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Viewpoints

Bishops gear up efforts to protect marriage through N.C. amendment

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CHARLOTTE — Catholic Voice North Carolina, the non-partisan public policy voice of the state's two Catholic bishops, will be actively involved in the effort to amend the state constitution to protect traditional marriage.

The referendum to amend the constitution will take place on May 8, 2012, the date of the state's primary election.

If passed, the amendment will enshrine in the state constitution the current North Carolina law that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Placing the law in the constitution would protect it from potential legislative or judicial action to change the definition of marriage as has happened in other states.

Thirty states have passed marriage amendments. North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast which does not protect marriage in its state constitution.

The CVNC effort will deliver messages from the bishops directly to Catholics via social media, emails, bulletin inserts and other parish and web-based communications.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis said Catholics need to place a high priority on the sanctity of traditional marriage.

"Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan of creation," Bishop Jugis said.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh described the effort to adopt the amendment as "important to the well-being of society. A great deal of effort has been generated to make the amendment part of the North Carolina constitution, but there is more to do," Bishop Burbidge said. "I remain committed to work with all who want to preserve and protect the true essence of marriage as a union of one man and one woman."

CVNC's effort in support of marriage is one of two statewide organizations working to pass the amendment. The other, Vote For Marriage NC, is made up of civic and non-Catholic religious leaders from around the state.

CVNC and the Vote for Marriage NC committee are in regular communication as both organizations spread a message in support of traditional marriage.

The bishops chose to run a separate campaign to emphasize Catholic teaching to the faithful at a moment when marriage is under intense public scrutiny.

Opposing the marriage amendment is the Durham-based group Protect NC Families, which describes itself as a coalition of groups, individuals and families.

The CVNC campaign will kick off after the first of the year. Go online to www.CatholicVoiceNCto learn more.

— David Hains, director of communication

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FROM THE PASTORS

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