marching4Marriage because running a business shouldn’t mean shutting the door on your beliefs.
  • I’ll be #Marching4Marriage because sexual difference is essential to #marriage.
  • I support #Marching4Marriage because marriage is the very foundation on which our society stands.

2.)    Organize a group to come to DC!

Whether it be a group of friends, your church youth group, an entire diocesan trip, or you and your family, consider traveling to DC in June to defend marriage!

3.)    Participate in the National Marriage Lobby Day!

On June 19th, once the March for Marriage has concluded, there will be an opportunity to visit your elected officials and their staff to explain why you defend authentic marriage. For more information on participating in Lobby Day, click here.

4.)    Join the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty!

There are many different ways to participate in the Call to Prayer, both as an individual and as a community. Find out how you can get involved here.

To stay up-to-date on detailed information regarding the March, sign up for alerts at


Virginia Bishops File Amicus Brief to Defend Marriage, Commonwealth’s Constitution

Posted Apr. 4, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

VA Catholic ConferenceThe 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) also filed an amicus brief in Bostic v. Schaefer, along with four other institutions. Oral arguments in this case were heard on May 13, 2014. The audio is available at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Click here for the full press release. The amicus brief can be found at

Updated Monday, May 19, 2014


“Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us”

Posted Apr. 2, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

pope-francis-leaves-audience-smilingToday, Pope Francis concluded his Wednesday catechesis on the Sacraments with a reflection on marriage. He began by explaining that marriage is “A sacrament that leads us to the heart of God’s plan, which is a plan of alliance with his People, with all of us, a plan of communion.” He then explained, “The image of God is a married couple, man and woman, not only man, not only woman, but rather both. This is the image of God: love, God’s alliance with us is represented in the alliance between man and woman.

“We were created to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in matrimonial union the man and woman realize this vocation, as a sign of reciprocity and the full and definitive communion of life.” When a man and a woman receive the Sacrament of marriage, “God is, so to say, ‘mirrored’ in them, he imprints in them the features and indelible nature of His love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God too is communion: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have always lived and live forever in perfect unity. And this is the mystery of marriage: God makes married couples into one existence. The Bible uses a strong term: it says one ‘flesh’ only, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage.” Pope Francis then concluded his catechesis by saying, Married life is beautiful, and must be protected.”

Let us pray together for the courage to continue to protect the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman!


Catholic Bishops Statement on Decision Overturning Michigan’s Voter Approved Marriage Amendment

Posted Mar. 24, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Michigan CCOnce 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


On the Occasion of the First Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Pontificate

Posted Mar. 12, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

In honor of Pope Francis’ one-year anniversary as pontiff, we put together a compilation
of some of his memorable quotes on marriage. Let us take this opportunity to thank the
Holy Spirit for the election of this holy man. Viva el Papa!

francis-20130619cnsbr0740-cns-photo-240Printable Bulletin Insert


“Marriage is between a man and a woman.” Interview with Corriere della Sera (March 5, 2014)

“From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply, and so the family then is an image of the Triune God in the world.” Address to the Extraordinary Consistory (February 20, 2014)

“The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.” Evangelii Gaudium, no 66 (Nov 24, 2013)
“The second point: the family is founded on marriage. Through their free and faithful act of love, Christian spouses testify to the fact that marriage, insofar as it is a sacrament, is the foundation of the family and strengthens spousal union and the couple’s mutual gift of self.” Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family (Oct 25, 2013)

“What is marriage? It is a true and authentic vocation, as are the priesthood and the religious life. Two Christians who marry have recognized the call of the Lord in their own love story, the vocation to form one flesh and one life from two, male and female.” Meeting with the Young People of Umbria (October 4, 2013)

“Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion…They say that it is not worth making a lifelong commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries.” Address to World Youth Day Volunteers, Brazil (July 28, 2013)

“There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods…[such as] the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation.” Address to the Community of Varginha, Brazil (July 25, 2013)

“The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan.” Lumen Fidei, no 52 (June 29, 2013)

Posted: March 13, 2014


State Marriage Defense Act introduced in U.S. Senate

Posted Feb. 28, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

archbishop-cordileone-2Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Chairman for the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, strongly endorsed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (S. 2024) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). A companion bill (H.R. 3829) was previously introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Randy Weber (R-TX).

