Basic human institution must be preserved
Marriage between one man and one woman: Is this strictly a "Catholic" issue or even a "religious" issue? Or should this be considered a basic human institution?
Efforts to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment and state laws stipulating that marriage "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman" hinge on the answers to these questions.
This week the marriage amendment is expected to be brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate. It must be approved by two-thirds of each house of Congress, then ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states.
Basic human institution. Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, would answer "no" and "yes" to my two questions above. In a July 6 letter to U.S. senators made public by Catholic News Service, Bishop Gregory said preserving marriage as the union of one man and one women "is not simply a Catholic concern" but one shared by "believers and nonbelievers, Christians and non-Christians alike."
He said the Catholic bishops of the United States "strongly believe that marriage is a basic human institution and that, though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Accordingly, the bishops believe that neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of
Marriage between one man and one woman is part of the common moral heritage of humanity. Although I am not an anthropologist, I have read enough about the history of the human race. It seems as if married relationships go back many, many centuries. They are intrinsic to most
cultures, even those in remote areas not reached by religious denominations.
Attempts to alter definition. However, now we have a small but vocal minority that would like to alter the definition of marriage. They want to make same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage.
As Bishop Gregory says, "A same-sex union is not equivalent to marriage. It is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; it cannot be a true conjugal union."
Support of the marriage amendment is important, he told the senators, in order "to preserve and protect this vital institution that undergirds the well-being of spouses, children, families, communities and society itself."
Contact senators. In addition to the U.S. bishops, Catholic Charities USA and the Knights of Columbus are among organizations supporting the marriage amendment. They have urged people to contact their senators and express support for the proposed amendment.
In Wisconsin, concerned citizens should express their views to Senator Herb Kohl, phone 202-224-5653, or Senator Russ Feingold, phone 202-224-5323.
Marriage is a gift to be treasured and protected. We must defend the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. This is not just a religious issue. Rather, it affects the survival of a basic human institution lying at the very foundation of our society.
Mary C. Uhler, editor
We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.
Send letters to:
The Catholic Herald
P.O. Box 44985
Madison, WI 53744-4985
Right to withhold one's labor
To the editor:
In response to Richard Bonomo's letter in the July 1 issue, the fact that the attendees at the EAA Convention, who were mostly active or retired military, applauded when they heard the news that President Ronald Reagan had broken the Air Traffic Controllers strike can be interpreted a couple of ways.
One: they were happy that the airports would be back in operation soon, or two: they were
happy that Reagan had lowered the boom on PATCO, whose members for the most part were also former military, but had the audacity to form a union.
The right to withhold one's labor is absolute. Anything less is slavery. "No-strike clauses" are the invention of legislatures and carry with them the presumption of fair-bargaining practices. When that doesn't happen, more drastic measures must take place.
As for the word "Contra" is concerned, it is the name that those who opposed the
democratically elected government of Nicaragua called themselves. Contra comes from Spanish for "counter revolutionary." It is not the label that the "Marxist sympathizers" of the Sandinistas gave them.
"Contra" has since entered the lexicon of the English language and has come to include all
of the groups that the U.S. government has supported in Central America. Many of these Contras were trained by our own Army at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. Their other name is "Right-Wing Death Squads."
James Joseph Patrick Maloney, Madison
Liberation of Chaldean Catholics
To the editor:
During the reign of Saddam Hussein before the Iraqi War, Chaldean Catholics were subjected
to persecution on a constant basis. Fr. Jacob Yasso, pastor of Scared Heart Chaldean Church in Detroit, Mich., has counseled thousands of Chaldean Catholic refugees from Iraq.
He learned that the main place for martyrdom for thousands of Chaldean Catholics was in
front of the city hall in Telkaipe near Baghdad. The means of execution was by hanging. Parents, brothers, and sisters of the victims were forced to watch and ordered to clap their hands while the victims were dying.
Approximately 200,000 Chaldean Catholics managed to escape from Iraq to enter the United
States. A large number of them settled in the Detroit area. The others settled in metropolitan cities in the U.S.A. Thousands more fled to European countries.
The Iraqi War has liberated the remaining Chaldean Catholics just as Polish Catholics were
liberated from the tyranny of Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union. As fellow Catholics, should we not rejoice over the liberation of the Chaldean Catholics just as we rejoiced over the liberation of Polish Catholics? Hopefully the new government in Iraq will continue the liberation of the Chaldean Catholics.
Charles J. Sippel, Waterloo
Response to previous letter
Editor's note: A Mailbag letter in the June 24th issue of the Catholic Herald discussed former President Ronald Reagan and the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. He was killed on March 24, 1980. That was over seven months before Reagan was elected. Reagan was inaugurated to his first term on Jan. 20, 1981, 10 months after the killing. At the time of Archbishop Romero's assassination, Jimmy Carter was the
president and was providing aid to the El Salvadoran government. Thanks to several readers for clarifying this information.