Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Diocese of Yakima Bishop Sends a Message

Bishop Joseph Tyson,
Diocese of Yakima, Washington

A reader from the Diocese of Yakima, WA sent me an email on Sunday with this news:

Today at Mass, a letter was read from the bishop defending marriage, and specifically talking about the referendum that's on the ballot here and why it should not be passed. It was about 10 minutes long, and I don't know who authored it, but it was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes.

When it was over there was dead silence, and then it got a standing ovation from about half the people at Mass. I'm sure the other half of the people didn't have any idea what this was all about. FINALLY someone is standing up for what's right for a change.

The bishops in the state of Washington do indeed seem to be fighting hard against the redefinition of marriage in that state. Archbishop Sartain, as you recall, asked Seattle Archdiocese parishes to collect signatures against the referendum, and was met with some resistance from some “progressive” priests there (see my post here).

Back to my friend’s parish in the Diocese of Yakima…the letter she refers to was indeed written by the bishop of that Diocese, Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson.

At the web page of the Diocese of Yakima, you can access three different documents about marriage; the faithful there are getting some good catechesis on the topic of homosexual “marriage”!

Bishop Tyson opens his letter with a photo of his parents on their wedding day – a nice touch I thought!

Here are a couple of excerpts from Bishop Tyson’s letter; it’s worth reading in its entirety (use the link above):

…We must also understand another tragic consequence. R-74 jeopardizes freedom rather than expands it. It endangers our religious liberty and the right of conscience. Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools to promote the unique meaning of marriage, and to teach about the right of a child to be known, loved and raised by his or her own mother and father in a stable home. This law will challenge our right to educate about the unique value of children being raised by their own mothers and fathers. No institution or individual could propose that married mothers and fathers provide a singular benefit to children without being accused of discrimination.

So why do we settle for this kind of law? I think out of fear. There’s the plain misunderstanding of the meaning of marriage, which I think has been a significant factor in our cultural debate. But some of us have friends and family with same-sex attractions. And we are aware of a painful pattern of unjust discrimination and personal reject. We love them. We do not want to lose them. We do not want them to feel rejected again.

Yet, because we support marriage’s unique meaning does not mean we love any of our family any less. The truth of the matter is that our family and friends are in a variety of places when it comes to growth in the moral life – not only with same sex attractions – but all kinds of relational issues involving the human heart.

Indeed, come November 6th if all we hope for is the defeat of R-74, then our hopes are too little. When it comes to following the words of Jesus in our Sunday Gospel, we need to think BIG. We need to find ways to replant our Church’s moral proposal for human happiness that flows from marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

This “re-evangelization” is precisely what our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI called for in his launch of the “Year of Faith” this week. This “new evangelization” is not a new teaching. Rather it is our Church’s desire to re-introduce the Good News of Jesus Christ to those whose faith has grown weak or who lack conviction about the Church’s proposal of what bring human happiness in this life and the next.

He makes some very good points, I think. The other documents are interesting and informative as well. One is in a question-and-answer format. Here’s a sample question or two:

Q. Don’t people with same-sex attractions need the state to redefine marriage in order to have the legal benefits of marriage?

A. No. Registered domestic partners in Washington State already have legal equality with married couples, and they possess all the legal rights and benefits of marriage. Although some proponents contend redefining marriage is required for domestic partners to access these legal rights and benefits, it is not necessary, as all of the rights and benefits were granted by law in 2009. Redefining marriage in state law cannot and will not grant any federal benefits.

Q. Isn’t it unjust discrimination to oppose marriage between two men and two women?

A. No. Recognizing differences is not unjust discrimination. Redefining marriage as a genderless institution, on the other hand, would be truly unjust because schools and other institutions would be prevented from teaching that gender difference matters and that mothers and fathers have distinct and irreplaceable roles in the lives of their children.

The other covers some of the same material as the question-answer document, and includes these additional points (and there’s more – see it all at the links):

 How does redefining marriage threaten parental authority?

• In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was legalized by the state’s highest court, students are taught about gay marriage in public school classrooms and the courts have ruled that parents have no right to prior notice, or to opt their children out of such instruction.

• Eighteen first-grade students in San Francisco took a school-sponsored field trip to attend the wedding of their teacher and her lesbian partner in October 2008. The school principal described it as a “teachable moment.”

How does redefining marriage threaten personal freedom?

• In Vermont this summer, an innkeeper was forced to pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by two women for refusing to host the couple’s wedding reception. The inn no longer hosts weddings or receptions.

• In Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legalized, Roman Catholic sportscaster Damian Goddard was fired from his job for expressing support for traditional marriage.

• Accusations that it is “anti-gay” have been leveled at Chick-Fil-A, because its founder offered a personal statement supporting traditional marriage. Mayors in several major cities denounced the company for its “discriminatory views” and have a threatened to prevent the company from operating in their cities.

• In August a gunman entered the offices of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. with intent to kill staff members because the organization defends marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Family Research Council has been branded by one same-sex marriage advocacy group as a “hate group” because of its support for traditional marriage.

I think the points about the threats to parental authority and forcing schools to teach that homosexual behavior is “normal” are critical issues that many people don’t think about – until they are confronted with them.  To me it’s the ultimate irony: our society is in the process of creating a “truth” that is clearly a lie, and is making it illegal to teach the truth or to even voice an opinion about that lie!

Maybe it’s time to re-read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say go with the higher law. Some times the law of the land is impossible.


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