What’s the Problem with Same-Sex Marriage?

How Will It Affect My life?
An Honest Look at Homosexual “Marriage.”

BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN: The Rhode Island Catholic


Bishop Thomas Tobin's Five Problems with Homosexual “Marriage”

It’s a sure sign of spring, as predictable as the Red Sox at spring training, the swallows returning to Capistrano, and the flowing of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m referring of course to the public re-appearance of the determined proponents of homosexual marriage.

It seems that each year at this time the left-leaning columnists, the organized advocates, and the lobbyists at the State House awaken from their hibernation to take-up their perennial campaign to redefine marriage in Rhode Island and impose their personal preferences upon the citizenry of our State.

The public debate about same-sex marriage always includes questions like: “What’s the problem with same-sex marriage?” and “How will it affect my life?” Although these questions have been answered repeatedly and clearly in a variety of contexts, including this column, permit me to summarize once again just some of the problems that accompany the proposal to legalize homosexual marriage.

Five Problems with Homosexual “Marriage”

1) The proposal to legalize homosexual marriage is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has existed from the very beginning of human history. Marriage between a man and woman was designed by God and has two fundamental purposes: It affirms the difference and the complementarity of males and females in a loving relationship, and it provides the foundation for the procreation and raising of children. Marriage thus described has been the fundamental unit, the building block of every human culture and society. Think about it: God created two different genders for a reason – so that males and females could come together, complement one another, procreate, and continue the species.

And be very clear about this – same-sex marriage isn’t about procuring civil rights for beleaguered homosexual persons. The recently adopted civil-unions legislation, as ill-advised as it was, it provided the legal protections activists have been lobbying for, but the opportunity has been widely ignored. Same-sex marriage legislation is about distorting a venerable institution – not about civil rights.

2) Homosexual marriage enshrines into civil law immoral activity. Let me emphasize once again, as I have repeatedly in the past: our opposition to this legislative initiative, to same-sex marriage, should not be construed as an attack on or rejection of individuals with same-sex attraction. Homosexual persons are children of God who possess the same human dignity as every other human being. That affirmation, however, doesn’t mean that their sexual activity needs to be accepted and celebrated.

The natural law, the Holy Scriptures and long-standing religious tradition are very consistent in stating that homosexual activity is immoral, an offense to God, a serious sin. Heterosexual relationships are normative in nature; homosexual relationships are not. The promotion of homosexual marriage is an attempt to rationalize such behavior and to give it the affirmation, the “blessing” of the state. It upgrades private behavior to another level.

3) The concept of same-sex marriage is a social experiment with unpredictable outcomes. Supporters of same-sex marriage often say something like: “Well, they’ve had same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for several years now and the sky hasn’t fallen in.” Well that’s true of course, the sky hasn’t fallen. But the reality of marriage and family life, and its effects upon society, are far more subtle and profound than that shallow assessment would allow. The attempted marriage of homosexual individuals is a significant change in the human landscape; it’s a social experiment, the consequences of which may not be realized for many years to come.

4) The establishment of same-sex marriage will pose yet another threat to religious liberty. This fear been constantly pointed out, and indeed already realized, even before the invasive Obama HHS Contraceptive Mandate was foisted upon us, a development that confirms that the full-frontal assault on religious liberty in our nation is well underway. We’ve already seen that if you oppose same-sex marriage, even for personal or religious principles, you’ll quickly be labeled an intolerant bigot. And while proponents insist that religious communities will not be required to officiate at same-sex ceremonies, there are other impositions upon religious institutions and private citizens that have already been realized. The truth is that the homosexual lobby that seeks tolerance for itself isn’t quite as generous in extending the same courtesy to others.

5) The debate over homosexual marriage will again distract our state leaders from other important issues and will further divide our community. The State of Rhode Island faces enormous challenges, especially in responding to the economic crisis that continues to weigh heavily upon us. The stagnant economy has resulted in a host of complex issues that demand the full attention of our state leaders, issues such as unemployment, pension reform, tax rates, school funding, homelessness, and funding of social services. Other issues such as immigration, casino gambling and voting rights will also be on the docket. Do we really want our representatives to be dragged into the tiresome controversy over homosexual marriage yet again? The general public will continue to be divided over this emotional issue with accusations and angry rhetoric sure to follow. Do we need that again, here and now?

