Friday, November 20, 2009

U.S. bishops issue pastoral letter on contraception, divorce, cohabitation and same-sex marriage

"Multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society"

At their fall general assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved by a vote of 180-45 a pastoral letter entitled, "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan." The letter, approved on Nov. 17, describes artificial contraception as "objectively wrong" and "essentially opposed to God's plan for marriage and proper human development." In addition, the bishops said cohabitation before sacramental marriage "involves the serious sin of fornication. It does not conform to God's plan for marriage and is always wrong and objectively sinful."

The letter also addresses divorce, saying it is contrary to "God's plan for marriage," but encourages divorced Catholics to "participate in parish life and attend the Sunday Eucharist, even though they cannot ordinarily receive Holy Communion." (The ban on Communion applies to divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment, unless they are celibate. A divorced person who has not remarried is also permitted to receive Holy Communion.)

In addition, the bishops remain steadfast in their opposition to same-sex marriage, describing it as "a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society." Said the bishops, "To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers and the rights of children, who deserve from society clear guidance as they grow to sexual maturity."

To read the entire 60-page pastoral letter, Click Here.