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
Dec. 23, 2012
On December 8, Pope Benedict XVI released his message for the World Day of Peace (January 1, 2013). While the bulk of the message is about life, economic concerns, and freedom, Pope Benedict also discussed the role of marriage and the family in promoting a “culture of peace.”
Pope Benedict XVI: There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.
No one should ignore or underestimate the decisive role of the family, which is the basic cell of society from the demographic, ethical, pedagogical, economic and political standpoints. The family has a natural vocation to promote life: it accompanies individuals as they mature and it encourages mutual growth and enrichment through caring and sharing. The Christian family in particular serves as a seedbed for personal maturation according to the standards of divine love. The family is one of the indispensable social subjects for the achievement of a culture of peace. The rights of parents and their primary role in the education of their children in the area of morality and religion must be safeguarded. It is in the family that peacemakers, tomorrow’s promoters of a culture of life and love, are born and nurtured.
- Message for the Celebration of World Day of Peace 2013, 4 and 6 [emphasis added].
Nov. 16, 2012
On Saturday, November 10, Fr. Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit who is the director of the Vatican Television Centre and Vatican Radio, published an editorial regarding the Church’s ongoing efforts to preserve the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the law. Fr. Lombardi writes, “In recent days there have been three worrying events concerning legislation on marriage.” He references events in Spain and France, as well as the November 6 referendums on marriage in the United States.
Fr. Lombardi continues, saying, “It is therefore clear that in western countries there is a widespread tendency to modify the classic vision of marriage between a man and a woman, or rather to try to give it up, erasing its specific and privileged legal recognition compared to other forms of union.” He notes that this tendency “is nothing new” but that “the matter does not cease to amaze” because “the logic of it cannot have a far-sighted outlook for the common good.”
He cites the support of non-Christian leaders, such as the Chief Rabbi in France, and then offers a basic catechesis on why marriage as the union of one man and one woman ought to be protected in the law:
It is not, in fact, a question of avoiding unfair discrimination for homosexuals, since this must and can be guaranteed in other ways. It is a question of admitting that a husband and a wife are publicly recognised as such; and that children who come into the world can know, and say they have, a father and a mother. In short, preserving a vision of the human person and of human relationships where there is a public acknowledgment of monogamous marriage between a man and a woman [as] an achievement of civilization (emphasis added).
Fr. Lombardi points out that if sexual difference is removed from the definition of marriage, the question opens of why not recognize other forms of relationships like polygamy and polyandry. He concludes by affirming that in light of marriage’s essential role in society, “It is not expected, then, the Church will give up proposing that society recognise a specific place for marriage between a man and a woman.”
Read the full text of Fr. Lombardi’s editorial (Vatican Radio website)
Nov. 6, 2012
A great blog post from Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington, DC) on marriage and why it matters for society:
The Gift of Married Love
Marriage is a private relationship with a public significance. In the human love that brings a woman and man to marriage, we already hear God speaking to us of the beauty and fidelity of love, its transforming power, and its creative energy. In the sacrament of matrimony, God speaks to us of a fullness of human love. Our limited experience of love is only a sign and beginning of love that changes us into children of God, who share his own wondrous and unending life in love.
Christ’s love for the Church is the pattern for married life. “Love one another as I love you!” (John 15:12). Perhaps, this sounds a bit impossible. To a young couple preparing for marriage, the reality of Christ’s love being the pattern of their own love gets lost in the dream-like quality of what is thought to be a perfect love. Real teachers of this truth of married love are the couples with whom we celebrate our annual Jubilarian Mass, some of whom have been married for more than sixty years. These couples speak simply and beautifully of learning to love in a self-giving, self-sacrificing kind of way, of nurturing a love that can weather the stresses and strains of married love and family life. I invite you to listen to some of their wisdom.
In a society that is intent on changing the very definition of marriage and family, we must never tire of preaching the good news that “the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. God himself is the author of marriage” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1603).
