The Catholic bishops of Minnesota have issued a brief statement on marriage, saying that having same-sex attractions does not deprive anyone of basic human rights but also does not create the right to “marry” someone of the same sex.
The bishops’ catechetical statement, published in The Catholic Spirit on Thursday, urged the state government, all Catholics and those of good will in Minnesota to support marriage.
A constitutional amendment clearly defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman would be one practical measure, but redefining marriage and legitimizing same-sex unions would work against the “socially vital goal” to support marriage between one man and one woman, the bishops said.
Their catechesis also countered the claim that maintaining the definition of marriage as a man-woman union is discriminatory against homosexuals.
“Persons with same-sex attractions are our sisters and brothers, and their same-sex attraction does not define them as persons nor deprive them of their authentic human rights, including the most fundamental rights of all — the right to life and the right to love,” the bishops said. “Consequently, we oppose any discrimination against persons based on their having a same-sex attraction.”
However, meeting “authentic human needs” does not require changing the legal definition of marriage or creating a marriage-like status for those with same-sex attractions.
“As pastoral leaders within the state of Minnesota, we believe that efforts to bestow legal recognition on same-sex unions are mistaken,” they continued, saying it is “erroneous” to think that a “committed homosexual relationship” is a human right and can be legitimately defined as a marriage.
“The specific privileges granted to married persons by the state are not granted for the personal advantage of spouses but to advance the common good,” they wrote. While protecting people from discrimination advances the common good, not recognizing a same-sex union as a marriage is not discrimination “because it does not deny a basic human right.”
The “natural right to love another and to marry” is limited significantly by the nature of the human person and the nature of the institution of marriage, the prelates explained.
In their catechesis Minnesota’s Catholic bishops also discussed Catholic teaching on marriage.
“Based on God’s Word given in divine revelation, we believe that marriage creates a sacred bond between spouses. We hold this to be true not only for ourselves, but for all humanity,” they stated.
The bishops said that God willed marriage to mirror his love for the human family, underlining that Jesus raised marriage to “the dignity of a sacrament” and made it a sign of his sacrificial love revealed on the cross.
“(M)arriage is a constant reminder of God’s love for the human race, as well as a reflection of the permanent, faithful, and fruitful bond of love between Christ and the church,” their statement continued, citing the Manhattan Declaration as an indication that this perspective is shared by non-Catholic Christians and others.
Noting the “universally recognized” importance of stable marriages for the education and formation of children and the “obvious and intimate connection between the conjugal act and conception,” the bishops said that marriage is a public matter that is part of the common good.
“Both faith and reason agree, then, that marriage is an institution central to the life of human society,” they continued. “The committed relationship between one man and one woman calls forth the best of the spouses, not only for their own sake, but also for the well-being of their children and for the advancement of the common good. It is neither possible for us to change the definition of marriage nor wise to attempt to do so.”
For further reading, the bishops recommended the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website www.usccb.org/defenseofmarriage.