1. You have been at the forefront of the same-sex marriage debate in California and nationally. You helped raise money for Prop 8, got evangelical congregations involved and campaigned heavily for it. Should the Supreme Court legalize same-sex marriage in California in June, what would your next move be?
I am a pastor and a teacher of the faith. It is responsibility to educate, motivate and inspire people to live by the truths of the Gospel, including using the blessed power we have as free citizens in a democracy to work for justice and compassion in the public square, and so contribute to the common good. When a great public issue like the meaning of marriage arises, of course, it’s my duty as a pastor to speak up. That job description won’t change regardless of any Supreme Court decision. But since the law is also a teacher, when it teaches an untruth (e.g., people of a certain race are inferior to others and can be treated as such, human life in the womb is not worthy of equal respect, or that two people of the same sex can make a marriage with each other) my job gets harder, but it doesn’t change: we need to work every day in our homes, in our parishes and in our communities to rebuild a marriage culture. Too many children are being hurt by our culture’s strange and increasing inability to appreciate how important it is to bring together mothers and fathers for children in one loving home. The basic question is: does our society need an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, or doesn’t it? The only institution that does this is marriage. Redefining marriage will mean that our society will have given its definitive answer: “no”; it will mean changing the basic understanding of marriage from a child-centered institution to one that sees it as a temporary, revocable commitment which prioritizes the romantic happiness of adults over building a loving, lasting family. This would result in the law teaching that children do not need an institution that connects them to the mother and father who brought them into the world and their mother and father to each other. Priority number one for me will continue to be looking for new ways to inspire Catholics to live their faith and help rebuild a more loving and successful marriage culture.
2. Why do you think that the Catholic Church should be spending money, time and resources on the same sex marriage battle, when it could be directing those resources toward helping the victims of the rapidly increasing poverty rate? How high of a priority should it be for the Church?
Marriage and poverty are deeply intertwined concerns: an extremely high percentage of people in poverty are from broken families, and when the family breaks up it increases the risk of sliding into poverty, with single parents (usually mothers) making heroic sacrifices for their children as they struggle to fulfill the role of both mother and father. And beyond material poverty there is that poverty of the spirit in which kids hunger for their missing parent, who often seems absent and disengaged from their lives. We all have a deep instinct for connectedness to where we came from, and we deeply desire it when we do not have it.
Promoting stable marriages is actually one of the best things we can do to help eradicate poverty; in fact, it is a necessary, even if by itself alone not a sufficient, part of the solution – that is, we cannot hope to fix the problem without it. The solution to poverty certainly requires a multi-faceted strategy; we need efforts such as job training and placement for those in poverty, quality education for at risk youth, and so on. My Church is also involved in many of these kinds of efforts. But neither are these efforts alone sufficient. To focus exclusively on this, without educating our young people for marriage – teaching them to desire marriage and to develop the virtue necessary to sustain the demanding but rewarding commitment of marriage – would be like putting a bandage on a mortal wound. Rebuilding a marriage culture in which both men and women understand they need to come together in marriage to raise their children is not a distraction from poverty, it’s one necessary part of helping to alleviate poverty.
3. After Rhode Island approved same-sex marriage, you said it was “a great injustice.” But an ABC News poll in March found that 54 percent of Catholics now support same-sex marriage, mirroring other national surveys. Young people are firmly in support of same-sex marriage. Twelve states now allow it. The largest Catholic country, Brazil, has legalized it, as has France. With the Catholic Church attendance shrinking in the U.S., doesn’t the Church’s overt leadership on this issue risk alienating young people? What would you say to a young person — Catholic or otherwise — who is put off by the Church’s stance on this position?
