Bishops, governor back new marriage initiative

BOSTON — The bishops of Massachusetts have joined in a new effort to amend the state constitution to restore the traditional definition of marriage in the Commonwealth.

The Coalition for Marriage and Family, an alliance of 20 state and national organizations including the Massachusetts Family Institute and Massachusetts Catholic Conference, announced the launch of a citizens’ initiative petition drive to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The announcement came at a Statehouse press conference June 16.

Almost immediately afterward, Gov. Mitt Romney called his own press conference to announce his support of the effort.

Before the new Massachusetts Protection of Marriage Amendment can be brought before voters, supporters will need to gather nearly 66,000 signatures of Massachusetts residents. If that goal is met, the measure would need the support of 25 percent of the legislature to appear on the 2008 ballot.

Members of the coalition said they hope the introduction of the new amendment will lead to the defeat of the so-called Travaglini-Lees amendment currently being considered by the Legislature.

The Travaglini-Lees amendment would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman but also create a constitutional guarantee to same-sex civil unions.

Many supporters of traditional marriage find that proposal troubling, since a vote in favor of the traditional definition of marriage would also be a vote in favor of establishing same-sex civil unions which they find morally unacceptable.

"Asking citizens to vote on the Travaglini-Lees amendment is like asking them to vote for George Bush and John Kerry on the same ticket," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesperson for the coalition. "We are convinced that the Travaglini-Lees amendment was drafted in a manner designed to fail both at the ballot box and in the courts."

The new proposed amendment would restore the traditional definition of marriage but leave the establishment of civil unions up to the legislature.

It reads simply, “When recognizing marriages entered after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.”

The proposed amendment will give Massachusetts residents “a clear up or down vote on the definition of marriage,” while also leaving room to address the needs of all citizens who are in “mutually-dependent, adult relationships that are ineligible for marriage,” Mineau said.

"We believe [same-sex] civil unions are discriminatory because they provide benefits only to a small segment of the population based on sexual preference, while there are many other citizens needing benefits who are in a non-sexual relationship. An example would be two elderly sisters living together or an uncle caring for a disabled nephew," Mineau added.

Significantly, the proposed amendment would not affect the status of marriages entered into before its enactment, but only ban future same-sex marriages.

Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004. Since that day, some 6,200 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples.

Maria Parker, interim director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, read a statement supporting the amendment on behalf of the bishops of the four dioceses of Massachusetts. The bishops were unable to attend the press conference because the announcement coincided with the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Chicago.

"Protecting marriage is more than preserving a name. The people deserve the opportunity to vote on marriage as a stand-alone issue," the bishops said in their statement. "This proposed amendment restores to our laws the traditional definition of marriage. To remain effective as society's primary institution for ensuring the well-being of children, marriage must be understood by government as a commitment involving one man and one woman."

Speaking on behalf of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, Bishop Gilbert Thompson of the New Covenant Christian Church said that long before the institution of marriage was formed, God created the family, which is foundational to the health of society.

“I am critical of this socio-political experiment to redefine marriage and family. I believe it threatens the future health of our community in general and our children in particular,” he said. “I’ve weighed in on this issue because I cannot be silent while a few politicians and jurists, in the name of democratic equity, play hopscotch with the future of our children.”

"Cruel, inhumane, mean-spirited, anti-family, anti-marriage are the only words to describe the new anti-gay amendment being proposed by reactionary groups today," said Rabbi Devon Lerner, director of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, in a statement released after the press conference.

"This amendment is an attack not only on gay and lesbian couples and their children, it is also an attack on liberal and mainstream faith traditions that allow religious marriage for same-sex couples. Marriage is a fundamental human right," she added.

Shortly after the coalition’s announcement, Gov. Mitt Romney held his own press conference to voice his support for the effort.

The new proposed amendment would present a “clean, straightforward, unambiguous” choice for voters who deserve to weigh in on the issue that was decided by a one-justice majority, he said.

"I hope the voters in Massachusetts get the chance that voters in 11 other states got last year, and that is the chance to preserve marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, which of course passed in all 11 states where it was taken to the voters. I'm convinced it will pass here," he said.

Romney said he originally supported the Travaglini-Lees amendment because he thought it would provide grounds to request a stay of same-sex marriages from the Supreme Judicial Court. The governor, however, was thwarted in that effort when Attorney General Thomas Reilly refused to argue the case.

Same-sex marriage has already caused legal confusion when it comes to custody of children and divorce in other states, but the long-range effects cannot be known, Romney said.

"The ideal setting for raising children is where there is a man and a woman, a mother and a father, and so the implications of same-sex marriage will only be measured over generations, not over years or months," he added.

[Editor’s note: More information on the new initiative is available at or by calling 617-795-2667.]

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

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 ...