In response to a growing movement that favors making same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage, the Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops have released a joint pastoral statement entitled “Why is Marriage Important to the Catholic Church?”
The three bishops of Arizona, Bishop Donald Pelotte, SSS (Diocese of Gallup), Bishop Gerald Kicanas (Diocese of Tucson), and Bishop Thomas Olmsted (Diocese of Phoenix) decided to reveal publicly their deep concern “for our Catholic believers and the well-being of society here in Arizona regarding the meaning of marriage.”
The Bishops defined Marriage as “a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love, and designed by God.” “Same-sex unions,” on the other hand, have an entirely different meaning because “they lack both natural complementarity and the ability to generate new life naturally,” they insisted.
The pastoral statement goes on to recognize that marriage is the foundation of the family and that the family is the basic unit of society. Marriage is, therefore, acknowledged as a “personal relationship with enormous public significance.”
In this statement, the bishops express their commitment to “preserve the unique and irreplaceable status that marriage has always had in our society” and have, therefore, chosen this time to express their support for the Protect Marriage Arizona initiative.
In declaring their support, the bishops note that the Church is opposed to legal recognition of same-sex unions “in order to prevent the redefinition and devaluation of the institution of marriage.” Nonetheless, the bishops add “[a]t the same time, however, we reiterate the Church’s teaching that people of whatever orientation must always be treated with compassion and respect and that their civil liberties must be protected.”
The statement concludes by stating that there are no legal restrictions to collecting initiative signatures on church grounds, but that because these places are primarily for worship, permission from the pastor should be sought before conducting such activities.
The complete text of the statement is available at www.azcatholicconference.org