So . . . there are several critical problems that arise with the promotion of homosexual marriage. Proponents have already argued that momentum is on their side, and since a few other states recently approved the marriage of homosexual persons, we should do the same. Well, Rhode Island has a long history of being independent, and the fact that other states have adopted this ill-advised social experiment doesn’t sway me at all.

Please be assured, dear readers, that if the debate over same-sex marriage finds its way to the State House once again, the Diocese of Providence, joined by its allies in our community, will be fully engaged in the battle. We will work hard and pray hard for the defeat of this immoral, misguided proposal that erodes the foundation of our society and offends the moral values we cherish.

Bishop Tobin: Our Greatest Danger As A Catholic Community Is Apathy!

Catholics Need To Stand Strong With Courage And Conviction!

Interview by Jim Graves of The Catholic World Report:

Edited for Length.  Read entire interview here.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, was born and reared in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the youngest of four children from an observant Catholic home, and his father was a manager at Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Tobin was attracted to the priesthood from a young age, and remembers pretending to celebrate Mass at home as a small child. “God was interested in having me be a priest,” he recalled. “And it was nourished by the Catholic faith in our household.”

Tobin has fond memories of the priests and Benedictine nuns who were his teachers at the Catholic schools in which he was enrolled as a child. He attended seminaries both in Pennsylvania and Rome, and was ordained a priest in 1973. In 1992 he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and went on to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio from 1996 to 2005, when he became the eighth bishop of Providence.

Bishop Tobin has been an outspoken defender of Catholic teaching, and has tangled with prominent political figures over such hot-button issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. He regularly pens a column, “Without a Doubt,” for his diocesan newspaper, and has written two books on faith, Without a Doubt: Bringing Faith to Life and Effective Faith: Faith that Makes a Difference. He recently spoke with CWR.

CWR: You have been a leader against the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in your state of Rhode Island. Who is behind this effort, and what arguments do you make in opposition to them?

Bishop Thomas Tobin: Rhode Island is a very liberal state politically. The vast majority of our General Assembly in both houses are Democrats. The question of gay marriage has been on the horizon for many years. Fortunately, in recent years, we had a governor, Governor Donald Carcieri, who promised to veto it.  Governor Carcieri is a practicing Catholic. Also, both our previous Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate kept the lid on same-sex marriage in the General Assembly.

That scenario has changed.

Our newly elected governor, Lincoln Chafee, is an Independent. He made promotion of same-sex marriage one of his priorities, even mentioning it in his inaugural address. And the new Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, is an openly gay man who has also made it one of his priorities.

The arguments we’ve been making against same-sex marriage are well known. While the Catholic Church has respect, love, pastoral care, and compassion for people with homosexual orientation, we believe that homosexual marriage is wrong because it gives state approval of an immoral lifestyle involving immoral sexual activity.

Also, it is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has been understood since the beginning of time. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman and is meant to foster life and love. Homosexual marriage can never do that. It is an ill-advised attempt to redefine something God has given us and what is one of the building blocks of human society.

Additionally, the passage of homosexual marriage presents a challenge to religious freedom and conscience protection, as has been the case in other places in the country. Our neighbors in the Archdiocese of Boston in Massachusetts, for example, had to get out of the adoption business because they were being forced to place children in situations where there were two gay people living in a home in an alleged marriage. The Archdiocese of Washington had to stop giving family medical benefits because they were being forced to provide them to gay couples who tried to get married in civil marriages.

And there are situations where ancillary Catholic facilities such as reception halls must be made available to gay couples as they attempt to marry. All these things are on the radar screen if you go down this road of approving homosexual marriage.

CWR: How has the Catholic community in Rhode Island responded to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage?

Bishop Tobin: Historically there has been some apathy about it among the citizenry of Rhode Island, including among the Catholic population. But recently, because our political landscape has changed, we’ve done a better job in getting our pastors involved, rallying the Catholic faithful against it. I’m proud of what our pastors and people have done, both in reaching out to our legislators and making their voices heard in the media, saying this is not something that is acceptable to us.

We need our people to understand that this is a serious issue. Our greatest danger as a Catholic community is apathy. If we’re not aware of the situation, don’t care about it or make it a priority, gay marriage will pass in Rhode Island. But if we’re galvanized and make our voices heard, we’ll keep it out of our state.

It is important to emphasize that this is not just an exercise in partisan politics. This is an expression of our faith. We have to be involved in this issue as disciples of Christ and members of his Church.

Recently, the Providence Phoenix, a liberal-leaning, gay-friendly newspaper here in Providence, ran a lead story by David Scharfenberg, “Will the Catholic Church kill gay marriage?” They gave us a left-handed compliment by saying that we’ve been rather effective in our opposition. We have a long road ahead of us, and a tough fight. I don’t know what the outcome will be. But we’re doing our best.

CWR: What have people said to you about your leadership on this issue?

Bishop Tobin: I get both support and criticism. From practicing Catholics, as well as members of other religious communities, I’ve been getting a lot of support. They say, “Thank you for leading the charge,” “Thank you for speaking out,” or “This is what we expect the bishops to do.”

There are also those on the other side of the issue who are upset and angry that the Church is so visible and vocal about this issue. They talk about separation of church and state and say we shouldn’t be involved in it, or that we’re “homophobic,” bigoted, and interfering in other people’s lives. These are all the predictable reactions that you hear surrounding this issue, and they’re leveled time and again against me and the Church. I’m sure such complaints will continue.

CWR: You also spoke out against the Obama administration’s decision in February not to defend traditional marriage.

Bishop Tobin: The Obama administration directed the Justice Department to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement, and I did as well in response to a media inquiry, saying that the president overstepped his authority and abdicated his role and sworn duty to uphold the laws of our nation. It was just another attempt to impose a liberal, politically-correct agenda on our nation. It was disappointing.

CWR: How should a bishop best approach a Catholic politician who publicly opposes Church teaching?

Bishop Tobin: The teaching of the Church should be public and the issues should be discussed publicly. But in regard to someone’s personal sacramental practice, I think a personal, confidential approach is the best way to begin.

CWR: Many people admire you for the leadership you’ve provided to the Church. Who do you admire and who has been an influence in your ministry?

Bishop Tobin: My strongest influence has been our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. For a good part of my priesthood and my life as a bishop, he was our pope, the Vicar of Christ. He is also the one who chose me to be a bishop; I have a photograph of him presenting me with my pectoral cross when I was first appointed.
Not only am I impressed by his life and ministry, but I’ve been greatly influenced by all that he has written. He gave us a blueprint for approaching the world from a perspective of faith. I often, for example, refer to Pope John Paul’s Evangelium Vitae [a 1995 encyclical concerning the value and inviolability of human life] and Pastores Dabo Vobis [a 1992 apostolic exhortation concerning the formation of priests]. And Pope John Paul’s writings have been beautifully complemented by Pope Benedict, who has given us some wonderful reflections about many things, including charity and hope.

As far as saints, the one I refer to often is St. Thomas the Apostle. The title of my column and first book, Without a Doubt, is derived from the fact that we call St. Thomas “doubting Thomas.” I often think about how he worked through his doubts to become a faithful and effective witness of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection. I also like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who gave us many wonderful writings and modeled a holy Catholic life.

When people ask me why I’m getting involved in public debates with politicians, I think about St. Thomas More, how he professed his faith and challenged the government of King Henry VIII, which had become immoral. I also think of St. John the Baptist standing outside the palace of Herod, challenging Herod on his immoral lifestyle. Both ended up giving up their lives for their witness to the truth.

Saints who challenge an established political order in witness to the truth of the Gospel and a common, decent morality appeal a great deal to me. We need to rediscover this courage and conviction in our own time.


