5/16/12 | 285 views
President’s Same-Sex Marriage Stance at Odds With Catholic Teaching
“Deeply saddening” is Cardinal Dolan’s reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent redefinition of marriage by the president’s revelation that he, personally, supports same-sex marriages.
“… [W]e cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” the cardinal said in a May 9 statement he made as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”
President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriages in a television interview that aired the same day.
“Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage,” the cardinal continued.
The Catholic Church upholds the sanctity of traditional marriage as being only between one man and one woman, and also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.
In December 2010, Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving” and that he “struggles with this,” adding he would continue thinking about the issue.
An Associated Press story May 10 quoted Obama as saying he wanted to announce his support for such unions “in my own way, on my own terms” but acknowledged earlier remarks by Vice President Joe Biden prompted his announcement.
On May 6, Biden, a Catholic, said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex couples marrying, adding they should get “the same exact rights” heterosexual married couples receive.
Cardinal Dolan’s May 9 statement also referenced a public letter he, as president of the USCCB, penned to Obama on Sept. 20, 2011. “The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the president and the administration to strengthen marriage and the family,” the cardinal said.
The cardinal concluded his May 9 statement with an assurance that he prays for the commander-in-chief and for a change of heart of the administration’s stance on same-sex marriages. “I pray for the president every day and will continue to pray that he and his administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons,” the cardinal said.
The day after President Obama’s public proclamation, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty held its 17th annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
Cardinal Dolan alluded to the controversy as he delivered the invocation at the Becket Fund dinner May 10. “Now more than ever do we need the courageous services of the Becket Fund as our first and most cherished freedom─that of religion─is today in peril.
“As Pope Benedict XVI recently observed, freedom of religion is the first of all liberties, without which all the others are in jeopardy.”
The cardinal concluded the invocation with a plea for persistence. “So thank you, Lord, for the effectiveness and the perseverance of the Becket Fund for what is of rather recent concern to so many of us here this evening, namely the protection of religious liberty as a long and glorious pedigree in Becket.
“Please keep it strong, keep us generously supportive and vigilant, keep us ever supplicant before you, from whom all rights come…”
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law.
Obama’s support of same-sex marriage brought a range of reactions from other Catholics across the Archdiocese of New York and the country.
“I think it is a very sad day when the President of this great and beloved country gives his support to the redefinition of marriage,” said Sister Veronica Mary Sullivan, S.V., director of the Family Life/ Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York.
Marriage between a man and a woman is the “bedrock of society” and has been accepted as such by cultures and civilizations worldwide since the beginning of time, Sister Veronica added.
“As time, experience, common sense and all studies—even secular ones—show, it is also the best and healthiest environment for the rearing of children.”
Sister Veronica said what is needed is a call to prayer, action and witness, joining with the bishops in promoting and protecting marriage. “And we could most definitely double our prayers for our President, and this we should do, daily,” she added.
“I do believe, however, that the shining witness today—the most authentic and convincing—is fidelity: faithfulness to our commitments—in marriage, religious life or priesthood, as faithful sons and daughters to our parents, concerned and attentive parents to their children; a giving of ourselves to one another—in particular, to the ones we have a responsibility for….
“Believe that we have a voice and don’t be afraid,” added Sister Veronica.”
A petition drive has been held in the state of Maryland to overturn a law passed earlier this year to allow same-sex marriage in the state.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance said May 2 that a petition to put the law to a vote had collected more than 30,000 voter signatures. Nearly 56,000 valid signatures are needed by June 30 to add the referendum to the November ballot, with half due May 31 to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
In Washington state, signatures were being gathered for a referendum challenging a new Washington state law that legalized same-sex marriage. Opponents of the law have until June 6 to gather 121,577 signatures to suspend the law until the public makes a decision about it on Election Day in November. Otherwise the law takes effect June 7.
On May 8, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman by a 3-to-2 margin. According to an initial tally by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 1,303,952 people—61.05 percent—voted for the amendment while 831,788 people—38.95 percent—voted against it.
North Carolina is the 31st state to define traditional marriage in its constitution, and the last among the Southern states to do so.
Meanwhile in Colorado, legislation that would have permitted civil unions in the state died without a vote May 8.
But two days later, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an order calling for a special session asking lawmakers to take up several issues left unfinished, including the measure on civil unions. The legislation ultimately was defeated 5-4 in a committee vote May 14.
Catholic News Service contributed to this report.
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