Archbishop Cordileone supports constitutional marriage amendment [CNA]

Washington D.C., Feb 20, 2014 / 04:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ marriage defense efforts has offered his support to a suggested constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against this judicial activism that may ultimately end with federal judges declaring that the U.S. Constitution requires states, and consequently the federal government, to redefine marriage,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.

The archbishop, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, voiced his support for such an amendment in a Feb. 19 letter to Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.).

Last July, Huelskamp introduced a Marriage Protection Amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Amending the U.S. Constitution is a difficult process; only 27 amendments have been ratified in the nation’s history. To be formally proposed, an amendment must first have the support of either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or a national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. It must then be ratified by either three-quarters of state legislatures or three-quarters of special state ratifying conventions.

In his letter, Archbishop Cordileone pointed to a variety of federal challenges to “the constitutionality of state marriage laws that honor the reality of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Just this month, he said, “a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled Virginia’s marriage amendment unconstitutional,” following a similar ruling for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

“Both of these decisions are part of a trend that began last December when a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah declared Utah’s marriage amendment unconstitutional,” the archbishop explained.

Rulings in Kentucky and Ohio also show that states may face increasing pressure for “recognition of out-of-state same-sex ‘marriages,’” he said.

“Given the litigation pending in federal courts around the country,” Archbishop Cordileone warned, “more bad decisions using the U.S. Constitution to strike down state marriage laws may be on the horizon.”

In its proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution, the Marriage Protection Act provides “a needed remedy” to the court attempts to change the definition of marriage, he said.

Such an amendment “would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” the archbishop explained. “Preserving this elemental truth is necessary for the good of society at large and for the good of children who deserve the love of both a mother and a father, neither of whom is expendable.”

Marriage is unique in that it “unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union,” he emphasized, adding that court opinions that “essentially redefine marriage to be merely a state recognized arrangement of intimate adult relationships ignore the truth about marriage, which deserves the highest protection in law.”

Full article…

The text of the proposed marriage amendment (H. J. Res 51):``Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of
a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of
any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal
incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a
man and a woman.’’.
Archbishop Cordileone’s letter can be read here.

Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Arcanum (On Christian Marriage), can be read here. And Pius XI’s Encyclical, Casti Canubii (On Christian Marriage), can be read here.

Leo XIII essentially rejected any civil control on marriage (calling it the work of the archenemy of mankind). I’ve posted the relevant sections of Arcanum before, so unless somebody is really determined, I will refrain from doing so again.

Pius XI, quoting his predecessor Pius VI, made the following statement in Casti Canubii:Hence it is clear that marriage even in the state of nature, and certainly long before it was raised to the dignity of a sacrament, was divinely instituted in such a way that it should carry with it a perpetual and indissoluble bond which cannot therefore be dissolved by any civil law. Therefore although the sacramental element may be absent from a marriage as is the case among unbelievers, still in such a marriage, inasmuch as it is a true marriage there must remain and indeed there does remain that perpetual bond which by divine right is so bound up with matrimony from its first institution that it is not subject to any civil power. And so, whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained.
The reason I bring up the teachings of Leo XIII and Pius XI is because they represent the Magisterium on the civil government and marriage.

THUS, while I agree with the spirit of Archbishop Cordeleone’s letter. I would think it would be more effective if the the Church hierarchy would publish some complementary norms to go along with Canon Law prohibiting clergy from signing civil marriage licenses in this country…due to the utter corruption of marriage in the civil law.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan:No, not at all. I gave him a standing ovation when he said that. Because most of the time I say, “I don’t know if it’s so much the church is obsessed with that, it’s the world that’s obsessed with those things.” They’re always asking us about it. I look at myself, David, in my almost 37 years as a priest, rare would be the times that I preached about those issues [NB: abortion, homosexuality, contraception].
Perhaps if he and his peers spent more time “obsessing” about “those issues” (issues of morality), then more of the people would be appropriately catechized and motivated to be outraged by the issues that spurred the proposed constitutional amendment and Archbishop Cordeleone’s letter…where the letter would not be necessary, as Catholics would be screaming about this issue without the need for direct involvement of the hierarchy in civil political matters.

So, does that practically mean obtaining two pieces of paper? One for Church records, and one for civil records? Or, should Catholics even bother with obtaining civilly recognized marriages?

Sure, why not? And, as far as civilly recognized marriages…if the institution is so corrupt that such a marriage is considered invalid, then I don’t see what relevance it would have for the Church (again, to stress, I’m not saying that the Church believes that now…I’m saying that they should make such a declaration regarding any country that allows homosexual “marriage”)

Yes. We don’t need civil recognition in order to know we are in a sacramental marriage.

I’m still forming opinions about this issue. My gut instinct is to keep fighting to defend marriage as between one man and one woman, even if that definition fails in the public square. That’s just part of my personality; I’m a defender by nature. I don’t want to leave the secular state to run unchecked; and souls are on the line. I read Arcanum (good read).