Bishop Tobin – “Gay Marriage” Can Never Be Condoned

Bishop Thomas J.Tobin: “Homosexual Relationships Are Not
Marriage – Never Have Been, Never Will Be.”

This was such a strong message we are posted it for you again.

Providence, RI, 2009 (CNA). – “Abysmal” Catholic apathy must be overcome to oppose those who are “fiercely determined” to impose homosexual “marriage,” Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island Thomas J. Tobin has warned. Reasserting Catholic teaching on sexual morality, he also said that same-sex “marriage” will endanger religious freedom.

Bishop Thomas J.Tobin, Bishop Tobin

Bishop Thomas J.Tobin: Defender of Marriage

Writing in his April 23 column in The Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin spoke of a “relentless” political march towards homosexual marriage, with New England leading the way. “The supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are well-organized and well-funded. They’re fiercely determined to impose their politically correct agenda on all the citizens of the state – human history, culture and moral principles not-withstanding. Anyone who opposes them is quickly labeled a bigot,” the bishop observed.

However, he said the typical Rhode Island Catholic’s response was indifferent and cited not wanting to judge people. Tobin also said that Catholics give rationalizations about the decline of Catholic influence.

“Gay marriage will affect you and you should be concerned. And there’s a lot we can do,” the bishop wrote, proceeding to review reasons Catholics oppose same-sex “marriage.”

Bishop Tobin explained that “homosexual activity is unnatural and gravely immoral. It’s offensive to Almighty God. It can never be condoned, under any circumstances. Gay marriage, or civil unions, would mean that our state is in the business of ratifying, approving such immoral activity.

The movement for same-sex “marriage,” he added, “seeks to radically redefine the most fundamental institution of the human race, the building block of every society and culture. From the beginning, marriage has been defined as the stable union of man and woman, designed by God to continue the human race through the procreation of children.

“Homosexual relationships are not marriage – never have been, never will be.”

Bishop Tobin introduced what he called the “champagne principle.” Saying that not every wine has the unique characteristics of champagne, the bishop argued that someone who relabeled a bottle of Chianti and tried to sell it as champagne would be arrested for fraud.

Similarly, those who seek to redefine marriage and “to usurp the title ‘marriage’ for their morally bankrupt relationships,” are “committing an act of fraud,” he charged. “It’s insulting to those who have entered the authentic, sacred and time-honored institution of marriage over the years.”

“The gay culture continues to seep into our popular culture, cleverly claiming credibility,” he said. He charged that President Barack Obama’s special invitations to homosexual families to participate in the White House Easter Egg Hunt was “just another not-too-subtle attempt to ignore the objective immorality of the situation and present gay couples as normal and happy as every other couple.”

He closed with a warning about the implications the recognition of same-sex “marriage” would have for religious liberty.

“We’re familiar with other examples of the gay agenda infringing on religious freedom,” he said, noting how Massachusetts required the Catholic Church to place children for adoption with homosexual couples and how some countries have charged Christian preachers of hate crimes for voicing Christian doctrine about homosexual practices.

“Proponents of gay marriage say that the Church won’t be forced to witness such marriages. Don’t believe it,” he said, warning that the Church may be required to admit homosexual couples as sponsors for baptism, to rent its facilities for homosexual wedding receptions, or to hire employees despite their immoral lifestyles.

“For simply maintaining its teachings in these and many other possible scenarios, the Church will be accused of bigotry and unlawful discrimination. The threat to our religious freedom is real, and imminent,” he said.

Crediting Rhode Island’s governor, its Speaker of the House, and its President of the Senate for avoiding homosexual marriage, he said they have been “consistent and courageous” in deflecting the “onslaught” of homosexual activists.

Bishop Tobin said that if only five or ten percent of Rhode Island’s Catholic population became involved on this issue “we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity.”

He encouraged Catholics to become aware of political action on the issue, to write letters to the editor, and to encourage their representatives to “defend marriage and family values.

“And you can pray fervently that God will help us in this critical struggle on behalf of morality and common sense,” he added.

If the imposition of homosexual marriage happens in Rhode Island, the bishop concluded, “It’ll be our fault… simply because our abysmal apathy allowed it to happen.”


Other Bishop Tobin Articles

Bishop Tobin “You Caused Serious Scandal”

Bishop Thomas Tobin Admonishes the Catholic
Health Association and Sr. Carol Keehan

CathNews – Providence RI Bishop Thomas Tobin has withdrawn two hospitals from membership of the Catholic Health Association following the organization’s backing for the recently passed health care reform bill.

CHA head Sr Carol Keehan met with President Barack Obama at the White House days before the bill passed. The bill was signed into law March 23, AP reports.

The diocese on Wednesday released a letter written March 29 by Bishop Thomas Tobin to Keehan in which he complained that even an association with the group was embarrassing.

“Your enthusiastic support of the legislation, in contradiction of the bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public and caused a serious scandal for many members of the church,” Tobin wrote.

Keehan said in an interview Wednesday that she replied to Bishop Tobin that the group would honor his request.

She noted that very few Catholic hospitals are sponsored by dioceses, and that while she had great regard for St. Joseph, it is a small hospital group.

She said she believed groups on the far right were using the issue of abortion funding as a way to kill health care reform, and that the language, while not the way she would have written it, does not allow federal funding of abortions.

“It certainly does the job,” she said.

Bishop Tobin to CHA Nuns:

Your Support for Pro-Death Healthcare
Caused Serious Scandal to the Faithful!

Kathleen Gilbert (LifeSiteNews.com) – Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island has denounced the Catholic Health Association for supporting the abortion-laden federal health care reform law, and has asked that a local hospital be removed from membership in the group, reported ETWN Friday.

CHA, a for-profit trade association personally wooed by President Obama to support his health care overhaul, garnered heavy criticism from U.S. bishops for supporting the massive bill despite its lack of a ban on federal abortion funding – effectively making it the most pro-abortion piece of legislation since Roe v. Wade.

The CHA, which stands to profit from health care reform, in July 2009 has already pledged a large sum of money to the Obama administration to help ease passage of the overhaul, well before the final draft of the bill materialized.

Tobin told CHA director Sr. Carol Keehan in a March 29 letter that he was “very disappointed that the Catholic Health Association, under your leadership, publicly endorsed the recent health care legislation that was passed and signed into law.”

“This action was taken despite the fact that the legislation will very possibly provide additional public funding for abortion and threaten the freedom of conscience of Catholic individuals and institutions,” wrote the outspokenly pro-life bishop.

Tobin called out the group for paving the way to immense confusion among Catholics concerning the bill: “Your enthusiastic support of the legislation, in contradiction to the position of the Bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public and cause serious scandal for many members of the Church,” he said.

Therefore, he said, “I am writing to request that St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island, sponsored by the Diocese of Providence, be removed from the membership list and mailing list of the Catholic Health Association.”

The bishop also requested “that our name be removed” as “even the association with CHA is now embarrassing.”

In conclusion, Tobin expressed hope that CHA “will review its mission and will find new opportunities to renew its commitment to human life, including that of unborn children.”

“I also hope that the Association will clearly support the teaching mission of the Church as expressed by the Bishops, whose obligation it is to preach the Gospel of Christ and apply the teachings of the Church to the important moral issues of our time,” he added.

Kathleen Gilbert (with slight editing)

Here is my personal letter to the Nuns.

Dear CHA Nuns,

Please see the above picture so you can get an up close and personal look at what your support of the health bill helped to ensure in greater number.  Healthcare should be about saving lives, not taking them.  This is why the health bill, and all of the pro-death legislation will ultimately fail.  We have a choice:  Either we can choose to end this holocaust or God will end it for us.  As scripture tells us, “Two ways are set before you O’ man, the way of life, and the way of death, therefore choice life, that you and your descendents may live.”  Jeff Gares

Do you think more Bishops will remove their hospitals from CHA? Don’t be afraid to leave your comment.

