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A Child’s Potential: Made for the Common Good Series

Posted Mar. 25, 2017 by DOM No comments yet

 

In today’s clip, Peter Range discusses the way a child can reach his or her “full potential” in the care of a loving mother and father. He is speaking in a particular way from his experience assisting with the Church’s adoption ministry.

While expressing support and admiration for those generous single persons who feel called to open their homes to children who are in need of adoption, the general preference of the Church for adoptive situations is to entrust a child to a married mother and father, who can supply the kind of home that the child has lost.

Is it just that you need two people? Would two mothers or two fathers be just as good?

Consider your own relationship with your parents, or even with aunts and uncles or nieces or nephews. Our relationships are necessarily conditioned by our physical reality. A hug from your dad is experientially just a different thing from a hug from your mom. The way you relate to others has to do with whether you are a man or a woman—that does not mean simply that you can’t do x, y, or z but rather that when you do x, y, or z, you do those things as a man or as a woman. Therefore, the way you learn about relationships as a child is in large part through watching a man and a woman—your parents—interact every day before your eyes. You also learn as a child that your sister and brother aren’t treated exactly the same way and that Uncle Joe is the one who throws you in the air while Aunt Sally pinches your cheek. It’s just different.

Question: How do you think a child’s ability to reach his or her potential is affected by family structure? Why?

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Marriage: The Foundation, Made for the Common Good Series

Posted Mar. 18, 2017 by DOM No comments yet

 

In this clip from the opening of Made for the Common Good, Glenn Stanton uses the analogy of the foundation of a house to help us think about marriage’s role in a community.

Did you know that, even if the neighborhood is not safe in general, children in married households are safer, and witness less violence, than children in one-parent homes?[i] In addition, “Even after controlling for socioeconomic factors, studies show that children who grow up in single-parent households are poorer, less economically mobile, and more prone to a variety of behavioral issues than those raised by married parents.”[ii] The stability of a home with a mother and father who are committed to their marriage cannot be overestimated.

One of the questions facing our society today is: how can we help young people to see the benefits of marriage, especially when they are inclined to be either afraid or pessimistic about it?[iii] How can we encourage young people to consider marrying, particularly marrying before having children? Despite the fact that married men report happiness at a higher rate than unmarried or cohabiting men, [iv] the number of men who are married between the ages of 20 and 39 has dropped significantly in the last twenty years. [v]  It is clear that so much more needs to be done as a society and in the Church (or as the Church) to reverse this decline.

What are your ideas about this? Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.

 

[i] Nicholas Zill, “Even in Unsafe Neighborhoods, Kids Are Safer in Married Families,” Institute for Family Studies, http://family-studies.org/even-in-unsafe-neighborhoods-kids-are-safer-in-married-families/ (accessed February 9, 2017).

[ii] Dwyer Gunn, “What’s Marriage Got to Do With Poverty?” Pacific Standard, https://psmag.com/what-s-marriage-got-to-do-with-poverty-369336f72f8#.6geruwigb (accessed February 9, 2017).

[iii] For an article about young men’s approach to marriage, see W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfinger, “Hey Guys, Put a Ring on It,” National Review, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444746/marriage-benefits-men-financial-health-sex-divorce-caveat (accessed February 10, 2017).

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

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Made for the Common Good Series

Posted Mar. 12, 2017 by DOM No comments yet

The Common Good_7

The common good embraces the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families, and organizations to achieve complete an effective fulfillment.” – Pope St. John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, no. 74

What does “the common good” of society mean?

The Catechism’s section on the common good (nos. 1905-1917) lists three essential components:

  1. Respect for the person
  2. Social well-being and development
  3. Peace

It notes, “The common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons: ‘The order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around’ (Gaudium et Spes, no. 26). This order is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love” (CCC, no. 1912).

To put it simply, society should be ordered in such a way that people will find it easier to be good, even to get to heaven—to develop their gifts and capacities in peace, carrying out their duties and responsibilities without having to struggle against oppression or fear, able to act according to their consciences. The common good is meant to ensure that people may live a “truly human life” (CCC, no. 1908). Government, the state, has a role to play in upholding the common good (see CCC, no. 1910) by supporting institutions that are good for all.