What are your thoughts on this article?

Not Request but Demand

Ideally, I would also say “fight it.” To include having a violent overthrow of the government because of the egregiousness of the violation of civil rights that “homosexual marriage” represents. Having said that, the chances of such a thing succeeding are minimal to nil; therefore, it wouldn’t be prudent to do so.

The reason I say what I say what I do is a recognition that it would be better to make a certain hand signal and exclaim “vaf*****lo” rather than be slowly compromised until the opponents can brainwash a serious percentage of those who are on our side right now.

I agree with a lot of the article you cited. The State has been creeping in. Again, my opinion is based on pulling the rug out from the State.

Glad you enjoyed Arcanum. A whole LOT of what Leo XIII wrote was extremely prescient. (In fact, it’s a shame that there is already a Leo the Great…because this Leo deserves the title)…

The Encyclical, Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, written to Cardinal Gibbons in 1899 is also a worthy read…particularly in these days (and, yes, it is related – if tangentially – to this subject. Consider Cardinal Dolan’s latest appearance on Meet the Press if you would like an example of why it’s related)

This has about a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.

Why is it that the Bishops continue to fight same-sex marriage tooth and nail, but remain completely silent with regard to the no-fault divorce laws? If you ask me, civil marriage is done in this country. I don’t even see the point of it anymore - legally it means absolutely nothing.

Another thing that irritates me is how they (the spokesmen of the Church) keep going back to the same natural law arguments that don’t work. Why not talk about the real consequences and tragedies that have befallen our society as a result of the breakdown of the family unit? As long as they continue to make such antiseptic, intellectual arguments, they aren’t going to get anywhere either in the courts or in the court of public opinion.

So frustrating!

He would’ve been better off supporting this 10 years ago, when under the Bush administration, there was such an amendment in the works.

The only national law we need in regards to marriage really, is something prohibiting the judges from deciding what is or is not unconstitutional in regards to marriage. It’s getting annoying.

Good point. It’s hard to escape the feeling that this is “too little and too late”. :o

The only national law we need in regards to marriage really, is something prohibiting the judges from deciding what is or is not unconstitutional in regards to marriage. It’s getting annoying.

“Annoying” is putting it mildly. You’re far more charitable than I am. :slight_smile:

Yes, the bill was introduced to the House last June. On the same day, it was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Two weeks later, it was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Then, for the past seven months, it has sat there.

I think the bill is dead.

Of course I don’t think it will pass. But have we learned nothing from the abortion debate? Everyone said it was inevitable, everyone would support it, etc. Yet, people are still fighting it. How can we just give up so easily?

This is currently plan “B” in the USA. Plan “A” is to fight for the protection of traditional marriage; if that fails it will come to pass that the Church will not witness civil marriage but only sacramental marriage. This is already the case in other provinces, South America for instance.

I had a discussion with my Bishop last November about this very topic. While working a youth retreat, my bishop came to visit the kids, high school age, and entertained an open Q&A session with them. One of the teens asked this very question, “What will the Church do if Catholic ministers are forced to witness same sex marriages?” He didn’t hesitate in saying that the Church will halt witnessing civil marriage and only conduct sacramental marriages. Currently the marriage license is for the civil authorities, not the Church. So the signing of the ML will cease. The sacrament of matrimony is recorded in Church records but has nothing to do with the license.

While the topic of this thread is not directly discussing ministers being forced to witness these ceremonies, this will come to pass. If we think that the Church will not be forced to recognize SSM, or at least an attempt to do this, then we are very naive. Bishops, priests, and deacons will be sued along with the Church just as the photographer and the baker were sued and lost all the way up to the Supreme Court. There is such an a level of disdain against morality that the militant LBGT will not stop until their choices are ingrained in the fabric of society as normal.

Thanks! This makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m not saying we should give up, but the Bishops need to figure out a better way of making people see that traditional marriage is good for society and provides the best outcomes for children. As long as people are blind to the effects that contraception, abortion, over-sexualization, and the decline of marriage have had on society, and as long as they continue to embrace the notion that sexual freedom is a civil right, then these legislative initiatives are bound to fail.

They need to make people understand that this is broader than just denying gay people the right to love who they want. Why should they be denied that, when civil marriage between heterosexual couples means absolutely nothing in this society anymore? No-fault divorce is available in every state now. What is the value of the marriage contract if anyone can walk away at any time?

When the connections were drawn for me between all the topics you mentioned, scales fell from my eyes. I thought that surely, that would be enough to make people realize. And yet…

I think Chesterton said something to the effect that truth is sacred, and if you tell it too often no one will believe it. I think that interesting statement has a lot of bearing on this whole topic. Yet, we continue to preach the truth, in season and out of season.

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