By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 14, 2012
Chances are that few of our parishioners would find themselves puzzled as to where I stand in the matter of amending our state's constitution. By now it should be clear that with many Minnesotans I offer unconditional support to adding to our state constitution's present language a definition of marriage as explicitly a commitment, legally recognized, between one man and one woman. My recommendation now, as it has been since the start of the campaign, is: VOTE YES! And may I add this important reminder: the proposal as it appears on the ballot is so worded as to guarantee that IF A VOTER DOES NOT REGISTER A PREFERENCE, leaving that part of the ballot BLANK, his vote will be counted as a "NO"!
This is an issue fraught with consequence. Apart from other important considerations (which I have addressed at length in a recent Pastor's Page), should the proposal be defeated, then, one may plausibly surmise, given the prevailing moral climate, the next item on the opponents' "to do" list will be legislative agitation combined with action in the courts - such movement is in fact already underway - to grant full parity with traditional marriage to the "marriage" of same-sex couples, with the present statute prohibiting such grant struck down. And if such parity should come to be enshrined in the law, or to be imposed by judicial decree, anti-discrimination laws already on the books could then be used to insist that a clergyman authorized by the state to officiate at marriages in the name of the state must, in observance of such laws, be open to officiating at ALL marriages, INCLUDING the "marriage" of same-sex couples. After all, in the age of that profound transformation of society proclaimed by President Obama as the goal of his administration, his Health and Human Services Department has ALREADY handed down a mandate requiring, under penalty of ruinous fines, Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable agencies to subsidize what the Catholic Church officially identifies as evil. It thus would seem that our federal Constitution's First Amendment no longer constitutes quite so strong a deterrent as once it did against governmental VIOLATION OF CONSCIENCE. Especially would this be true if, in the not so distant future, vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court should be filled with exponents of the "Living Constitution" philosophy of law, holding to fairness, however defined, as trumping the Constitution's letter.
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May I share with you here two additional statements, lucidly argued, in support of the marriage amendment, one a statement from a friend of mine, Father Mark Moriarty, the newly appointed pastor of St. Agnes Parish, and the other from Matt Birk, a former center for the Minnesota Vikings and, for 2012, the National Football League's Man of the Year. Father Moriarty's comment is taken ftom a recent St. Agnes Pastor's Page; Matt Birk's was published in the Star Tribune on September 30, 2012.
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From Father Moriarty:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As the election gets closer it is important that we step up our efforts to pass the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment. This amendment asks Minnesota voters to defend the long held definition of traditional marriage as a marriage between one man and one woman. I would like to point out a few things that will be helpful as you converse with your friends, relatives and co-workers who might have questions or concerns about this effort.
We are taking this particular approach because we wish more effectively to defend marriage from activist judges and politicians who wish to change or strike down the state statute already passed. Enshrining the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in the state constitution is the most we can do legally to protect the traditional understanding of marriage. Lawsuits have already been filed to attack our current state statute about marriage.
The amendment does not take away anyone's current rights. The amendment does not limit anyone from visiting a loved one in the hospital. Nor does it inhibit an individual from willing/bequeathing his or her property to another.
Marriage between one man and one woman is not only a tenet of our faith. This is a commonly held understanding about the most basic institution known to society, the family. Traditional marriage and family are the key instruments to foster and form the NEXT generation of citizens. The state recognizes marriage as the basic building block of society and therefore has a right and a duty to legally protect this unique and critical relationship in society.
If you leave the ballot box blank it counts as a NO vote; that is, it is a vote against the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment. This is not a situation of the Church trying to impose its belief on others. This is primarily a cultural issue so crucial to the very health and well being of children and society as a whole, that the Church is lovingly speaking the truth for the sake of the common good. Please also consider offering, if you can, a donation to Minnesota for Marriage in order to assist in getting the word out about this issue. [According to the Star Tribune as much as a hundred thousand dollars A DAY is pouring into the coffers of those OPPOSING the amendment.] PRAYER IS ALSO ESSENTIAL.
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Let's Protect Marriage-and Free Speech
Star Tribune, September 30, 2012
It should come as no surprise that the National Football League supports the right of its players to share their opinions on important public matters, nor should it come as a surprise that I personally support my colleagues' right to voice their opinions.
But the conversation during the last few weeks on the subject of same-sex marriage has told a different story --one that appears to be drawing a false connection between supporting true American values like free speech and the institution of marriage, our most fundamental and important social institution.
I think it is important to set the record straight about what the marriage debate IS AND IS NOT about, and to clarify that not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing.
The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as "marriage" for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people. ... government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide A STABLE NURTURING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF CITIZENS: OUR KIDS.
CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO A MOM AND A DAD, and I realize that this doesn't always happen. Through the work my wife and I do at pregnancy resource centers and at schools for the under privileged, we have witnessed firsthand the many heroic efforts of single mothers and fathers -- many of whom work very hard to provide what's best for their kids.
But recognizing the efforts of these parents and the resiliency of some (unfortunately not all) of these kids, does not give society the right to dismiss the potential long-term effects on a child of not knowing or being loved by his or her mother or father. EACH plays a vital role in the raising of a child.
Marriage is in trouble right now....
The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution. How much longer do we put the DESIRES of adults before the NEEDS of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?
Same-sex unions may not affect MY marriage specifically, but it WILL affect MY CHILDREN - the NEXT generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition WILL affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.
I am speaking out on this issue because it is far too important an issue to permit remaining silent.....
A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.
I hope that in voicing my beliefs I encourage people on both sides to use reason and charity as they enter this debate. I encourage all Americans to stand up to preserve and promote a healthy, authentic pro-marriage culture in this upcoming election. Matt Birk, a native Minnesotan, is a former center for the Minnesota Vikings and current NFL Man of the Year for 2012.
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