Archbishop Lucas (Omaha): “The truth of the nature of marriage is a beautiful sign of God’s creative love”
May. 11, 2013
In his latest column (The Shepherd’s Voice: May 9), Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, wrote about marriage.
He spoke of marriage as “a holy vocation,” and said that “it is essential that the community of believers help our young people understand the vocation of marriage and support them in a generous and faithful response.”
He also noted that the Church is doing this work of promoting marriage “in an increasingly confusing cultural context.” Citing the current Supreme Court cases about marriage (the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8) and legislative attempts to redefine marriage, Archbishop Lucas writes, “There is a great deal of pressure being exerted on judges and legislators to redefine marriage under civil law,” and that “Catholics and others who recognize and support the age-old understanding of marriage are often being depicted as unjust and intolerant.”
Because the language of “rights” and “discrimination” can seem so convincing, even to Catholics, says the Archbishop, “it is important for Catholics to be able to think clearly and speak clearly about marriage…we have no reason to be defensive or feel awkward. The truth of the nature of marriage is a beautiful sign of God’s creative love, and this truth is an important gift we can share in this confusing time.” (emphasis added)
Noting that he will return to the topic of marriage in coming weeks. the Archbishop referred readers wanting to learn more about marriage to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1601 and following), to chapter 21 of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, and to the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website, particularly the FAQs.
The Archbishop writes, “When we read this teaching through the eyes of faith and take time to reflect on it in prayer, we begin to recognize the plan of God that transcends merely cultural arguments. We have always believed the origin of marriage is in God. It is not for civil society or even the church to try to define it as something that it cannot be.”
In conclusion, Archbishop Lucas encouraged his readers to pray the Defense of Marriage Prayer found on this website.
Read Archbishop Lucas’ entire column: “Truth about marriage is important gift Catholics can provide in confusing time” (May 9, 2013)
May. 8, 2013
Hot off the press: a new bulletin insert – for nationwide circulation in May and June – about “Marriage and the Supreme Court.” This bulletin insert is being shared with all of the U.S. bishops, along with a set of “lead messages” on marriage redefinition, which we’ll feature in a later blog post.
Content, in text form:
For the first time in our nation’s history, the Supreme Court is considering two cases about whether or not marriage should be redefined to include two persons of the same sex. These cases involve the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June. A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined with many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and thereby to recognize the essential, irreplaceable contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children.
What You Can Do
Pray, Fast, Sacrifice
The Bishops have encouraged Catholics to participate in a Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty during this Year of Faith. Visit www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty to learn more and commit to praying and fasting for life, marriage, and religious liberty.
The Bishops have also called for a second Fortnight for Freedom June 21-July 4. Visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org.
Please consider contributing time, talent, and/or treasure to local or national efforts seeking to protect the unique meaning of marriage.
Advocate for Marriage (Lead Messages)
Be a witness for the truth of marriage in word and action. Take advantage of opportunities to speak about marriage’s unique meaning in conversation with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers. Share the truth in love.
Everyone has inviolable dignity and deserves love and respect. There are many ways to protect the basic human rights of all, but redefining marriage serves no one’s rights, least of all those of children.
What is marriage? Marriage is the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman, for the good of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children. One man, one woman—for life. (See Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 48).
The difference is the difference. Men and women matter. They are equal but different. Sexual difference is essential to marriage.
Mothers and fathers matter. They aren’t interchangeable. Every child has a basic, natural right to come from and be raised in the loving marital union of his or her own father and mother.
Protecting marriage matters to everyone. It’s Catholic social teaching 101: pro-woman, pro-man, pro-child. Redefining marriage in the law says many false things: women – mothers – are dispensable; men – fathers – are dispensable; what adults want trumps what a child deserves and has a basic right to.
Visit MarriageUniqueForAReason.org for more resources on the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. For resources for engaged couples and married couples, visit ForYourMarriage.org and PorTuMatrimonio.org.
May. 5, 2013
In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI gave a conference at a General Audience on Saint Bridget of Sweden, because “this holy woman has much to teach the Church and the world.” A married woman, she reflected sanctity in her domestic life. Forming families is something that can truly make us holy.
Pope Benedict XVI: “We can distinguished two periods in this Saint’s life.
