As the Rhode Island General Assembly prepares to pass “same-sex marriage” legislation and the Governor scheduled to sign the bill this afternoon, Bishop Tobin offers the following pastoral letter to Catholics in Rhode Island. The contents of this letter will be printed in the May 9, 2013 edition of Rhode Island Catholic Newspaper.
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Since the legislative approval of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island, a number of people have requested that I offer some guidance on this development. It is for that purpose that I write at this time. 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.
First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” 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.
As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.
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. 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.
Despite this serious regression in the public morality of our state we need to recognize that there are other major issues that demand our attention. We must continue to engage our culture, remembering that Jesus called us to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13-14) Be assured, therefore, that the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Providence will continue its mission of preaching the Gospel, advocating for what is right and just, and serving the needs of our community to the very best of our ability.
Without a doubt this is a time of challenge, even disappointment for many of us, but it is also an opportunity to be steadfast and courageous, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church. As our Lord Jesus Christ told us, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)
Dear brothers and sisters, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, may God be with you as you continue your journey of faith, and may He bless you and your families with His finest gifts, now and always.
What do you think of the passage of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island? Send a letter to the editor of Rhode Island Catholic newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.