Bishop Writes Pastoral Letter on Marriage, R-74 - Archived

by Msgr. Robert Siler
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Bishop Joseph Tyson has published a pastoral letter titled Marriage and Referendum 74 with a clear message:  Because it is the constant tradition of the Catholic Church, based on scripture, that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, Referendum 74 should be rejected. Click on the following links, or the attachments below, for the full text of the letter and other materials regarding the issue

Pastoral Letter on Marriage and Referendum 74 (English)

Pastoral Letter on Marriage and Referendum 74 (Spanish)

What Every Catholic Needs to Know before Voting     Lo Que Todo Católico Debe Saber antes de Votar

Redefining marriage: What Are the Consequences?     ¿Cuales Son las Consecuencias?

In the letter, which was to be read at all Saturday Vigil Masses and Sunday Masses in the Diocese of Yakima October 6-7, Bishop Tyson encourages parishioners to look beyond the defeat of R-74, which would redefine marriage in Washington state as a contract between two persons.  “When it comes to following the words of Jesus in our Sunday Gospel, we need to think big,” the pastoral letter states.  “We need to find ways to replant our Church’s moral proposal for human happiness that flows from marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of Mark, one of the scriptures already scheduled to be read at the Masses, Bishop Tyson echoes the words of Jesus: “… from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…”

He notes in the letter that Jesus rooted his teaching not in the Jewish culture of his day, in which women had few rights, but to the beginning of creation:  an understanding of marriage based on natural law, discernible by “people of every faith, and of no faith at all.”

The proposed law, Bishop Tyson states, upends this traditional understanding of marriage, turning it into a “genderless contract” that will have negative consequences for religious liberty, and for children. “There is something uniquely special about a man and a woman coming together in wedlock, and this union has an essential public significance,” Bishop Tyson states.

“The most obvious is the fact that every child has a mother and a father, and marriage is the only institution that meets a child’s right, as far as possible, to know, love and be raised by his or her mother and father together, in an intact home.”

Bishop Tyson acknowledges that R-74 has popular appeal.  “Why do we settle for this kind of law? I think out of fear. There’s the plain misunderstanding of the meaning of marriage, which I think has been a significant factor in our cultural debate.

“But some of us have friends and family with same-sex attractions,” he said. “And we are aware of a painful pattern of unjust discrimination and personal rejection. We love them.  We do not want to lose them.  We do not want them to feel rejected again.  Yet, because we support marriage’s unique meaning does not mean we love any of our family any less.”

The Bishop noted that the R-74 debate occurs at a time when the Catholic Church is embarking on a “Year of Faith,” calling for a new effort to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his letter he asks parishioners to “consider what kind of picture of marriage you desire to give the next generation.  If you and I don’t uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, who will?  If we are intimidated by those supporting marriage redefinition who picket and threaten donation boycotts of our charity and our ministry, then who will proclaim the true meaning of marriage?

“This is the Church’s mission given to us by Christ.  As bishop, I intend to clearly, fearlessly and boldly proclaim this message – not only for your consideration – but the consideration of everyone,” he said.

Bishop Tyson planned to deliver his message personally in a few parishes Saturday evening and Sunday in the Tri Cities, Yakima, and Moses Lake.