Well, we have a lot of work to do, don’t we? Of course many people these days self-identify as Catholic on surveys like these without actually doing basic Catholic things like attending Mass on Sunday. Many people call themselves Catholic because that is the religion they grew up with and, indeed, they are Catholic, but many are also quite distant from the Church and know little of what their Church really teaches and why. The Catholic Church has been dealing with marriage far more than any other institution in the world: For 2,000 years we have reflected on the importance of marriage for the common good, we have reflected on it theologically and reflected on its mystical significance, we have legislated on it (in fact, much of our civil legislation on marriage came from the Church’s canon law, e.g., the principle that it is the consent of the couple that establishes their marriage and not anything else, such as a contract between their fathers) and we have been engaged on the pastoral level. We certainly have a valuable voice to contribute to this discussion, and, quite frankly, our insights are quite profound, even though it is quite difficult to break through the dominant culture to get this message out to people, especially young people. What I would say to a young person is: “open your mind! I have a treasure to share with you! If you receive it with an open mind and heart your life will be changed, and for the better!” My experience, and that of others I know who work in this field, has been that when young people are exposed to this deeper significance of marriage, and get in touch with their true, deeper desires, they enthusiastically embrace the Church’s teaching. In fact, the most common remark one hears is, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? It would have saved me untold heartache.” And this points to the real problem, which is the fault of us pastors: we have failed to teach this adequately to our young people. That’s why they are distracted by the false messages of the popular culture.
4. Have you met with any gays or parents of gay children since you came to San Francisco so as to better understand their perspective?
Yes, I’ve met privately with gay people when we’ve tried to get to know each other and each other’s points of view better. I cherish that kind of one-on-one dialogue because it puts a human face on our disagreements, and that makes it harder for hatred to grow. I haven’t yet done this in my first eight months here in this archdiocese.
Here is an added bonuses of Fr. Joseph Shea homily . . . It’s very good.
To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant.’
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone chairs the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. Here are his views on the subject in response to questions from USA TODAY:
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Q: What is the greatest threat posed by allowing gays and lesbians to marry?
A:The better question is: What is the great good in protecting the public understanding that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife?
I can illustrate my point with a personal example. When I was Bishop of Oakland, I lived at a residence at the Cathedral, overlooking Lake Merritt. It’s very beautiful. But across the lake, as the streets go from 1st Avenue to the city limits at 100th Avenue, those 100 blocks consist entirely of inner city neighborhoods plagued by fatherlessness and all the suffering it produces: youth violence, poverty, drugs, crime, gangs, school dropouts, and incredibly high murder rates. Walk those blocks and you can see with your own eyes: A society that is careless about getting fathers and mothers together to raise their children in one loving family is causing enormous heartache.
To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant, and that marriage is essentially an institution about adults, not children; marriage would mean nothing more than giving adults recognition and benefits in their most significant relationship.
How can we do this to our children?
Q: If the Supreme Court opens the floodgates to gay marriage in California (or beyond), what will be the result?
A: If the Supreme Court overturns Prop 8, this will not go down in history as the Loving v. Virginia but as the Roe v. Wade decision of our generation.
No matter what the Supreme Court rules, this debate is not over. Marriage is too important and the issues raised by treating same-gender unions as marriages are too fundamental to just go away. Just as Roe v. Wade did not end the conversation about abortion, so a ruling that tries to import same-sex marriage into our Constitution is not going to end the marriage debate, but intensify it.
We will have a bitterly polarized country divided on the marriage issue for years if not generations to come.
Q: Why is this of such importance to children?
A: Why has virtually every known civilization across time and history recognized the need to bring together men and women to make and raise the next generation together? Clearly something important is at stake, or human beings of such different cultures, histories and religions would not come up with the basic idea of marriage as a male-female union over and over again.
… When we as a culture abandon that idea and ideal, children suffer, communities suffer, women suffer, and men are dehumanized by being told they aren’t important to the project of family life.
Modern social science evidence generally supports the idea that the ideal for a child is a married mother and father. The scientific study of children raised by two men or two women is in its infancy … several recent studies … are painting a less sanguine portrait thatsome professional organizations have yet acknowledged about whether two dads can make up for the absence of a mom, or vice versa.
We all know heroic single mothers who do a great job raising their kids (just as there are gay people who take good care of their children). But the question of the definition of marriage is not about success or failure in parenting in any particular case.