In a February 28 letter of support to Senator Cruz, Archbishop Cordileone noted that the Department of Justice is the most recent federal agency “to use a ‘place of celebration’ rule rather than a ‘place of domicile’ rule when determining the validity of a marriage for purposes of federal rights, benefits, and privileges.”

“By employing a ‘place of celebration’ rule, these agencies have chosen to ignore the law of the state in which people reside in determining whether they are married. The effect, if not the intent, of this choice is to circumvent state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said Archbishop Cordileone.

Archbishop Cordileone urged the U.S. Senate to pass the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 and encouraged members to join as cosponsors of the bill stating, “Marriage needs to be preserved and strengthened, not redefined. Every just effort to stand for the unique meaning of marriage is worthy of support.”

The full press release can be found here.


USCCB Subcommittee Chairman Strongly Supports Amending U.S. Constitution to Protect Marriage

Posted Feb. 20, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Archbishop Cordileone: Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is needed

Amendment is only remedy against judicial activism

Elemental truth of marriage deserves highest protection in law

February 19, 2014

WASHINGTON—Expressing strong support for the federal Marriage Protection Amendment (H. J. Res. 51) introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in the U.S. House of Representatives, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said, “The amendment would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”  Archbishop Cordileone , chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, made the comments in a February 19 letter of support to Rep. Huelskamp.

Referencing recent federal court decisions striking down a number of state marriage laws, Archbishop Cordileone said, “An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against this judicial activism that may ultimately end with federal judges declaring that the U.S. Constitution requires states, and consequently the federal government, to redefine marriage.”  He added, “Just as Roe v. Wade mandated a constitutional right to abortion throughout the country, we now have the possibility of another bad decision mandating a constitutional change in the meaning of marriage in order to promote (at least to begin with) ‘marriages’ between two people of the same sex throughout the country. Your proposed Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is, therefore, a needed remedy.”

Archbishop Cordileone also said, “Preserving this elemental truth is necessary for the good of society at large and for the good of children who deserve the love of both a mother and a father, neither of whom is expendable.  Indeed, marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union.”  Archbishop Cordileone also commented on the nature of the recent federal court decisions by saying, “Federal court opinions that essentially redefine marriage to be merely a state recognized arrangement of intimate adult relationships ignore the truth about marriage, which deserves the highest protection in law.”

Archbishop Cordileone urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and encouraged members to join the resolution as cosponsors.

Archbishop Cordileone’s letter can be found online.

For H.J. Res. 51 to amend the U.S. Constitution, it must be approved by two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.


USCCB Subcommittee Chairman Decries Marriage Redefinition and Misuse of Pope Francis’ Words in Illinois

Posted Nov. 21, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Calls redefining marriage a serious injustice
Decries manipulation of Pope Francis’s words
Says every child deserves a mother and a father

WASHINGTON—“The decision by the Illinois legislature and the governor to redefine marriage in law does not alter the natural reality that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, responding to the decision by the Illinois legislature and the governor to redefine marriage. “Furthermore, marriage redefinition is a serious injustice. The law exists to safeguard the common good and protect authentic rights, especially the right of children to have a married mother and father.”

Additionally, Archbishop Cordileone said, “When referring to the family, Pope Francis said very clearly in his first papal encyclical: ‘I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage.’ And very recently, the Pope offered these words: ‘Let us therefore propose to all people, with respect and courage, the beauty of marriage and the family illuminated by the Gospel!’ Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that we are to show love and respect to all people and to seek their greatest good, and he therefore continues to clearly promote and defend marriage and family, recognizing that this is in everyone’s best interest as members of a common society. In fact, when confronting an effort to redefine marriage in his home country of Argentina, he said as Archbishop of Buenos Aires: ‘The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children.’ He even added: ‘At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.’ It is therefore disgraceful that some legislators would manipulate the words of Pope Francis to suggest that he would support marriage redefinition.”

Archbishop Cordileone added, “The courageous efforts of those, including religious leaders and legislators, who helped defend marriage in Illinois is to be commended. The defense of truth and goodness is never in vain.”

Keywords: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco, Illinois, marriage, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sister Mary Ann Walsh


Hawaii Marriage Redefinition

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

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.


News Release: USCCB Chairmen Explain Opposition to ENDA

Posted Nov. 7, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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.


USCCB News Release: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation," State U.S. Bishops

Posted Jun. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 3 comments

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


USCCB News Release: Victory in Illinois!

