Communication from the Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts to Members of the General Court on the Definition of Marriage
TO: Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, and Members of the Massachusetts General Court
RE: Marriage Affirmation & Protection Amendment, H. 3190
DATE: June 2, 2003
You have faced difficult choices in dealing with the budget deficit. We do not envy your role in trying to make financial ends meet without forgetting "the least, the last, and the lost", to which we referred in our recent pastoral statement on the budget. From our vantage point, it generally appears that you have tried to do your best in impossible circumstances.
Now another issue confronts you--the looming decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that many anticipate could redefine legal marriage in the Commonwealth. You have before you a proposed constitutional amendment that reaffirms marriage as the union between one man and one woman. We urge you to give this amendment an affirmative vote in the upcoming joint session so that, ultimately, the people can vote on it.
Our position on this issue is rooted in a profound regard for the sexual union between a man and a woman. Only this union bears the natural capacity to beget human life in a setting that provides both a mother and a father for the child. This union is called the "first society" because both halves of society are always represented in the home and must continue to co-exist, even when no children are involved. Thus, the importance of this union to the smooth continuation and the general stability of the larger society, especially its young, is unequaled. No other private relationship possesses such public significance or enjoys such a time-proven record of benefiting society. It is this public character that explains history's regard for the union between a man and a woman as marriage.
If the court in Goodridge redefines marriage as a commitment between two adults regardless of gender, then we expect serious consequences. The state will be forced to abandon the presumption that having a mother and a father in the home is ideal for children, and must then endorse the view that children do not need both a father and a mother. State policymakers will become more vulnerable to legal challenges seeking official approval of a host of other "intimate" relationships. The employment and other social policies of private institutions will have to change, or face discrimination lawsuits, if they recognize on moral grounds only the union between one man and one woman as marriage.
Our position on marriage and our position in favor of the marriage amendment have nothing to do with hatred for or disregard of any human being. Nor does our affirmation of marriage dictate the unjust denial of public services or material benefits to unmarried persons. Our unwillingness to endorse other forms of sexual relationships as marriage does not preclude us from recognizing the dignity of individuals and the value of chaste friendships outside of marriage. Justice demands that we uphold the equal value of all individuals at the same time we uphold the distinct and irreplaceable value of marriage between a man and a woman.
We are aware that some persons, coming before the legislature and purporting to speak from authority as Catholic theologians and as clergy, have misrepresented the Church's position on marriage. These persons have erroneously claimed that support for the amendment is inconsistent with Catholic teaching.
These persons were not authorized to represent the Catholic Church, or its official teachers, the Bishops. The Bishops, not theologians, are officially responsible for discerning, upholding, and communicating Catholic doctrine. The Bishops may delegate certain duties, but they are the primary teachers ultimately responsible for the content of Catholic teaching.
Before this legislature, the Bishops speak through the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) and its staff as the Bishops' delegate. None of the persons mischaracterizing Catholic teaching on marriage sought or received permission from the Bishops or the MCC to address the legislature in any official capacity or as representatives of any Catholic institution.
Anyone has the right to speak before the legislature. Yet this right is abused when exercised in a manner wrongly leading others to believe that the speaker is acting in an official capacity for the Catholic Church, its Bishops or its institutions. We regret any confusion caused by these persons and their conduct before the legislature.
You will remain in our prayers.
Bishop Richard G. Lennon, Apostolic Administrator, Archdiocese of Boston
Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, Diocese of Worcester
Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, Diocese of Springfield
Bishop-Elect George W. Coleman, Diocese of Fall River
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Marriage, Catholic, Life, Family
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- President Trump to release Kennedy assassination files - will the ...
- St. John of Capistrano: Saint of the Day for Monday, October 23, 2017
- Pope Francis speaks about putting God first and reality
- Daily Readings for Monday, October 23, 2017
- Day 1 - Novena to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth HD Video
- EVIL EXPORT: American-inspired assisted suicide legislation advances ...
- Day 2 - Novena to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth HD Video
- Evil money - George Soros pays to start a revolution in America HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, October 23rd, 2017 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way