Bishop Tobin: Leading the Pro-Life Cause in Word and in Deed!

There Are No Inconsistencies In Bishop Tobin’s

Pro-Life Leadership

Peter J. Smith-Bishop Thomas Tobin, the leader of Rhode Island’s Roman Catholics, took a personal lead in the 40 Days For Life Lenten campaign last Friday, joining his flock and other Christians in two peaceful pro-life demonstrations at Rhode Island abortion clinics.

Tobin reminded pro-life advocates that they were setting a positive example by challenging social acceptance of abortion and giving the issue a high profile, when others would rather keep the problem of abortion out of the public consciousness, the Rhode Island Catholic reported.BishopThomasTobin

“Your witness to life is very important. It’s very effective and it’s very encouraging,” the Catholic bishop said. “Thank you for that.”

Rhode Island pro-life advocates, many of them Catholic, gathered to pray and give a pro-life witness at the Women’s Clinic on Broad Street in Cranston and the Planned Parenthood in Providence. The RI Catholic said that those praying at the abortion centers also recited the Rosary, a traditional set of prayers asking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, which asks the angel by the power of God to “cast into Hell Satan and all evil spirits.”

Sandra Jeanne Lefebvre of Woonsocket told the RI Catholic that standing shoulder to shoulder with the bishop and others at the abortion clinic filled her with hope, and felt uplifting.

“Earlier that day, God’s sovereignty was so evident when one of the women who never made it into the clinic to seek an abortion was Spanish speaking and we did not speak Spanish,” she said. “God provided someone at the end of the phone to counsel her and she left. We called the place where we thought we called and they said you didn’t call here. So we don’t know who, but there was an angel of mercy out there.”

stmichaelLThe day before, Tobin gave a homily on a pro-life theme at St. Martha’s Church for the Feast of the Annunciation, the day the Catholic Church celebrates the Virgin Mary’s consent to bear Jesus Christ in her womb.

Tobin told the packed congregation at St. Martha’s that Mary’s “yes” gives a powerful example for both Christians and those in the pro-life movement.

Mary said yes, let it be done to me according to your word,” the bishop said during his homily at St. Martha Church. “With that yes she allowed God’s plan to be fulfilled. Like Mary, you are saying yes to life, like Mary you are accepting his word, like Mary you are doing God’s will.”

For Catholics and pro-life advocates, Tobin’s actions have provided a consistent pastoral example of showing how a bishop should lead on the life issues and uphold Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life.

The Rhode Island bishop was thrust into the national spotlight over a duel with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), a pro-abortion Catholic and son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, when Rep. Kennedy rebuked the U.S. bishops in October as not being “pro-life” because they opposed the Democrats’ health care reform legislation.

Tobin chastised Kennedy for his remark, calling the lawmaker “a disappointment to the Church and to the citizens of Rhode Island.” A public exchange followed between the two men in which the bishop subsequently warned Kennedy that his pro-abortion stance “absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.”

Kennedy ended his public confrontation with Tobin when polls in the state, which has the highest per capita density of Catholics in the U.S., revealed that taking on the bishop had hurt him politically – but not before he revealed that Tobin had privately instructed him not to receive communion in 2007.

Tobin also went on the record at the time saying that pro-abortion Catholics in politics “must quit your job and save your soul” rather than advance the abortion agenda.

Peter J. Smith (with slight editing)

Courageous Bishop Stands Firm…

Against Pro-Abortion Politician

By a mutual decision, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence and Representative Patrick Kennedy– the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy– have postponed their meeting to discuss the Catholic congressman’s support of abortion.  Bishop Tobin issued a public letter to Representative Kennedy in which he ripped the congressman’s statement that “the fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

“That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true,” wrote Bishop Tobin in the letter. “And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?”


The bishop continued:

[W]hen someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents …

But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?

Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.

Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?

In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific! But if you don’t fulfill the    basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

The prelate concluded:

[I]n confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

by:  Bishop Thomas Tobin

edited by;  Jeffrey David