MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — Marriage is — “and can only ever be” — a relationship “solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or any vote,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison.
“This is not based on any private sectarian viewpoint, but on the natural moral law that is universally binding on all peoples, at all times, and inscribed into our human nature, as man and woman from the beginning of creation,” he said.
Bishop Morlino made the comments in response to a late June 6 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, who declared as unconstitutional a 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that outlawed same-sex marriage.
Almost immediately county clerk offices in Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Crabb decided later she would stay her decision while an appeal moved through the courts.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Wisconsin ultimately on behalf of eight same-sex couples. It argued the state ban on same-sex marriage violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.
Green Bay’s Bishop David Ricken offered his comments to The Compass.
“Marriage is a beautiful gift from God to all of humanity,” he said. “Its primary purpose is for the procreation of children, to provide a climate of safety and love for them and to provide a protected context legally, religiously and societally for a man and a woman to give themselves to one another in a relationship of ‘self-gift,’ one to the other and to their children.
“My heart goes out to those with same sex attraction who are looking for someone to love and to be loved by, but changing the definition of marriage will not, in the long term, be good for marriage or for those with same-sex attraction. More and more people in different situations will want to alter the definition of marriage to legitimize their situation.”
Bishop Ricken added that “God is love and only in fidelity to God plan can we find true love and joy and happiness.”
In a June 9 statement, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said that with an appeal to be filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Crabb’s ruling “is not the last word on the subject.”
“Whatever the outcome of this case, our public conversation over the definition of marriage will continue,” it said, adding that the bishops encouraged Catholics “to witness their support for this unique relationship.”
“If married, they can do this by living out their own marriage vows. If not married, they can support others who have made a marriage commitment,” the statement said.
At the same time, they urge Catholics “to witness as well to our belief in the dignity of all people by engaging in civil discourse on this sensitive topic. We are true to our values when we recognize the good faith and humanity of all people, whether or not they share our views.”
Crabb and the court have “shaken one of the most precious and essential building blocks of our civilization,” Bishop Morlino said in his statement. He said he was “deeply saddened” by Crabb’s ruling.
“I will continue to speak strongly about the truth and beauty of marriage and encourage my brother priests and deacons, and all the lay faithful, to do the same.”
With Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Other courts’ decisions have been stayed, pending appeals.
In mid-May, Oregon became the 18th state to allow same-sex marriage after a federal judge there repealed that state’s constitutional marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The Oregon Catholic Conference called it “a travesty of justice that marriage, as the foundation of society, received no defense in the U.S. District Court.”
On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court June 4 rejected a bid by the National Organization for Marriage urging it stay the Oregon ruling while an appeal is underway. Earlier the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant a stay.
The May 19 ruling allowing same-sex marriage and its consequences “will have a profound effect on all of us,” said Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore.