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/.
USCCB News Release: Heads of Military Archdiocese, Subcommittee for the Promotion, Defense of Marriage Object to Defense Department Same-Sex Domestic Partners Policy
Feb. 19, 2013
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.
Jan. 4, 2013
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:
- What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union
- Children don’t need both a mother and father.
- 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.”
- Illinois residents can find their elected officials’ contact information at the Illinois Catholic Conference website.
- Defense of Marriage Toolkit from the Illinois Catholic Conference
- Redefinition of Marriage website from the Illinois Catholic Conference
Nov. 30, 2012
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
Nov. 9, 2012
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)
Oct. 19, 2012
USCCB News Release:
BISHOPS’ DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE CHAIR DECRIES LATEST DOMA RULING
- Concept that marriage is between one man, one woman grounded in nature
- Children deserve to be raised by their biological parents
- Public good demands that unique nature of marriage be respected by law
WASHINGTON—In response to a decision on October 18 by a divided federal appeals court panel to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued the following comment expressing disappointment over the ruling.
“The recognition that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman is grounded in our nature, being clear from the very way our bodies are designed. This recognition obliges our consciences and laws. It is a matter of basic rights—the right of every child to be welcomed and raised, as far as possible, by his or her mother and father together in a stable home,” Archbishop Cordelione said. “Marriage is the only institution whereby a man and a woman unite for life and are united to any child born from their union. The public good demands that the unique meaning and purpose of marriage be respected in law and society, not rejected as beyond the constitutional pale. Redefining marriage never upholds the equal dignity of individuals because it contradicts basic human rights. The ruling yesterday is unjust and a great disappointment.”
On October 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, by a 2-1 vote, a U.S. District Court decision striking down section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional. Section 3 defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.
DOMA was approved by a broad, bi-partisan majority of Congress in 1996, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA recognizes for purposes of federal law that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and it also protects the rights of states to uphold this definition of marriage in the face of laws from other states that might be adverse to such definition.
Sep. 27, 2012
On September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark released a new pastoral letter about marriage: “When Two Become One: A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage.”
The Archdiocese of Newark blog explained that the pastoral reflection “was written to help the faithful of the Archdiocese form their consciences, discern their vocations and, for the married, fulfill their vows.” It also noted that clergy in the Archdiocese of Newark would read a letter from Archbishop Myers about the pastoral at all masses this weekend, September 29-30, and that copies of the one-page Executive Summary would be sent to all parishes. In addition, all Catholic high schools in Newark will receive a copy of the pastoral letter and be asked to incorporate it into the Family Life curriculum.
Throughout his 16-page letter, Archbishop Myers quotes from Scripture, papal encyclicals, modern theologians, and even social science research to explain and reinforce the Church’s timeless teaching on marriage. The letter is set up as responses to a series of familiar questions:
What is marriage?
“Marriage is a natural and pre-political institution. . . . We cannot define and redefine marriage to suit our personal tastes or goals. We cannot make forms of relationships or types of conduct marital simply by attaching to them the word ‘marriage.’ The defining features and structuring norms of marriage are written in the design of creation and revealed to us by a loving God who has made marriage a powerful symbol of the mystery of his love for us.”
Can the truth about marriage be known through reason alone?
“The short answer to this question is ‘yes’ . . . Philosophers, both secular and religious, have from antiquity recognized the existence of the ‘natural law’: a body of moral norms ‘written on the heart,’ as St. Paul said, that serve as the universal rational standard for human behavior.”
What does the Catholic Church teach about persons with homosexual attraction?
“Some mistakenly charge that Christ and His Church condemn or fail to love persons who experience romantic or sexual attraction to members of the same sex. On the contrary, while calling us to renounce all sinful behavior, Christ and His Church unequivocally love every last human person, in every condition of life: the unborn and the dying; the able-bodied and the sick; the young and the old; and men and women, whatever their inclinations.”
Don’t equality and justice require the state to recognize same-sex unions as marriages?
“Because same-sex couples cannot enter into the one-flesh unity of marriage – they cannot participate in reproductive type acts – they cannot marry in any meaningful sense of the term. Marriage is not mere sexual-romantic domestic partnership. It is, at its very foundation, a one-flesh union. And it is because an essential element in authentic marriage is the capacity to participate in reproductive-type acts that can, and often do, lead to children that the state has a vital interest in recognizing and promoting marriages.”
Should civil law reflect the natural law?
“Civil law should reflect the natural law to the extent that public order allows. . . . Any attempt to change the definition of marriage at the political level represents an overreaching of the competence of politicians and, indeed, of civil positive law.”
Should faithful Catholics defend the traditional teaching on marriage in the public square?
“I write as the Archbishop of Newark with the responsibility to teach the truth about the faith, including the truth about marriage, ‘in season and out,’ as St. Paul admonished Timothy. . . But I also write as a citizen of the United States with responsibilities to help promote the true common good for all. . . . Along with our commitments to defend life and serve the poor, the protection and promotion of the family serves as the core principle of our social commitment.”
- “When Two Become One: A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage”
- One-page Executive Summary
- Earlier pastoral statements from Archbishop Myers
- “A Meditation on Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae” (August 13, 2003)
- “And the Word became Flesh: A Theological Reflection on the Human Body” (December 8, 2002)
- Interview: Archbishop Myers talks to Vatican Radio
Mar. 12, 2012
Today, news from “across the pond.” The President and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales penned a pastoral letter on marriage that was to be read at parishes throughout England and Wales this past weekend, March 10 and 11. In their letter, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark write that they plan to present “the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society” (all emphasis added).
The Archbishops reflect on marriage both as a natural institution and as a sacrament:
The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility.
. . .
As a Sacrament, [marriage] is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The letter also argues that “changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step.” Continuing, they explain:
The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two persons involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.
On the Bishops’ Conference website, Archbishop Nichols and Archbishop Smith urge residents of England and Wales to sign an online petition organized by the grass-roots campaign Coalition for Marriage.
Feb. 24, 2012
On Thursday, February 23, the Maryland State Senate unfortunately voted 25 to 22 in favor of a bill that would redefine marriage in Maryland. The bill had previously passed through the House by a narrow 72 to 67 margin and now makes its way to Governor O’Malley’s desk. The Governor, who had proposed the bill, is expected to sign it, which would make Maryland the eighth state to redefine marriage to the exclusion of sexual difference.
The Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) released a statement yesterday lamenting the bill’s passage. They point out that the bill passed by “the narrowest of margins” and “was forced through the House with extraordinary political pressures and legislative maneuvers,” a point highlighted in a February 22 MCC statement following the House vote.
MCC writes in the February 23 statement, “Stripping marriage of its unique connection to parenthood erases from civil law the right of a child to a mother and father, and ignores an essential question of why government favors marriage between one man and one woman over all other relationships” (emphasis added).
The political battle over marriage in Maryland is far from over. Supporters of marriage’s perennial definition have the opportunity to bring the measure to voters with a referendum this November, provided that they can raise at least 55,000 signatures. The Maryland Catholic Conference sees this opportunity in a very positive light: “When this issue reaches the November ballot, we are confident that the citizens of Maryland will join voters in 31 other states in upholding marriage between one man and one woman.”
- Maryland Catholic Conference website on Marriage
- MCC Q&A Handout: “Marriage and Society: Marriage Cannot Be Redefined“
- The Bishops of Maryland 2008 Statement: “Marriage in Maryland: Securing the Foundation of Family and Society“
Dec. 15, 2011
“How good it is, how pleasant, where the people dwell as one!” – Psalm 133:1 (NAB)
Just over one year ago, on December 6, 2010, leaders from twenty-seven different religious communities joined together to reaffirm their commitment to marriage as the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. In an open letter entitled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment” religious leaders representing a wide-range of Christian churches and communities, Jewish organizations and the American Sikh community joined the Catholic Church in expressing their common concern and commitment to marriage between one man and one woman as an unalterable institution in the bedrock of our society.
“As religious leaders across different faith communities,” the signatories wrote, “we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensable place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.”
The open letter was a remarkable expression of ecumenical and interreligious collaboration, and a hopeful sign of joint activity yet to come. Despite the groups’ theological and cultural differences, they affirmed together their common belief that protecting and promoting marriage is a fundamental task for all people of faith. Indeed, “how good it is, how pleasant, where the people dwell as one!”
- Full text and signers: “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment”
- Press release: “Religious Leaders Voice Shared Commitment to Protect Marriage”
- Backgrounder on the open letter