Action Alert: Tell Congress that the ERA hurts Women and the Unborn
Please join your voice to an action alert from our colleagues in the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities!
The ERA is not really about equal rights for women. Check out the USCCB fact sheet on this legislation!
Catholic Conference of Ohio letter on SOGI
Last week, the bishops of Ohio joined in opposing HB 369, on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” with a letter to state legislators.
USCCB Chairmen Issue Statement on Supreme Court Cases on Redefinition of “Sex” in Civil Rights Law
October 8, 2019
WASHINGTON— Bishop chairmen of three committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commented on three cases argued before the Supreme Court today – Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. These cases present the question whether the prohibition on employment discrimination based on “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination, respectively.
Bishop Robert J. McManus, of Worcester, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James D. Conley, of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued the following statement:
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument regarding the meaning of the word ‘sex’ in federal law. Words matter; and ‘sex’ should not be redefined to include sexual inclinations or conduct, nor to promulgate the view that sexual identity is solely a social construct rather than a natural or biological fact. The Supreme Court affirmed that sex is an ‘immutable characteristic’ in the course of establishing constitutional protections for women against sex discrimination in the 1970s. Such protection is no less essential today. Title VII helps ensure the dignified treatment of all persons, and we as Catholics both share and work toward that goal. Redefining ‘sex’ in law would not only be an interpretive leap away from the language and intent of Title VII, it would attempt to redefine a fundamental element of humanity that is the basis of the family, and would threaten religious liberty.”
On August 23, the USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs in the cases, available at http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Bostock-8-23-19.pdf and http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Harris-8-23-19.pdf
In addition, staff prepared a backgrounder on the cases.
USCCB Chairmen Applaud Proposed Regulations
Recently, the Administration offered proposed regulations that would prevent government discrimination against faith-based federal contractors. Three USCCB Chairmen issued the following statement:
Oklahoma Bishops Praise Protections for Adoption Agencies
The Governor of Oklahoma recently signed into law a bill that protects faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that continue to hold that children deserve to be placed in homes with both a mother and a father. The Bishops of Oklahoma have praised this upholding of religious freedom in the state.
Statement from Archbishop Broglio
WASHINGTON, D.C. – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, issued the following statement today on President Trump’s decision to disqualify transgender individuals from military service:
“Saint Pope John Paul the Second wrote that, ‘Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church.’ This care extends from the time an individual is conceived, until natural death, and every point of life in between. It is offered regardless of personal choices or conditions, because Christ offers salvation to all people.
“Earlier this week, citing a detriment to military readiness and the cost associated with gender reassignment surgeries and therapies, President Trump banned individuals who identify as transgender from serving in the military in any capacity.
“Certainly military readiness is of utmost importance to our servicemen and women who selflessly risk personal safety to defend the values and freedoms of our Nation. The President’s announcement and the prevailing response, however, fail to address the essence of the issue – the dignity of the human person.
“The dignity of the human person is rooted in the fact that people are created in the image and likeness of God – God who in the fullness of his divinity assumed humanity to redeem the world. A recent conference, titled ‘Framing a Catholic Response to Gender Ideology’ held this past May at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, noted that gender ideology undermines basic Christian anthropology by defining the person as a disembodied mind and the body as a mere instrument. A Catholic response to gender ideology considers multiple insights including medical, psychological, philosophical, theological, pastoral, and legal perspectives. The Church honors human dignity by drawing near in order to accompany people.
“Sexual orientation and gender identity issues reflect a rapidly increasing and incorrect societal attitude that individual behaviors in life should pursue immediate and personal choices rather than eternal truth. In extending the maternal care of the Church to the faithful of this Archdiocese, it is opportune to reaffirm that personal choices in life, whether regarding the protection of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage and the family, or the acceptance of a person’s God-created biology, should be made not solely for a penultimate reality on this earth but in anticipation of the ultimate reality of sharing in the very life of God in heaven.”
Archdiocese for Military Services
In this clip, Kellie Fiedorek says something common-sense that seems to be missing in today’s discourse. The virtue of tolerance is precisely the virtue of “putting up with” someone or something that is not good (from your perspective). You don’t “tolerate” an ice cream sundae; You don’t “tolerate” your closest friend, unless at that moment they are doing that thing that drives you crazy. Tolerance is part of love, but only because we live in such an imperfect world. We will not have to “tolerate” one another in heaven.
But today, it seems we cannot even do that. The Church’s beliefs about marriage and about the best home for children is being regarded as hateful or discriminatory. (A big thank you to those states who have passed laws to protect religious adoption and foster care agencies!)
As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished.” He speaks of how the Church is being prevented from being herself, “and that, instead, an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow.”
Don’t we see this happening today in America?
 Benedict XVI. Light of the World. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), p. 53.
 Ibid, p. 52.
Made for the Common Good Study Guide
The study guide is out for Made for the Common Good. If you liked the video, you may enjoy going deeper into its themes by reading the guide. And if you like it, please share it!
First Amendment Defense Act
Representative Labrador (R- Idaho) and Senator Lee (R-Utah) introduced the First Amendment Defense Act last week.
Archbishops Cordileone and Lori sent them each a letter of support, and the USCCB put out a media release.
Quoting from the letters: “FADA would provide significant protection for religious liberty at the federal level and would be an important measure in extending conscience protection to individuals and organizations who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. As a non-discrimination Act, FADA would protect these individuals and organizations from federal government discrimination. In a climate of increasing intolerance, these protections are very much needed.”
Bishop Conley: Martyrs, Witnesses and Public Life
This past March, Bishop Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska gave an address for the “Catholics in the Capitol” annual Legislative Advocacy Day at the Nebraska State Capitol. It is entitled: “Martyrs, Witnesses and Public Life: Catholics at the Capitol”
Here are a few sections from his address that are pertinent to the work of the USCCB in promoting and defending marriage. He says, “The freedom to practice the faith is threatened by aggressive unchecked secularism, which stops at almost nothing to establish what Pope Benedict XVI called the ‘dictatorship of relativism.’ Relativism today is veiled by words like ‘tolerance’ and ‘non-discrimination’ and ‘progressivism.'” Indeed, the truth about marriage is currently being portrayed as bigoted or discriminatory.
Bishop Conley notes, “Today, our lives are not threatened in the state of Nebraska. But our liberties are. But in our state, faithful Christians face threats to their livelihood, to the education of their children, and to their family life.” These will only continue and become more serious as time goes by if we do not have the courage to stand up for our religious freedom now.
He reminds us that it is the call of the laity to bring Christ into the public sphere. “The Second Vatican Council said that your [lay] task is to ‘animate the temporal order’ with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This means that our civil laws should reflect truth: the truth about the dignity of every human person; the truth about the sovereignty of families; the truth about the rights of children, and the disabled, and the elderly.” Catholic laypersons cannot sit on the sidelines on the debate about marriage.
Marriage is part of the common good for society. Bishop Conley notes, “Promoting human dignity is the common good. Promoting the family is the common good. Protecting truth and preserving justice is why we make law.”
And finally, Bishop Conley reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle with demons, “minions of the evil one,” and must fight for the good of all souls, including those who disagree with us. “We need to remember that those who disagree with us are created by God for salvation with him—and we are called to be missionaries to them, in order to invite them to a transformative religious relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Coridileone supports SMDA
Representative Randy Weber and Senator Ted Cruz reintroduced legislation into the House and Senate that would protect states’ marriage amendments: the State Marriage Defense Act. Archbishop Cordileone sent them each a letter of support (Cruz and Weber) and announced this for the media.
Let us keep praying and fasting!
Bishops Respond to New Dept of Labor Regulations
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.
Cardinal George on “A Tale of Two Churches”
Cardinal George reflects in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s newspaper on the way that the current American culture requires us to choose between our faith and full civic participation, since the dominant ideology has become like a religion.
He writes: “Swimming against the tide… means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers…. the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.”
The Cardinal also points out that, “American civil law has done much to weaken and destroy what is the basic unit of every human society, the family. With the weakening of the internal restraints that healthy family life teaches, the State will need to impose more and more external restraints on everyone’s activities.”
Thanks to the Cardinal who has such a gift for seeing and guiding us! Let’s pray for him and all our bishops!
Good News in Louisiana
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!
Weddings and Religious Freedom
Over at the Touchstone blog is an article about the Giffords, who have been fined $13,000 by the state of New York because of their refusal to host a lesbian “wedding” on their farm.
Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act
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.”
VA Catholic Conference Statement on Appeals Decision
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled today in a two-to-one decision that Virginia’s marriage law is unconstitutional.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo released a statement about the ruling, saying, “We will continue to affirm the truth about marriage, the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as the importance of marriage to the common good. As pastors, teachers, and faith leaders, we can do nothing less. We will continue to fight this unjust ruling.”
In a split decision (2-1), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling striking down Utah’s marriage amendment as unconstitutional.
After responding to the bad legal reasoning of the Court, the dissenting judge admonished his judicial colleagues by concluding: “We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of constitutional interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.” The Utah Attorney General has announced that he intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
Let us pray for our federal judges – that they uphold the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman!
Indiana Bishops’ Response to Marriage Decision
Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled that Indiana’s definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional and that the state’s non-recognition of out-of-state same-sex “marriages” is unconstitutional. Indiana will be appealing the decision.
The bishops of Indiana issued a statement about the decision, noting that it, “ignores this fundamental and natural truth of marriage and opens its definition to the whims of public opinion.”
State Marriage Defense Act introduced in U.S. Senate
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Chairman for the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, strongly endorsed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (S. 2024) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). A companion bill (H.R. 3829) was previously introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Randy Weber (R-TX).
In a February 28 letter of support to Senator Cruz, Archbishop Cordileone noted that the Department of Justice is the most recent federal agency “to use a ‘place of celebration’ rule rather than a ‘place of domicile’ rule when determining the validity of a marriage for purposes of federal rights, benefits, and privileges.”
“By employing a ‘place of celebration’ rule, these agencies have chosen to ignore the law of the state in which people reside in determining whether they are married. The effect, if not the intent, of this choice is to circumvent state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said Archbishop Cordileone.
Archbishop Cordileone urged the U.S. Senate to pass the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 and encouraged members to join as cosponsors of the bill stating, “Marriage needs to be preserved and strengthened, not redefined. Every just effort to stand for the unique meaning of marriage is worthy of support.”
The full press release can be found here.