Intention: For the courage to keep witnessing to the truth and beauty of marriage, the lifelong, fruitful union of one man and one woman.
Reflection: St. John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrated on Monday June 24, was a martyr for truth and justice, particularly the truth about marriage. He was put in jail, and ultimately executed, because he rebuked Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias (see Mt 14:3-12 and Mk 6:17-29). St. John the Baptist’s defense of marriage cost him his head.
In his Angelus address on Sunday, June 23, Pope Francis said of the saint, “He died for the sake of the truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth!”
Today, standing up for the counter-cultural truth of marriage as the lifelong, fruitful union of a man and a woman can be difficult and lonely. But Christ is always with us and asks us to be witnesses of His loving truth, which is worth defending, no matter what the cost. As our Holy Father exhorted the crowd, “Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so.”
St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
Did you know? On Wednesday of this week, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8. In a statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called Wednesday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.” They said, “Now is the time to redouble our efforts” in witnessing to the truth of marriage.
Learn more about Proposition 8 and DOMA from this backgrounder.
- Learn about the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty
- Sign the pledge to fast on Fridays for life, marriage, and religious liberty
- Join the Call to Prayer Facebook event
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone (San Francisco), chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage: “The effect of the Court’s decision is to undermine in the law the principle that children have a right to a mother and a father.”
Here’s a partial round-up of Bishops’ reactions to the June 26 Supreme Court decisions re: DOMA and Proposition 8. If you know of others that should be included, please email them to us via the Contact button on the home page.
Kansas Bishops (Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City, Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Salina, and Msgr. Robert Hemberger, Diocesan Administrator of Witchita)
“We are committed to being prophetic in speaking the truth about life, religious freedom, and the sanctity of marriage. We are likewise committed to working toward the restoration of a culture that respects marriage, nurtures children, and recognizes the family as the core social unit of our society.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to dismiss the California Proposition 8 appeal does not change the reality of marriage, nor does it change the Archdiocese of St. Louis’s responsibility to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman.”
“The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court’s wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage comes to us through God’s nature as the union of one man and one woman.
“The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley (Oklahoma City)
“By declaring the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court signaled its unwillingness to uphold the truth about marriage. Yet, the common good depends upon the willingness of societal leaders to uphold basic truths about our humanity, including the truth that we are not merely embodied, but engendered.”
Bishop Bernard A. Hebda (Gaylord, MI)
“It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to recognize and uphold marriage’s unique meaning and its importance for the stability of our society. … It’s regrettable that the Court’s decisions in effect negated the voices of millions of Californians who voted to protect marriage’s unique meaning and the legislative process that led to the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki (Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)
“It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls ‘marriage’ has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.”
Bishop David L. Ricken (Diocese of Green Bay)
“We view these decisions by our Supreme Court as an opportunity to reaffirm our Catholic faith, identity and deepest held beliefs. We renew our commitment to Jesus’ words, ‘Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate’ (Mt. 19:6).”
“Marriage is not a creation of the state. While a number of states and the District of Columbia have changed the legal definition of marriage, government is ultimately powerless to redefine human nature and what describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman with the possibility of generating and nurturing children.”
Archbishop Timothy Brogilo (Archdiocese for the Military Services)
“I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.”
Archbishop William E. Lori (Archdiocese of Baltimore)
“Today’s decisions will also undoubtedly contribute to concerted efforts not just to redefine marriage but to dismantle it, efforts which represent a serious threat to religious liberty and conscience rights for countless people of faith.”
Bishop Richard J. Malone (Buffalo)
“Today’s Supreme Court decision on the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) goes against everything human reason teaches us about marriage — it is the union of one man and one woman open to the birth and rearing of children. Marriage between one man and one woman is not the same as same-sex relationships. Therefore treating them differently is not unjust discrimination and should not be ruled as such.”