“The first was characterized by her happily married state. Her husband was called Ulf and he was Governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted for 28 years, until Ulf’s death. Eight children were born, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a Saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget’s dedication to her children’s education. Moreover, King Magnus of Sweden so appreciated her pedagogical wisdom that he summoned her to Court for a time, so that she could introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture. Bridget, who was given spiritual guidance by a learned religious who initiated her into the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family which, thanks to her presence, became a true “domestic church”. Together with her husband she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She generously practiced works of charity for the poor; she also founded a hospital. At his wife’s side Ulf’s character improved and he advanced in the Christian life. On their return from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which they made in 1341 with other members of the family, the couple developed a project of living in continence; but a little while later, in the tranquility of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf’s earthly life ended. This first period of Bridget’s life helps us to appreciate what today we could describe as an authentic “conjugal spirituality”: together, Christian spouses can make a journey of holiness sustained by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. It is often the woman, as happened in the life of St Bridget and Ulf, who with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and gentleness succeeds in persuading her husband to follow a path of faith. I am thinking with gratitude of the many women who, day after day, illuminate their families with their witness of Christian life, in our time too. May the Lord’s Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.”
- Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 27, 2010 (emphasis added)
Apr. 7, 2013
In late January or early February, the Pope begins the judicial year with an address to the Roman Rota, the Church’s appellate court. In 2002, Pope John Paul II used the occasion to discuss how indissolubility is good for both the family and the common good, because annulments are large part of the tribunal’s work.
I want to examine indissolubility as a good for spouses, for children, for the Church and for the whole of humanity.
A positive presentation of the indissoluble union is important, in order to rediscover its goodness and beauty. First of all, one must overcome the view of indissolubility as a restriction of the freedom of the contracting parties, and so as a burden that at times can become unbearable. Indissolubility, in this conception, is seen as a law that is extrinsic to marriage, as an “imposition” of a norm against the “legitimate” expectations of the further fulfilment of the person. Add to this the widespread notion that indissoluble marriage is only for believers, who cannot try to “impose” it on the rest of civil society.
Marriage “is” indissoluble: this property expresses a dimension of its objective being, it is not a mere subjective fact. Consequently, the good of indissolubility is the good of marriage itself; and the lack of understanding of its indissoluble character constitutes the lack of understanding of the essence of marriage. It follows that the “burden” of indissolubility and the limits it entails for human freedom are no other than the reverse side of the coin with regard to the good and the potential inherent in the marital institution as such. In this perspective, it is meaningless to speak of an “imposition” by human law, because human law should reflect and safeguard the natural and divine law, that is always a freeing truth (cf. Jn 8,32).
—John Paul II, Address to the Prelate Auditors, Officials, and Advocates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota 28 January 2002. (italics original, bold added)
Apr. 3, 2013
The following is a statement published on April 2, 2013 by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, OH, with hyperlinks added.
On March 26, 2013, a “March for Marriage” was held in Washington. D.C., as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, the first of two marriage cases before it. On March 27 the Court heard oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Roman Catholic Church condemns violence and hatred against anyone, including homosexuals. It teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358) Good pastoral practice encourages families to accept their children, no matter what their sexual orientation, and not break relationships with them. The church believes that it is possible, by the grace of God, to live chastely, no matter what a person’s sexual inclination may be, and it looks for ways to offer hope and support for this to happen.
At the same time, however, for reasons that go far beyond the issue of homosexuality, the church continues to be at the forefront in upholding marriage as a union of one man and one woman that is marked by permanence, exclusivity, procreation and family.
The U.S. bishops put it this way: “By attempting to redefine marriage to include or be made analogous with homosexual partnerships, society is stating that the permanent union of husband and wife, the unique pattern of spousal and familial love, and the generation of new life are now only of relative importance rather than being fundamental to the existence and well-being of society as a whole.” Such an attempted redefinition reduces marriage to “a private matter, an individualistic project not related to the common good but oriented mostly to achieving personal satisfaction.” (Marriage: Love & Life in the Divine Plan, 2009, pp 3,21ff)
Law is a teacher that is meant to inform and uphold the common good. Calling homosexual relationships “marriage” means that a romantic co-habitating partnership is sufficient. The inevitable effect is to further weaken people’s understanding and commitment to marriage, not only as permanent and exclusive, but also as procreative in a way that only opposite sexes can be.
Cardinal George of Chicago summarizes the situation as follows: “[N]o matter how strong a friendship or deep a love between persons of the same sex might be, it is physically impossible for two men, or two women, to consummate a marital union. Even in civil law, non-consummation of a marriage is reason for annulment. Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race…. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is … an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible.” (Catholic New World, Jan 6-19, 2013)
Redefining a fundamental institution of life and society simply on the basis of feelings and sympathy for others should give us pause. The state and its laws do not create marriage, but only regulate and promote it for the sake of the human flourishing that marriage provides, as the social sciences have shown time and again. If the state can create a fiction of marriage, then what other realities and relationships will it claim the right to redefine, regulate or create, just as it is already doing with human life itself? And if society, on the basis of demonstrated values, is no longer able to refuse any claimed “right,” then what behaviors can we expect to be sanctioned in the future? What prevents these behaviors not only from being accepted, but also promoted and enforced, as equal to other behaviors? And what about the freedom — religious or otherwise — of those who cannot and will not accede to society’s “brave new world?”
