From Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s blog:
A Call to Counter Cultural Witness
Sad . . . worrisome . . . but hardly surprising.
That’s how I answered another concerned person who asked my sentiments about Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the redefinition of marriage.
Sad, because the ominous erosion of the pivotal institution of society and civilization — marriage – has been accelerated. Yes, the decision could have been more troublesome, but it’s still somber.
The understanding of marriage as the lifelong, faithful, loving union of one man and one woman, as a husband and a wife become a mom and dad to their babies, and bring about a family, is a given in the human heart, a constant in history, flowing from what philosophers term the natural law, a definition embedded in reasoned reflection on the human person, antedating any government, written law, or religion.
USCCB News Release: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation," State U.S. Bishops
The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 mark a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The statement follows.
“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.
“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.
“When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.
“Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
Editors: Background information can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/backgrounder-on-proposition-8-and-doma.cfm
On Tuesday, August 7, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York gave an address at the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, in Anaheim, CA. In his talk, peppered with delightful stories (we’ll let you read the one about Archbishop Sheen and the honeymoon suite for yourselves), the Cardinal concentrated on marriage and the beauty of married love.
Some great snippets:
“We Catholics are hopeless romantics, you know, when it comes to married love . . .
“Against all odds, we still believe that, when a man and woman vow that they’ll love and honor each other, ‘for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part,’ they really do mean it;
“We still hold fast to the teaching of the Bible that God so esteems marriage that He compared His personal, passionate, eternal love for Israel to that between a husband and a wife; that Saint Paul tells us that the love of Jesus for us, His Church, is just like that of a groom for His bride;
“We still have in our gut the Church’s timeless ‘Valentine’s Day card,’ that the love between a husband and a wife has the same characteristics as does that of God for us: it is faithful; it is forever; it brings about new life in children.
“We are such hopeless romantics that we contend the best way to get a hint of how God loves us now, and in eternity, is to look at how you, married couples, love one another. ‘The love of a man and woman is made holy in the sacrament of marriage, and becomes the mirror of your everlasting love . . . ,’ chants the Preface in the Nuptial Mass.”
Cardinal Dolan affirmed the importance of vocations not only to the priesthood and consecrated life, but to marriage: “‘For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and the Sacrament of Marriage‘ should perhaps become the new phrasing for a prayer of the faithful at every Mass, as we are sobered by the gloomy statistics that only 51% of our young people are approaching that sacrament, a piece of data you all somberly see verified even among your own children and grandchildren.”
And the Cardinal “tipped his zucchetto” to the Knights for their “indefatigable” work in defending marriage from the “well-choreographed, well-oiled crusade to conform marriage to the whims of the day instead of conforming our urges to God’s design, as revealed in the Bible, nature, and reflective reason.”
He closed with a reflection on the importance of marriage and the family for building what modern Popes have called a “civilization of love”: “The most effective guarantee of a civilization of love rather than the survival of the fittest: the culture of life over the culture of death; the law of the gift rather than the law of the ‘get’, solidarity rather than selfishness, is precisely the preservation of traditional marriage and family. When that goes, we all go.”
Cardinal Dolan’s whole speech is worth a read! Find the full version on Zenit here.
From Wednesday to Friday of this week, all of the bishops in the United States have been meeting together in Atlanta for their biannual general assembly. During this time, a number of bishops present oral reports on the work of their respective committee or subcommittee. Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, presented today, Thursday June 14, to the full body of bishops about the Subcommittee’s work. Below is his talk in full, with hyperlinks added.
Thank you, Your Eminence. Good morning/afternoon, Brother Bishops.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, during his homily at the closing Mass of the recent Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan, spoke about the fruitfulness of married love. A husband and a wife, the Holy Father noted, give their “whole lives” to one another. Their love is fruitful for themselves, fruitful in their generous and responsible procreation of children, and fruitful for society, particularly since “family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues.” The Holy Father’s words remind us that the love of husband and wife is a decisive gift for the world, and it calls for stewardship and responsibility.
As I begin my report to you today, I would like to thank in a special way, for their stewardship of the gift of marriage, Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Jugis in North Carolina, Bishop Malone in Maine (soon to be in Buffalo), Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop Lori, Cardinal Wuerl, Bishop Malooly, and the bishops of Maryland, Archbishop Neinstedt and the bishops of Minnesota, and Archbishop Sartain and the bishops of Washington state. Thank you for your teaching and steadfast witness to the beauty of marriage. Our prayers remain with you and with the many who are working to preserve the unique meaning of marriage in your states’ laws.