Posted Jun. 4, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 5 comments

USCCB News Release (June 3, 2013)

USCCB Subcommittee Chair Applauds “Victory In The Land Of Lincoln.”

  • Marriage redefinition not inevitable
  • Many thanks to concerned citizens, civic and faith leaders
  • Redefining marriage does not bring equality

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, applauded the “victory in the Land of Lincoln” as the Illinois state House failed to vote on a bill to redefine marriage before the legislative session ended last Friday.

“The fact that the Illinois state House did not vote on the marriage redefinition bill reflects a failure to have the votes to pass the bill,” said Archbishop Cordileone.  “This victory in the Land of Lincoln demonstrates that marriage redefinition – even in the face of intense political pressure – is not inevitable, a likely reason we haven’t heard much about it in the national media.”

A diversity of faith leaders joined together to defend marriage in Illinois.

“Leaders of various faith traditions spoke eloquently on the reality that nature and nature’s God make clear that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Archbishop Cordileone said.  “Catholics will continue to proclaim with people of other faiths and of no particular faith that marriage is the one-flesh union of one man and one woman.  Indeed, both faith and reason lead us to this truth.”

Archbishop Cordileone also addressed the claim that equality requires redefining marriage in law.

“All persons have inherent dignity and must be treated equally with the respect and justice that is their due,” he said.  “That is part of the purpose of the law; it is not the purpose of the law, though, to give people social status, as the advocates for marriage redefinition contend.  For a well-ordered society, laws must reflect reality; for them to contradict reality would be simply irrational.  Our children deserve as much and depend upon all of us, especially our leaders, to protect the reality of marriage, not redefine it in the law.  Many thanks go to all those who let their voices be heard in defense of marriage in Illinois,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

The bill to redefine marriage that was not brought to a vote in the Illinois state House had passed the Illinois state Senate earlier in the year.  Proponents of marriage redefinition in Illinois may try again to advance the bill in the Illinois legislature later this year.

From the Catholic Conference of Illinois: “CCI Issues Statement on House adjourning without voting on redefinition of marriage legislation” (June 1, 2013)


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.


USCCB News Release: Heads of Military Archdiocese, Subcommittee for the Promotion, Defense of Marriage Object to Defense Department Same-Sex Domestic Partners Policy

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

From the USCCB (Feb. 15, 2013):

  • Policy undermines marriage between one man, one woman
  • Violates Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
  • Threatens conscience rights of military personnel

WASHINGTON— Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, voiced concern February 15 about a new Department of Defense (DOD) policy on “same-sex domestic partners” and about related comments made by President Obama in his State of the Union address.

Archbishop Broglio questioned how the department could set a policy that undermines the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and said the new policy could threaten conscience rights of members of the military. Forcing an officer “to violate his conscience would not be fair,” he said.

Archbishop Cordileone highlighted the policy’s potential effect on children.

“Children, who are our future, have a right to be raised by their mother and father together,” he said. “For the sake of our nation, and especially for the sake of our children, marriage should be promoted and protected at every opportunity, never undermined.”

The full response follows.

Today, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services USA, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for The Promotion and Defense of marriage, responded with concern to a new Department of Defense Policy issued this week regarding “same-sex domestic partners” and to related comments made by President Obama in his State of the Union address.

The DOD policy allocates marriage-like benefits to persons in same-sex relationships. In an apparent reference to the new policy, President Obama said, “We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight.”

In response to the President’s remarks and the new policy, Archbishop Broglio said, “This new policy under the guise of ‘equal benefits’ undermines marriage as the union of one man and one woman because it treats two persons of the same sex as spouses. Can the Secretary of Defense establish a policy that undermines federal law as established by DOMA?” Noting the possible negative effects on religious liberty, Archbishop Broglio asked, “Could a JAG officer choose, out of religious or moral convictions, not to give legal advice on marital and family issues to same-sex ‘partners’ without being subject to discipline? Forcing the officer to violate his conscience would not be fair.”

Archbishop Cordileone also expressed concern over the new policy. “For one thing, it undermines the Defense of Marriage Act, which is the law of the land,” he said. He added: “There is no question that all service members should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat different things differently. Only a man and a woman can bring children into the world, and so marriage, as the foundation of the family, by its very nature can only be between a man and a woman. In fact, by singling out two people of the same sex in a sexual relationship for special consideration, the policy excludes other possible types of relationships between two adults, thus treating the same thing differently. Actually, then, it is rather this policy that discriminates. More importantly, children, who are our future, have a right to be raised by their mother and father together. For the sake of our nation, and especially for the sake of our children, marriage should be promoted and protected at every opportunity, never undermined.”

