Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bishop Wester on Proposition 8

Bishop Wester is pleased to offer a response to your question about
Proposition 8 and his view on marriage. He has asked me to respond to
you on his behalf. His thoughts reflect the Church’s teaching on the
Sacrament of Marriage not only within the Church but within society as

"As Catholics, we believe that marriage, by definition, is a permanent,
exclusive, procreative relationship between one man and one woman. This
definition of marriage is frequently referred to as the
“traditional” definition with good reason: marriage has been
viewed this way for countless generations.

Now human beings enter into many types of relationships, most of which
are very positive and meaningful. Family relationships, friendships,
and co-workers are just some of these relationships. Each of these is
unique and has its own character and place in human affairs. When we
refer to the marriage relationship, we intend, as a church, to point to
that relationship that is characterized by complete self-giving, a
self-giving that actually leads to new life through procreation, as well
as a relationship that surpasses all other relationships in its
commitment, complementarity, permanence and exclusivity. Only the
relationship that we call marriage can achieve the depth of this union
on all levels: physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual. This
definition does not deny other relationships but it does define a
specific type of relationship that is only possible between a man and a
woman. While many human relationships can and should be life-giving in
some way, or permanent or complementary, we reserve the term
“marriage” for those relationships that express the fullness of
union and the specific ability to generate new life that exists only in
marriage understood in the traditional sense, i.e., between one man and
one woman in a permanent, exclusive and procreative relationship. This
relationship is solemnized in the sacrament of marriage, witnessed by
the Church’s minister and the people of God.

It is worth noting that although there are many types of relationships,
God chose the covenant relationship between husband and wife to signify
the relationship between God and humankind. This speaks further to the
specialness of this union and the dignity of marriage as understood by
the Church. It is only in this covenant relationship that the two
complementary halves of God’s human creation, as husband and wife,
join together and become one. This complete giving of husband and wife
to each other and the depths of their union on all these levels is the
most profound representation of the covenant relationship between God
and us.

Although we cannot agree with those who believe that marriage is a
civil right, we still honor the dignity and sacredness of each person
because each person is made in the image of God. To the extent that
certain rights, such as hospital visitation rights or inheritance
rights, fall within the purview of the government, we would have no
objection to the granting of these agreements by the state."

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