Strong marriages—marriages in which a man and a woman stay together for their entire lives—are good for society as well as for the couple themselves. They serve as examples to the community of the virtues of love, fidelity and perseverance. They demonstrate the capacity of the human being to live up to his or her promises. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.”[i] Children who are raised in homes with their own married mother and father enjoy stability that no other family structure offers.[ii]

If we consider these points, it becomes clear that marriage is important to the common good of society—the institution of marriage, properly understood as a man and a woman, bound to one another and their children, helps everyone in the society to flourish. It encourages young men and women to make promises to one another if they want to be “a couple”; it gives a societal recognition of such a promise and the community’s investment in helping the couple to keep it; and it gives children the stable homes they deserve.

The series we are beginning on the MUR blog accompanies short segments of the video Made for the Common Good. In this video, various experts and witnesses discuss the importance of marriage to society. During the next five weeks, we will explore these themes a bit more. The questions provided can be used for personal reflection or for group discussion.

[i] G.K. Chesterton. “The Wildest of Adventures,” in Brave New Family, ed. Alvaro de Silva (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990, p. 51.

[ii] There are many studies that show this. One article about family structure is: W. Bradford Wilcox, “Family Structure Matters – Science Proves It,” National Review, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425957/family-structure-matters-science-proves-it-w-bradford-wilcox (accessed February 9, 2017).

 

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The Common Good, II: Evangelii Gaudium

Posted May. 13, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

Lessons from Evangelii Gaudium #16
Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason.  This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.

The Common Good and Peace in Society, Part II (nos. 231-237)
The next two principles Pope Francis writes about in this section on the common good are:

  1. Realities are more important than ideas
  2. The whole is greater than the part

Pope Francis reminds us in the first part that ideas and reality must be in constant dialogue with one another.  “It is dangerous to dwell in the realm of words alone, of images and rhetoric,” he writes (no. 231).  One calls to mind the image of an abstract philosopher, musing to himself on the joys and trials of married life while his wife, with frizzled hair and angry expression, changes a diaper on the floor of the kitchen while a meal she prepared is cooking on the stove and someone has come to the door.  This is a caricature, of course, but this seems to be what the pope is talking about: when the words do not become flesh.

“What calls us to action are realities illumined by reason” (no. 232). When we are engaged in seeing reality with all the benefits of contemplating truth, we strive to live differently.  The picture changes, for example, into one of a father embracing his wife on his way to change the diaper.  It is the Incarnation that shows us that words alone are not enough: the Word was made flesh!

The second principle, Pope Francis writes, means that we must pay attention to both of the worlds we live in: the global context and our local communities.  He uses the analogy of a polyhedron, which is both distinct and unified.  There is “a place for everyone” and each person maintains his or her individuality while becoming part of a larger whole.

In marriage, while the two become “one flesh,” they also maintain their own identities. In fact, the love of the other should help each to become more fully him- or herself.  Likewise, each child that is given to a family is a unique human person.  They should be encouraged in their interests, even if no one in the family shares them, and be educated to see their differences as strengths.  When the family is united in difference, they reveal the truth that “the whole is greater than the parts.”

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The Common Good and Peace in Society: Evangelii Gaudium

Posted May. 8, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

Lessons from Evangelii Gaudium #15
Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason.  This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.

The Common Good and Peace in Society (nos. 217-230)
This section of Evangelii Gaudium is divided into four principles; we will look at the first two here.

First, Pope Francis writes, “Time is greater than space” (no. 222). He reminds the Church not to be “obsessed with immediate results” (no. 223). He counsels patient endurance in difficult situations or when our plans must change.  He wants us to allow time the priority, even in evangelization.

This clearly relates to family life, especially when a child chooses to leave the faith or the family for one reason or another.  The Holy Father reminds us not to give up on anyone, and to remember to trust in God’s saving work through time.

Next, the pope writes that, “Unity prevails over conflict” (no. 226).  He says, “Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced”(no. 226).  How many families need to learn this lesson?  How easy it may seem to ignore our differences, to sweep them under the rug in order to maintain a semblance of unity. On the other hand, how easy to be blinded by conflict to all the other things we have in common.  Instead, we can strive to be “great persons who are willing to go beyond the surface of the conflict and to see others in their deepest dignity”(no. 228).

