The San Francisco Chronicle
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco smiles during an interview at the March for Marriage rally in Washington March 26. (CNS photo)
titles the interview, "SF’s Archbishop Cordileone: Why he opposes gay marriage"
but the Archbishop is more interested in articulating the truth about
marriage than he is in protesting a falsehood. After all, the question,
"Why are you opposed to gay marriage?" is similar to the old "gotcha"
question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" To answer the question
without stopping to challenge, however politely, the premises behind
would be a disservice to both truth and the questioner.
You have been at the forefront of the same-sex marriage debate in
California and nationally. You helped raise money for Prop 8, got
evangelical congregations involved and campaigned heavily for it. Should
the Supreme Court legalize same-sex marriage in California in June,
what would your next move be?
[Abp. Cordileone] I am a pastor and
a teacher of the faith. It is responsibility to educate, motivate and
inspire people to live by the truths of the Gospel, including using the
blessed power we have as free citizens in a democracy to work for
justice and compassion in the public square, and so contribute to the
common good. When a great public issue like the meaning of marriage
arises, of course, it’s my duty as a pastor to speak up. That job
description won’t change regardless of any Supreme Court decision. But
since the law is also a teacher, when it teaches an untruth (e.g.,
people of a certain race are inferior to others and can be treated as
such, human life in the womb is not worthy of equal respect, or that two
people of the same sex can make a marriage with each other) my job gets
harder, but it doesn’t change: we need to work every day in our homes,
in our parishes and in our communities to rebuild a marriage culture.
Too many children are being hurt by our culture’s strange and increasing
inability to appreciate how important it is to bring together mothers
and fathers for children in one loving home. The basic question is: does
our society need an institution that connects children to their mothers
and fathers, or doesn’t it? The only institution that does this is
marriage. Redefining marriage will mean that our society will have given
its definitive answer: “no”; it will mean changing the basic
understanding of marriage from a child-centered institution to one that
sees it as a temporary, revocable commitment which prioritizes the
romantic happiness of adults over building a loving, lasting family.
This would result in the law teaching that children do not need an
institution that connects them to the mother and father who brought them
into the world and their mother and father to each other. Priority
number one for me will continue to be looking for new ways to inspire
Catholics to live their faith and help rebuild a more loving and
successful marriage culture.
2. Why do you think that the
Catholic Church should be spending money, time and resources on the same
sex marriage battle, when it could be directing those resources toward
helping the victims of the rapidly increasing poverty rate? How high of a
priority should it be for the Church?
[Abp. Cordileone] Marriage
and poverty are deeply intertwined concerns: an extremely high
percentage of people in poverty are from broken families, and when the
family breaks up it increases the risk of sliding into poverty, with
single parents (usually mothers) making heroic sacrifices for their
children as they struggle to fulfill the role of both mother and father.
And beyond material poverty there is that poverty of the spirit in
which kids hunger for their missing parent, who often seems absent and
disengaged from their lives. We all have a deep instinct for
connectedness to where we came from, and we deeply desire it when we do
not have it.
Promoting stable marriages is actually one of the best
things we can do to help eradicate poverty...
Read the entire interview
on the SFGate blog. Question #2 sums up so many of the deep problems
involved in this entire discussion. The assumption is that the Catholic
Church should merely be a social service agency concerned with material
poverty only, not with spiritual poverty. Implicitly, the question
suggests that the Church should only be in the public square if she is
handing out hot meals and blankets. Nothing more, thank you. Of course,
the Church is first and foremost meant to both a sign of contradition
and a proclaimer of the Gospel, and there's the rub.
setting that aside for a moment, the Archbishop's answer here is
excellent, simply because most people are quite clueless about the
numerous social benefits that come with a stable, committed marriage
between a man and a woman. As the authors of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter, 2012)
write: "A state that will not support marriage is like a doctor who
will not encourage a healthy diet and exercise." And: "Redefining
marriage will also harm the material interests of couples and children.
As more people absorb the new law's lesson that marriage is
fundamentally about emotions, marriages will increasingly take on
emotion's tyrannical inconstancy." If there is any doubt about that
claim, simply look at what no-fault divorcewhich has, without doubt,
redefined marriage in many wayshas done to society over the past few