Skip to comments.Newark, NJ Archbishop Urges Voters to Defend Marriage and Life
Posted on 09/25/2012 9:00:32 AM PDT by Coleus
In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote in defense of marriage and life, and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the statement on gay marriage was not timed to coincide with the November election, now little more than a month away, and that he was not calling on Catholics to vote for a particular candidate. But he said they should examine the full spectrum of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and a proper backing of marriage.
He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.
Its not 100 percent for either party, Myers said in an interview Monday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. The basic point is that we must defend what we believe to be the truth. That includes voting, speaking out, contacting officials.
The statement is being issued amid a politically charged atmosphere at a time when some other Catholic leaders have been criticized for talking politics from the pulpit. President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in May. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, opposes it.
Myers said he had been thinking about issuing a statement on the subject for about a year. He acknowledged that portions would be considered controversial and said he expected a heated discussion about the statement, which will be published online today. Parishioners in churches across the archdiocese, which covers Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union counties, will be handed letters at church this weekend telling them about the statement and directing them to where it can be read.
Officials with a Catholic social justice group and an advocacy group for the separation of church and state said other Roman Catholic Church leaders have made recent statements that appear designed to influence the presidential election. Federal law allows non-profits receiving tax exemptions to advocate for issues, but not for candidates.
In Washington State, regulators recently warned a bishop against holding a fundraiser to oppose a same-sex marriage proposal on the November ballot. A Peoria, Ill., bishop recently compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Last month, a Manhattan parish priest published a letter supporting Romney, citing his opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and to elements of the national health insurance law that require coverage for contraceptives. The priest has since apologized.
Myers statement did not cross the line into political advocacy, experts and politicians said, because he doesnt mention any candidates.
It appears that the archbishop is treading awfully close to the line, said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, the Democratic state committee chairman. Im sure he is not crossing the line. I just think its an unfortunate coincidence in timing. Youd have to ask the archbishop why the letter doesnt come out in March or December.
Myers said he intended to release the statement in March but it was delayed as he recovered from surgery for a detached retina.
He said he doesnt believe polls that show a majority of Catholics support same-sex marriage. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of American Catholics favor same-sex marriage, and the number rises to 72 percent among those between the ages of 18 and 34. But Myers acknowledged that a large number of Catholics seem to be at odds with church teaching, and that he wanted to reach out to them with his statement.
No one has said things clearly to them for years, he said.
Myers, 71, said modern culture and the media have led to the social acceptance of same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts are a sin, he said, but homosexuality is not. He wrote that it is possible for gay people to be married to members of the opposite sex and live good, faithful and even joyous married lives. It is a lie to say that they are living, or have lived, a lie.
An erosion of the traditional family, caused by the prevalence of divorce and contraception, is to blame for the social acceptance of same-sex marriage, Myers said. Procreation is an essential part of marriage, he said, but he said that men and women who cannot have children are not the same as gay couples because they are not intentionally excluding children.
The statement appeared to compare gay marriage to incest. Even those who propose radically altering the definition of marriage would not advocate allowing two brothers or sisters or an uncle and his nephew to marry (say, for the tax benefits, or for hospital visiting privileges), he wrote.
Marriage between a man and woman is based on natural laws that cannot be redefined by government, he wrote. He called on Catholics and other men and women of good will to defend traditional marriage.
We must exercise our right to vote in defense of marriage and life, he wrote.
Steven Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality, New Jerseys largest gay-rights group, said he would let Myers statement speak for itself.
When people on the other side of the issue shoot themselves in the foot, one doesnt need to pile on, he said. It is not the job of government to reflect the values of one particular faith or another.
Chris Pumpelly, a spokesman for Catholics United, a non-partisan social justice advocacy group, said it used to be unusual for Catholic leaders to make political statements. Now, he said, it has become the norm. And he said Myers call for Catholics who disagree with the church about same-sex marriage to refrain from Communion will alienate members of the faith.
Its unfortunate, he said. This is another example of the church hierarchy making it a more partisan and political church. They have a unified political message.
A Seton Hall ethics professor, the Rev. Jerome Bracken, said it is important for Catholic leaders to clarify their teachings, adding that it is not the same as telling people how to vote.
You need information to help you vote your conscience, he said.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Myers did not appear to have crossed the line into political advocacy. Four years ago, his group asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson Diocese for a statement about abortion that compared Obama, without using his name, to King Herod, who had St. John the Baptist beheaded.
The Paterson Diocese attorney, Ken Mullaney, said the IRS never investigated and that Serratelli had learned his lesson after Lynn made an issue of the statement. He said Serratelli has no plans to follow Myers with his own statement about same-sex marriage.
Myers said Monday that government has already encroached on religious freedom, citing the new health care plans requirement for contraception coverage and the prosecution of church leaders in Canada for speaking out against homosexuality. The health care plan, after a compromise, no longer requires full contraception coverage at religiously affiliated institutions, but it does require insurance companies to offer free birth control coverage.
Near the end of his statement, Myers expresses fear that gay marriage will lead to a further erosion of religious freedom.
How long would the state permit churches, schools or parents to teach their children that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law if homosexual marriage were a civil right? he wrote.
What a wonderfully, even handed article by the Record. -sarc Print media is dead.
Catholic Ad to pass on over and over until the sheeple get it.
Fine as far as it goes, though I wish they’d just come flat out and tell the flock not to vote for Obama (I’d like to see them TRY to come after the tax-exempt status of the largest single denomination)
“Marriage between a man and woman is based on natural laws that cannot be redefined by government, he wrote.”
Now, since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church; and, when the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury. Now is the time, they say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good.
Pope Leo XIII about 130 years ago.
The problem with the states involvement, at least in the modern era, is that the definition it uses to recognize the institution is simply whatever judges, pols or the majority thinks it is at any one time. And thats it, and that’s all it will ever be. It was always a danger.
By the by, if you dig Archbishop Myers and the golden age of pulpy sci-fi, check this out:
I read it and dug it a lot, it would be great to read with younger kids. An Archbishop who digs sci-fi, pretty cool if you ask me.
“Four years ago, his group asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson Diocese for a statement about abortion that compared Obama, without using his name, to King Herod, who had St. John the Baptist beheaded.”
What an idiot; I guess we’ll conveniently overlook the masacre of infant boys undertaken when Herod couldn’t find the “newborn king” he thought would unseat him (the Holy Innocents). I doubt Bishop Serratelli was referring to the death of John the Baptist...
“And he (Chris Pumpelly) said Myers call for Catholics who disagree with the church about same-sex marriage to refrain from Communion will alienate members of the faith.”
They’ve already left the faith; no loss.
Wish ours would.
That’s a handy quote!
Now THAT's what I'm talking about!
Some good news from Newark.