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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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US bishops denounce court ruling on same-sex marriage

August 05, 2010

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced an August 4 ruling in which a federal court struck down a California law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage,” said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.”

“Citizens of this nation have uniformly voted to uphold the understanding of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in every jurisdiction where the issue has been on the ballot,” added Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage. “This understanding is neither irrational nor unlawful. Marriage is more fundamental and essential to the well being of society than perhaps any other institution. It is simply unimaginable that the court could now claim a conflict between marriage and the Constitution.”

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles also condemned the decision.

“Today it was announced that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker has ruled that Proposition 8 which was enacted by the People of California is unconstitutional,” the cardinal wrote on his blog. “His decision fails to deal with the basic, underlying issue-- rather he focused solely upon individual testimony on how Prop 8 affected them personally. Wrong focus.”

Cardinal Mahony continued:

There is only one issue before each of us Californians: Is Marriage of Divine or of Human Origin?

Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society "feel" about themselves.

Those of us who supported Prop 8 and worked for its passage did so for one reason: We truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God's plan for the world and human society. Period.

Every single religious faith community in our known history has held this belief since recorded history began. Every indigenous group discovered down through history also understood this belief about marriage, and carried out cultural and religious practices to sustain that belief. Marriage is of divine origin, and that belief is embedded deeply into the heart and spirit of human beings--also described as the natural law for the human family.

Judge Walker assumes that the institution of marriage is of human and civil origin, and therefore, that "marriage" can mean anything any person wishes to ascribe to the institution. Wrong.

The union of a man and of a woman in a life-long loving and caring relationship is of divine origin. No human nor civil power can decree or declare otherwise.

It is too bad that Judge Walker chose to listen to anguished voices about their perception of marriage rather than plumb the depths of the origin of this divinely inspired institution.

For many of us, we will continue to believe that God is the origin of marriage, and we will follow God's constant revelation to that effect.

We in the Roman Catholic Community are totally "pro-marriage" and "pro-family" precisely in the understanding God gave when the first human beings received the breath of God's spirit.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Aug. 05, 2010 11:20 PM ET USA

    Two things about Cardinal Mahoney: 1) Why did he argue this from a religious standpoint and not a natural law one? 2) Where was he when his brother bishop, Bishop Cordileone, was out in front leading on this? As wojo said, good for him, but he's only nearly two years too late.

  • Posted by: wojo425627 - Aug. 05, 2010 4:03 PM ET USA

    That's an unusually clear statement form cardinal Mahony, but good on him.