Brother Bishops, I am grateful for this time to update you on the work of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. Today I will speak briefly about the Subcommittee’s ongoing catechetical work and the legal landscape before us, and then I will close by highlighting initial findings from a new study on family structures, released just a few days ago.
In its catechetical work, the Subcommittee continues to advance its initiative, Marriage: Unique for a Reason. The current project underway is the Spanish-language video entitled “El matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida” (Marriage: Made for Love and Life). The video, envisioned to be fifteen minutes long, will use a telenovela-style format and will present a story based on a 50th wedding anniversary. The story will introduce all four themes of the Subcommittee’s catechetical messaging: sexual difference, the good of children, the common good, and religious liberty. Additional time and focus groups have been utilized in this video’s development to ensure a culturally effective presentation. We anticipate the video’s completion by the end of this year.
Following the release of the Spanish-language video, the Subcommittee plans to complete the Marriage: Unique for a Reason project with the production of two additional English videos, the first on marriage and the common good and the second on marriage and religious liberty.
The video on the common good will aim to introduce the broader social context and meaning of marriage, grounded in an authentic anthropology. With the help of the witness of young adults, it will also seek to address arguments that falsely employ the language of equality, rights, fairness, non-discrimination, and the like. These arguments can and need to be reframed. The core issue is the meaning of marriage and its significance for the rights and best interests of children and for the common good.
The video on religious liberty will be developed in close collaboration with the ongoing efforts of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. As described in last January’s open letter signed by various religious leaders, marriage and religious liberty stand or fall together.
Lastly, since last November’s launch of the new website marriageuniqueforareason.org, staff continues to monitor and develop the website to improve its effectiveness. Various resources are available on the site, and more resources will continue to be developed based on current needs.
Moving now to the legal landscape, the urgency around the protection of marriage has not abated.
At the state level, this year is a significant one. The recent victory in North Carolina, 61% to 39% in support of the constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage, is a great encouragement. Also encouraging is the outstanding number of signatures being collected in Maryland and Washington State to place their respective referendum on the ballot. Both are reporting breaking state records in the amount of signatures collected. The redefinition of marriage in the law is not, and never will be, inevitable. But ongoing vigilance and effort are needed. Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington State are poised to have crucial votes in November. Also, in Illinois, a lawsuit was recently introduced challenging the current law around civil unions as discriminatory and calling for the full redefinition of marriage. The State Attorney General, who is charged to defend the law of the state, is officially supporting the lawsuit.
At the federal level, recent negative court decisions concerning both the federal Defense of Marriage Act as well as California’s Proposition 8 now open the door for both DOMA and Prop 8 to go before the Supreme Court. The “Roe v. Wade Moment” for marriage that Archbishop Kurtz indicated to this body in November 2010 is ever closer.
And as we learned last month, President Obama has now voiced his official support for the redefinition of marriage in the law.
Cardinal Dolan, we are grateful for your strong words expressing disappointment with the President’s recent comments. You remind us well of the ongoing need to pray for the President and for all our leaders entrusted with the common good.
The Subcommittee continues to monitor all these areas and to seek opportunities to educate our people, advocate for the truth of marriage, and collaborate with ecumenical and interreligious leaders.
Findings from New Family Structures Study
Lastly, I would like to call your attention to an important new social-science study whose initial findings were just released a few days ago. The study, entitled “New Family Structures Study,” was conducted at the University of Texas at Austin. The study has surveyed a very large, nationally-representative, and random sample of American young adults (ages 18 to 39) who were raised in different family or home environments, including homes with a parent in a same-sex relationship, as well as single-parent families, step-families, adoptive families and families where the children were raised by their biological parents married to each other.
