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Rhode Island Rejects Marriage, Bishop Thomas Tobin Speaks of a Post-Christian West

By Deacon Keith Fournier
May 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We have a long struggle ahead of us. This is a new missionary age akin to what the early Church faced when it advanced into cultures which did not respect life and substituted license for authentic liberty. It will require Christian men and women of courage who are ready to be persecuted. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island is such a man. He stands strong in his defense of the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death as well as his defense of true marriage and the family and society founded upon it.

PROVIDENCE, RI (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, May 2, 2013, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed legislation which undermines marriage by redefining the word to include homosexual and lesbian partnerships.

The foundation of Western society has been the first society - marriage between one man and one woman, and the family built upon it. It is the first government, first economy, first school, first religious institution and first mediating institution. It is the first and most vital cell of society.

Marriage has long been understood in the law as arising out of the consent between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to children. Marriage and the family are the basis of our organizing vision of society and informed our philosophy of governance.

The definition of marriage is cross cultural and has been accepted as having been revealed by the Natural Law. It is not simply a religious construct. It was given a privileged and protected legal and social status in law because it serves the true common good of society. 

Marriage is the primary civilizing institution, constituted for the bearing and caring of children within the family. It is there they can be nurtured, loved, taught and inculcate the virtues so necessary for life in a good society.

Judges and legislators have made something ontologically incapable of being a marriage, Homosexual and Lesbian Partnerships, into a marriage, by fiat.  A Judge can call anything a right in this age of legal positivism, but that does not make it one.

A tyrannical legislature can call something what it can never be but that does not change the structure of reality. The architects of this current Cultural Revolution are skilled wordsmiths who use language as a weapon.

Legal positivists long proclaimed that law is what the courts say it is. Their legislative collaborators are substituting a tyrant State in the place of a society of true freedom.  Freedom can never be advanced by decisions made against the Natural Law. It never flourishes in decisions rejecting what is true and good.

I use the phrase homosexual equivalency activists, to refer to those activists who want to use the Police Power of the State to enforce a new social order which rejects marriage by redefining it. They mouth the language of constitutional law, frame their debate in the language of equal rights, and purport to be liberating society. However, their arguments have no Natural Law basis and will lead to tyranny and anarchy. 

The next step in the roadmap is the inclusion of practicing homosexuals as a suspect class under civil rights legislation. They will make the practicing homosexual a member of a legally protected minority class on a par with gender or race. Any who oppose this will face the police power of the State.

In his 1995 defense of Life, Blessed John Paul warned of a time when: "The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part."

He warned that "the appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations."

We are there. This happened first in the struggle to defend our youngest neighbors in the womb from being killed at any time and for any reason through procured abortion. It has now spread to active and passive euthanasia. The Natural Law Right to Life is now routinely denied.

The same fate has now befallen Marriage. A tyrant State is emerging and we prepare for the challenges it brings with it.

We have a long struggle ahead of us. This is a new missionary age akin to what the early Church faced when it advanced into cultures which did not respect life and substituted license for authentic liberty. It will require Christian men and women of courage who are ready to be persecuted.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island is such a man. He stands strong in his defense of the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death as well as his defense of true marriage and the family and society founded upon it.

He has tried to help erring Catholics, including Catholic politicians in his own Diocese, to turn from error and turn toward the truth. He is solid as a rock in his doctrinal orthodoxy, but always defends the faith with a pastor's heart.

In June of 2011, when Rhode Island passed civil union legislation, the Bishop knew it was a threat to the common good. He recognized it as a step along the ultimate effort to undermine marriage and the family and society founded upon it by giving a moral and legal equivalency to homosexual relationships.

As a constitutional lawyer who practiced public interest law to defend life, marriage and religious freedom, I know how Public Interest Lawyers utilize litigation. The mix of homosexual marriage and civil union legislation throughout the Nation was part of a deliberate legal strategy.

It was used by lawyers in the homosexual equivalency movement to set up a 14th Amendment Equal Protection constitutional argument. They succeeded. The pending US Supreme Court cases on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition Eight are the result. We await the opinions.
 
Those cases were set up in the same way that the opponents of the Right to Life used the Courts, beginning with Griswold V Connecticut in 1965, to lay the groundwork for legalized abortion on demand. Griswold was a contraception case involving a married couple which went to the Supreme Court and led to the precedent establishing a "zone of privacy".

That laid the precedent for the Roe and Doe opinions which removed all legal protection for our youngest neighbors and unleashed the horrible bloodshed of abortion on demand by finding a penumbra in that right to privacy which legalized the taking of unborn life. Griswold was filed by the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. 

Bishop Tobin issued a statement upon the passage of the Civil Union legislation in which he wrote: "I am deeply disappointed that Rhode Island will establish civil unions in our state. The concept of civil unions is a social experiment that promotes an immoral lifestyle, is a mockery of the institution of marriage as designed by God, undermines the well-being of our families, and poses a threat to religious liberty.

"In this context it is my obligation to remind Catholics of the teachings of the Church on this matter. First, the Church continues to have respect and love for persons with same-sex attraction; they are indeed children of God and our brothers and sisters in the human family. We pray for their well-being and offer them spiritual guidance and pastoral care. We also extend our love and support to families of homosexual persons who sometimes struggle with this difficult emotional issue."

"At the same time, the Church reminds its members that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law and the will of God and, therefore, is objectively sinful. Persons with same-sex attraction are required to live the Christian virtues of chastity and modesty, as all persons are. The importance of these virtues is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures and in the constant tradition of the Church."

"Because civil unions promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the Church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion, Catholics may not participate in civil unions. To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful. A civil union can never be accepted as a legitimate alternative to matrimony."

The Bishop was correct, courageous and prophetic back then and was pilloried by the media. Horrid efforts were made to ridicule and marginalize him. Now, with the Governor signing this new legislation, he has issued a new letter to Catholics in Rhode Island which is a must read. You can read it here.

The only disagreement I have with this good Bishops most recent letter is his use of the phrase "Post-Christian" in speaking of America and the West. He calls us all to prayer "as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered."

I prefer to use the term Pre-Christian to describe the state of the West - not Post Christian. This is a new missionary age. In our 2000 year history we have been here before. There is a lot of work to be done. We are very fortunate to have men like Bishop Thomas Tobin sounding the charge.

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