Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has released a video, in which he explains how new definitions of marriage could seriously harm society. He also propossd that an amendment to his state's constitution be put before the state's voters, “to put the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage beyond the reach of the courts and politicians.”
A DVD incorporating the presentation was mailed to Catholics throughout Minnesota, in response to several bills that would redefine “marriage” to include homosexual partnerships.
Throughout the six minute presentation, Archbishop Nienstedt emphasizes that the definition of marriage, as a lifelong and potentially procreative union between one man and one woman, is not something exclusive to the Catholic Church or any other religious group.
Rather, he teaches, it is a matter of natural law-- which can be known even apart from faith, and which cannot be redefined, democratically or otherwise. Attempts to change such an essential human institution, he maintains, go against the grain of human nature itself, and will contribute to alarming trends toward family and social breakdown.
“What will happen to children,” he asks, “growing up in a world where the law teaches them that moms and dads are interchangeable, and that marriage has nothing intrinsically to do with the bearing and raising of children?”
Rejecting the argument that same-sex “marriage” is simply a private decision which cannot affect others or society as a whole, he states: “Defining marriage as simply a union of consenting parties will change the core meaning of marriage in the public square for every Minnesotan.”
The prelate then draws comparisons between current attempts to redefine the institution of marriage, and efforts to liberalize divorce law during the 1970s-- initiatives he acknowledges that were sometimes well-meaning, but disastrous in practice for families and children.
“The experts,” he recalls in the video, “told us that no-fault divorce would liberate women from bad marriages, without affecting anyone else.” Instead, he explains, “the divorce rate skyrocketed”-- and, contrary to the opinion of those predicting no broader consequences, “we now know that as a result of divorce, as many as one third of women fall into poverty with their children.”
Laws imposing an equality between traditional marriage and potentially any other consenting partnership, the prelate says, would likewise serve to weaken society's already damaged foundation.
“Marriage,” he affirms, “is the way a man and woman bind their love into a life-long commitment that is mutual, exclusive, and open to new life.” As an institution more fundamental than even government itself, marriage “exists in civil law primarily in order to provide communal support for bringing mothers and fathers together to care for their children.”
In addition to his defense of marriage as a matter of both faith and basic human reason, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis carefully articulates the Church's position of compassion toward individuals forced to bring up children alone, as well as those who experience same-sex attractions.
“The Church's teaching on marriage,” he affirms, “is not a condemnation of homosexual persons as human beings. It is simply a reflection, not only of the Scriptures, but of the unique, procreative nature of the male-female bond.”