Lawrence Persico, Bishop of Erie, releases statement to the media, regarding his viewpoint on gay marriage.
"The Catholic Church is very interested in preserving the dignity of marriage and family based on nature, tradition and Scripture.
The church did not define marriage. Almost all civilizations throughout history have recognized marriage between a man and a woman as the central pillar on which society is built. This holds true in different cultures and for people of many different religions and backgrounds. The formation of families has occurred in nature, by the union of man and woman, since the beginning of human history. Culturally it has become what we call marriage today—the union of a man and a woman.
We must look at the big picture because we are talking about an enormous change, a new public norm. I was very interested by the discussion at the Supreme Court on March 26. The hesitation of the justices indicates they understand how radical it is for us to consider changing the way marriage is understood. They even questioned whether or not they have the ability to rule on it.
Those of us who favor preserving the natural and traditional understanding of marriage do not do so because we want people who experience attraction to their same sex to suffer. We recognize and respect the equal human dignity of everyone—that is emphasized throughout Catholic teaching. We certainly support equal benefits as well as rights for hospital visits, etc. But it is not discrimination to treat things that are different in different ways. Marriage is different because we believe that couples who enter into marriage form communities of faith that model Christ's love for the church. They share a unique complementarily.
Our Catholic tradition, and nature itself, recognizes that our bodies have
meaning. The church has been clear about the fact that the conjugal union of a
man and a woman is not simply to create children. But marriage is designed to
create a total community of love. Scripture talks about a man and a woman
becoming one flesh—a total union of mind, heart and body that includes
willingness to care for each other as well as the children they create together,
as a sign of their love.
With marriage, we have to consider the harm that could be caused by enshrining in the law the principle that children do not need both a mother and a father. Certainly, there are circumstances where this occurs and single parents are to be applauded for the heroic efforts they make. But do we really want to say, by law, that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant?"