We learn to do this in the family, as the Pope highlighted in his 2015 Message for World Communications Day. There, he writes, “More than anywhere else, the family is where we daily experience our own limits and those of others, the problems great and small entailed in living peacefully with others.  A perfect family does not exist.  We should not be fearful of imperfections, weakness or even conflict, but rather learn how to deal with them constructively.  The family, where we keep loving one another despite our limits and sins, thus becomes a school of forgiveness.” In the family, we love one another even when we do not get along. This can teach us how to approach people outside the family as well: as persons who are more than their opinions on a given topic.  Even on the most contentious and serious issues, those on the “other side” are persons, loved by God, and must be acknowledged as such.  “Unity brought by the Spirit can harmonize every diversity,” the pope writes (no. 230).  By lovingly taking all family members where they are, we can realize this truth in our own lives.

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Bishops Respond to New Dept of Labor Regulations

Posted Dec. 9, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

The chairmen of four committees responded to the new Department of Labor Regulations that are the result of the Executive Order of July 21 prohibiting federal government contractors from what the Administration deems “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination. The chairmen are Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.  

Here is the full text:

The regulations published on December 3 by the U.S. Department of Labor implement the objectionable Executive Order that President Obama issued in July to address what the Administration has described as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination in employment by federal contractors. We will study the regulations carefully, but we note the following initially. Our Church teaches that “[e]very sign of unjust discrimination” against those who experience same-sex attraction “should be avoided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 2358)—but it appears on an initial reading that these regulations would prohibit far more than that “unjust discrimination.” In particular, they appear also to prohibit employers’ religious and moral disapproval of same-sex sexual conduct, which creates a serious threat to freedom of conscience and religious liberty, because “[u]nder no circumstances” may Catholics approve of such conduct (CCC 2357). Very many other people over a broad spectrum of different religious faiths hold this same conviction. Additionally, the regulations advance the false ideology of “gender identity,” which ignores biological reality and harms the privacy and associational rights of both contractors and their employees. In justice, the Administration should not exclude contractors from federal contracting simply because they have religious or moral convictions about human sexuality and sexual conduct that differ from the views of the current governmental authorities.

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Good News in Louisiana

Posted Sep. 4, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

For the first time since last summer’s Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, marriage advocates won a marriage case in federal court. In the case of Robicheaux v. Caldwell, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that Louisiana’s marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and disallowing the recognition of valid out-of-state same-sex “marriages” does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Regarding the federal court decisions striking down state marriage laws, Judge Feldman said:  “The federal court decisions thus far exemplify a pageant of empathy; decisions impelled by a response of innate pathos” (p. 26 of the opinion, available in full here).

He goes on to say:  “Perhaps that is the next frontier, the next phase of some ‘evolving understanding of equality,’ where what is marriage will be explored. . . . For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece?  Aunt and nephew?  Brother/brother?  Father and child?  May minors marry?  Must marriage be limited to only two people?  What about a transgender spouse?  Is such a union same-gender or male-female?  All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.  Plaintiffs’ counsel was unable to answer such kinds of questions; the only hesitant response given was that such unions would result in ‘significant societal harms’ that the states could indeed regulate.  But not same-gender unions.  This Court is powerless to be indifferent to the unknown and possibly imprudent consequences of such a decision.  A decision for which there remains the arena of democratic debate” (pp. 27-29).

Please see the USCCB media release, quoting Archbishop Cordileone!

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Tennessee Law Upheld

Posted Aug. 12, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

A Tennessee state trial court on August 5 upheld Tennessee’s non-recognition of a valid out-of-state same-sex “marriage.”  This is the first win for marriage in court since U.S. v. Windsor.

In his decision, the judge said, regarding the definition of marriage:  “The Court also finds that this should be the prerogative of each State.  That neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility, which is to provide a framework of laws to govern the safety and wellbeing of its citizens.”  Regarding Windsor, the judge said, “The Windsor case is concerned with the definition of marriage, only as it applies to federal laws, and does not give an opinion concerning whether one State must accept as valid a same-sex marriage allowed in another State. . . . The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a State that defines marriages as a union of one (1) man and one (1) woman is unconstitutional.”