The job of single mothers is hard precisely because we aren’t as a society raising boys to believe they need to become faithful husbands and fathers, men who care for and protect their children, and the mother of their children, in marriage. And we aren’t raising girls to be the kind of young women with the high standards and the self-worth to expect and appreciate such men, and not to settle for less.
Q: How would the allegation that opponents are bigoted lead to their rights being abridged?
A: Notice the first right being taken away: the right of 7 million Californians who devoted time and treasure to the democratic process, to vote for our shared vision of marriage. Taking away people’s right to vote on marriage is not in itself a small thing.
But the larger picture that’s becoming increasingly clear is that this is not just a debate about what two people do in their private life, it’s a debate about a new public norm: Either you support redefining marriage to include two people of the same sex or you stand accused by law and culture of bigotry and discrimination.
If you want to know what this new public legal and social norm stigmatizing traditional believers will mean for real people, ask David and Tanya Parker, who objected to their kindergarten son being taught about same sex marriage after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized it in that state and wanted to pull him out of class for that lesson. He was arrested and handcuffed for trying to protect his son’s education, and they were told they had no right to do so.
Ask the good people of Ocean Grove Methodist camp in New Jersey that had part of its tax-exempt status rescinded because they don’t allow same-sex civil union ceremonies on their grounds. Ask Tammy Schulz of Illinois, who adopted four children (including a sibling group) through Evangelical Child Family Services — which was shut down because it refuses to place children with same-sex couples. (The same thing has happened in Illinois, Boston and Washington, D.C., to Catholic Charities adoption services). … Ask the doctor in San Diego County who did not want to personally create a fatherless child through artificial insemination, and was punished by the courts…. Ask Amy Rudnicki who testified in the Colorado Legislature recently that if Catholic Charities is shut out of the adoption business by new legislation, her family will lose the child they expected to adopt this year. … Nobody is better off if religious adoption agencies are excluded from helping find good homes for abused and neglected children, but governments are doing this because the principle of “anti-discrimination” is trumping liberty and compassion. …
When people say that opposition to gay marriage is discriminatory, like opposition to interracial marriage, they cannot also say their views won’t hurt anybody else. They seek to create and enforce a new moral and legal norm that stigmatizes those who view marriage as the union of husband and wife. … It’s not kind, and it doesn’t seem to lead to a “live and let live” pluralism.
Q: You have spoken of gay marriage as a “natural impossibility.” But in terms of procreation, how does it differ from opposite-sex couples who are elderly or infertile?
A: Our bodies have meaning. The conjugal union of a man and a woman is not a factory to produce babies; marriage seeks to create a total community of love, a “one flesh” union of mind, heart and body that includes a willingness to care for any children their bodily union makes together.
Two men and two women can certainly have a close loving committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do.
Infertility is, as you point out, part of the natural life cycle of marriage (people age!), as well as a challenge and disappointment some husbands and wives have to go through. People who have been married for 50 years are no less married because they can no longer have children.
Adoption can be a wonderful happy ending for children who lack even one parent able or willing to care for them. But notice, when a man and woman cannot have children together, that’s an accident of circumstances, the exception to the rule. When a husband and wife adopt, they are mirroring the pattern set in nature itself. …
Treating same-sex relationships as marriage is the final severing by government of the natural link between marriage and the great task of bringing together male and female to make and raise the next generation together in love.
Q: Is it particularly difficult for you to play a leading role against gay marriage in a place like San Francisco? Does it change your relationship with gay congregants?
A: Truthfully, I am really excited to be in San Francisco. I remember the first time I saw the city as a boy when our family drove up from San Diego to meet my father who was unloading his tuna boat here. … To me San Francisco was and is The City! It represents vibrant, pulsating, creative, cosmopolitan life and I love it. Of course I realize many people in San Francisco disagree with the church’s teachings on marriage and sex, but there is also a very deeply embedded Catholic culture here with many people who understand and cherish the church’s teachings. My job as an archbishop is to teach the truths of our faith and the truths of the natural moral law, and whatever challenges that entails I embrace with enthusiasm.
