US Bishops respond to Maine's decision on marriage

Following Mainers' decision on marriage yesterday, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage issued a statement supportive of the Pine Tree State's decision. Read the full text of the statement, issued by committee chair Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, here.

The US Bishops are approaching questions of marriage and family life in a number of ways, a sample of which can be found here, here and here.

In today's statement, the Bishops write:
Especially in our society where we see so many marriages fail, we should work to strengthen marriage rather than redefine it.
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the faithful commitment of one man and one woman: for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health - until death. Even the casual observer sees that social acceptance of civil divorce and a growing misunderstanding of the Church's annulment process as "Catholic divorce" may already have largely redefined marriage in the popular imagination.

The US bishops have their work cut out for them as they meet later this month with an agenda including a draft of their proposed pastoral letter: Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan.

(The only available link to the text of the draft is found near the close of an article from NCR.)



  1. Please take a moment to read over the guidelines for comments found on the sidebar. Thank you!

  2. The bishops certainly find a lot of things that they consider to be "intrinsically evil." As the British might say, "I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist" over their latest pronouncements.


  3. I believe Bishop Malone is correct in his statements, and that the Catholic Church acted properly in Maine to promote policy in accord with natural law as well as scriptural teaching and Catholic doctrine. Marriage is a unique institution, the basic unit of a biological family, which requires special protection because of its unique role in rearing the next generation. Affirming marriage as being between a man and a woman -- which has been recognized throughout history, in all civilizations -- does not necessarily mean that you are discriminating against anyone.

    Irish Gal

  4. I find the bishops' statement (made by the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage) concerning the Main vote to be inflammatory and misleading. It states that "the voice of the people in this country has spoken once again on the side of justice..." In fact the vote was sharply divided and very narrow margin supported the repeal of the law approved by the legislature of the state. Slightly more than half the people have been heard. The statement goes on to say that the truth "is written not merely in our hearts, but in our very bodies." What does this say about the small percentage of human beings who experience themselves as created by God with a homosexual orientation? Did God write a lie in their bodies? This flies in the face of the contention in the next paragraph that the Church "decries any unjust discrimination against persons who experience same sex attraction."
    What of the assertion that the support of gay marriage will somehow cause children to be "intentionally deprived of a mother and a father"? Or that the attempts to "redefine" marriage fosters confusion about what it means to be human. Are homosexual persons who desire to live in committed, loving relationships less than human? These assertions made by the bishops seem to contradict the goal that they articulate for marriage as being "in service to the dignity of every person." Finally, hasn't the Church always maintained a different definition of marriage than the civil union described by the same word? If a Catholic is "married" civilly outside of canonical norms, isn't it true that the Church doesn't recognize this as a Catholic "marriage"?

  5. Thank you for allowing anonymous posting. It is rarer and rarer these days.

    I am a former catholic because of the laxity in the pastoral practices of the catholic church, father.

    In reality, through heartbreaking experience, I am certain that annulment is simply catholic divorce.

    Do not worry that I do not understand the process. I know it well. I fought against nullity for 12 years in the US and through two decisions in Rome.

    Regarding marriage, I believe that
    the tide is against "traditional" marriage and will, certainly, be accepted in the hearts and minds of most of the western world to include same sex relationships.

    Too much water has gone under the bridge on too many issues. We are irreversibly in a cultural decline. The only way to emerge from it will be through terrible societal upheaval and, likely many deaths, barring a miraculous change in the way people think and believe.

    The catholic church will remain in the cross hairs of many groups.
    It will suffer greatly.

    The church must take its stand, but regarding its marital practices in "traditional" marriage problems, it is in serious error. It has strongly assisted in the problems rather than in solving them, but priests and bishops are NOT INTERESTED in real opinions from those who have suffered at the hands of the clergy.

    I wrote to every single member of the USCCB "marriage" commission, if that is what you want to call it. I wasted my time. None cared to address my concerns in spite of my real experience with clerical malpractice for almost twenty years.

  6. I believe that Bishop Malone (who I have always admired)was wrong to allow this special collection(funding a political campaign)which occurred when people had gathered to celebrate Sunday Eucharist. I'm afraid he may have lost some of his flock as a result. That could include Catholics who are homosexual,as well as their families and friends who support them. Not to mention those who will stop supporting the diocese financially.

  7. I agree with the Bishops' statement. I do think we need more teaching on the annulment process. I am surprised how many people really do not understand what an annulment is. I liked the Archbishop's comment on the Maine decision. Very well spoken and a loving statement as well in my opinion. Thanks for posting this.

  8. “Especially in our society where we see so many marriages fail, we should work to strengthen marriage rather than redefine it,” Archbishop Kurtz said

    In that case, Archbishop, energy should be going into better marriage prep programs and help to strengthen and save existing marriages.
    A question for pastors out there,what percentage of engaged couples who come for a Catholic wedding have the same address? A general question, I wonder how many Catholic couples choose living together instead of a sacramental marriage? This is more of a threat to marriage than same sex marriage will ever be.

  9. At least the bishops got rid of a couple of their "intrinsically evils." Even though you say nothing will change in the church because of blog comments, do you think any of the blog comments to this post might have influenced them, CP?!



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