Dissenting from Catholic Teaching or the Natural Moral Law in a Catholic
High School does not Promote Holiness, Virtue and Evangelization.
Dear Teachers in the Archdiocesan Catholic High Schools,
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone Letter to Teachers
Thank you for the work you do to help our young students learn, mature, and grow in the Catholic faith. Know of my gratitude for the energy, expertise and devotion that you bring to this wonderful and most critical enterprise.
This enterprise involves a two-fold endeavor, since, for a Catholic high school to attain excellence, it must be at one and the same time an excellent institution of secondary education and a truly Catholic institution. Changes in our secular society over the last few decades have brought new challenges to this endeavor in both senses, as we now face both increased difficulties in educating our students well in an array of academic subjects, and unprecedented challenges in forming our young people with a deep and strong Catholic identity as well as a knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith.
The Second Vatican Council, in its declaration on Catholic education Gravissimum Educationis, insisted on Catholic schools assisting Catholic parents in their primary duty of educating their children in virtue, holiness, and their ability to evangelize others in society (see especially nn. 3 and 8). Picking up on this theme, the U.S. bishops have affirmed that “Catholic elementary and secondary schools [are] invaluable instruments in proclaiming the Good News from one generation to the next” (see Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, US Conference of Catholic Bishops , p. 2).
As one means of fulfilling this most serious responsibility, all of our schools currently have programs to help teachers give more effective witness to the Catholic faith. I support these programs. However, I also see a need to provide more clarity for our teachers. For this reason, I have developed a document that clarifies Catholic issues in our Catholic schools. At the outset, though, I wish to state clearly and emphatically that the intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively, nor does it introduce anything essentially new into the contract or the faculty handbook.
Many Catholics are at Variance with Church Teaching
At the same time, we need to face the current reality in society and the Church honestly, seriously and frankly: many people have opinions directly contrary to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, many Catholics themselves have beliefs at variance with Church teaching. This is simply a reality of our modern society. This reality stems in great part from the tremendous pressure the contemporary culture places on everyone to conform to a certain agenda at variance with, and often aggressively so, our Christian understanding of the human person and God’s purpose in creation. This pressure is exerted relentlessly in the media, in entertainment, in politics, in academia, in corporations – in short, in all of the influencers of popular culture. This problem in society in general is already serious enough, but when people in Catholic institutions endorse such views it creates a toxic confusion about our fundamental values among both students and others in society at large. As teaching institutions, therefore, Catholic schools have to be very clear about what constitutes the true teachings of the Catholic Church. They owe that to the teachers, to the students, and to the parents of the students.
Confusion on Sexual Morality and Religious Discpline
Confusion about the Church’s stance is prevalent in areas of sexual morality and religious discipline. For this reason, the statements for inclusion in the faculty handbook focus on these two areas. This focus does not imply lesser importance to Catholic teachings on social justice, which in fact are widely accepted and well interpreted in Catholic educational institutions. The areas requiring clarification are in Catholic teachings on sexual morality and religious practice.
Having clear statements especially about “hot button issues” related to faith and morals is important to teachers for two reasons. The first is that a forthright statement of the Church’s position on these issues helps teachers provide good perspectives to their students who often struggle in these areas.
The second reason is that candid formulation of Church doctrine protects those teachers who don’t agree with the statements. That sounds counterintuitive, but it is indeed the case. In a society in which confusion reigns about Church teachings, highlighting the controversial issues alerts teachers to avoid contradicting Church teaching on these issues either in the school or in some public way outside the classroom.
Dissenting from Catholic Teaching does not Promote Holiness
All teachers are expected to contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue, and familiarity with the Gospel. How can this occur if not all teachers agree with Catholic teachings?
The way to assist teachers who distance themselves or privately oppose some Catholic teachings is to alert them to sensitive issues. Because the school fosters holiness, virtue and evangelization, teachers not knowledgeable about the precise contours of Catholic teaching have to be cautious about what they say in the school and what they do in the public sphere outside the Catholic school. Honest mistakes do happen, and when they do, reparation can be made. This is not in and of itself a cause for a teacher to be punished. At the same time, teachers and staff at Catholic high schools have to strive to present Catholic teachings as consistently as possible. Dissenting from Catholic teaching or the natural moral law in a Catholic high school does not promote holiness, virtue and evangelization.