This Christian understanding of marriage has a very public benefit. Christian marriage is for the good of society, not just the married couple and the Church. In a society where family life is collapsing and our social order is unraveling, the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the obligation of parents to their children is a timely remedy. First, it ensures that every child will have the benefit of having a mother and a father. Second, it creates a stable environment for children in a world in which we see many children generated by parents who take no responsibility for them. We observe the proliferation of gangs and individuals who feel alienated and often react violently by hurting others. Family life is under assault because marriage is devalued within our culture. As members of the Church, we are obliged to be all the more attentive to the challenges that weaken marriage as a social institution and an expression of God’s plan for the well-being of the human race. Residents of Maryland have the opportunity to address this issue at the ballot box this week. Insuring that the definition of marriage does not change is a gift to our children and to society.
Living marriage as a vocation with a life-long mission requires commitment, faithfulness, and sacrifice on the part of each of the spouses. This is a gift that flows from the gift they make of themselves to each other, which has to be definitive if it is to endure in the face of difficulties. At every stage marriages need to be nurtured through prayer and reflection and formation. I hope you will take advantage of the spiritual and educational resources for strengthening your marriage which may be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website, “For Your Marriage.”
From Seek First the Kingdom, Cardinal Wuerl’s blog
Nov. 5, 2012
Tomorrow is Election Day. Tomorrow voters in four states will face referendums on marriage: Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington State. The bishops in those states have been energetically preaching and teaching about the authentic meaning of marriage, as we showed in a recap post two weeks ago. Today, on the eve of the election, we share with you timely prayers, reflections on the importance of protecting marriage for the sake of the common good, and words of wisdom to consider when voting tomorrow.
- Prayer Before An Election (USCCB website)
- Prayer for the Promotion and Protection of Marriage (MUR website)
- Catholics Care. Catholics Vote: Strengthening and Defending Marriage is a Matter of Justice (USCCB website)
- Columns, letters, videos, and more from Bishops in states with a marriage referendum tomorrow (MUR website)
Words of wisdom about marriage and the common good:
“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.” – Pope Benedict XVI, address to U.S. bishops
“Some may suggest that our society’s traditional understanding of marriage has already unraveled and that redefining marriage won’t harm it further. But this radical redefinition of marriage will irreparably undermine the irreplaceable role that both a mother and father play in the life of a child and relegate their relationship to an arbitrary status among many other family arrangements.” – Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Baltimore (emeritus): article, “A radical redefinition of marriage”
“To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice.” “Everyone has a stake in a stable, flourishing, and loving society created and sustained in no small part by marriage between a man and a woman.” – Bishop Richard Malone, Buffalo (formerly Portland, Maine): Pastoral letter, “Marriage: Yesterday-Today-Always”
“The obvious and intimate connection between the conjugal act and conception, along with the universally recognized importance of stable marriages for the education and formation of children, removes marriage from the private sphere and places it into the public realm, an institution very much part of the common good and therefore a concern of the state.” – Minnesota Bishops, “A Brief Catechesis on Marriage”
“Let us not allow ourselves or others to be fooled by false reasoning. Protecting the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman does not make marriage ‘discriminatory.’ It recognizes marriage between one man and one woman to be unique – unique among all other kinds of human relationships.” – Bishop Joseph Tyson, Yakima: “A Pastoral Letter on Marriage and Referendum 74“
Oct. 25, 2012
This November voters in four states will face ballot questions about the definition of marriage. In Maryland and Washington State, voters will have the chance to stop legislation redefining marriage to include two persons of the same sex, while in Maine proponents of the redefinition of marriage are getting a second chance after a 2009 referendum stopped a similar law. Minnesotans, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to enshrine the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in their constitution.
Since the Church teaches that “No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: ‘Increase and multiply,’” (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 12) it is only fitting that the bishops in these states have responded with pastoral teaching.
In Maryland, where Question 6 asks voters whether they are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the legislature’s attempt to redefine marriage, Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, then apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun, “A radical redefinition of marriage”. The Cardinal called marriage a “unique human relationship — the only such one capable of bringing life into the world.” We are trying to protect the definition of marriage because it is “what is best for society — not out of some hostility toward our sisters and brothers who are attracted to others of the same sex.”
Earlier bishops’ columns, as well as handouts prepared by the Maryland Catholic Conference, can be found on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s website.