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell (Hartford, CT)
“Marriage between a man and woman is one of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity. It predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of a human person. By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court is corroding this most sacred union, and sending the wrong message to society by saying that sexual difference doesn’t matter. It does. Marriage is an institution that needs to be strengthened and nourished—not devalued.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington)
“Some have framed this debate in terms of “equality.” That rings with a certain American appeal. Everyone wants to be treated equally, with the love and respect due all people. But focusing on “marriage equality” gets the question wrong. Equality requires treating like cases alike. We need to determine whether we have “like cases” at all. If we want to address the principle of equality correctly, we need to get to the truth of marriage first.”
“While the overall decision is disappointing, it is fortunate the Court did not hold that our country’s Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage.”
“The Diocese of Venice, along with many other institutions and organizations, will continue to uphold marriage as being between one man and one woman. After all, no court ruling changes the fact that only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. No child should be deliberately or intentionally deprived of a mother and father.”
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Diocese of Raleigh)
“The decision of the Court will contribute to the unraveling of what has been a vital cornerstone of our society, the protection of the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives to one another and to the children they bring into the world.”
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory (Archdiocese of Atlanta)
“Today’s unfortunate decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act is extremely disappointing. The Catholic Church promotes and defends marriage by teaching about marriage’s authentic meaning as a lifelong, exclusive, and fruitful communion of one man and one woman. Today’s decision is part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.”
Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. (Diocese of Savannah)
“The Church maintains that man and woman were made for each other – that God created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal persons and complementary as masculine and feminine.”
Bishop Robert N. Lynch (St. Petersburg, FL)
“The 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) comes as no surprise and has been anticipated by the bishops of the United States. Most likely not unlike the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion of 1973, this action of the Court will be debated for a long time also.”
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone (San Fransisco)
“The effect of the Court’s decision is to undermine in the law the principle that children have a right to a mother and a father.”
USCCB News Release: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation," State U.S. Bishops
The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 mark a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The statement follows.
“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.
“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.
“When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.
“Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
Editors: Background information can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/backgrounder-on-proposition-8-and-doma.cfm
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, was interviewed by a San Francisco paper about marriage on the cusp of the Proposition 8 and DOMA Supreme Court decisions.
When asked what his “next move” would be if the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, the Archbishop took the conversation back to the fundamentals: “The basic question is: does our society need an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, or doesn’t it? The only institution that does this is marriage. Redefining marriage will mean that our society will have given its definitive answer: “no”; it will mean changing the basic understanding of marriage from a child-centered institution to one that sees it as a temporary, revocable commitment which prioritizes the romantic happiness of adults over building a loving, lasting family. This would result in the law teaching that children do not need an institution that connects them to the mother and father who brought them into the world and their mother and father to each other.”
And when asked whether the Church should be spending its time and money on fighting poverty, for example, instead of defending marriage, Archbishop Cordileone responded, “Marriage and poverty are deeply intertwined concerns: an extremely high percentage of people in poverty are from broken families, and when the family breaks up it increases the risk of sliding into poverty, with single parents (usually mothers) making heroic sacrifices for their children as they struggle to fulfill the role of both mother and father. And beyond material poverty there is that poverty of the spirit in which kids hunger for their missing parent, who often seems absent and disengaged from their lives. We all have a deep instinct for connectedness to where we came from, and we deeply desire it when we do not have it. Promoting stable marriages is actually one of the best things we can do to help eradicate poverty; in fact, it is a necessary, even if by itself alone not a sufficient, part of the solution – that is, we cannot hope to fix the problem without it.”
This Spring, Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila wrote a series of columns about marriage. They serve as a great primer on what marriage is, why it matters, and (for married couples) advice about living the vocation of marriage well.
1. The divine creation and gifts of marriage
“Marriage, most fundamentally, is gift. Or, perhaps more clearly, marriage is a series of gifts, connected and intertwined with one another.
“Marriage is the gift of a husband to a wife. And the gift of a wife to a husband. Marriage is a gift from God—an opportunity to form a family, a community of love. Marriage is the place where the gift of life begins. And marriage is a gift to every community, every culture, every people—marriage is the gift of stability, of civility and of love. Marriage is the first and essential community to society.”
2. Why traditional marriage is worth protecting
“The truth is that we need marriage promotion more than ever. More children than ever before are raised without fathers. More women are left to raise children alone. The three goods of marriage as a lifelong commitment, fidelity to one’s spouse and the gift of procreativity. These goods are the key to stable social life. When they are undermined, we face real social instability.”
3. Marriage as a cornerstone of culture and Christian life
“Marriage, one of the seven sacraments, is a cornerstone on which our Christian culture can rest. And like Christ, today marriage has become a stone rejected. Its trivialization and its redefinition mean that the importance of marriage has been forgotten. But Christ too, was forgotten. From a place of being forgotten, abandoned and crucified, Christ ushered in our redemption. And through the sacrament of marriage, like the other sacraments, Christ can redeem the world.”
4. The renewing, exciting graces of marital self-giving love
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve offered reflections on the nature and goods of marriage, and on the importance of marriage for Christian catechesis and culture. Marriage is a prophetic sign in our time, and one that is under attack. We’re called to promote and defend the vital role marriage plays in civic life and Christian culture. But we cannot do that if Catholic marriages are not lived with authentic vitality and faithfulness to God’s plan. The Church needs to promote marriage, and our world needs the benefit of healthy, fruitful marriages.”
5. Proclaim the truth about marriage
“Over the past five weeks, I’ve spent time discussing the mystery of marriage. I’ve done so because we are standing at an important cultural crossroads. Our culture is choosing between two views of marriage. The choice will have consequences for generations to come.”
“We must have hope—marriage is created by God. It is a beautiful gift given to man and woman, prior to the fall, so that they may become one flesh, share in co-creation with God, and from the two persons bring forth a new person, a child. No same-sex partners are able to do that. And while the state or government may attempt to redefine marriage, they are creating a lie that has no foundation in the truth. The Lord has given us all that we need to proclaim the truth about marriage—to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life.”
The Supreme Court’s decisions on the two marriage cases before it, one involving California’s Proposition 8 and the other the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), are expected tomorrow (Wednesday).
In the meantime, here is an excellent column from Miami’s Archbishop Thomas Wenski, on the impossibility of so-called same-sex “marriage.”
“If you call a tail a leg, then how may legs does a cow have? Four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.” So said Abraham Lincoln, thus showing a greater grasp of the reality of things than many in our culture today, including not a few Harvard law school graduates and possibly even a majority of the Supreme Court should they decide to overturn DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, and thus effectively impose “same sex marriage” on the nation.
The Supreme Court decisions on the two marriage cases could come any day now. Instead of a Pope Quote, this Sunday we’re sharing two salient quotes from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, a compilation of Catholic Social Teaching. Both help us to understand why it is part of Catholic Social Teaching to uphold, strengthen, and defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“The family, in fact, is born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman. It possesses its own specific and original social dimension, in that it is the principal place of interpersonal relationships, the first and vital cell of society. The family is a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order.” (no. 211, emphasis original)
“Society, and in particular State institutions, respecting the priority and ‘antecedence’ of the family, is called to guarantee and foster the genuine identity of family life and to avoid and fight all that alters or wounds it.” (no. 252, emphasis original)
Next week, the Supreme Court is expected to release its decisions on the two marriage law cases before it: Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. While no one can predict exactly when the decisions will be announced, Monday June 24 and Thursday June 27 are good bets.
Anticipating these decisions, which should feature prominently in national news and spark multiple conversations about marriage, here is a list of helpful resources to prepare yourself to talk with friends, family, and coworkers about marriage. Shortly after the decisions are released, the USCCB will offer a statement and provide analysis of the decisions. Stay tuned for that!
5 Helpful resources to prepare for the Supreme Court decisions
“A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage.”
A list of short, simple paragraphs about various topics related to marriage: challenges facing marriage, sexual difference, the common good, and so forth. Meant for clergy, leaders, and advocates of marriage.
“The big picture: Marriage is a great gift to men, women, children, and society. The Church serves and strengthens marriage by providing pastoral care to engaged couples and marriages at all stages, and in any difficulty. The Church promotes and defends marriage by preaching and teaching about marriage’s authentic meaning.”
An “amicus brief” is submitted to the Court as a “friend of the court” (amicus=friend) on behalf of one of the parties involved in the case. In this amicus brief, the USCCB urges the Court uphold DOMA.
“There is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex.” (p. 2)
In this amicus brief, the USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold California’s Proposition 8.
“Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.” (p. 2)
5. All of the resources on the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website.
If you haven’t perused the resources available here on this website, now is the time! These include two videos: Made for Each Other (about sexual difference) and Made for Life (about the gift of children and the need for fathers and mothers); Frequently Asked Questions about marriage, focusing on four themes: sexual difference, children, the common good, and religious liberty; a library of Church teaching on marriage; and, most importantly, a prayer for the defense of marriage.
If you’re not sure what the Church teaches about marriage; if you’re not sure how to defend marriage in the public square; if you’re not confident in the beauty and rationality of the Church’s teaching on marriage; now is the time to think deeply about what marriage is! The resources listed above are a great place to start.
USCCB News Release (June 3, 2013)
USCCB Subcommittee Chair Applauds “Victory In The Land Of Lincoln.”
- Marriage redefinition not inevitable
- Many thanks to concerned citizens, civic and faith leaders
- Redefining marriage does not bring equality
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, applauded the “victory in the Land of Lincoln” as the Illinois state House failed to vote on a bill to redefine marriage before the legislative session ended last Friday.
“The fact that the Illinois state House did not vote on the marriage redefinition bill reflects a failure to have the votes to pass the bill,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “This victory in the Land of Lincoln demonstrates that marriage redefinition – even in the face of intense political pressure – is not inevitable, a likely reason we haven’t heard much about it in the national media.”
A diversity of faith leaders joined together to defend marriage in Illinois.
“Leaders of various faith traditions spoke eloquently on the reality that nature and nature’s God make clear that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “Catholics will continue to proclaim with people of other faiths and of no particular faith that marriage is the one-flesh union of one man and one woman. Indeed, both faith and reason lead us to this truth.”
Archbishop Cordileone also addressed the claim that equality requires redefining marriage in law.
“All persons have inherent dignity and must be treated equally with the respect and justice that is their due,” he said. “That is part of the purpose of the law; it is not the purpose of the law, though, to give people social status, as the advocates for marriage redefinition contend. For a well-ordered society, laws must reflect reality; for them to contradict reality would be simply irrational. Our children deserve as much and depend upon all of us, especially our leaders, to protect the reality of marriage, not redefine it in the law. Many thanks go to all those who let their voices be heard in defense of marriage in Illinois,” Archbishop Cordileone said.
The bill to redefine marriage that was not brought to a vote in the Illinois state House had passed the Illinois state Senate earlier in the year. Proponents of marriage redefinition in Illinois may try again to advance the bill in the Illinois legislature later this year.
From the Catholic Conference of Illinois: “CCI Issues Statement on House adjourning without voting on redefinition of marriage legislation” (June 1, 2013)
Summer is wedding season! Today’s Sunday Pope Quote is a piece of advice Pope Benedict XVI gave to a group of engaged couples in September 2011 during a pastoral visit to Ancona, Italy.
Pope Benedict XVI: Fidelity, indissolubility and the transmission of life are the pillars of every family, the true common good, a precious patrimony of society as a whole. From now on found your journey towards marriage on these pillars and witness to this among your peers, too: such a service is precious!
– Address during Meeting with Young Couples in Ancona, Italy (September 11, 2001)