The new Department of Defense policy memorandum was issued by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta earlier this week. The policy entitled “Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Military Members” must be implemented by the military services no later than October 1, 2013. Under the new policy, all that is required for a “domestic partnership” is a committed relationship between two adults of the same sex who are not in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership with anyone else. In many respects, “same-sex domestic partners” of military members will be treated like spouses. For instance, the “partner” of the military member will be entitled to a dependent military ID card, legal assistance from the military, and base exchange and commissary privileges. If both “partners” are in the military, they would be eligible for a joint duty assignment – what was customarily referred to as a joint spouse assignment. President Obama made his remarks on Tuesday in his State of the Union address before a joint session of the United States Congress.


Cardinal George and Bishop Paprocki: Don't Redefine Marriage in Illinois

Posted Jan. 4, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 2 comments

Illinois is one of several states where legislators voiced plans after the November election to seek marriage redefinition in 2013. (Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota are also on the list.) Illinois had passed civil unions legislation in 2010, a law strongly opposed by the Illinois bishops. While as of this morning it appears that a marriage redefinition bill will not be brought to a vote in the current legislative session, it remains a threat. The Catholic leadership in Illinois has responded quickly and vocally to this new challenge. We have already featured here the new Defense of Marriage Toolkit offered by the Catholic Conference of Illinois. And now this weekend, January 5/6, Cardinal Francis George and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki have asked for letters about marriage to be read at all of the parishes in Chicago and Springfield, respectively.

The message their parishioners will hear is crystal clear: marriage’s reality, rooted in nature, is the union of one man and one woman. It is a reality that no law can change. If the law does change to remove the gender requirement from marriage, Catholics and all those who hold to the authentic meaning of marriage can expect to face legal difficulties and social stigma.

Cardinal George: “‘Same-sex Marriage:’ What do Nature and Nature’s God Say?”

In his letter, co-signed by all the Chicago auxiliary bishops, Cardinal George emphasizes that marriage is not created by the State or by the Church, but that “marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital.” The State cannot change this natural reality of marriage; to try would create a “legal fiction.”

The Cardinal also highlights the various pastoral outreaches to persons with same-sex attraction in Chicago, noting that “the Church offers the means to live chastely in all circumstances, as the love of God both obliges and makes possible.”

Cardinal George says strongly that if the Illinois legislature passes a marriage redefinition law, “it will be acting against the common good of society. We will all have to pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.” He urges parishioners to visit the website of the Illinois Catholic Conference to stay updated on the latest in the marriage debate and find out how to contact their elected officials.

Bishop Paprocki: Proposed Law Threatens Marriage and Religious Liberty

In his letter, Bishop Paprocki calls attention to the “fraudulent” title of the marriage redefinition bill: “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.” In fact, writes the bishop, “the proposed law is…a grave assault upon both religious liberty and marriage.” He too emphasizes the natural reality of marriage as the union of a man and a woman: lacking sexual difference, two men or two women “cannot extend a union of hearts by a true bodily union. They cannot turn a friendship into the one-flesh union of marriage. They are not marital.”

The bishop stresses that redefining marriage in the law would do just that – redefine marriage. It is not simply “expand[ing] the eligibility roster for marriage,” as many claim. More specifically, there are three harmful ideas that would be enshrined in law post-marriage redefinition:

  1. What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union
  2. Children don’t need both a mother and father.
  3. The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfaction.

These three ideas contradict the long-standing consensus that marriage is recognized in civil law precisely because the love between a man and a woman has the capacity to bring a child into the world. As the bishop says, the “love-making acts” of a man and a woman “are life-giving acts.” Marriage involves commitment and intimacy, yes, but commitment and intimacy of a life-giving nature. Preserving marriage in civil law does justice to children by recognizing their need to be reared by a father and mother together.

Bishop Paprocki concludes by stating forcefully that the proposed bill is “a lethal attack upon religious liberty.” For those who are still skeptical, he points to the fact that Illinois has already seen consequences of laws erosive to marriage. As the bishop notes, after civil unions were passed in 2011, Catholic Charities was forced out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois. He adds that broader religious exemptions are not the answer. “There is no way,” he writes, “none whatsoever – for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. … The only way to protect religious liberty, and to preserve marriage, is to defeat this perilous proposal.”