We can learn to respect each other across differences and even to love one another. That’s my hope anyway. And my job description.
Q: Has it become more difficult to oppose gay marriage over the years? Does it seem the tide is turning against you?
A: There is a problem here – an injustice, really – in the way that some people are so often identified by what they are against. Opposition to same-sex marriage is a natural consequence of what we are for, i.e., preserving the traditional, natural understanding of marriage in the culture and in the law.
But of course people who are for the redefinition of marriage to include two men or two women are also against something: They are against protecting the social and legal understanding that marriage is the union of a husband and wife who can give children a mother and father.
So there are really two different ideas of marriage being debated in our society right now, and they cannot coexist: Marriage is either a conjugal union of a man and a woman designed to unite husband and wife to each other and to any children who may come from their union, or it is a relationship for the mutual benefit of adults which the state recognizes and to which it grants certain benefits. Whoever is for one, is opposed to the other. …
Those of us who favor preserving the traditional understanding of marriage do not do so because we want people who experience attraction to their same sex to suffer. We recognize and respect the equal human dignity of everyone. Everyone should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat differently things that are different. Marriage really is unique for a reason.
Q: Do you have friends or family members who are gay? How do you balance your public policy positions with those relationships?
A: Of course! I am a Baby Boomer, and I grew up in Southern California. The larger question you raise about my relationships with people I care about is: How can we love each other across deep differences in moral views? The answer I have found is that when we want to stay in relationship, we can and do. Love finds a way. When we want to exclude or hate, we find each other’s views literally intolerable.
Of course, it helps that my friends know me, directly and unfiltered through any other source. When you know someone personally, it’s much harder to rely on stereotyped or media-created images. It’s a lot harder to be hateful or prejudiced against a person, or group of people, that one knows personally. When there is personal knowledge and human interaction, the barriers of prejudice and pre-conceived ideas come down.
Q: What are your main goals: Supreme Court, lower courts, state legislatures, public opinion, religious liberty?
A: My main goal is none of these. I’m a faith leader, and my main goal is to seek to create a Catholic community in San Francisco where people know what the church teaches and uses this knowledge to guide their own lives and get to heaven. I want to help people understand the truth of natural marriage and, for people of my own faith, the deeper, theological, even mystical meaning of marriage as designed by God.
Using words, though, is only one way of teaching. Usually one’s actions speak louder than words. So there is a place for public manifestations of principle. The civil rights marches of the ’60s are a good example of that. Yes, they were a way to agitate for long overdue political change, but they also had a teaching effect in that they got people to think about the injustices of racism.
Engaging with the broader culture is also part of my teaching role as an archbishop, and of course my right as U.S. citizen.
Q: Are you worried about the recent trend in courts and states going against you? How best to stop that trend?
A: The natural law has a power written on the human heart that doesn’t go away.
Notice how there is no controversy in this country now over the evil of Jim Crow laws. Shortly after the Civil Rights Act the cultural change was complete. This is because it was the right thing to do. The truth cannot be suppressed indefinitely.
Draw a contrast here with the pro-life movement: After the Roe decision, it was commonly thought that our society would soon easily accept the legitimacy of abortion. But what has happened? The pro-life movement is stronger now, 40 years later, than it ever has been. This is because of the truth: Abortion is the killing of an innocent human life. That is not a matter of opinion or religious belief; it is a simple fact that cannot be denied.
The same principle applies with marriage: It is simply a natural fact that you need a man and a woman to make a marriage and that a child’s heart longs for the love of both his or her mother and father. Even if the Supreme Court rules against this truth, the controversy will not die out, as it hasn’t on the abortion issue.
The problem is, the longer a society operates in denial of the truth, the greater is the harm that will be done. The examples of the racist policies and practices of the past in our own country make this clear, as does all the harm that abortion has done to women and all those in her network of relationships.
With marriage, we have to consider the harm that will be caused by enshrining in the law the principle that children do not need a mother and a father. The circumstances of our struggles change but the truth does not.
Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco has given a frank interview with the excellent Mary O’Regan of The Catholic Herald that is a delight to read, especially his down-to-earth and wise words about the Catholic struggle against the imposition of same-sex pseudo-marriage on society.
Archbishop Cordileone cautions against over-using the term ‘gay marriage’, advising that it should be used “only sparingly” because it is a natural impossibility and if we keep talking about gay marriage we might fool ourselves into thinking it is an authentic reality, which only needs government approval to make it legitimate. He compares it with another impossibility: “Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalizing male breastfeeding”.
“Truth is clear. Wanting children to be connected to a mother and father discriminates against no one. Every child has a father and a mother, and either you support the only institution that connects a child with their father and mother or you don’t. Adoption, by a mother and father, mirrors the natural union of a mother and father and provides a balanced, happy alternative for when a child may not be reared by their biological parents.”
I tell him that I’m searching for good theological answers against gay marriage, but he corrects this notion by saying: “If you use theology, you will play into their hands and they will say you use religion to control people. Marriage isn’t primarily in theology; marriage is in nature. Theology builds on the natural institution, giving us a deeper mystical and supernatural sense of its meaning.”
‘Fighting for marriage is our way of loving God and the struggle is the particular gift that God has given our generation. This is our particular trial, and by overcoming it we may achieve spiritual greatness. It will entail suffering if we are to oppose gay marriage, something which poses such destruction to the understanding of natural marriage, which is a child-orientated institution”.
Protect the Pope comment: Archbishop Cordileone’s interview in The Catholic Herald is recommended reading because in a few words he exposes the absurdity of calling male-male, female-female sexual relationships ‘marriages’. The fact that our society is even considering this impossibility shows the disastrous consequences of separating the procreative and unitive purposes of conjugal sex through contraception. The absurdity of contraceptive sex introduces the greater absurdity of pseudo-same-sex marriage.
He’s Under-fire: Bishop Salvatore Cordileone Has Been Given a Battle
What does the LGBT think about Bishop Cordileone? Pope Benedict XVI Names Viciously Anti-Gay Priest As Archbishop Of San Francisco: ThinkProgress LGBT “Pope Benedict’s choice of Cordileone is exactly wrong for the diocese of San Francisco, a city with a storied history of LGBT pride. It is a further step in the Vatican’s dedication to use Catholic doctrine to keep LGBT Americans suppressed and with fewer rights.”
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone Defending Traditional Marriage
The Vivificat reports: As many of your know already, The Holy Father has named Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland as the new Archbishop of San Francisco. He will be succeeding Archbishop George Niederauer, who is retiring for health reasons.
Bishop Cordileone has been instrumental in the drawing of Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage (SSM) in California, a fact not lost on defenders of SSM, whose reactions range from consternation to outright anger and even hatred by supposedly Christian ministers. You may sample the reaction here.
According to the San Francisco Examiner,
Asked at a Friday news conference about his support for Proposition 8 in 2008, Cordileone stressed that the church remains open to LGBT individuals.
“We need to learn, continue to learn, how to be welcoming — let them know that we love them and we want to help them, and that our stand for marriage is not against anyone, but it’s because we believe this is foundational for the good of our society,” Cordileone said.
As Archbishop of San Francisco, Bishop Cordileone will continue with his duty to proclaim by word and example to a mostly unreceptive audience the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding chastity and homosexuality, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
The world, the devil, and the flesh reject this simple message, calling “bigots” and “haters” those who uphold it. Therefore, let us pray for the success of Archbishop Cordileone’s new mission in the Church, as well as for his physical and spiritual protection.
Washington D.C., Jul 3, 2012 / 04:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The legalization of “gay marriage” in America, even on a civil level, is unjust to children and poses a threat to religious liberty, warned Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif.
“Marriage is the only institution we have that connects children to their mothers and fathers,” he said. “So really, the question is, do you support that institution?”