 

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Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

Posted Aug. 1, 2014 by DOM 1 comment

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Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R- Wyo.) and Representative Mike Kelly (R- Pa) introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. This Act is meant to protect organizations who provide child welfare services, such as foster care and adoption, when they have convictions that a child should only be placed with a married mother and father.  Currently, a number of organizations are unable to be of service because of their beliefs about marriage.

Three USCCB Chairmen (Archbishops Cordileone, Lori, and Wenski) gave their support to this bill, noting that, “Indeed, women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference also indicated their support for the Bill, noting, “In 2012, Catholic Charities helped complete over 3,000 adoptions and foster care placements, including permanent homes for over 1,600 special needs or “hard-to-place” children. By allowing a diversity of providers through the Inclusion Act, we will be putting the needs of children first and also protecting the religious liberty of long-serving child welfare providers.”

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Friday Fast: March 28

Posted Mar. 27, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

fridayfastmarch28 jpgReflection: “Pope Francis has observed that ‘religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.’ …Every Christian is called to practice charity in a manner corresponding to his or her vocation. Some Catholics, like the Little Sisters of the Poor who run nursing homes for the elderly poor, devote their entire lives to helping others and embrace a vow of poverty themselves” (Archbishop Kurtz).

Yet the HHS mandate compels objecting employers to provide coverage for drugs and devices which are against their consciences and threatens the ministries of the Little Sisters of the Poor and many others.

As this and many other lawsuits progress, let us continue our prayer efforts for the protection of the religious freedom so we may practice charity and live out our faith without penalty.

Did You Know? This Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases brought by families who are seeking protection of their religious freedom.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shares comments in his op-ed, “Will the Owners of Hobby Lobby Have to Check Their Faith at Their Own Door?”

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Sunday Pope Quote

Posted Feb. 23, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

February 23, 2014

Before creating 19 new Cardinals yesterday, Pope Francis addressed the College of Cardinals on Thursday morning and introduced their topic of discussion during the Extraordinary Consistory.

“During these days, we will reflect in particular on the family, which is the fundamental cell of society. From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply, and so the family then is an image of the Triune God in the world.”

Pope Francis continued, “Our reflections must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich, consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the whole of life. We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires. May we do so thoughtfully and without falling into ‘casuistry’, because this would inevitably diminish the quality of our work. Today, the family is looked down upon and mistreated. We are called to acknowledge how beautiful, true and good it is to start a family, to be a family today; and how indispensable the family is for the life of the world and for the future of humanity.”

Address of Pope Francis to the Extraordinary Consistory, February 20, 2014 (bold added)

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

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

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

Amendment is only remedy against judicial activism

Elemental truth of marriage deserves highest protection in law

February 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

Archbishop Cordileone’s letter can be found online.

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

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Now Available!

Posted Feb. 7, 2014 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

elmatrimonioimageEdit.jpgMarriage: Unique for a Reason is kicking off the first day of National Marriage Week with the release of its newest catechetical film, “El Matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida.” “This is a one-of-a kind resource, and it is my hope that “El Matrimonio” will be a fruitful tool for advancing the conversation in both Spanish- and English-speaking communities on the true meaning of marriage,” said Archbishop Cordileone of the film. The 30 minute Spanish telenovela-style video and bilingual study guide is perfect for clergy, catechists, teachers, other leaders and viewers, as it explores five main themes: sexual difference and complementarity, children, the common good, religious freedom, and persons who experience same-sex attraction.

“The film’s story conveys real difficulties that numerous families encounter, but with compassion and without compromising the truth about God’s loving plan for marriage and family. In this way, the film portrays what we are all called to do: to love without compromising the truth, and to be witnesses to God’s plan with love and mercy. Love and truth go together. I pray that this film will provide opportunities for a deeper and more thoughtful study of, and increased reflection on the gift of marriage.”

The film and accompanying bilingual study guide can be viewed online and is available for purchase at usccbpublishing.org.

For the full press release, click here.

