With all the hubbub this week surrounding SCOTUS hearing cases on gay marriage, the bishops of New Mexico have offered their thoughts in a statement released today (March 27th), saying that Marriage should be protected against attempts to redefine it.
I’ve summarized it here, but to read the entire statement, please visit Santa Fe’s website here.
“Protecting the institution of marriage from new definitions we believe guards this institution which is unique and irreplaceable,” they wrote.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe joined Bishop James Wall of Gallup and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces in noting that all this comes during Holy Week for Catholics, and the Jewish feast of Passover.
Pointing this out, they said that marriage’s definition is found not only in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but “as been witnessed in cultures throughout the world for many millennia.”
While acknowledging that marriages and families are never perfect, that there are many examples which fail to protect and educate children as they should, and that family structures are being eroded, the bishops wrote that these true, and grave problems, will not be solved by redefining marriage.
The bishops noted that gay marriage “has been presented as a civil right.”
They rightly point out that people with same-sex attraction have been the objects of “discrimination, hatred, and even violence.” They further teach in their letter that homosexuals have “the right to live in peace and tranquility, without fearing violence.”
Having said that though — and also affirming that homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity — they point out that same-sex marriage “cannot be classified as a civil right.”
It would infringe on other rights, including the rights of children to both a mother an father, and the right of religious liberty.
New Mexico’s bishops teach that interracial and same-sex marriage are not comparable problems. “Sexual difference is an essential component of marriage,” they write, and race is accidental to marriage. The necessity of sexual complementarity, they point out, is not merely a religious truth, but one found in nature.
“In our Catholic Christian faith, we believe it was this institution of marriage between one man and one woman that Jesus elevated to the status of a sacrament — a vehicle of grace and an opportunity for growth in holiness.”