The executive committee of the bishops’ conference of Chile sent a letter Monday to the House of Representatives underscoring that marriage between man and woman must be protected and promoted.
In their letter, which comes as lawmakers debate a bill regulating domestic partnerships between heterosexual couples, the bishops called for attentive reflection “with serenity and freedom...without being carried away by pressure.”
“Why should couples who could marry but choose not to be given special legal status?” the bishops asked. “It certainly seems contradictory to establish a law to resolve possible estate and inheritance problems that already can be solved by existing laws that regulate marriage,” adding that current laws already allow for the “regulation” of these relationships as well as their “dissolution.”
“Would it not be better to encourage young people to marry?” the bishops continued. “Why not promote the idea that those who have opted to cohabitate regularize their situations by living together in marriage?” they asked.
The bishops went on to question the timing of the bill, which has been introduced during an intense campaign season when there is little time for debate on an issue that is of such importance and complexity.
They stressed that they “cannot remain indifferent to legislation that diminishes the value and the meaning of marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman.”
Therefore the bishops called on lawmakers to take their time in addressing the issue. “We invite those who are Christians to reflect on the teachings about the values of a society founded upon the Gospel and to ponder the damaging social and personal consequences that the weakening of the institution of marriage could provoke,” they said.