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Bishop Thomas Olmsted on the Prop 8 Court Decision

Phoenix, Arizona, Aug 10, 2010. -- This statement from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix on the federal court decision striking down Prop 8 is the strongest I have seen from any prelate. It will be published at the diocesan web site later today.

Marriage: a "hang up" or God's plan?

Bishop Thomas Olmsted

The misguided decision of Judge Vaughn Walker, striking down as unconstitutional the California Marriage Law called Proposition 8, cannot be passed over in silence. On August 9, the Arizona Republic celebrated this decision in an editorial called "Marriage Ruling a Landmark on a Long Road." Using a typical technique of pro-abortion and anti-marriage proponents, the Republic declared that the march toward homosexual marriage is inevitable: "If this generation of Americans doesn't move forward, the next one will. Young people just do not share their parents' hang ups about gay marriage."

Living in an age of relativism and one marked by sound-bite triviality rather than thoughtful reasoning, such labeling of opposing opinions as "hang ups" may come across as persuasive to some. But if looked at logically, and especially if seen from the perspective of God's plan for marriage revealed in the first chapters of the Bible (as well as from the perspective of natural law), it comes off as absurd and only nominally rational.

What is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability. Defending the clear nature and purpose of marriage is not discrimination against homosexual persons. Why did God create both men and women, not just one sex? Is it merely accidental that one is born either a woman or a man? Is femininity or masculinity of little import? Does it not matter if a child grows up with no mother but two fathers? Does the pandemic of cultural ills born of fatherlessness in so many of our homes teach us nothing? Is it really all that difficult to fathom that God had a plan for marriage, which He wove into the very fabric of human nature? This plan is so deeply embedded in our human nature that every culture in history has recognized it and enshrined and protected it in law and custom. Marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman was not an idea created by these cultures but, rather, a truth received by them as something handed down from a higher authority.

Is ours an enlightened age that is wiser than previous ones? Are activist judges helping us finally to rise up and overthrow the "hang ups" of billions of people who have gone before us and to free us from the shackles of religion? Or is another explanation not possible: that these activist judges are products of the ideology of the sexual revolution who are now imposing their ideology upon our society?

Courage in taking up the Cross

We need to again recall the key distinction, when considering homosexuality, between the homosexual inclination on the one hand and homosexual acts on the other. Whoever engages in homosexual acts commits serious sin, as both the Old Testament and New Testament teach (Cf. Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 1:18-32, I Timothy 1:10) and as Christian Tradition has consistently affirmed (Cf. Catechism, #2357). However, persons with homosexual inclinations but who do not engage in homosexual acts are not guilty of sin at all. No more or less than other persons, Christ calls them to holiness of life, inviting them as He invites us all to take up our cross each day and follow after Him. All who follow Christ are given the grace to live the virtue of chastity; and they can joyfully do so with a clean heart.

I am deeply grateful for all involved with the ministry of Courage and Encourage in our Diocese, available currently at the parishes of St. Thomas the Apostle and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. These ministries provide support for those who want to face a homosexual attraction head-on and live a life of chastity in full keeping with God's plan for their lives. I pray that these efforts will continue to grow and flourish.

Love and truth go hand-in-hand. Everyone who experiences true love knows this-we want those we love to know the truth. As Catholics, we want to love people authentically and not in a mediocre way that would ignore dangers in a person's life out of a shallow concern for political correctness. We need never worry that speaking the truth clearly and charitably is a violation of love.

Both Church teaching and the study of reality, the natural law, show that homosexuality is an objective disorder-that is, it does not correspond to the God-given reality of the sexually differentiated human being. Therefore, to condone the homosexual lifestyle is never a move in favor of a person's true happiness. Moreover, to change the legal and societal definition of the fundamental institution of marriage in order to suit an adult sexual preference is a selfish and irresponsible corruption of the truth. The truth is that the reason why the state cannot redefine marriage is because it never defined it in the first place; it is a truth received, not created. It is God who defined marriage. For the state to redefine marriage will certainly have a negative impact on love, especially for children, who suffer most when marriage is weakened.

Upholding the truth about marriage

We have great need to rediscover the good news of God's plan for marriage; and we need to resist in the public square all efforts to label this plan as a "hang up" of the past. Labeling homosexual "marriage" as "a right" is not an enlightened idea of the 21st century. It is a novel form of a resurrected falsehood from more than 2000 years ago. It will not stand the test of time, just as it cannot withstand popular opinion now.

In every state in our nation where this issue has been put to a vote of the people (31 of the 50), traditional marriage has won. It is only some activist judges, exercising raw judicial power over and against the will of the people, who have pushed their agenda of so-called "homosexual marriage" on the people.

The Lord calls us to love our enemies and to pray for their conversion. Let us do that. He calls us to affirm the human dignity of every human person, including those who struggle with homosexual tendencies. We gladly do that. He also gives us the grace and responsibility to stand up for the truth in the public square, especially the truth about the fundamental institution of society, marriage. Let us do this with courage and compassion, while speaking the truth in love. Let us keep in mind the words of our Savior: Do not be afraid; I am with you always.


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