Notes from the Hill

With the constitutional convention set to reconvene at the Statehouse on March 11, every Catholic lay man and woman must redouble their efforts to preserve the definition of marriage. The Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment (MA and PA) must be approved by the Legislature in order to reaffirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The court decision in Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health must be reversed. The push to vote instead for a “mishmash” amendment that combines the language in MA and PA with a mandate for same-sex civil unions must be defeated.

The battle is joined for the institution of marriage, and the stakes are tremendous. All eyes are on Massachusetts as government officials around the nation and the world wait to see what our legislators will decide March 11. We must not sit by and do nothing when the issue is so crucially important to our families and our society — we must act now.

Here are the messages that you must get across to your state senator and representative:

Don’t be fooled by the so-called “compromise” measure.

A constitutional amendment recognizing both marriage and civil unions is no “compromise,” since the civil union mandate accords all the benefits of marriage to same-sex unions except the name. On the one hand, the so-called compromise amendment defines marriage as an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman. On the other hand, it also recognizes a civil union between same-sex couples as the legal and constitutional equivalent of marriage.

This is no compromise. It is a flat contradiction of terms and is worse than enacting no amendment at all. Our legislators must hear that we will not tolerate their support of such an amendment.

There’s nothing civil about civil unions. Proponents of same-sex marriage and civil unions are ready to recklessly send the nation on a course whose disastrous consequences are well-known. Exhaustive social science evidence shows that children do best when they are raised by their own biological father and mother joined in a stable marriage. That evidence also shows that traditional marriage enhances the relationship among men, women and children in a way that leaves all of them — and society as a whole — better off.

Here’s what we learned from the real-life social experiment that has already been conducted in Scandinavia. The countries that enacted same-sex registered partnerships in the early 1990s are now suffering a dramatic decline in marriage rates and a drastic rise in out-of-wedlock births. In those districts in Norway where same-sex unions are most accepted, marriage has become virtually extinct, with 80 percent of firstborn children and nearly 60 percent of subsequent children now born out of wedlock.

Tell your legislators that instead of distorting marriage’s meaning and legally depriving children of their rights to have both a mother and a father, the Commonwealth should be working to strengthen traditional married relationships.

Homosexual marriage is not a civil rights issue, but religious freedom is. Proponents of homosexual unions speak in terms of tolerance and diversity, but they will not practice what they preach. Those who differ from them regarding same-sex unions, including us who object on religious grounds, are constantly labeled as homophobes, bigots and as practitioners of “hate speech.” Indeed, in its Goodridge decision, the Supreme Judicial Court, in a breathtaking display of judicial arrogance, suggested that laws recognizing marriage as a unique relation between a man and a woman are the product of a “persistent prejudice.”

If same-sex marriage or civil unions become law — enshrined as part of the Massachusetts Constitution — religious and other private institutions will be required to go along by violating their principles — or they will be sued, regardless of their beliefs. Just this week, the California Supreme Court ruled that Catholic Charities of Sacramento must include birth control coverage in its health care plan for workers even though the Church is morally opposed to contraception.

Such changes grievously violate our constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

Grant marital preference only to the union of a man and a woman. The marital relationship between a man and a woman should be granted special protections and benefits for the very good reasons that only these couples are capable of benefiting society by begetting new life and by providing children with the optimal setting of having both a mother and a father.

Your legislators must hear that you support the marital preference, one that is based on the future of society and the well-being of children, not the love interests or financial wants of adults. Nothing justifies granting special preferences to one set of people the great majority of whom do not and cannot benefit society in these ways.

There is a very important issue of social justice here. At a time when budget constraints are forcing the state to reduce benefits to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, homosexual marriage and civil union proposals would give special benefits to a group who have no demonstrated special needs.

The issue of justice is also one of respect for public debate and the democratic process. Why have the true costs not been presented? A study by the Canadian government concluded that same-sex marraige in Canada would leave the taxpayers liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in retroactive social-security survivor benefits, putting other programs at risk.

Studies show that same-sex couples are among the most economically advantaged in the U.S., with per-capita income, college education and managerial positions as much as three times greater than the general population. Tell your legislators that it is grossly unfair for them to receive special preferences over other persons, such as those who benefit society by caring for elderly parents or disabled relatives.

Support MA and PA as it is — accept no “compromise.”

Tell your legislators to support the marriage amendment. And tell them that the more we understand about the full consequences of what civil unions will mean and the social and economic costs they will inflict, the more outraged we will be if these experiments are imposed upon us!

The defense of marriage must be debated by the citizens of the Commonwealth with full information and consideration. Don’t let your legislators freeze you out of the discussion by freezing an unjustified special preference into our state constitution. This is a decision about the meaning of marriage, one that ought to be made democratically, by the people, in the full light of day, after careful discussion and deliberation.

"Notes from the Hill" is provided by the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice for the four Catholic dioceses of Massachusetts. "Notes from the Hill" is not an official statement of the bishops of Massachusetts or MCC.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...