Bishops Launch Defense of Marriage Initiative
What is marriage? “Marriage: Unique for a Reason,” a new initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, calls that “the great question of our time.”
“Marriage: Unique for a Reason” is a catechetical and educational “resource to assist Catholics and all people of good will to understand the basic elements of marriage as a fundamental institution authored by God and ‘written in the very nature of man and woman,’” the committee says.
Some voices today “seem to say that the time-honored answer that marriage is the union of one man and one woman has now become old-fashioned and obsolete,” the committee observes. But it asks, “Does marriage really have nothing essentially to do with the relationship between man and woman?”
Announcing the initiative June 29, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the committee’s chairman, commented that the recognition of marriage “as the union of one man and one woman is at the heart of a flourishing society and culture.” He said the initiative’s first materials “provide a key starting point, a compass, for assisting Catholics and all people of good will in understanding why marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman.”
A video titled “Made for Each Other” is among these initial materials. In it a young married couple — Carrie and Josh — converse frankly about their understanding of marriage and marital love as a union in which a woman and man complete and complement each other. Marriage is a union in which a man and woman are equal, but different “in ways that always will matter,” Carrie states.
This is the first of five videos that “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” will produce, including a Spanish-language video on issues of particular interest to a Latino/a audience. “Made for Each Other” is accompanied by a “Viewer’s Guide” and a “Resource Guide” for priests, deacons, catechists and teachers.
Forthcoming videos will discuss “the good of children and the important role of mothers and fathers; the good of society and the false claim” that the church discriminates against homosexual persons by opposing same-sex marriage; and “the impact of religious liberty.”
Some religious-liberty concerns related to marriage today were mentioned by Archbishop Kurtz. He expressed concern, for example, that children will be “forced to learn that marriage is merely one kind of loving relationship among many” or that churches may be prevented “from witnessing to and teaching about the necessary and singular role of love between a man and a woman.”
The first video can now be viewed online at the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website, where the “Viewer’s Guide” and “Resource Guide” also are located. The materials can be ordered online or by calling USCCB Publishing at 800-235-8722. A $12.95 kit includes a DVD and the printed guides. The “Viewer’s Guide” and “Resource Guide” can be ordered separately at $4.95 each.
Strengthening marriage is a key priority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” reflects this priority. It complements the many resources available through the bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage, including the November 2009 national pastoral letter on marriage titled “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.”
The first “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” video focuses on sexual difference and the complementarity of a man and a woman. “While sexual difference alone doesn’t say everything there is to say about marriage, it’s indispensable for understanding marriage’s meaning,” the “Resource Guide” states.
While opposing same-sex marriage, the initiative strongly affirms that “any lack of respect, lack of compassion or lack of sensitivity toward persons with a homosexual inclination is unacceptable.” It insists, as well, that there is “nothing mean-spirited in recognizing and protecting the unique truth of marriage.”
The guide discusses “popular misconceptions regarding rights, equality and nondiscrimination” and says that “without a proper understanding of the meaning of marriage, the topic of rights, equality and nondiscrimination cannot be dealt with adequately.”