As our former pope, Benedict, has cautioned: “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself.” (Dec. 21, 2012)
For more information on Catholic teaching on marriage, questions and answers on this topic, and additional resources, please visit http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/.
Mar. 27, 2013
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, the chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage spoke at a rally yesterday as a part of the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. The march was timed to coincide with U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments about California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act .
I want to begin with a word to those who disagree with us on this issue and may be watching us right now: we love you, we are your neighbors, and we want to be your friends, and we want you to be happy.
Please understand that we don’t hate you, and that we are not motivated by animus or bigotry; it is not our intention to offend anyone, and if we have, I apologize; please try to listen to us fairly, and calmly, and try to understand us and our position, as we will try to do the same for you.
And to you, my friends gathered here, I say, thank you for being here, thank for your courageous support of the defining issue of our day. Why, really, are we here? One simple reason: marriage matters to kids. It’s the simple principle that children deserve a mother and a father, and that society needs an institution that connects children to their parents. What could be more beautiful, or even more sacred, than a man and a woman coming together to create new life? Marriage is the only institution that does this, that connects children to their parents and parents to their children and to each other.
Sometimes that isn’t possible, sometimes due to circumstances beyond people’s control the ideal doesn’t happen. Those parents, too, need and deserve our love and support. This isn’t about parenting skills, though; we know that sometimes kids can do well in less-than-ideal circumstances. Rather, it’s about rebuilding a marriage culture, which begins – certainly doesn’t end! – with preserving in the law the principle that children deserve a mother and a father, and that society should do everything it can, and offer all necessary support, to help insure that children get what they deserve. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother, and children need both, and no matter how happy their childhood may be, to grow up without one or the other is always a deprivation. This is not discrimination; on the contrary, marriage benefits everyone, including those of us who are not married and those who disagree with us.
And finally, to the nine justices on the Supreme Court, I say: please, for the sake of the children, please, preserve the meaning of marriage in the law, a meaning common to every human society since the beginning of the human race. For the sake of the children, please.
-Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco
Mar. 25, 2013
Just in time for tomorrow’s March for Marriage, here is an interview with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, on the meaning of marriage and the importance of the upcoming Supreme Court cases.
Notice how the Archbishop often re-frames the questions he’s asked. For example:
Q: What is the greatest threat posed by allowing gays and lesbians to marry?
A: The better question is: What is the great good in protecting the public understanding that to make a marriage you need a husband and wife?
In the interview, Archbishop Cordileone addresses many of the frequently asked questions in the marriage debate: What about infertile couples? Isn’t the Church’s position just like racism? He also fields a few more personal questions, such as how he addresses this issue with friends and family members who have same-sex attraction.
And in regards to the oft-used claim that redefining marriage is “inevitable”, Archbishop Cordileone has this to say:
Q: Has it become more difficult to oppose gay marriage over the years? Does it seem the tide is turning against you?
A:There is a problem here – an injustice, really – in the way that some people are so often identified by what they are against. Opposition to same-sex marriage is a natural consequence of what we are for, i.e., preserving the traditional, natural understanding of marriage in the culture and in the law.
But of course people who are for the redefinition of marriage to include two men or two women are also against something: They are against protecting the social and legal understanding that marriage is the union of a husband and wife who can give children a mother and father.
So there are really two different ideas of marriage being debated in our society right now, and they cannot coexist: Marriage is either a conjugal union of a man and a woman designed to unite husband and wife to each other and to any children who may come from their union, or it is a relationship for the mutual benefit of adults which the state recognizes and to which it grants certain benefits. Whoever is for one, is opposed to the other.
The whole interview is worth reading – find it here!
Mar. 13, 2013
Yesterday March 12, the Colorado legislature approved a bill that establishes civil unions for two persons of the same sex, a situation we covered earlier here. The bill awaits the signature of Governor John Hickenlooper, who has said that he plans to sign the bill into law. The Archbishop of Denver, Samuel J. Aquila, released a strong statement about the passage of the civil unions bill.
The Archbishop writes, “Regrettably, the Colorado Legislature has approved a civil unions bill today which harms families, civil liberties, and the natural rights of all Colorado’s children.”