In a June interview with CNA, Bishop Cordileone, who leads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, explained that Church teaching against the redefinition of marriage on a civil level as well as a sacramental level is a matter of justice.
“Marriage is about fundamental justice for children,” he said. “Children do best with a mother and a father.”
He acknowledged that advocates of “same-sex marriage” point to studies that appear to indicate that children can do just as well with two parents of the same sex as with two parents of the opposite sex.
However, he called much of this research “flawed” and pointed to a recent article published in the leading peer-reviewed journal, “Social Science Research.” The article analyzed the 59 studies on the topic used by American Psychological Association and found that they were problematic because they utilized self-selecting or “small, non-representative samples” of the population.
In contrast, he said, a recent social science study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin – entitled “The New Family Structures Study” – examined a very large, nationally-representative and random sample of American young adults who were raised in different family environments, including with same-sex couples and with their married, biological parents.
The study measured various areas of wellbeing, including social and economic condition, psychological and physical health and sexual identity and behavior. It found significant differences between the individuals raised by their married biological parents and those raised in other situations, and “in no area were children better off in an alternative arrangement.”
Based on sound social science, this study complements common sense and “demonstrates what we’ve always known,” Bishop Cordileone said. “Children do best with a mother and a father.”
The bishop explained that this issue is of crucial importance because “we cannot have two different definitions of marriage simultaneously in the country.”
“Only one definition of marriage can stand,” he said. “This is not expanding the right of marriage. It’s changing the definition, or taking away something is essential to marriage – that it’s the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of the binding of the two and the procreation and education of the next generation of offspring.”
Bishop Cordileone also warned that the redefinition of marriage poses a serious threat to religious freedom. This is not merely a potential threat, he said, but one that is already being manifest in numerous ways.
For example, he observed, Catholic Charities agencies in numerous archdioceses have already been forced out of the adoption business because they believed it was best to place children only with a mother and a father.
The “rights of conscience and parental rights” are also at risk, particularly when it comes to education of children.
He pointed to an instance in Massachusetts in which a couple objected to their kindergarten-age child being taught about same-sex families at school. The parents tried to pull their child out of class but were prohibited from doing so. When the father went to the school to object, he was arrested and taken to jail.
If the definition of marriage is redefined and “to object to that is being a bigot,” Bishop Cordileone said, “well then the state is justified in not allowing a parent to pull his child out when the child is being taught what they believe are fundamental principles of justice.”
“But we know it’s contrary to fundamental principles of justice,” he continued, “because out of justice for children, we need to do the best that we can to help them grow up with their mother and their father, married to each other in a stable relationship.”
Bishop Cordileone then emphasized that “gay marriage” is not an isolated problem but is rather connected to the broader issue of misunderstanding sexuality.
“This isn’t a new threat to marriage,” he explained. “It’s a huge problem, and it’s gone on for decades.”
He noted that the advent of the birth control pill led to an “explosion of contraception” that “divorced procreation from the conjugal act.” Other erosions to marriage quickly followed, including no-fault divorce, which was “a huge blow to marriage,” and experimenting with “open marriages.”
Suddenly, the traditional marks of marriage – fidelity, permanence and openness to children – were all gone, he said. Eventually, this led to a culture of “widespread promiscuity” as sex lost its meaning, a phenomenon that was serious “facilitated” by the common use of contraception.
Now, the bishop pointed out, marriage is seen merely as being about the legal benefits offered to the individuals entering into it, rather than as “a child-centered institution.”
But if marriage is simply about intimate relationships between adults, he asked, “why should the law even get involved at all?”
He observed that there is no real governmental reason to recognize sexual relationships between adults.
What governments throughout history have had a societal interest in, he said, is the well-being of dependent children who are born into the society. These children are necessarily born from the union of a man and woman, and this is why the government has an interest in encouraging stable marriages as a type of union with the potential to bring new life into the world.
