As the case for traditional marriage between a husband and wife continues to come under fire by some same-sex proponents, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput stepped into the public debate--and encouraged Catholics to do the same--saying that the argument is one of liberation and human dignity.
In his column, which appeared Wednesday in the Denver Catholic Register, the Archbishop wrote that “the nature of marriage is a matter of common sense and long tradition, rooted in practical experience. It’s not simply a ‘religious’ issue.”
“Marriage”, he continued, “as a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman exists for the benefit of children and the protection of women. Society depends on children and the way we form their lives.”
Supporters of same-sex marriage charge that their love is just as legitimate as their heterosexual counterparts and should also be given the dignity of marriage, as they see it.
Some critics also point to the fact that the Christian divorce rate is on par with the skyrocketing national standard.
To this, the Archbishop said that “The fact that marriages frequently fail does not change the purpose of marriage. Rather, it proves that we too often do a poor job of preparing people for what marriage really entails and supporting them in the demands of mature married life.”
Serious about the faith?
Archbishop Chaput stressed that “The Christian case for marriage and the family is a message of liberation and real human dignity. It is not “against” anyone. It is for the happiness of human society.”
“Any effort to reframe and misrepresent that truth”, he said, “needs to be vigorously challenged. We need to govern our actions toward all people with the virtues of justice, charity, mercy, wisdom and prudence. But “tolerance,” if it leads us to live a lie or compromise away the truth about human relationships, is not a virtue. It is the opposite.”
The Archbishop challenged Catholics to be serious about their faith, charging “if Jesus Christ really is the “way, the truth and the life,” and the organizing principle for our lives — we need to carry our convictions into our public policy thinking.”
“They are not just our private preferences,” he said. “We should never apologize for this. If we don’t live what we believe, then what we claim to believe is empty piety. Catholics can compromise about many issues in daily political life. But we can never barter away the nature and sanctity of the human person or those institutions that nurture, form and support the human person.”
Pointing out that “all persons were created by a loving God and deserve the protection of the law,” the Archbishop said that “Society’s legitimate, preferential treatment of marriage should never become an excuse for prejudice. Extending legal and financial benefits to persons in different kinds of non-marital relationships can make sense, depending on the circumstances.”
He stressed however, that “we need to proceed with clear thought regarding the consequences.”
“’Marriage’”, he said, “as a word has meaning because of its foundational role in our understanding of family and society. It’s much more than just another voluntary emotional relationship.”
“If we remove, or even indirectly compromise, the central role and preferential treatment of marriage in our culture,” he said, “we undermine both our families and the long-term health of our society.”