Marriage and the Laity's Responsibility

Beautiful Guidance from CCG Episcopal Advisor, the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron

In May of 2008, after the California Supreme Court struck down the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, then Bishop of Oakland, asked his priests to read a brief pastoral message on the impact of the same-sex "marriage" ruling and the responsibility of the laity. Since then, the Connecticut Supreme Court followed suit clearing the way for same-sex "marriage" in that state with consequences similar to the California.

On November 4, 2008, California voters restored the definition of marriage, putting it in the state constitution out of the reach of the judges. Unfortunately, Connecticut citizens have no such remedy and the situation discussed in Bishop Vigneron's pastoral applies.

"While it was directed to the faithful of his See," said CCG Chair Bill May, "we consider this pastoral message from our very first Episcopal Advisor as a source of encouragement and inspiration as we proceed on the mission of Catholics for the Common Good and the Stand with Children project."

"In the message, he captures the reality of the seriousness and full implications for the Church and the faithful of redefining marriage. He also expresses the truth of our faith about marriage in a most beautiful way. It is also a call to action -- reminding us of our role as laity in the mission of the Church which includes bringing reason purified by our faith to the confines of government and political systems, and to the fields of culture. It is indeed a message of hope."

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Excerpts from Bishop Vigneron's May 2008 Pastoral to the Faithful of the Oakland Diocese (emphasis added):

 

Most Rev. Allen Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland, Episcopal Advisor to Catholics for the Common Good
The Most Rev. Allen
Vigneron
, Archbishop
of Detroit (formerly
Bishop of Oakland)

"From the decision of our State Supreme Court . . ., we appear to be heading -- at least for a time -- toward a social order in which same-sex couples will be able to contract marriage.  This is a profoundly significant matter. I, as your bishop, want to speak to your about it, to offer you my pastoral support and guidance."

"My message today, because of circumstances, must be relatively brief.  I cannot talk about all that needs to be said in a full discussion of this question.  Nonetheless, I will offer some strategic points that give us a sense of our situation."

"I begin with the most fundamental point: Marriage is a reality authored by God in his very act of creating the human race.  According to his irrevocable plan, the marriage relationship is only possible between one man and one woman.  The purposes of this relationship are (1) the mutual loving support of husband and wife and (2) their loving service of life by bringing children into the world and raising them to be virtuous and productive.  The experience of history -- both ancient and in our own time -- has taught us that no government has the power to change the order which God has inscribed in our nature."

"The conviction that same-sex couples cannot enter marriage is a conviction which all Catholics implicitly affirm when, in our baptismal promises, we profess that we share the Church's faith that the 'Father Almighty [is] the Creator of heaven and earth'." 

"This conviction about marriage, while confirmed by faith, can be known from reason. Therefore, our efforts to enshrine this wisdom about marriage in the laws of our community are not an imposition of an ideology but a service of the truth which we make for the common good. This wisdom about the nature of marriage is not a form of discrimination, but undergirds our freedom to live according to God's plan for us."

". . . As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, God gave you the mission to configure the civil order to his design. In this way, through Christ and with the help of His Holy Spirit, you are making of this world a gift pleasing to the Father. This is the most fundamental act of your baptismal priesthood."

"As I see it, the challenges ahead fall into two classes: (1) those of the short term and (2) ones for the long haul."

"In regard to the short term: As faithful citizens Catholics are called to bring our laws regarding marriage into conformity with what we know about the nature of marriage."

"In the long term: If such efforts fail, our way of life will become counter-cultural, always a difficult situation for Christians -- one our forebears faced in many ages past, one that the Lord himself predicted for us. Indeed, even if such efforts meet with success, our work is far from done. We would still be living in a society where many accept a set of convictions that is ultimately detrimental to the integrity of human life, with negative consequences for one's happiness in this world and the next. Your mission then will be, as it always has been, to be a light and leaven for the new creation established in Christ. The resources of the Theology of the Body, worked out by the late Holy Father, John Paul II, will be an especially helpful resource for this task."

"Above all, let us not lose heart.  As Pope John Paul II constantly reminded us: "Be not afraid." Christ is risen.  His vision for our world, and for the place of marriage in it, will, according to the time he has appointed, become the truth of our world"



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