Bishops urged to fight war of words to defend traditional marriage

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., urged his fellow bishops June 15 to fight back in the war of words over efforts to redefine traditional marriage.

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage said organizations advocating the legal redefinition of marriage have been using words like “human rights” and “hate” in discussions of same-sex marriage.

“Strategies of language are crucial here, and what we see happening in the marriage debate with terms such as ‘equality’ is similar to the manipulation of language found in the pro-abortion rhetoric of ‘choice,’ ” Bishop Cordileone said.

“Many of our young people have now come to see what ‘pro-choice’ really means, and embrace instead a culture of life,” he added. “A similar task lies before us in our efforts to protect marriage.”

As one weapon in the war of words, he cited the video series “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” that is being produced by the USCCB in English and Spanish. He announced completion of the second video in English, called “Made for Life,” which focuses on the indispensable place of both mothers and fathers in the lives of their children.

“Our culture is one that often forgets the sacred gift of the child, and in so doing it also fails to recognize the vital importance of a mother and a father together for the life and upbringing of that child,” Bishop Cordileone said. “In contemporary debates about the meaning of marriage, the rights and dignity of the child should be at the forefront.”

Two other videos in English – called “Made for the Common Good” and “Made for Freedom” – will be completed in 2012, he said, and a Spanish-language, “telenovela”-style video is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Bishop Cordileone said the final video, “Made for Freedom,” will stress the important connection between marriage and religious liberty.

“To be considered and labeled a ‘bigot’ or ‘discriminator’ by the government and by law has serious implications for the religious liberty of both institutions and individuals and their freedom of conscience,” he said. “The video will seek to demythologize popular claims and call attention to what is really at stake.”

Bishop Cordileone’s subcommittee, formerly the Ad Hoc Committee for Defense of Marriage, recently was renamed to include the word “promotion,” he noted.

“Our efforts to protect the institution of marriage from legal redefinition and cultural deconstruction hinge upon the promotion of the truth, goodness and beauty of marriage itself,” he said, calling marriage “a unique adventure and responsibility that only one man and one woman can embark upon together.”

Bishop Cordileone said there were “many strong signs for encouragement and hope” in the campaign to preserve traditional marriage, such as the defeat of same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland and progress toward amendment-level protection of marriage in Minnesota.

“The good news is often undermined or covered over, but the facts remain,” he said. “The myth of the inevitability of same-sex ‘marriage’ remains just that – a myth.”

He cited two key challenges, however – the decision by the Obama administration to abandon “a robust defense of the Defense of Marriage Act,” the federal law declaring that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, and the rise in arrangements such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

“These are planted within a strategy of incremental erosion of marriage,” Bishop Cordileone said. “Originally proposed as a compromise with assurances that this was not an attempt to give recognition to same-sex ‘marriage’ in the law, now arrangements such as civil unions are often advocated precisely as a stepping stone to the legal redefinition of marriage.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.