RI Bishop on Gay Marriage: We’ve Entered ‘Post-Christian Era’

May 7, 2013 - 12:47 PM

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Bishop Thomas Tobin, bishop for the Catholic diocese of Providence, RI. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the Catholic diocese of Providence, said the “gay marriage” bill signed into law in Rhode Island by its governor, Lincoln Chafee, constituted a “new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered.”

Chafee, a liberal Independent who used to belong to the Republican Party, signed the bill making “gay marriage” legal in the Ocean State on Thursday, May. 2. That same day, Bishop Tobin, who represents 680,000 Catholics in 143 parishes, issued a pastoral letter to Catholics on the approval of “same-sex marriage.”

“In particular, I wish to invite members of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island to a moment of prayer and reflection as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered,” said Bp. Tobin.

“First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize ‘same-sex marriage,’” said the bishop.  “The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.”

He continued, “Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to ‘speak the truth in love.’ (Eph 4:15)”

“At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful,” said Bp. Tobin.  “And because ‘same-sex marriages’ are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.”

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Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent, signs "gay marriage" legislation into law, May 2, 2013. (AP)

Currently, “gay marriage” is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. Last May, Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, said he was “absolutely comfortable” with homosexual marriage: “… men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”

Several days later, on May 9, 2012, President Obama, who previously had claimed he opposed “gay marriage,” said, “For me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Referring to the Rhode Island legislation making “same-sex marriage” legal, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordelione, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said it “is a serious injustice.”

“"The meaning of marriage cannot be redefined, because its meaning lies in our very nature,” said Arbp. Cordelione.  “Therefore, regardless of what law is enacted, marriage remains the union of one man and one woman – by the very design of nature, it cannot be otherwise.”