The wedding of Joshua and Elena Lanzarini - Italy, August 4, 2012
By: Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
In the aftermath of the American elections last week, and in light of numerous states in the USA voting for same-sex marriage, we received many questions and concerns from viewers and readers who asked about the Church's position and our position on the question of same-sex marriage. I am happy to repeat here what the Church teaches and what we at Salt + Light Television have taught from our very beginning ten years ago.
In the papal encyclicals from Humanae Vitae (1968)
to Evangelium Vitae (1995)
and especially the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981)
and the magnificent Letter to Families (1994)
, Popes Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II have dedicated much attention to marriage and the family in today’s culture. From the first year of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II constantly emphasized: “the family is the way of the Church.” The family is a school of communion, based on the values of the Gospel.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, in 2008, the bishops of Canada released a very important document
in which they wrote (#19):
In short, Pope Paul Vl’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and the subsequent ‘theology of the body’ developed by Blessed John Paul II issue an immense challenge to a world that is too often occupied with protecting itself against the extraordinary life potential of sexuality. In the wake of these two prophetic Popes, the Church, ‘expert in humanity,’ issues an unexpected message: Sexuality is a friend, a gift of God. It is revealed to us by the Trinitarian God who asks us to reveal it in turn in all its grandeur and dignity to our contemporaries at this start of the third millennium. The theology of the body has been compared to a revolution that would have positive effects throughout the 21st century of Christianity. We invite the faithful to be the first to experience its liberating potential.
To accept Jesus’ teaching on marriage requires the openness of children and a sense of dependence on God’s strength matching a child’s sense of dependence on parents. When love is authentic, strong, sincere and firm, it is accompanied by vision, joy and creativity, new life and a desire for holiness. When married couples allow Christ to be at the centre of their project, they experience deeply the peace outpoured by God – a peace that flows forth to their children and grandchildren.
The crisis of vocations in the Western world requires that we rethink not only our manner of promoting vocations, but the terrain where seeds of vocations are sown. This fertile soil for vocations is the family, the domestic church. This reality is brought about by the presence of Christ in the home, from the graces of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and from fidelity to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.
There are some voices in our society and Church that don’t have much hope for the sacrament of marriage and for family life. I beg to differ with such voices of doom and despair. Each of us is responsible for fostering a true culture of marriage and family life as well as a culture of vocations to the priesthood and religious or consecrated life.
I have been very moved and edified by the young men and women who form the staff of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada. Their simple and clear faith, deep joy, sterling commitment, visible love of Christ and the Church and ardent desire for evangelization is inspiring. Over the past ten years, I have been privileged to witness the religious professions and ordinations of several Salt and Light colleagues, and to celebrate seven marriages of my staff – several who worked with me in preparing World Youth Day 2002. And now we are into the season of baptisms! It is from this generation of children that will come forth vocations for the Church. How could there not be vocations when the terrain was so fertile and the parents so open to the Gospel and to the Church?
We must never forget that other bonds of love and interdependency, of commitment and mutual responsibility exist in society. They may be good; they may even be recognized in law. They are clearly not the same as marriage; they are something else. No extension of terminology for legal purposes will change the observable reality that only the committed union of a man and a woman carries, not only the bond of interdependency between the two adults, but the capacity to bring forth children.
Let us recommit ourselves to building up the human family, to strengthening marriage, to blessing and nurturing children, and to making our homes, families and parish communities holy, welcoming places for women and men of every race, language, orientation and way of life.
In our pastoral strategies, programs and preaching, how do we welcome the sanctifying role of Jesus Christ in the marriage of a man and woman? Are we ready to offer Jesus’ teaching on marriage with the openness to children? What are some of the weaknesses and painful situations that afflict marriages today? Can these marriages be saved and the brokenness in the husband-wife relationships be healed? What is the role of faith in all of this?
Let us pray for married people, that they may grow in this awareness of the sacramentality of marriage and its capacity to reflect the love of God to our world. Let us continue to help one another to bear the blessings, burdens and crosses that the Lord has given to us. And let us never forget those who have loved and lost, and those who have suffered the pain of separation, divorce and alienation. May they find healing in the community of the Church, and welcome from those whose marriages have borne much fruit.