New Resource: Defense of Marriage Toolkit

Posted Nov. 30, 2012 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

The Catholic Conference of Illinois [CCI] has released a valuable new resource for clergy and the laity in their efforts to promote and defend marriage: a Marriage Toolkit entitled Understanding & Promoting the Catholic Church’s Teaching on Marriage [PDF]. As explained in a press release, “The toolkit is designed to help Catholic individuals and parish communities understand, explain and promote the Catholic Church’s teaching to the following questions:

  • What is marriage?
  • Why is the definition of marriage important?
  • Why does the Church endure the repercussions of taking a stance on marriage which is contrary to popular social trends and media advocacy?
  • And, most importantly, why should you care about marriage?”

In order to answer these questions, the Toolkit provides an extensive Q&A on the subject, suggestions for further resources (including the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website), tips for homilists and catechists on giving marriage-related homilies and reflections, and information about the apostolate Courage, a ministry for persons with same-sex attraction. All of these components are available as stand-alone hand-outs.

The Toolkit is a joint effort developed by the Defense of Marriage Department of the CCI. Previously in 2009, the CCI produced a pamphlet explaining the link between civil union legislation and full marriage redefinition: “Promotion Civil Unions to Undermine Marriage” [PDF].

We encourage you to check out this valuable new resource. The entire toolkit can be downloaded as a PDF here.


Post-election round-up: Statements from (Arch)bishops and Catholic Conferences: Disappointment, gratitude, resolve

Posted Nov. 9, 2012 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 16 comments

In addition to Archbishop Cordileone’s statement expressing disappointment about the results of the four marriage referenda, Archbishops, Bishops, and Catholic Conferences in the four states where voters voted to redefine marriage on Tuesday have released statements. Their words echo Cardinal Dolan’s conviction, expressed in a statement released after the election: “We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.”


Bishop Richard Malone (Buffalo), Apostolic Administrator of Portland, Maine

I am deeply disappointed that a majority of Maine voters have redefined marriage from what we have understood it to be for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world. I am thankful for those who engaged in sincere and civil discourse on this matter of such serious consequence to our society. I am grateful to those who supported and recognize the value of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I especially want to thank the Catholic faithful who did not abandon Catholic teachings on the nature of marriage.

These past few months have served as a teaching opportunity to explain to parishioners and the wider community about how and why the Church views and values marriage as the union of one man and one woman open to new life.

It has also been an opportunity for learning. I trust that those who voted for such a radical change did so out of concern for our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction. Respect and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation is not a point of controversy. It is a teaching of the Church, but so is the authentic meaning and definition of marriage. That is why the Catholic Church will continue its commitment to work for the basic human rights to which all people are entitled, while remaining devoted to preserving and strengthening the precious gift of marriage. (Source: Statement from Bishop Malone Regarding ‘Question 1′ Results, Diocese of Portland website)


Archbishop William Lori (Baltimore)

“So much hard work went into this, and I’m very, very grateful to everyone who worked so hard. We will continue to witness to the values of marriage as understood as the union of one man and one woman, as the most sound, secure and loving way to bring children into the world.”

The election results on same-sex marriage should serve as a “wake up call” for Catholics, Archbishop Lori said, demonstrating “our need to redouble our efforts to defend marriage, to preach about what marriage is, and to help people understand it as a unique relationship that does not discriminate against anyone, but is for the good of children and for the good of society.” (Source: Maria Wiering, “Archbishop Lori calls same-sex marriage passage ‘a wake-up call’,” The Catholic Review)

Archdiocese of Washington

The Archdiocese of Washington is disappointed and deeply concerned that marriage in the state of Maryland has been redefined as a result of passage of the ballot issue put before voters yesterday. At the heart of the archdiocese’s opposition to this law is the Church’s unchanging teaching that marriage is a unique, exclusive, lifelong relationship created by God and reserved for one man and one woman. The complementarity of man and woman is intrinsic to the meaning of marriage.