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The Good of the Child

Posted Nov. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Archbishop Cordileone, Chairman for the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, was recently interviewed on “EWTN News Nightly.” When asked to expound upon his emphasis of building up a healthy marriage culture, Archbishop Cordileone explained,

“Society should do what is necessary to favor the situation of the child having the best possible advantage of being connected to their mother and their father growing up. So we just need to teach people how to look at the issue from the standpoint of what is really best for the child, because it’s not about the adults…the government isn’t interested in people’s love lives…the reason marriage has the unique status it does in the law is because there’s a public interest. The public interest is the children that come from the union of men and women.”

Archbishop Cordileone’s full interview begins at 13:50.

++C interview 2

Photo and video courtesy of EWTN, Global Catholic Network.

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Friday Fast: That each of us may have the courage to open our hearts to life

Posted Oct. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

This Sunday is Respect Life Sunday. We invite you to fast and pray tomorrow as part of the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

The suggested fasting intention for Friday, October 4 is that each of us may have the courage to open our hearts to life.

See the accompanying brief reflection and “Did You Know?” for this week’s intention (en español), and learn more about the Friday Fast.

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Friday Fast: For married couples and families struggling financially

Posted Sep. 27, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

Printable version (en español)

Intention: For married couples and families who are struggling financially or living in poverty – that God would provide for their needs and increase their trust in Him.

Reflection: Marriage matters to society. When a bride and groom become husband and wife on their wedding day, a new family is formed. Each family is an interdependent mini-society, born from the communion of husband and wife. As Bl. John Paul II said, the family is a “cradle of life and love.” It is the place where we learn to love and be loved.

For good reason, then, marriage and the family play a key role in Catholic social teaching (see ch. 5). The Church’s interest in marriage is not limited to religious concerns because marriage is not just a religious reality; it has major social implications, too. The Church’s concern for the poor overlaps with her concern for marriage because family breakdown has economic implications. For example, sadly, single mothers and their children are more likely to suffer from economic hardship.

Because marriage impacts each and every person in society, the Church strives to promote, strengthen, and defend marriage and the family. We pray today for all families who are struggling financially, that they would know the peace of the Lord.

Did you know? Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. Born in France in 1580, St. Vincent was renowned for his work with the poor and sick. He founded both the Congregation of the Mission (known commonly as the Vincentians) and the Daughters of Charity. St. Vincent’s holy life inspired Bl. Frederic Ozanam to found the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which now serves the poor in 148 countries.

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Is defending marriage just about injuring others? No. Marriage matters for everyone. (5th of 7 in a series)

Posted Aug. 29, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

Note: This post is fifth in a series of posts about what we can learn from the Supreme Court’s June 2013 DOMA decision, and how that can help us better promote and defend marriage.  This series is based on a July 2013 talk by staff of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Earlier posts:

————————————————————————————————

PART ONE: What we can learn from the Supreme Court

Post #5: Is defending marriage just about injuring others? No. Marriage is good for everyone.

In its ruling on DOMA, the Supreme Court said that laws that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman are inherently suspect because their only justification is a desire to “injure” a class of persons. Indeed, the Court does not mince words when it talks about the purpose of DOMA: “The principle purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage” (p. 25, emphasis added). DOMA gave a “stigma” to such persons (p. 21) and it instructed them that their marriage is “less worthy” than other marriages (p. 25).

Worse, the Court said that DOMA – and presumably any law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman – lacks a “legitimate purpose” (p. 25). In other words, no rational reason exists that would justify a law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. No reason, for example, such as the fact that only male-female relationships are capable of conceiving children, who have a vested interest in being raised by their married father and mother.

In his dissent, Justice Scalia rails against the Court’s dismissal of marriage proponents’ arguments as merely cloaks for irrational prejudice against those who desire to marry someone of the same sex. Scalia says that the Court thus made those who still argue for man-woman marriage “enemies of the human race” (p. 21, Scalia dissent). He writes, “In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement” (p. 21). In other words, the book is closed. There is no room for disagreement. Scalia also said, “In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us” (p. 25).

Clearly that attitude is a daunting obstacle for those of us who seek to promote marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Tip number four: Emphasize that promoting and defending marriage is good for everyone.

As stated already, one challenge we face is criticism that the Church is “obsessed” with marriage because she really only cares about married people; she is pro-married couples, but anti-everyone else. Of course we know this is false.

