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February 19, 2004 Edition

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This week:
Amendment: Would define marriage between one man, woman
• Front page: Lenten regulations
• Front page: Catholic Herald Lenten contests for youth
News Briefs

News Briefs:
Fish and Philosophy

MADISON -- Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish will sponsor its Fish and Philosophy Lenten series. Each program begins with a catered fish dinner at 6 p.m. in the church gathering space followed by presentation at 7 p.m. Dates, speakers, and topics include:

• Feb. 27 - Bishop Robert C. Morlino on "Forgiveness." Forgive and forget . . . is this possible?

• March 12 - Cheryl Horne, parish director of youth ministry and social action, and Our Lady Queen of Peace parishioners on "Lay Ministry in the Church."

• March 26 - Fr. Brian Wilk, parochial vicar at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, on "Change of Heart."

Those attending the fish dinner should send a check for $9 per person payable to Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish to 401 S. Owen Dr., Madison, WI 53711, by the Monday prior to the program. There is a limit of the first 150 people for the dinner with Bishop Morlino, but all are welcome to attend the presentation.

Men's Lenten Retreat

MADISON -- Catholic men in the Diocese of Madison are invited to attend a Diocesan Men's Lenten Retreat on Friday, March 12, through Saturday, March 13.

The retreat is sponsored by the Office of Religious Education. Bishop Robert C. Morlino is the retreat master. Catholic men of all ages will gather with Bishop Morlino to pray and reflect on what it means to be a Catholic man of faith today.

Registration deadline is Feb. 27. Copies of the retreat brochure may be downloaded from Scroll down the list on the left and click on Religious Education. Then click on "What's New" or "Forms" and scroll down to "Men's Lenten Retreat."

For more information, contact Jack McBride at 608-821-3160 or

Parish mission in Berlin

BERLIN -- All Saints Parish will be holding a parish mission at St. Stanislaus Church from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays during Lent.

A video featuring the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen will be shown. At one time Bishop Sheen had the most popular show on television. He also authored 60 books and his radio and television audience numbered over 30 million. This was the only parish mission that Bishop Sheen gave. His topics will include: Choice, Our Father, Old Pots, Youth and Sex, The Devil, Our Cross, Kenosis, Confession, Three Kinds of Love, the Meaning of the Mass.

There will be five sessions on Feb. 25, March 3, 10, 17, and 24. People of all faiths are invited. There will be refreshments and fellowship after each video.

Lenten retreat at cathedral

MADISON -- "Ongoing Conversion in an Age of the Instant" is the theme of a Lenten Retreat Day with Bishop William H. Bullock.

The retreat will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6, at St. Raphael Cathedral, 222 W. Main St., Madison. It will begin with Mass, followed by a continental breakfast, presentations, time for prayer, lunch, and the sacrament of reconciliation.

Cost is $8. Registration deadline is March 1. For more information, contact St. Raphael Cathedral at 608-256-5614.

'Sharing Lenten Graces'

SINSINAWA -- Sinsinawa Mound's Lenten series program, "Sharing Lenten Graces," will be held every Monday, 7-8 p.m., March 1 to April 5. These sessions are open and free to the public.

For more information, contact Janice DeMuth at 608-748-4411 ext. 811 or Diane Kieler at 608-748-4411 ext. 804. For information on other Mound events, visit

Support groups
for separated, divorced

MADISON -- Peer support groups for those hurting from separation, divorce, or loss of a significant relationship are open to all ages/faiths.

Friends on a Journey will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at Our Lady Queen of Peace nursery, 401 S. Owen Dr.

New Directions will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at St. Dennis Parish Center, 413 Dempsey Rd., top floor.

Would define marriage between one man, woman

MADISON -- In the wake of legal developments in Massachusetts and a failed attempt this past fall to override the Governor's veto of a bill to clarify Wisconsin's statutes regarding marriage, state legislators switched tactics and recently introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 66, which proposes a constitutional amendment to establish that marriage in this state is between "one man and one woman."

In order to amend the state constitution, a joint resolution must pass by a majority vote of two consecutive legislatures and then be ratified by a state referendum.

There is general agreement that existing state law and current state court precedent already establish marriage as an institution reserved for a husband and a wife. However, recently the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled gay marriage is a right under the Massachusetts Constitution. Proponents of AJR 66 argue the measure is needed as a proactive policy declaration. Such a declaration will prevent Wisconsin court actions similar to the action of the Massachusetts court.

Proposed amendment

According to an analysis by the Legislative Council, the legal agency that serves the legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would restrict the ability of the court to recognize same-sex marriages in the state.

The language of the constitutional amendment could be interpreted to allow for the extension of certain benefits to individuals based upon a relationship, however, the amendment language would prohibit the extension of marriage benefits or marriage-equivalent benefits based upon a relationship other than a married relationship between one man and one woman.

Proponents of the bill state that the constitutional amendment would not prohibit employers from extending benefits to domestic partners, however, it would prohibit the state from serving as a formal agent in recognizing relationships other than those between one man and one woman.

On Feb. 12, the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary held a public hearing on the measure. Dozens of witnesses testified for and against the proposal.

Gifts of marriage

Among those in support of the bill was the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC). The WCC testimony, presented by Executive Director John Huebscher, emphasized the unique gifts that traditional marriages offer to society and the importance of government affirmation of their value.

"The union of one man to one woman gives a singularly powerful witness to the interdependence between generations and to the complementarity of the sexes. This witness is not and cannot be duplicated in other relationships. No other commitment signifies so powerfully this mutual reliance of men and women in private and public life. This mutuality warrants the special recognition our laws confer upon it," Huebscher said.

Huebscher asserted that affirming certain truths about marriage does not impose religious dogma on a pluralistic society, noting that societies that are openly religious and those that are avowedly secular treat marriage with reverence.

Not promote hatred

Dismissing concerns that the effort to strengthen Wisconsin's law regarding marriage promotes hatred and intolerance, Huebscher stated, "Laws prohibiting polygamy do not convey hatred for those who want more than one spouse. Rather they affirm a preference for marriage as an exclusive commitment between a man and a woman. AJR 66 does no more than that."

Huebscher emphasized the importance of civility during the course of deliberations on this issue. "Our belief in the dignity of all human life means that even as we struggle with uncertainty regarding the genesis of sexual orientation we must never deprive homosexual persons of their claim on our respect as persons nor fail to stand with them in opposition to bigotry, personal attacks, and other abuse."

If the legislature passes the amendment before the session ends in March, the measure could appear on a statewide ballot as soon as 2005. If the legislature fails to ratify the resolution this session, ratification could not occur before 2007.

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