Bishop Tobin’s letter to Catholics on the Approval of “Same-Sex Marriage” in Rhode Island

ribishop

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Since the legislative approval of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island, a number of people have requested that I offer some guidance on this development. It is for that purpose that I write at this time. In particular I wish to invite members of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island to a moment of prayer and reflection as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered.

First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.

As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.

Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)

At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.

Despite this serious regression in the public morality of our state we need to recognize that there are other major issues that demand our attention. We must continue to engage our culture, remembering that Jesus called us to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13-14) Be assured, therefore, that the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Providence will continue its mission of preaching the Gospel, advocating for what is right and just, and serving the needs of our community to the very best of our ability.

Without a doubt this is a time of challenge, even disappointment for many of us, but it is also an opportunity to be steadfast and courageous, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church. As our Lord Jesus Christ told us, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Dear brothers and sisters, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, may God be with you as you continue your journey of faith, and may He bless you and your families with His finest gifts, now and always.

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Godparents: Helpers on the Road of Faith

BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN

…Supporting parents in the practice of the faith is the particular responsibility of the godparents of the child being baptized. Sometimes, however, it seems that the role of godparents is not properly understood, even by practicing Catholics. (For the sake of simplicity here I use the term “godparent” and “sponsor” interchangeably.)

First, a word about what godparents should not be. The role of godparent is not an honor given to a favorite aunt, uncle or lifetime friend. (“I’ve known John forever, he’s a really great guy and I want him to be the godfather of my child.”) Nor is it a reward in exchange for another favor. (“I was the maid-of-honor at her wedding and I want to thank her by asking her to be my baby’s godmother.”) Nor does it entail the bestowal of a legal right or duty to raise the child to adulthood should “something happen” to the parents.

Being a godparent for Baptism is a serious spiritual responsibility and a commitment of faith. (All that we say here about Baptism sponsors also applies to Confirmation sponsors by the way.)…

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Tom Roeser and the spirit of Fr. Ernie respond to certain Catholic commentators, politicians

Catholics bound by the moral law can agreeably participate in the secular political system where civil law may contradict the moral. But in no sense should the civil law intrude upon the conscience of the Catholic and require his compliance… nor frankly can the Catholic inflict the Church’s morals on the state beyond what is understood as the democratic process.

It is important to accept this as Murray’s wise guide-and nothing more. It certainly didn’t mean that Murray recommended that Catholics surrender their consciences and bow to unjust civil law. Far from it. But this is what John F. Kennedy implied when he addressed the Houston ministerial association in a speech written by one John Cogley, who ultimately left the Church. In his speech Kennedy assuaged the Protestant ministers by saying that he would not inflict his Church’s views on the country, that he would serve as president who happened to be Catholic-not as a Catholic president. This sounded dangerously scandalous to one of Catholic formation-except that Kennedy added this which I paraphrase: if an issue ever arises where civil action contradicts my religious conscience, I shall resign. That was enough to close the credibility gap.

Not that the John Kennedy we have come to understand would allow his Catholicism to interfere with his duties. In fact it is commonly known now that he did in fact allow sexual immorality to coincide with his duties and in fact it is still an open question as to whether his immorality… his promiscuous attentions to a young woman also the mistress of a Mafia chieftain… did him in! I shall not digress further! [Laughter].

… “There are two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled: the sacred authority of the Popes and the royal power. Of these the priestly power is much more important because it has to render account for the Kings of men themselves at the Divine Tribunal. For you know that although you have the highest place in dignity over the human race, yet you must submit yourself faithfully to those who have charge of divine things and look to them for the means of your salvation… For if in matters pertaining to the administration of public discipline, the bishops of the Church, knowing that the Empire has been conferred on you by divine instrumentality, are themselves obedient to your laws, lest in purely material affairs contrary opinions may seem to be voiced, with what willingness I ask you, should you obey those to whom is assigned the administration of divine mysteries?”

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Bishop explains Kennedy sanctions. Surprised at Kennedy’s response.

“I am disappointed and really surprised that Congressman Patrick Kennedy has chosen to reopen the public discussion about his practice of the faith and his reception of Holy Communion. This comes almost two weeks after the Congressman indicated to local media that he would no longer comment publicly on his faith or his relationship with the Catholic Church,” Bishop Tobin writes.

Bishop Tobin said that on February 21, 2007, he wrote to Congressman Kennedy stating that “in light of the Church’s clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.

“My request came in light of the new statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that said, ‘If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definite teachings on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.’”

In the same letter, Bishop Tobin wrote to Congressman Kennedy: “I am writing to you personally and confidentially as a pastor addressing a member of his flock . . . At the present time I have no need or intention to make this a public issue.”

On February 28, 2007, the Congressman responded to the Bishop sating: “I have the utmost respect for the work you do on behalf of the Catholic community in Rhode Island… I understand your pastoral advice was confidential in nature and given with the best intentions for my personal spiritual welfare.”

“I am disappointed that the Congressman would make public my pastoral and confidential request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being,” the bishop writes in his Sunday statement.

Bishop Tobin explains that he has “no desire” to discuss Congressman Kennedy’s spiritual life in public.

“At the same time, I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the Church, or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry. It should be absolutely clear the Congressman himself has once again chosen to make this discussion a matter of public record. In the meantime, I will continue to pray – sincerely and fervently – for his conversion and repentance, and for his personal and spiritual well-being. I wish him well.”

Courtesy of Catholic News Agency