Question 1 in Maine asks voters: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” Portland’s Bishop Richard J. Malone (now of Buffalo) sent a 26-pages letter to his flock, “Marriage: Yesterday – Today – Always“ (PDF). He uses this letter as an opportunity “to reflect with you, through this pastoral letter, upon the greatness and the beauty of marriage—as an original gift of the Lord’s creation and, consequently, as a vocation and as the foundational institution of family and society.” We looked at highlights from the bishop’s letter in an earlier blog post. Bishop Malone also spoke about marriage as the building block of civilization in this video:
Minnesotans will have a chance to adopt Amendment 1 this November, which would amend Minnesota’s state constitution to read that “only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.” The state’s bishops collectively published A Brief Catechesis on Marriage, where they explain that marriage is “a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman in an enduring bond of love.” Bishop John Quinn of Winona testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (PDF) and Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth testified before the House of Representatives Civil Law Committee (PDF). Catholics in Crookston received a letter from Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner. In New Ulm, Bishop John M. Levoir produced a video. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis gave an interview to the National Catholic Register about the marriage referendum, and wrote a column about why the marriage amendment “deserves our support.” Archbishop Nienstedt had earlier produced a video about marriage and the importance of the marriage amendment (below) that was sent to Catholics throughout Minnesota.
The Minnesota Catholic Conference website has a page dedicated to the marriage referendum with many additional articles, handouts, and resources.
Referendum 74 in Washington State gives voters a chance to “approve” or “reject” a bill to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same-sex. The state’s bishops collectively issued a pastoral statement, Marriage and the Good of Society: A Pastoral statement regarding Referendum 74 (PDF). Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle and his auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S. sent a letter to the faithful (PDF) this past April. In August, Spokane Bishop Blase J. Cupich published three documents about the definition of marriage: A Letter to Parishioners: Referendum 74, Some Reflections on Referendum 74, and “Believing in Marriage”. And in October, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima sent A Pastoral Letter on Marriage and Referendum 74 (PDF) to his flock.
Archbishop Sartain (Seattle) and Bishop Cupich (Spokane) have also produced videos about marriage and Referendum 74:
Oct. 10, 2012
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.”
Oct. 7, 2012
Today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from the Encyclical Arcanum Divinae (On Catholic Marriage) by Pope Leo XIII, published in February of 1880.
Pope Leo XIII: If, then, we consider the end of the divine institution of marriage, we shall see very clearly that God intended it to be a most fruitful source of individual benefit and of public welfare, Not only, in strict truth, was marriage instituted for the propagation of the human race, but also that the lives of husbands and wives might be made better and happier. This comes about in many ways: by their lightening each other’s burdens through mutual help; by constant and faithful love; by having all their possessions in common; and by the heavenly grace which flows from the sacrament. Marriage also can do much for the good of families, for, so long as it is conformable to nature and in accordance with the counsels of God, it has power to strengthen union of heart in the parents; to secure the holy education of children; to temper the authority of the father by the example of the divine authority; to render children obedient to their parents and servants obedient to their masters. From such marriages as these the State may rightly expect a race of citizens animated by a good spirit and filled with reverence and love for God, recognizing it their duty to obey those who rule justly and lawfully, to love all, and to injure no one.
- Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum Divinae, no. 26 (emphasis added).
Sep. 16, 2012
You just never know when the Holy Father will talk about marriage! Today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from a relatively obscure source: an address of Pope Benedict XVI to the new ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See. In it, he talks about marriage’s place in Europe, but we could easily substitute “America” for “Europe.”
Pope Benedict XVI: Marriage and the family constitute a decisive foundation for the healthy development of civil society, countries and peoples. Marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between a man and a woman and, at the same time, as a founding cell of the State community has continued to be modelled on biblical faith. In this way, marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has meant continuously learning and achieving the characteristic of fidelity and self-denial that this implies. Europe would no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social fabric were to disappear or to be substantially transformed.
We all know how endangered marriage and the family are today — on the one hand because of the erosion of their most intimate values of stability and indissolubility, due to the increasing liberalization of divorce laws and the ever more widespread custom of men and women of cohabiting without legal sanction and the protection of marriage, and, on the other, because of the different forms of union that have no basis in the history of culture and law in Europe. The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply the support of alternative models of life for couples and the family. They contribute to the weakening of the principles of natural law and thus to the relativization of all legislation, as well as of the awareness of values in society.
- Address to the New Ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See (Dec. 2, 2010)
Jun. 14, 2012
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!