Finally, it is important to note the careful use of language in the document. In front of many statements of Catholic teaching in the faculty handbook come the words “affirm and believe.” This is a statement made on behalf of the institution, not all individuals in the institutions. Our Catholic high schools try to hire people who do believe what the Church teaches, but in our schools we have good teachers who belong to other Christian faiths or to no faith at all. They are members of the school community. The language “affirm and believe” acknowledges the good activity of the entire corps of faculty and staff by making this claim on behalf of the institution. That is, in the first instance, “affirm and believe” refers to the Catholic high school itself, and, secondly, to many faculty who identify with the Catholic teachings behind which the high school as a whole stands.
My hope is that the document on Catholic faith and morals that is becoming part of the faculty handbook in our Catholic high schools will help the schools better fulfill their mission, and also highlight for teachers true Catholic teachings that are contested by many people in secular society today.
Sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
(CNSNews.com) – Responding to statements made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi–who would not say at her press briefing last week if a 20-week-old unborn child is a “human being”–Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said that it is a “scientific fact that human life begins at conception” and that “no Catholic can dissent in good conscience” from Church teaching on the sanctity of life.
At her Jan. 22 briefing Pelosi said she had “great standing” to speak on the issue of abortion, noting that she was a “Catholic and a mom of five” and asserting that it was “true” she knew “more about having babies than the pope.”
CNSNews.com asked Archbishop Cordileone about Pelosi’s comments on human life, particularly in light her self-description “as a Catholic and a mom of five.”
“It is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception,” the archbishop said in a written statement to CNSNews.com. “This has been established in medical science for over 100 years. Catholic moral teaching acknowledges this scientific fact, and has always affirmed the grave moral evil of taking an innocent human life.
“This has been the consistent teaching of the Church from the very beginning, a teaching already discernible in the natural moral law, and so a teaching from which no Catholic can dissent in good conscience,” he said.
“It is the obligation of pastors of souls to reach out to their people who have difficulty understanding and accepting such important teachings of the Church in order to extend to them true pastoral care and, where appropriate, to establish a regular dialogue,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “This is something I have always striven to do in the various ministries I have exercised as a priest and bishop, including now as the Archbishop of San Francisco. I ask for people’s prayers for success as I continue to strive to do this.”
Pelosi lives in Cordileone’s archdiocese and represents San Francisco in Congress.
At her Jan. 22 press conference at the Capitol, CNSNews.com twice asked Pelosi whether an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy is a human being.
Pelosi would not answer the yes-no question with a yes-no answer, but did say that a woman has “the right” to abort her child.
“The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health,” said Pelosi, after declining for the second time to say if an unborn child at 20 weeks is a human being. “It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue.
“And as a mother of five, in six years, I have great standing on this issue, great understanding of it, more than my colleagues. In fact, one day many years ago, perhaps before you were born, when I was a new member of Congress, as a Catholic and a mom of five, opposing some of the initiatives similar to what–in the same vein as–what we have today, one of the Republicans stood up and said: Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.
“Yeah, Yeah. That would be true. So, in any event, this is up to women, their conscience, their God, their doctor, their fate, their survival. And that is what the decision should be. Decisions about women’s reproductive health should not be made by politicians in Washington, D.C., but should honor the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court, a decision made by the Supreme Court, recognizing the right of women to have that choice.”
During the press conference, Pelosi made clear that she is opposed to both the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.
The former would prohibit the abortion of babies 20 weeks or later into gestation unless they were conceived in rape or incest, or if the life of the mother was at risk. The latter prohibits federal funding of abortion and stops federal Obamacare subsidies from going to insurance plans that cover abortion while not preventing people in subsidized Obamacare plans from buying supplemental abortion coverage–with their own money.
“Augustinian goods” of marriage – permanence (bonum sacramenti), fidelity (bonum fidei) and openness to offspring (bonum prolis). It is these three bona, goods of marriage, that distinguish marriage from any other type of relationship, and identify what it is in nature and define what it is in the law.