The Church likewise acknowledges the importance of marriage for the sake of children and society, Bishop Cordileone said. Its members are therefore called to work to defend marriage in civil law, recognizing that “intact, healthy families make for a healthy society.”
Oakland’s Bishop Salvatore Cordileone says the federal government could require faith communities to offer abortion as a health benefit if the contraceptive mandate is not stopped.
“If this goes through there is nothing to stop the government requiring faith communities to cover abortion in their insurance packages,” Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone told Vatican Radio.
“This is, I think, a pivotal moment in the United States and in the life of the Catholic Church in the United States,” Bishop Cordileone said.
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone; Abortion Coverage is Next
The remarks were part of a wide-ranging interview on religious liberty in the United States.
The concern about abortion as a mandated benefit is shared by the executive director of the California Catholic Conference, Ned Dolejsi, who predicted a push to mandate abortion as a health benefit in California after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The ruling is expected in June. The health care act requires each individual to purchase health insurance.
“If the federal Affordable Act is struck down, we can expect the action to shift to the states,” said Dolejsi.
In January the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that would require all but very narrowly defined organizations to offer free contraception. The U.S. bishops are united in fighting the regulation as an infringement on religious liberty.
Part of the compromise that secured March 2010 passage of the contested federal health care overhaul is a requirement that each state offer at least one “abortion-free” health plan. Without that requirement, it is possible California will require all insurance plans to offer abortion as a benefit, Dolejsi said in a March interview with Catholic San Francisco.
A religious freedom rally in San Francisco on Friday attracted nearly 500 people from throughout the Bay Area vehemently opposed to a new federal requirement that insurers provide free contraception to workers.
Some waved flags. Others waved rosary beads. Many shouted “unbelievable” as speakers outlined the controversial policy in the national health reform law.
“This affects all of us as Americans, because our first freedom is freedom of religion,” said Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop of Oakland.
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone
“How dare the government define for us our religious mission?” he said. “Yes, get the government out of our church.”
Initially, the regulation required employers to cover birth control and other preventive services for women without a co-pay or deductible beginning in August.
Churches were exempt, but organizations affiliated with religious institutions such as charities, universities and hospitals, were not.
One of the reasons such organizations did not qualify for the religious exemption is that they provide service to everyone, including people who are outside of the church.
After taking heat from Republicans, the Catholic Church and others, President Barack Obama sought to end the furor on Feb. 10 with a revised policy permitting religious-based employers to opt out of the birth control requirement.
If they do that, their employees would still have access to free contraception because the requirement would shift instead to the institution’s insurance company.
The change appeased some, but religious leaders at the Friday rally made it clear they still believe their religious freedoms have been violated.
The San Francisco event was one of 140 such rallies that took place across the nation on the second anniversary of the national health reform law.
George Wesolek, director of public policy for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said he was upset that the federal government has a very narrow definition of a religious institution that does not include the orphanages, health clinics and schools that many organizations operate.
“Mr. Obama, let Christians practice their faith as they wish,” he said. “Mr. Obama, let Catholics be Catholics. We are not going to be confined to our churches. That is not our mission.”
Participants carried signs stating “Conscience matters” and “I always thought religious freedom was my American birthright.”
Other signs were more pointed, such as “What’s next? Comrade Obama?”
Denise Clark, who attends St. Isidore church in Danville, attended the rally with members of her Bible study group.
“We’ve got to speak up now about having government over-controlling freedom of religious rights,” she said. “If we don’t speak up now, there may come a time when we have no chance to say no.”
On the outskirts of the gathering, about a dozen protesters chanted “Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate” and held up signs such as “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.”
The birth control requirement has drawn praise from many women’s groups.
“Birth control is essential health care for women — period,” said Adrienne Verrilli, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, who did not attend the rally. She noted that 99 percent of sexually active women have used contraception at some point in their lives.
Despite the national uproar, the policy is expected to have little effect in California because state law already requires most employers that provide insurance to cover contraception.
At the rally, Father Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press told the crowd that when Obama was elected, “some people thought they were voting for a Messiah.”
