On May 8 voters in North Carolina will have the opportunity to elevate traditional marriage in our state via an amendment to the state constitution. You may have heard some recent discussion about this and are wondering what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage and why it does so.
The Church believes that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love.
Marriage exists for two reasons: the mutual love and support of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children. These two purposes, uniting couples and procreating children, are equal and inseparable. The institution of marriage has a very important relationship to the continuation of the human race, to the total development of the human person, and to the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family and of society.
The natural institution of marriage has been blessed and elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. This means that Christian marriage is more than a contract between two persons. Because they are married in the Lord, the spouses acquire a special relationship to each other and to society. Their love becomes a living image of the manner in which the Lord personally loves His people and is united with them. Living a Christian sacramental marriage becomes a fundamental way of attaining salvation.
Because marriage offers benefits, unlike any other, to persons, to society and to the Church, the institution of marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, must be preserved and protected.
No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential that the traditional marriage relationship expresses.
This position for marriage is not an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons. The Catholic Church teaches emphatically that individuals and society must respect the basic human dignity of all persons, including those with a homosexual orientation. Homosexual persons have a right to and deserve our respect, compassion, understanding and defense against prejudice, attacks and abuse.
I therefore urge Catholics and all North Carolinians to commit themselves both to upholding the human dignity of every person and to upholding the distinct and irreplaceable status of traditional marriage.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis leads the Diocese of Charlotte.
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