In advance of Monday’s Senate vote on H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RMA), Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, issued a joint letter and analysis urging Congress to oppose the measure.
Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction. Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.
The Respect for Marriage Act’s rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose. It would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty…
Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom. From the perspective of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the United States, the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.
This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down. At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.
The letter to Congress is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the religious liberty problems in the Act and its potential consequences.
The complete letter and analysis are available here.
Previous USCCB statements and resources on the Act may be found at the following links:
- Cardinal Dolan’s November 17 Statement in Response to the Senate’s Vote
- Cardinal Dolan’s November 15 article, The ’Respect for Marriage Act’ Stacks the Deck against Religious Freedom
- Archbishop Cordileone’s letter to the House of Representatives and letter to the Senate.