WASHINGTON (May 25, 2006) — The Chairman of the Committee on Marriage and Family, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said there is "a growing sense among many people, including a wide range of religious leaders, that a Marriage Protection Amendment is the only federal-level action that will ultimately protect and preserve the institution of marriage."
Bishop Joseph R. Kurtz, of Knoxville, TN, spoke (May 25) at a Capitol Hill news conference hosted by the Alliance for Marriage Foundation. Others in attendance included leaders of the House and Senate, civil rights leaders, and representatives of other major faith communities. The Senate is expected to vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment (S.J. Res 1) next month.
"I am here today to support the amendment," Bishop Kurtz declared.
"The teachings of the Catholic Church place the highest value on the love between a man and a woman in marriage," the Bishop said. "Pope Benedict underscored this in his first encyclical (Deus Caritas Est) when he described the marital union as 'the very epitome of love…where body and soul are inseparably joined together and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness.'"
"While religious convictions such as these motivate me, I am also motivated by the awareness that the gift of marriage between one man and one woman is a natural right, one written in the hearts of human beings," Bishop Kurtz stated. "It is an essential building block of society. Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, marriage does not originate either from the Church or the state, but from God. Therefore, we-church or state-are not free to alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage."
"Marriage makes a unique contribution to the common good of society," the Bishop continued. "To defend it is not an act of unjust discrimination, but rather a stand in favor of what is right and just."
"To adopt a constitutional amendment is a serious and lengthy process," Bishop Kurtz noted. "It requires principled thought, pragmatic effort, and a spirit of perseverance. It is a journey that allows for consciences to be formed along the way and for people to express their convictions. My conviction is that the journey should begin. And so it is my privilege to urge passage of the Marriage Protection Amendment when it comes before the United States Senate in early June."
On March 27, USCCB President Bishop William S. Skylstad, wrote to all Catholic bishops of the country to urge them again to support the amendment, and to "stand publicly in support of marriage as the God-given union of a man and a woman ."
He asked the bishops to work with the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic men's organization, which has launched a nation-wide postcard campaign in support of the federal amendment. To date approximately 10 million postcards have been received.