In an article recently published in the July issue of the peer-reviewed journal Social Science Research, the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Mark Regnerus, presented initial findings that should serve as significant points for future public discourse. The findings indicate several significant statistical differences when comparing young adults who were raised in an intact home with their married, biological parents and young adults raised in other home environments. The measurable outcomes of the study cover a range of information, including social and economic well-being, psychological and physical health, sexual identity, sexual behavior, and other areas. Twenty-five (25) of the forty (40) areas measured showed significant difference, and in no area were children better off in an alternative arrangement. The differences in outcomes illustrate, as the article notes, “that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”
Promising to be a benchmark for further studies and findings, this study has been noted to empirically call into question other studies with smaller and more restrictive sample sizes that have purported to show that there are no differences between father-mother parenting and other arrangements. Another paper by sociologist Dr. Loren Marks, also published this month in Social Science Research, reviewed fifty-nine (59) previous studies cited by the American Psychological Association (APA). He found these studies to have various limitations, including being based on small, non-random, non-representative, and self-selecting samples, and he concluded that the studies were “insufficient to support a strong generalized claim either way.”
In other words, this New Family Structures Study is being acknowledged as one of the first studies on this topic to have a comprehensive and scientifically respectable approach—so much so that some social science researchers with views supportive of new or so-called alternative family structures have acknowledged the scientific validity of the study. The study itself was developed and conducted by a team of researchers who disagree among themselves about the topic of family structures but agreed to lead an objective study. A website has now been set up to present the study’s findings, which can be accessed at: www.familystructurestudies.com. Although it is not the job of social science to protect the meaning of marriage, nor can correlation be taken as equivalent to causation, social science has an important role to play in the public conversation. In this instance, a well-respected study is attesting to something very basic: fathers and mothers matter, and married fathers and mothers matter for children.
Unfortunately, we have come to a point in Western society where the meaning of marriage is being largely eclipsed by a counterfeit version, by a false idea that marriage is just a matter of adult interests and can be manipulated as a product of arbitrary invention. However, I believe many of our young people, who have experienced firsthand the difficulties of broken families and the absence of a father or a mother, know intuitively that such an understanding of marriage cannot stand the test of time and can only lead to further disappointment and hardships.
As this new study indicates, social science continues to affirm that children thrive and do best with their mother and father in an intact home. The protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a work of justice and is foundational to the good of all, especially for those most vulnerable among us, our children. It is the way of true compassion—love in truth and truth in love. Our young people are hungry for this truth and are in a position to witness to it in a uniquely powerful way.
The Subcommittee is grateful to all those who, in charity, hope, and truth, are working to shed light on the true meaning of marriage and to strengthen and protect it. In a special way, Brother Bishops, I thank each one of you for your stewardship of the gift of marriage and family and for all the time and work in your dioceses and eparchies dedicated to strengthening marriage. As always, the Subcommittee seeks to assist you and continues to benefit from your guidance and feedback. On behalf of the Subcommittee as well as Bishop Rhoades and the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, thank you again for this opportunity to update you today.
Video coming soon: stay tuned!
Speaking at the commencement ceremony of the Catholic University of America this past Saturday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan encouraged the graduates to live what he called “the Law of the Gift.” As defined by the Son of God, the Cardinal explained, the Law of the Gift means laying down one’s life for one’s friends. And as described by Bl. John Paul II, the law of the gift means that “we are at our best, we are most fully alive and human, when we give away freely and sacrificially our very selves in love for another.”
Cardinal Dolan listed a few examples of what the Law of the Gift looks like in action: a grandmother in New York who was killed by a car after pushing her grandson to safety; Marines who put their life on the line for their country; and pediatric oncologists who care for suffering children day in and day out.
Then, directing his attention to the graduates, the Cardinal highlighted the inner connection between the Law of the Gift and marriage:
“Now, one final thing: You all had a head-start in the learning the Law of the Gift and the importance of faith to sustain it.
“For, see, the Law of the Gift is most poetically exemplified in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, intimate union of a man and woman in marriage, which then leads to the procreation of new life in babies, so that husband and wife, now father and mother, spend their lives sacrificially loving and giving to those children. That union – that sacred rhythm of man/woman/husband/wife/baby/mother/father – is so essential to the order of the common good that its very definition is ingrained into our interior dictionary, that its protection and flourishing is the aim of enlightened culture.
“And your tutelage in the Law of the Gift, class of 2012, was only refined at this Catholic University, for it began in the most sublime classroom of them all, your home and family, under the most significant of all professors, your mom and dad. Congratulations, parents of our graduates!” (emphasis added)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, President of the USCCB, issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s public support of marriage redefinition:
“President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.”