Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

An Open Letter from Bishop Morlino on Protecting Marriage

by Bishop Robert C. Morlino


Bishop Morlino briefly explains why the Church takes a strong position on the important issues of our times. He says these positions are not "Catholic" issues but universal truths based on reason. "The truth that marriage is one man, one woman, one lifetime, with openness to children is inscribed in the human mind-heart which yearns for one-flesh union, and is inscribed in the human body's procreative ecology."

Publisher & Date

Diocese of Madison, October 30, 2006

Dear friends in the State of Wisconsin,

I write this open letter in an attempt to briefly explain why I do, and the Church will always, take strong positions regarding the important issues of our times. First, it should not come as a surprise to anyone what the Church believes and teaches regarding the issues of promoting and protecting marriage, rejecting the death penalty and advocating for the most innocent — the unborn — in all circumstances, even when potential medical advances are possible, as in the case of embryonic-stem cell research. The Church is intensely pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family, and always will be.

However, these public positions are not "Catholic" issues. These are not tenets of our "faith" which we are defending. They are universal truths, based on reason alone. They are based on the fact that every human person has an unsurpassed dignity; upon the fact that every human being is sacred from the moment from conception to natural death. Otherwise nothing else we do to care for other human beings makes any sense. This is a truth of reason; it is true for every human being. When I speak in this vein I know that some will call me arrogant for claiming to know the objective truth. This claim is actually an act of humble submission to the Creator — Whose truth this is, not mine, and Whose existence can be known by reason alone.

There are things in this world which we can know by our reason alone! Some things are objectively true and some things are intrinsically good — based in the first place on reason. This search for, and recognition of, the truth can never be based on my own subjective opinions, emotions or desires at the time. The truth stands outside of us, to be seen and recognized. When we recognize the objective truth, we need to reconcile ourselves to that truth, never the other way around — this is the natural law.

The very definition of marriage can be known, by every human person, by our human reason alone. The truth that marriage is one man, one woman, one lifetime, with openness to children is inscribed in the human mind-heart which yearns for one-flesh union, and is inscribed in the human body's procreative ecology. The differentiation among human beings should not be transferred from that of male and female to that of homosexual and heterosexual. Gender is foundational to our humanness and cannot be replaced, as such, by orientation. In arguing to protect and promote marriage, I have not once brought up homosexual orientation, nor will I. Jesus Christ died for every human being, and I want all to be treated as worthy of the shedding of His blood.

The truth about the human person revealed by reason alone should be supported by the state and in some instances by law. It is a fact that our state law currently recognizes the truth that marriage is between one husband and one wife. But it is also a fact that legislators and judges in other states, with similar laws, have taken it upon themselves to change the definition of marriage — which they have no right to do. Because it is defined by the natural law, no one, not the Church and not the State, has the right to redefine marriage as anything but one man and one woman, one lifetime, with openness to children. By adding the definition of marriage to our State Constitution, we can protect it from being illegitimately altered by judges or legislators.

My primary concern is the protection and further promotion of the truth. I have said numerous times, and I state again, that I will continue to defend publicly the inherent dignity of every human being on every opportunity I have as Bishop of Madison. This includes championing the authentic human rights of every person, and fighting against all forms of unjust discrimination. I will never suggest that "faith" be legislated or to tell people how to live their lives, but I will always engage the culture with the truth, as can be known by reason alone, and insist that State recognize this truth. This year, this means protecting and promoting marriage, standing against the death penalty and urging an end to embryonic-stem cell research, while promoting adult-stem cell research.

Thank you for reading this, please know you are all in my daily prayers.

Sincerely Yours,
Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino
Bishop of Madison Copyright © 2006 Diocese of Madison. All Rights Reserved.

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