Considered in this light, it becomes clear that the current crisis of marriage of which we are all painfully aware has really been going on in our society for a very long time. This latest debate about the very definition of marriage is simply the next logical – albeit thus far most radical – step in the redefinition of marriage in the social consciousness. That is, marriage has already been redefined in the culture, and the law is now beginning to reflect that. Looked at from the standpoint of the three goods of marriage, we can see how this banalization of the concept of marriage has been going on for at least the last fifty years, that is, since the so-call “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s. Just consider:
The 3 Stages of the Destruction of Marriage
Permanence: There is no question that the widespread acceptance of no fault divorce dealt an extremely severe blow to the concept of marriage as a life-long commitment. This already redefined marriage as an adult-centered institution based on what the adults look to get out of it. To put it in the terminology that comes to us from the teaching of St. John Paul II, this is the quintessential “utilitarian” norm: one person becomes the means to another person’s end. When the needs of one are no longer being met by the other, the basis of the relationship is gone and the disappointed party can legally back out of it, even against the wishes of the other spouse who wishes to keep the marriage together. Perhaps you, as I, have known people who have been severely harmed by this decision – they wanted to stay in the relationship and keep it working while the person’s spouse simply backed out and filed for divorce. Now, if we add to this the now almost universally accepted practice of cohabitation outside of marriage, and recognize how easily couples move in and out of relationship, whether it’s cohabitation or marriage, we can see that there is not really that much difference the popular mentality ascribes to those who are married and to couples who are not.
Fidelity: Certainly widespread promiscuity does violence to the idea of marriage as a commitment of exclusive fidelity. Commonplace cohabitation also contributes to the loss of the sense of fidelity as one of the defining goods of marriage, even if, of the three, this one does still have some resonance in the popular culture, at least as an ideal. The social changes that erupted fifty years ago also eventually saw such aberrant practices as so-called “open marriages” and “swinging.”
Offspring: We are now witnessing the phenomenon, until recently inconceivable, of couples marrying with the intention of not have any children at all. Remember “DINKS”? With contraception and then – necessarily, given the mentality – abortion, sex has become redefined, no longer understood as procreative and unitive, but seen rather as a means for pleasure. Thus, we have here again the utilitarian norm: the other person becomes a means to an end, rather than an end in themselves. Because the concept of sex has now become disconnected from procreation and, in turn, from marriage, motherhood today is seen as a matter of choice and increasingly a lifestyle choice. We hear absurd things such as, “just because she chose to be a mother doesn’t mean I chose to be a father.” Or the woman who says, “I don’t know how I got pregnant, it wasn’t supposed to happen.” (I have actually heard this one myself!)
When the choice to have a child is simply a lifestyle choice . . .
When the choice to have a child is simply a lifestyle choice, then increasingly it is seen as a means to fulfillment separated from marriage, for the sake of the adult making the choice, with roles of motherhood and fatherhood becoming interchangeable. Just last Sunday the New York Times had a front-page article on surrogacy, “wombs for hire,” whether the couples are same-sex or opposite sex. And what if the couple decides later they do not want to have the child, but the surrogate mother wants to keep the child and is willing to raise the child herself? As you may know, this has happened, and the surrogate mother was forced to abort the child against her will. What could be a more blatant and outrageous example of a child being treated as an object of desire, a means to an end, rather than a gift of equal value and dignity to the adult and worthy of unconditional self-giving love – what St. John Paul calls the “personalistic norm”?
Sadly, this sort of thing isn’t new. When I was working in Rome – already this was in the late 1990’s – I remember walking past what was obviously a feminist bookstore. And this was just a few blocks from the Vatican, very close to the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. And there proudly displayed in the window was a book with the title, “Self-Insemination.” I thought to myself, “How ironic. When I was young and ‘women’s lib’ was in full force, the question that women who were with the spirit of the times would ask themselves was, ‘How can I do it without getting pregnant?’ Now the question they ask is, ‘How can I get pregnant without doing it?’”
When the two ends of marriage become not only separated from each other but irrelevant,
it’s nowonder that many people cannot make a distinction between heterosexual
and same-sex relationships, or between marriage and cohabitation for that matter.
So, you can see how all of this has whittled away at the three defining goods of marriage, and therefore at the very concept of marriage itself. No fault divorce was, especially, the pivotal moment, for that put into the law the idea that marriage is for the gratification and benefits of adults and not about the needs and rights of children. But ultimately it can all be traced back to the contraceptive mentality, which is nothing more than the utilitarian norm applied to sexual relations.
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.”