Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington sent a pastoral letter about marriage to his flock this past Sunday. The letter, Marriage and Referendum 74, reflects on the week’s Gospel in which Jesus says, “…from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…” (Mark 10: 6-8)
The bishop asked that his pastoral letter be read at all Sunday masses this past weekend (October 6/7). Also recommended for distribution were two one-page handouts: “What Every Catholic Needs to Know Before Voting” (a Q&A about Referendum 74) and “Redefining Marriage: What Are the Consequences?”
Voters in Washington State are considering whether to accept a bill passed earlier this year redefining marriage to include two persons of the same sex. Referendum 74 gives voters a chance to accept or reject this change. Last month, we shared videos by the other two bishops in Washington State on the same issue. Both of these bishops, Archbishop Sartain of Seattle and Bishop Cupich of Spokane, have also written pastoral letters encouraging the faithful to defend marriage.
Highlights of Bishop Tyson’s Letter
In his letter, Bishop Tyson told his flock that “R-74’s conception of marriage is wrong from the start, since it presumes that marriage is simply a matter of what any two consenting adults desire. But this has never been the meaning of marriage, nor has it been the reason why marriage is recognized as essential to the common good.”
He also warned of the potential consequences to the Church if the law is allowed to go into effect. “This law will challenge our right to educate about the unique value of children being raised by their own mothers and fathers,” he wrote.
“The acceptance of R-74 means that so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ will replace real marriage – the union of a man and a woman – as the legal frame of reference for all public discourse.”
The Church’s opposition to redefining marriage has the common good in mind. The letter clarifies that “the starting point for understanding marriage’s meaning and public purpose is not the desires of adults but the meaning of the human person and the rights of children to be known and loved by their mothers and fathers. The true good is always what’s best.”
Bishop Tyson was careful to mention that “some of us have friends and family with same-sex attraction. And we are aware of a painful pattern of unjust discrimination and personal reject[ion]. We love them. We do not want to lose them. We do not want them to feel rejected again.”
Toward the end of the letter, he calls for Catholics to go beyond opposing the new law. “We need to find ways to replant our Church’s moral proposal for human happiness that flows from marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”