“Last month, he performed a true miracle,” Fessio said. “He united all of the Catholic bishops in the U.S.”
Dear Member of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee:
As Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, I urge you to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by opposing the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598) and any other measure seeking DOMA’s repeal.
Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
DOMA recognizes for federal purposes that marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman. It also prevents the redefinition of marriage in any one state from forcing other states to follow suit. DOMA’s codified definition of marriage reflects a deeply rooted and enduring consensus, based on truths about the human person discernible by reason and accessible to people of all faiths or none at all. Millions of citizens have gone to the ballot in thirty states to ratify similar DOMA proposals by substantial majorities. Forty one states in all have enacted their own DOMAs. Popularity alone does not determine what is right. But in the face of such broad support in the present day, not to mention a legacy of lived experience and reasoned reflection measured in millennia in every society and civilization throughout all of human history, repealing a measure that merely recognizes the truth of marriage is all the more improvident.
I raise for your consideration two points: DOMA is rational, and its repeal would be unjust.
A. DOMA is grounded in reason and experience. It takes into account the/distinguishing properties of unity and procreation that mark the relationship of
husband and wife.
Marriage is a comprehensive union of man and woman, a total, permanent, faithful, and fruitful sharing of lives between husband and wife. This union is a great and unique good in itself, and is critical for the common good. There are fundamental reasons why sexual difference and the complementarity between man and woman have always been considered essential to the meaning of marriage.
The connection between sexual difference and procreation is obvious and unique. The public status of marriage owes its origin and existence to the natural capacity of man and woman to bring children into the world. Research substantiates that children thrive best when reared by both a mom and a dad married to each other. Marriage has been and should remain a child-centered institution.
Even when a marriage is not blessed with children, all husbands and wives can model for society the possibilities and potential for mutual collaboration between the sexes. They can teach children generally by their witness and exemplify for other men and women what it means to be husband and wife. They also can provide an essential service to society through adopting children, who need the care of a mother and a father.
The unitive and procreative realities at stake cannot be ignored. They are not mere cultural constructs that can be discarded at will, with little or no social cost. Instead, they flow directly from the immutable nature of the human person, and so our society ignores them at great peril. By contrast, where these human realities are respected, the benefits to society are unparalleled. This explains why Congress, nearly all of the states, and millions of voters affirm marriage as an institution founded on sexual difference. DOMA furthers the common good by preserving in federal law the essential connection between marriage, sexual difference, the good of children, and public policy.
B. Redefining marriage to mean simply an arrangement of consenting adults violates justice because it interferes with basic human rights. First, changing the institution of marriage by making it indifferent to the absence of one sex or the other denies that children have the fundamental human right to be cared by both their mother and father. Such revision transforms marriage from a child-centered to an adult-centered status to the detriment of children. DOMA maintains marriage’s proper focus on reinforcing the interests of children.
Second, redefining marriage also threatens the fundamental human right of religious freedom. Those who refuse on moral and religious grounds to accept or accommodate the redefinition of legal marriage are already being wrongly accused of bigotry and hatred, bias and prejudice. They are being stigmatized and marginalized precisely because they are exercising their religious freedom to teach and practice their values.
In places where marriage’s core meaning has been altered through legal action, officials are beginning to target for punishment those believers and churches that refuse to adapt. Any non-conforming conduct and even expressions of disagreement, based simply on support for marriage as understood since time immemorial, are wrongly being treated as if they harmed society, and somehow constituted a form of evil equal to racism. DOMA represents an essential protection against such threats to faith and conscience.
All persons have a rightful claim to our utmost respect. There is no corresponding duty, however, for society to disregard the meaning of sexual difference and its practical consequences for the common good; to override fundamental rights, such as religious liberty; and to re-define our most basic social institution. DOMA advances the common good in a manner consistent with the human dignity of all persons.
For all of the above-stated reasons, I strongly urge you to uphold DOMA and to reject any bill, including S. 598, that would repeal it.
Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone
Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland
Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage