By Eileen Love
I got a call last night from a friend in another state. She was upset to learn that her bishop had donated a sizeable amount to help the state of Maine defeat “gay marriage.” “Why is he giving money to some effort across the country? We have needs right here!” “True,” I said, “but what happens in Maine impacts all of society. The collective effort to save marriage, look after the welfare of children, and acknowledge the family as the bedrock unit of society is worth supporting!” As we were talking, I wondered why she wasn’t equally upset by the State of Maine’s audacious action to redefine the institution of marriage. Many people were, among them Diocese of Portland Bishop Richard Malone who realizes full well what this portends for the culture. He and others inside the Church and beyond realize that it damages society and imperils the welfare of children when we choose to distort the sacred institution that is natural to human beings and was ordained by God.
To fill you in:
On November 3rd, voters in Maine repealed a law that permitted homosexuals to wed. A measure went on the ballot a few months after a law permitting gay marriage was passed by the state legislature and signed by Maine governor John Baldacci. In the wake of this, a concerted effort was mounted by a coalition of religious and secular groups who opposed the effort to undermine traditional marriage. Bishop Malone was in the forefront and invited the participation of his brother bishops. My friend’s bishop was one of many who offered spiritual and financial support.
After the victory in Maine, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, speaking for the USCCB, issued a statement which said in part:
“The Church stands for the basic rights of all people, including homosexual persons…Protecting marriage between a man and a woman has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms…Especially in our society where we see so many marriages fail, we should work to strengthen marriage rather than redefine it.”
“Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is
meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife. There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people, but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them.”
This is the part of the debate that does not always get heard. I suspect that Catholics get their news the way most people do – from TV and various media outlets which reflect the popular thinking of a select, vocal few. But whenever human beings are discussing what it means to be human, the voice of the Church should be heard. When it is, as in an ENDOW group, I have noticed that women are greatly surprised and even delighted to learn of the vast treasure of truth contained in Church teaching. An amazed look, accompanied by the statements: “Why didn’t I ever hear this? How come I don’t know this?” is typical.
The people in Maine have spoken. In their state at least, traditional marriage is safe for the moment. But the debate will continue. Catholics who want to have a say should be equipped with cogent arguments backed by solid teaching. I recommend reading the pastoral letter just released this month by the USCCB, called “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” It provides a much-needed catechesis on a topic that touches us all very deeply. Be prepared to be surprised and delighted.