Sunday, November 25, 2007

Supporting male-female union urged

Priests throughout the Diocese of Scranton will appeal to parishioners this weekend for support of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Roman Catholic Church is heading a campaign to encourage state lawmakers to support an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would not allow legal recognition of what the diocese calls “non-traditional alternatives to marriage.”

The letter from Bishop Joseph F. Martino will be read at all Masses.

Philadelphia Mayor John Street is scheduled to officiate at a gay commitment ceremony today at Philadelphia City Hall.

While the commitment will have no legal recognition by the state, opponents of same-sex marriages are concerned that gay civil unions may eventually become legal in the state.

“Still, there is always the danger that court challenges to overturn it (Defense of Marriage Act) will occur,” Martino writes in the pastoral letter.

Twenty-seven states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as a legal union between a man and woman. Pennsylvania is not one of them.

A proposal to amend the state constitution may be made in the state House or Senate. It must be approved by a majority vote in both chambers, before the question is put to the voters in a statewide ballot referendum.

“In nature, God created male and female to get married, not male and male,” said the Rev. Vincent Dang, pastor of Holy Family and St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic churches in Sugar Notch.

Amending the state constitution would provide a legal foundation to keep marriage limited to one man and one woman and maintain a healthy balance in nature, Dang said.

In the letter, Martino asks all Catholics to contact state lawmakers to urge passage of the amendment.

A past issue of The Catholic Light suggested Catholics access the Pennsylvania Catholic Advocacy Network at pacatholic.org where users of the Web site can send messages to state lawmakers.

Other sites included in the article with the same purpose are Pennsylvania for Marriage at pa4marriage.com and youranswermatters.com.

Personal visits with legislators were also encouraged.

The Rev. Roger Griffith, a minister at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Dallas, said the Presbyterian Church takes a similar stance on the sanctity of marriage.

“Although the Presbyterian Church does not celebrate Christian marriage as a sacrament, our (church) constitution defines marriage as a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship,” Griffith said.

“In a service of Christian marriage, a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other publicly witnessed and acknowledged by a gathered community of faith.”

House Bill 2381, the Marriage Amendment Protection Act that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 6.

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee passed a weakened version of the bill which took out wording prohibiting civil unions.

But the Pennsylvania Senate dismissed the original bill on June 21.

Because the same version of the bill was not passed among the General Assembly, it failed.
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