Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd during his weekly general audience at the Vatican May 14, 2008. Pope Benedict, speaking a day after a California court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, firmly restated on Friday the Roman Catholic Church’s position that only unions between a man and a woman are moral.
After last week’s California Supreme Court decision overturning California’s ban on gay marriage, the California Conference of Bishops were quick to issue the following release:
SACRAMENTO â€“ Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, released the following statement on behalf of Californiaâ€™s Bishops and the California Catholic Conference, following the California Supreme Courtâ€™s decision declaring the stateâ€™s Defense of Marriage Act (Proposition 22) unconstitutional, thus allowing same-sex marriages to take place in California:
â€œThe California Catholic Conference of Bishops must express its disappointment in the California Supreme Court decision to declare Proposition 22 unconstitutional.
â€œProposition 22, which states, â€˜Only marriage between one man and one woman is valid and recognized in California,â€™ passed eight years ago by a vote of 61.2 to 38.8 percent. That statute reflected the wisdom of the voters of California in retaining the traditional definition of marriage as a biological reality and a societal good. Unfortunately, today, the Court saw fit to disregard the will of the majority of people of California.
â€œCatholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and loveâ€”a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.
â€œPartnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriageâ€”and can never be marriageâ€”as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Todayâ€™s decision of Californiaâ€™s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.
â€œAlthough we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.â€
Other California Bishops have responded as well.
In regard to this decision of the court, the Catholic Bishops of California have said that “Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love-a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.”
This teaching of the Church follows forth from the teaching of Jesus Christ: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19: 4-5)
At a moment in our society when we need to reinforce the strength of marriage and family this decision of the Supreme Court takes California in the opposite direction. This action challenges those in society who believe in the importance of the traditional understanding of marriage to deepen their witness to the unique and essential role that marriage between a man and a woman has in the life of society.
Message on Trinity Sunday, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
From the decision of our State Supreme Court last Thursday, we appear to be heading â€“ at least for a time â€“ toward a social order in which same-sex couples will be able to contract marriage. This is a profoundly significant matter. I, as your bishop, want to speak to your about it, to offer you my pastoral support and guidance.
My message today, because of circumstances, must be relatively brief. I cannot talk about all that needs to be said in a full discussion of this question. Nonetheless, I will offer some strategic points that give us a sense of our situation.
I begin with the most fundamental point: Marriage is a reality authored by God in his very act of creating the human race. According to his irrevocable plan, the marriage relationship is only possible between one man and one woman. The purposes of this relationship are (1) the mutual loving support of husband and wife and (2) their loving service of life by bringing children into the world and raising them to be virtuous and productive. The experience of history â€“ both ancient and in our own time â€“ has taught us that no government has the power to change the order which God has inscribed in our nature.
The conviction that same-sex couples cannot enter marriage is a conviction which all Catholics implicitly affirm when, in our baptismal promises, we profess that we share the Churchâ€™s faith that the â€œFather Almighty [is] the Creator of heaven and earth.â€
This conviction about marriage, while confirmed by faith, can be known from reason. Therefore, our efforts to enshrine this wisdom about marriage in the laws of our community are not an imposition of an ideology but a service of the truth which we make for the common good. This wisdom about the nature of marriage is not a form of discrimination, but undergirds our freedom to live according to Godâ€™s plan for us.
Your priests and I, together with the deacons and our other co-workers, pledge to support you as you exercise your baptismal vocation. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, God gave you the mission to configure the civil order to his design. In this way, through Christ and with the help of His Holy Spirit, you are making of this world a gift pleasing to the Father. This is the most fundamental act of your baptismal priesthood.
As I see it, the challenges ahead fall into two classes: (1) those of the short term and (2) ones for the long haul.
In regard to the short term: As faithful citizens Catholics are called to bring our laws regarding marriage into conformity with what we know about the nature of marriage.
In the long term: If such efforts fail, our way of life will become counter-cultural, always a difficult situation for Christians — one our forebears faced in many ages past, one that the Lord himself predicted for us. Indeed, even if such efforts meet with success, our work is far from done. We would still be living in a society where many accept a set of convictions that is ultimately detrimental to the integrity of human life, with negative consequences for oneâ€™s happiness in this world and the next. Your mission then will be, as it always has been, to be a light and leaven for the new creation established in Christ. The resources of the Theology of the Body, worked out by the late Holy Father, John Paul II, will be an especially helpful resource for this task.
I will do my best, as the principal pastor of the Church in the Diocese of Oakland, to lead you in your response to this situation in the months and years ahead. And I know that your priests are one with me in pledging you this service.
Above all, let us not lose heart. As Pope John Paul II constantly reminded us: â€œBe not afraid.â€ Christ is risen. His vision for our world, and for the place of marriage in it, will, according to the time he has appointed, become the truth of our world.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Allen Vigneron
The Catholic Church in California WILL be active along with their Evangelical and Protestant Christian brethern in overturning the California Supreme court decision by passing the California Initiative and Consitutional Amendment 07-0098.
To follow campaign events of this initiative Constitutional amendment go to their website: California Marriage Protection Act.
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