He makes clear that, as he has said before, the civil unions bill is about redefining marriage and the family:
Senate Bill 11 is the beginning of an effort to redefine the family in Colorado and to undermine the right of all children to have a mother and a father. Civil unions are not about equality, tolerance or fairness. They create an alternate reality in which all institutions can be self-defined. Make no mistake: Civil unions are the first step to redefining marriage and to radically redefining the concept of civil rights.
Indeed, Colorado Senator Pat Steadman, a supporter of the bill, has expressed dissatisfaction with civil unions, calling them “separate, and distinct, and lesser, and unequal.” Implying that civil unions are but a temporary settlement, Steadman said, “We passed this bill because this is the best we can do.” As the Illinois Catholic Conference argued in a 2009 statement, civil union laws are consistently used as a stepping stone to advance full marriage redefinition legislation.
Regarding the argument that civil rights demand civil unions, Archbishop Aquila writes,
Civil rights are about protecting individuals and institutions from tyranny or oppression, not providing legal endorsement to all conceivable social arrangements and constructs. The Church recognizes and affirms the dignity of every human person—but she does not see all relationships as equal. Marriage is a unique social relationship between a man and a woman which exists for the good of children and as the foundation of all human communities. Marriage has been uniquely protected in law for millennia in order to preserve and promote the foundations of all social stability.
The Archbishop also draws attention to the lack of reasonable conscience protections in the new law, particularly for adoption and foster care agencies.
Senate Bill 11 is particularly troubling because the religious liberty of all Coloradans has been discarded under the guise of equality. The ability for religious-based institutions to provide foster care and adoption services for Colorado’s children is now dangerously imperiled.
Indeed, adoption and foster care agencies in several states have shut down because of civil unions or marriage redefinition laws that would force them to place children with two persons of the same sex, a scenario of which Colorado providers of foster care and adoption services were very much aware.
Not only does the approved bill lack conscience protection, but proponents of the bill publicly expressed their disregard for religious persons and institutions, writes Archbishop Aquila.
Faced with the reasonable request for religious liberty and conscience accommodations, state Sen. Pat Steadman offered the following: “So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate? I’ll tell you what I’d say. Get thee to a nunnery and live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from the people you can’t see as equal to yourself.” These comments are woefully antagonistic to Catholics, to Christians and to all people of faith and good will.
In the same vein, bill supporter Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, in response to testimony about a Colorado baker who declined to make a cake for two women’s “wedding” ceremony and now faces fine and possible jail time, said, “Let them eat cake.”
Archbishop Aquila concludes his statement by saying, “Marriage is a stabilizing institution at the foundation of civil society. Religious liberty is a civil rights issue. Today both have been grievously harmed. Today our state and federal Constitutions have been dealt a troubling blow.”
Read Archbishop Aquila’s entire statement on the Colorado civil unions bill.
Mar. 3, 2013
At 8:00 p.m. Italian time on Thursday, February 18, Pope Benedict XVI concluded his pontificate and the Church entered a time of “Sede Vacante,” the time in between the end of one pontificate and the election of a new pope. For helpful materials on the Sede Vacante, please see this USCCB resource page.
Thank you, Pope Benedict, for your leadership of the Church during your eight years as pope! In a particular way, thank you for your consistent and courageous teaching on the meaning of marriage. You have given the Church a wealth of insight on what marriage is and why it matters to the world.
Please visit the Church Teaching page and click on Pope Benedict XVI to see a selection of the many, many addresses, speeches, and exhortations on marriage by our now-Pope Emeritus, such as:
“God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life.” – Homily at the closing mass of the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan (June 3, 2012)
“Dear friends, all human love is a sign of the eternal Love that created us and whose grace sanctifies the decision made by a man and a woman to give each other reciprocal life in marriage. Live the period of your engagement in the trusting expectation of this gift.” – Address to engaged couples (Sept. 11, 2011)
“Marriage has a truth of its own – that is, the human knowledge, illumined by the Word of God, of the sexually different reality of the man and of the woman with their profound needs for complementarity, definitive self-giving and exclusivity – to whose discovery and deepening reason and faith harmoniously contribute.” – Address to Members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (Jan. 27, 2007)
We will continue to share Pope Benedict’s wisdom about marriage, the human person, and the family here on Marriage: Unique for a Reason. Thank you, Holy Father Emeritus.
Dec. 18, 2012
Now available is a one-page, one-sided flyer that briefly explains the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty. It’s meant to help parishes and pastors promote the Call to Prayer. It can be used as a bulletin insert, tacked up on a bulletin board, passed out to parishioners or attendees at an event, etc. It includes all the necessary information about the Call to Prayer and directs readers to the Call to Prayer webpage on the USCCB website. We encourage you to download, print, and pass out the flyer!