Bishops, on 'ad limina,' talk about marriage, immigration
VATICAN CITY — The U.S. Catholic bishops have an obligation to defend traditional marriage to ensure Catholic clergy are never in a position where they would be forced to perform a wedding the church would view as illicit and invalid, said Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla.
"What we're fighting for is to maintain the definition of a sacrament, one of seven instituted by Christ to give grace," the bishop said May 10 during an interview with Catholic News Service.
Bishop Lynch was at the Vatican for his "ad limina" visit. After four days of meetings with Vatican officials and Masses at the major basilicas of Rome, he and the other bishops of Florida met May 11 with Pope Benedict XVI.
As part of the 14th group of U.S. bishops to make their "ad limina" visits since November, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami told CNS that although the pope was engaged in the discussions, "you can see he is not a young man any more. It must be a great sacrifice on his part to put up with us day after day."
The archbishop kicked off the Florida bishops' group discussion with the pope by explaining "the challenge and the opportunity" of the state's growth through people coming from other parts of the United States and, especially, through immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean. He said the bishops also spoke to the pope about the need to strengthen Catholic families.
Bishop Lynch told CNS that in his experience, even if the government offers "all kinds of assurances" about exemptions for religious communities on same-sex unions, "if we give in on this one or blink on this one, which I don't think theologically we could do, but even if for any reason we did, we could suddenly find ourselves" facing a situation in which the government says, "You've got to do it" or all government funding for church programs would stop.
If the federal government recognized gay marriages, for instance, he asked, would Catholic military chaplains be obliged to officiate at the wedding of a same-sex couple?
"At least for me, the whole effort is about protecting something that has been a part of our Christian heritage, our Christian belief, our Christian ethos for well over 2,000 years," Bishop Lynch said. "You cannot walk away from that."
"It's not a condemnation of domestic partnerships; it's not a condemnation of people. It's a church trying to protect something that it views as very sacred," he said.
Bishop Lynch did not speak specifically about President Barack Obama's statement May 9 that he thought same-sex couples should be able to marry.
But Archbishop Wenski said Obama supporters always suspected the president would support gay marriage and, being a "shrewd politician, Obama has made a calculated guess that the culture had moved" since he was elected four years ago and that by supporting gay marriage "he wins more votes than he loses." The archbishop noted that Obama won California and Florida in 2008, the same year voters in both states passed referendum measures defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
If general popular support for gay marriage has shifted significantly since 2008, the archbishop said, "then the job of the bishops has gotten much more difficult."
Archbishop Wenski said Blessed John Paul II used to ask bishops "not what are you doing to change politics, but what are you doing to change the culture."
The definition of marriage is not a political question, he said, but a cultural one and "the task of the bishops of the church is to have the faith shape the culture. There are signs of hope. For instance, young people are more pro-life than they were 20 years ago."
"We need to articulate better the reasons we feel the way we do about traditional marriage," and explain that it is not an issue primarily about fairness or discrimination, he said. "As Christians, we oppose any unjust discrimination, but protecting marriage does not discriminate other people. The fact that one defends traditional marriage does not, because of that, make one a homophobe."
From the point of view of natural law -- the code of right and wrong the church believes is naturally present in each human person -- it is clear that a family based on the permanent union of a man and woman is best "for human flourishing" and best for bringing up children, Archbishop Wenski said.
Bishop Lynch, in his interview with CNS, said the U.S. bishops' positions on religious freedom, protection of marriage and defense of human life are not partisan political positions.
However, he said, "it can become partisan and has" because of people who take the bishops' words and say, "You must be speaking of candidate so-and-so running for the Senate or candidate so-and-so running for the state House of Representatives."
"In reality, we really aren't telling people how to vote; we're telling people how to form your thoughts when it comes time to vote" and telling them "these major issues of life and death" should be an important consideration when they cast their ballots, Bishop Lynch said.
— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Justin Martyr, patron of philosophers, honored June 1On June 1, one day before 2011's celebration of the Ascension of Christ, the Catholic Church honors the memory of the early Christian philosopher St. Justin Martyr. Justin was born around the year 100 in the Palestinian province of Samaria,...
Roman martyrs Sts. Marcellinus and Peter remembered June 2On June 2, the Catholic Church remembers two fourth-century martyrs, Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, who were highly venerated after the discovery of their tomb and the conversion of their executioner. Although the biographical details of these two martyrs...
St. Barnabas, 'son of encouragement' Feast day: June 11Catholics will celebrate the memory of St. Barnabas on June 11. The apostle and missionary was among Christ's earliest followers and was responsible for welcoming St. Paul into the Church. Though not one of the 12 apostles chosen by the Lord, Jesus, he...
St. Anthony of Padua, 'Hammer of Heretics,' honored June 13On June 13, Catholics honor the memory of the Franciscan priest St. Anthony of Padua. Although he is popularly invoked today by those who have trouble finding lost objects, he was known in his own day as the "Hammer of Heretics" due to the powerful...
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of AIDS patients, remembered June 21On June 21, the Church celebrates the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. St. Aloysius had a great desire to serve and know God as a young boy, but his family life was not always aligned with his desire. He was born into a noble Italian family and...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy