.- The Archdiocese of Washington has submitted a letter to the District of Columbiaâs Board of Election and Ethics in support of the Marriage Initiative of 2009. The initiative would define marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout, who is vicar general of the archdiocese, wrote on Tuesday to Errol R. Arthur, Chairman of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.
Speaking on behalf of the archdiocese, Bishop Knestout expressed his support for the initiative, saying it would allow voters to ensure that the District continues to define marriage âas it always has been.â
Noting that 580,000 Catholics live in the archdiocese, the bishop explained that Catholic teaching and a âlong-standing commitmentâ to the common good compels the archdiocese to support the initiative.
âMarriage simply recognizes a relationship that is fundamental to nature: the complementarity of man and woman. That relationship is not a creation of church or civil law,â he added.
Governments and faith groups recognize marriage this way because âthe exclusive, mutual and lifelong gift of a husband and wife to each other is the most stable and secure foundation to create and nurture children.â
âMarriage is more than just a union of two people who love each other,â he stated, saying the institution is reserved for man and woman because of their âcomplementarityâ and their âunique abilityâ to create and nurture children with their different gifts.
In a statement from the archdiocese, Ronald Jackson, executive director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, called marriage a âcritical issueâ and said the ballot initiative would give a voice to voters.
âEarlier this year, the City Council pushed through legal recognition of same-sex marriages from other states without even giving their constituents an opportunity to have input.â
âIt is ironic that at the same time the city is asking for voting representation in the U.S. Congress, its leaders are denying residents the opportunity to participate in the democratic process for an issue with widespread implications for children and families,â Jackson continued.
Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl also sent a letter to the 300 priests of the archdiocese on the significance of marriage and the attempts to redefine it.
In his letter he said a lack of understanding about the nature of marriage is a challenge today.
âMarriage simply recognizes a relationship that is fundamental to nature: the complementarity of man and woman. That relationship is not a creation of church or civil law. However, governments and faith groups recognize marriage as between a man and woman because the exclusive, mutual and lifelong gift of a husband and wife to each other is the most stable and secure foundation to create and nurture children.â
According to the Washington Post, Archbishop Wuerl joins a group of predominantly African American Baptist preachers who are pressuring D.C. officials to allow a public vote on same-sex âmarriage.â
D.C. council member David A. Catania, an independent at-large councilman who is openly homosexual, plans to introduce a bill in the fall legalizing same-sex âmarriageâ in the district.
He claimed that the cityâs tradition of evolving âtowards equality and a better, more expansive view of human rightsâ in 2009 includes âmarriage equalityâ for homosexual couples.
âI respect the bishop for his view . . . but we live in a representative democracy where there is a separation of church and state. We do not live in a theocracy," Catania argued, according to the Washington Post.
The proposed referendum on marriage must be declared valid by the Districtâs elections board. By law, a referendum cannot be held on a matter that violates the cityâs Human Rights Act, which protects homosexuals from discrimination.
In June the two-member board blocked an effort by Protestant minister Bishop Harry Jackson to hold an initiative to reverse a council bill allowing the District to recognize same-sex âmarriageâ in other states, citing the Human Rights Act.
The U.S. Congress can overrule a bill approved by the D.C. council.
Bishop Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, posted a YouTube video encouraging people to talk to their congressman and tell them that âD.C. is the nationâs capitalâ¦ what happens in D.C. doesnât stay in D.C.â
The Archdiocese of Washington has launched a website to educate about Catholic teaching and marriage at http://www.MarriageMattersDC.org.