SACRAMENTO, California, AUG. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Citizens in California are campaigning in preparation for November, but not just regarding the presidential election. They are facing "Proposition 8," to place a definition of marriage in the state constitution.
Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and the other California prelates have joined their voices to an effort that is bringing together conservative Christians, Mormons, Catholics and other groups in an attempt to inform voters before they make their choice on the ballot.
Proposition 8 responds to a state Supreme Court decision in May that made California the second U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. But critics of the court decision managed to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. A similar measure was passed by 61% of California voters in 2000, though that measure was struck down by the May decision.
Bishop Soto dedicated his Aug. 16 column in the Catholic Herald to "Keeping Our Eyes Fixed on Marriage."
"Marriage as it is -- the union of a woman and a man for the purpose of having children -- will continue to exist but without a word," the bishop wrote. "It won't exist in language and it won't exist in law. People will point to the reflection but not the actual fact of a family created by the sexual union of a woman and man."
The bishop affirmed arrangements that reflect certain characteristics of marriage are being taken for marriage itself.
"Like a hall of mirrors, we have lots of reflections without having to take responsibility for seeing and naming the real thing," he said.
But Bishop Soto encouraged readers to stay focused on the truth of marriage. "It is not a matter of what or who we are against," he affirmed. "We are keeping our eyes fixed on marriage. It is a matter of seeing marriage for what it is, hoping that our courts and legislators will quit playing with mirrors."
On Aug. 1, Catholic bishops of the state released a statement in favor of Proposition 8.
"The issue before us with Proposition 8 is 'marriage' -- an ancient, yet modern, human institution which pre-exists both Church and government," they wrote. "Marriage, history shows us, is intrinsic to stable, flourishing and hospitable societies. Although cultural differences have occurred, what has never changed is that marriage is the ideal relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and the continuation of the human race."
The prelates mentioned six points to help Catholics respond "to this radical change in California's public policy regarding marriage," brought about in May.
They affirmed that "same-sex unions are not the same as opposite-sex unions" and that "the ideal for the well being of children is to be born into a traditional marriage and to be raised by both a mother and a father."
The bishops added, "[W]e need to recall that marriage mirrors God's relationship with us. […] Any other pairing -- while possibly offering security and companionship to the individuals involved -- is not marriage."
"Protecting the traditional understanding of marriage should not in any way disparage our brothers and sisters -- even if they disagree with us," the bishops clarified. And they urged the faithful to "pray and work for a just resolution of this issue, which is so important to the well being of the human family." They added that as citizens, Catholics should avail of the vote as the chance to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling.
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