Catholic Social Teaching is a great help here, because it is very clear that marriage and the family matter to society. (And there is no question at all that “marriage” means what it always had for the Church: the union of one man and one woman). For example, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church [CSDC] describes the family (founded on marriage) as “the primary place of humanization” (no. 209), the “cradle of life and love” (no. 209), the “first and vital cell of society” (no. 2), the place where “one learns social responsibility and solidarity” (no. 213) and so on.

Marriage benefits society, first, by being what it is. The Compendium speaks beautifully of the “dynamism of love” that radiates out from the irrevocable vow that husband and wife give to each other (CSDC, no. 221). Their “yes” to each other lays the foundation for them to say “yes” to any children God gives them, and to say “yes” to all persons, seeing them as valuable for their own sake and not for what they can do and contribute.

And marriage of course benefits society by giving children the best possible chance to be born into a situation where their mother and father have already committed to each other and to any children born from their union. Not every married couple is blessed with children, but every child has a mom and a dad. As the quip goes, “When a child is born, chances are there’s a mother close by. The problem is: Who’s the father?” Marriage solves this cultural dilemma by bringing men and women together before children are conceived, to lay a solid foundation where they can be welcomed into a “sanctuary of life” (CSDC, no. 231ff).

Another way to show that marriage matters for everyone, and is not a mean-spirited jab at those who can’t or won’t get married, is to point out that all of us are sons or daughters. All of us have a father and a mother, and whether those two persons were and still are married to each other makes a great impact on our lives. This is a universal truth, and one that the Church argues should matter for public policy.

Finally, the fact that marriage matters for everyone gives us a way to connect promoting and defending marriage with the New Evangelization. Yes, the New Evangelization means reaching and re-catechizing those who have been baptized but not formed. Those who serve in various ministries can probably think of ways that they are doing this kind of evangelization. Our Catholic people certainly need instruction in the full meaning of marriage; one poll in March 2013 found that over half of Catholics support redefining marriage (although critics pointed out that only 36% of regular mass-goers said they were for redefining marriage).  And they need to be given encouragement to stand firm in these teachings, a difficult task in the face of the Supreme Court’s judgment that defending marriage means harming and demeaning others. We of course need to dig deep into the rich, life-giving teaching of the Church on marriage and give it generously to those within the Church.

But there is another connection between the New Evangelization and marriage. In the face of such severe challenges to marriage, it can be tempting to throw up our hands and retreat from the public square, shutting the Church doors tight and vowing to “protect the Sacrament” come what may, but effectively giving up on marriage outside the Church walls. This might seem like a fix – you have your marriage, we have ours – but it would mean giving up on our responsibility to evangelize and it would mean giving up on the fact that marriage matters for everyone.

Contrary to what the Supreme Court said, the bishops are very clear that “to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice.” (USCCB, Pastoral letter, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan [2009]: p. 23)

In sum, the challenge of marriage redefinition isn’t going away. On the legal front, we can expect more court battles over marriage’s meaning, more ballot initiatives to defend or redefine marriage, and more challenges to other aspects of marriage. For example, one polygamy activist group celebrated the Court’s ruling, saying, “I think [the court] has taken a step in correcting some inequality, and that’s certainly something that’s going to trickle down and impact us.”

Even more soberly, it seems reasonable to expect continuing clashes between the Church and the government over what marriage is and how much freedom the Church has to hold to the authentic meaning of marriage. Today these challenges are being felt by wedding businesses and government officials, among others. Tomorrow, could they be felt by marriage ministries such as marriage preparation and healing ministries? We say that not to speculate or be fear-mongers, but only to point out that the trend seems to be the government strong-arming people of faith to treat people in same-sex relationships as if they were married husbands and wives.

And on the pastoral front, we can expect more confusion about marriage’s meaning and purpose, evidenced by the quotes we’ve shared from the highest Court in the land. Unfortunately, that’s the situation we find ourselves in. As Justice Scalia stated in his dissent: “…we will have to live with the chaos created by this [decision]” (p. 8, Scalia dissent). But are we just going to live with this chaos? Not us. How about you?

Next: On to Part Two: Practical Ways to Promote and Defend Marriage