Despite the outcome of this referendum issue, the archdiocese is grateful for the efforts undertaken by those who uphold the traditional meaning of marriage, and will continue to inform and educate its faithful and the members of the wider community about the truth of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. (Source: Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington on Maryland Referenda, Archdiocese of Washington website)

Maryland Catholic Conference

Regrettably, Marylanders decided by the narrowest of margins not to repeal the law that redefines marriage. The ballot language they encountered masked the fact that this law does not simply assign civil benefits to gay and lesbian couples, but drastically dismantles in our state law the fundamental family unit of mother, father and child. The people of Maryland were promised that this law would protect religious institutions and individuals who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and we will remain vigilant in ensuring that those promises are upheld. (Source: “Maryland Upholds DREAM but Fails to Uphold Marriage,” Maryland Catholic Conference website)


Minnesota Catholic Conference

The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, is disappointed that Amendment 1 did not pass. Despite this setback, our efforts to promote and defend the cornerstone social institution of marriage will continue.

MCC’s support of Amendment 1 was rooted in the complementarity of the sexes, the public significance of their ability to procreate, and the fundamental right of all children to be born into an intact family with a married mother and a father, even though this is not always possible. These basic human truths remain with or without the passage of this amendment.

Our position on the amendment was never “anti” anyone, but “for” marriage. We continue to emphasize that everyone, including those with same-sex attraction, must be treated with charity, dignity, and respect. The Catholic Church welcomes all and remains committed to affirming the irrevocable dignity of all persons created in the image and likeness of God.

We thank the thousands of Minnesotans, particularly our partners in the Minnesota for Marriage coalition, who worked tirelessly to bring about the amendment’s passage.

MCC will continue to support and advocate for public policy that best serves all of society, human dignity and the basic rights of children. Marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. We look forward to finding ways we can all work together as Minnesotans to strengthen marriage and family life. (Source: MCC Statement on the Defeat of the Marriage Protection Amendment, Minnesota Catholic Conference website)

Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis

Minnesota’s voters have spoken. Although the defeat of the amendment is a very serious concern to us, it will not deter us from continuing to serve this community and the whole state in pursuit of the common good. We are grateful to the thousands of Minnesotans, particularly those who lent their support to Minnesota for Marriage, for their commitment to proactively protect the timeless definition of marriage.

The Church’s public advocacy of support for the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment has always been rooted in our commitment to advance the common good for human society. This is the same spirit that guides the Church’s unwavering pursuit of economic justice, healthcare and immigration reform, and the defense of human life and dignity from conception to natural death.

We proposed, and continue to do so, that the good of society is best served by maintaining the traditional understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This proposition finds its intelligibility in the order of reason and in the testimony of the Bible.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis will continue to build up this community according to our principles, including giving voice and unwavering defense to the unborn, the poor and forgotten, the abused and the lonely. And we will continue to work to strengthen marriage, and defend it against all forms of its weakening, for the good of all society. We can do nothing less than continue to propose and do our best to live out what we believe. (Source: Statement on the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment Vote, Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis website)


Bishop Joseph Tyson (Yakima):

Bishop Tyson joined the other Roman Catholic bishops in Washington State who expressed their disappointment that “so many voters failed to recognize marriage between a man and a woman as the natural institution for the permanent, faithful covenant of love for a couple, for bringing children into the world, and for nurturing and educating those children. This change in civil law is not in the best interest of children or society.”

“I intend to work with the other bishops of the state and in the region to continue to uplift marriage between one man and one woman as the best proposal for everyone in our society,” Bishop Tyson said. He noted that despite the election results, the campaign has been an opportunity for the Church to reaffirm its consistent teaching on marriage. “This represents a starting point for a long-term effort to educate Catholics about its meaning and purpose.” (Source: Msgr. Robert Siler, “Measure Appears to Have Passed Statewide,” Diocese of Yakima website)

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain (Seattle)

It appears that Referendum 74, a measure that redefines marriage in Washington state, has been approved. I am disappointed that so many voters failed to recognize marriage between a man and a woman as the natural institution for the permanent, faithful covenant of love for a couple, for bringing children into the world, and for nurturing and educating those children. This change in civil law is not in the best interest of children or society.

Despite the election results, the campaign has been an opportunity for the Church to reaffirm its consistent teaching on marriage. The campaign to preserve marriage as a union between a man and a woman represents a starting point for a long-term effort to educate Catholics about its meaning and purpose. The Church offers a vision of marriage and family life that enriches our communities and society and we remain committed to that vision while respecting the dignity of all persons.

I thank all those who supported the effort to preserve marriage in Washington, and hope that despite this vote, all people will come to recognize the importance of marriage between a man and a woman for children and society. (Source: Statement from Archbishop Sartain regarding Referendum 74, Archdiocese of Seattle website)