2010 Fall General Assembly
Speeches / Addresses
New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, right, addresses members of the media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. The bishops elected him president of the conference. At left is the newly elected vice presid ent, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Yousif Habash, head of the Newark, N.J.-based Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syrian Catholics, talks with Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington, Ky., during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. ( CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pray before the start of the second day of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, talks with Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president, during the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix reacts to a discussion on social media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz of Chicago, center, attends the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City stands with Charlene Harris of the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., as he reports on the work of the U.S. bishops' National Advisory Council Nov. 15 at the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. Harris chair s the advisory council. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, right, talks with Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Tod Brown, right, of Orange, Calif., greets Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., works on a laptop during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 15 in Baltimore. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Bishop Michael R. Cote (center) of Norwich, Conn., applaud after an address by Cardinal Francis E. George, president of the conference, at the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15 . (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addresses the U.S. bishops at the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Report on the Ad Hoc Committee
for the Defense of Marriage
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz,
Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage
November 16, 2010
Thank you, Your Eminence.
Brother Bishops, good afternoon.
On the evening of April 16, 2008, as we met and prayed with the successor of St. Peter, not too far from here in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, our Holy Father encouraged and summoned us to remember our special duty as bishops toward the pastoral care of the family. In particular, he emphasized: “It is your task to proclaim boldly the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of marriage understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life.” This message, he noted, is “an unconditional and unreserved yes to life” and “yes to love.”
To proclaim marriage boldly … marriage as the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one woman. This task, this mission to proclaim marriage boldly, remains ever before us as a key pivot in the momentum of the New Evangelization.
Our National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage and our Pastoral Priority on Strengthening Marriage advance and participate in the bold proclamation of marriage. As one part of the Priority, and by means of the generous support of the Knights of Columbus, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage seeks to assist this proclamation with specific attention to the promotion and protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. As you may recall, the Committee’s mandate includes the dual focus of catechesis and education and public policy and advocacy.
In the short time I have with you now, I would like to offer a brief review of the Committee’s second year and then share my sense of the horizon before us and our task ahead. As an update on our latest resources, I will then present to you our next video in the Marriage: Unique for a Reason series.
Review of the Year
This second year of the Ad Hoc Committee’s three-year mandate has been an important one. The Committee launched its catechetical initiative Marriage: Unique for a Reason with the release of its first video and booklets, entitled Made for Each Other. This resource sets the stage for the next videos and materials. Through the generosity of the Knights, to date roughly 4,500 copies of Made for Each Other have been distributed to various leaders and organizations throughout the country, including bishops, priests, deacons, marriage and family leaders, campus ministers, catechists, and others. The Committee is currently finalizing the next video and booklets on the good of children, entitled Made for Life, which is due to be publicly released this winter. In addition, work has begun on the development of a Spanish-language video and the remaining two videos in English.
The Committee continues to monitor policy developments and the legal landscape. With gratitude to the Knights of Columbus, the Committee also looks with anticipation toward the addition of a full-time staff person to serve as Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family. This will mark another significant development in the history of the Conference and in the bishops’ pastoral attention to areas concerning marriage and the family.
Horizon and Task Ahead
Permit me now to share my sense of the horizon before us and our task ahead as a Committee, as a Conference, and as a nation in our work to promote and protect the unique meaning of marriage.
Our horizon, and the horizon of human history, always remains one of hope, for it discovers its true meaning in the light and hope of Christ.
In our nation we find ourselves at a moment of great opportunity and consequence.
The urgency of our priority to promote, protect, and strengthen marriage has not abated. Over the last year, we have seen attempts to legally redefine or erode the meaning of marriage at the state level continue to shift to the federal level. And among the federal-level attacks, the most worrisome is in the judicial realm, where California’s Proposition 8 is being challenged as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. If that challenge ultimately succeeds at the Supreme Court, the decision will have a moral, legal, and cultural impact akin to the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
So, in a sense, today is like 1970 for marriage. If, in 1970, you knew that Roe v. Wade were coming in two or three years, what would you have done differently? And so now, the vital question that stands before all of us in this country is: What will we do for marriage?
Coupled with this urgency is an ever-present task: to reach the heart of our culture and especially the hearts and minds of our young people with the Gospel, and particularly with the truth, beauty, and good of marriage. There are some who speak of inevitability, as if marriage is bound to be redefined and as if our younger generations cannot be persuaded otherwise. But inevitability is a myth. History, the present, and the future are not determined outside the scope of divine grace and human freedom, and such a view mistakenly looks to our young people and emerging adults with resignation rather than hope.
Brothers, our proclamation makes a difference. Even recent polling indicates this difference, as those who go to church every Sunday are more likely to support the true meaning of marriage. And this support has remained steady, despite the challenges of our culture. Already, the work of the New Evangelization is bearing fruit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, our task is to further this momentum, to proclaim marriage boldly and encourage others to do the same.
The Ad Hoc Committee’s development of catechetical resources is meant to assist our pastoral efforts toward a New Evangelization on marriage. I am pleased now to share with you the near-final version of the Committee’s second video, Made for Life. This video considers the gift of children and the indispensible place of mothers and fathers. As a video, Made for Life is not a stand-alone piece but is a catechetical tool that will have a companion Viewer’s Guide and Resource Booklet for Priests, Deacons, Catechists, and Teachers.
On behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, I thank you for your time, prayers, and feedback as the Committee moves forward, and particularly for your bold proclamation of the truth and beauty of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.