Catholic Archbishop John J. Myers of New Jersey released a pastoral letter this week reminding the faithful that “we cannot define and redefine marriage to suit our personal tastes or goals.”
Calling gay relationships “degrading,” he suggested that Catholics who support marriage equality should refrain from taking Communion at Mass,” as they are “unable to assent to or live the Church’s teaching in these matters.”
The prevalence of false ideologies about our nature affects how we think of our bodies. These ideologies have degraded the body, treating it as separate from the identity of the person. Identity appears to rest only mind and will, and the body is regarded as part of a lower order of creation. To some, sexual activity is understood simply as a source of pleasure or recreation, or as a way of satisfying an appetite just like hunger or thirst. Its deeper meaning as a one-flesh unity of covenantal partners is lost.
The loss of the sense of fidelity and permanence within marriage and the loss of the centrality of offspring within marriage (through contraception and abortion) in favor of pleasure, has contributed to the arguments for “same-sex marriage.” Worse, it has undermined the well being of many children and contributed to numerous social problems affecting the common good.
One of the best services we can provide to our Church and our society is to commit or recommit to faithfully and lovingly living out our own commitments to marriage and celibacy for the Kingdom. Our children and our nation need the example of many, many faithful people fulfilling in a joyful and self-sacrificing way their vocations. In particular, I ask all to renew their efforts to be child-focused families where the good of the children comes before career or ‘personal fulfillment…
I urge those not in communion with the Church regarding its teachings on marriage and family (or any other grave matter of faith) to sincerely reexamine their consciences… If they continue to be unable to assent to or live the Church’s reaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest.”
The issue of marriage equality is being fiercely debated in the Garden State: In February, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill that passed the New Jersey Legislature. Meanwhile, polls have shown U.S. Catholics support legalizing same-sex marriage at a higher rate the general population.
Makes for some pretty empty pews, no?