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the Defender of Marriage and Family
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PROVIDENCE, RI (Catholic Online) - Thomas J. Tobin is the Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. He has stood strong in his defense of the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death as well as his defense of true marriage and the family and society founded upon it. He has tried to help erring Catholics, including Catholic politicians in his own Diocese, to turn from error and turn toward the truth. He is solid as a rock in his orthodoxy, but always defends the faith with a pastor's heart.

In June of 2011, Rhode Island passed "civil union" legislation. The Bishop knew that such legislation was dangerous to the common good. He recognized that the continuing moral erosion of our culture which has as one of its bad fruits, the movement to eliminate marriage and the family and society founded upon it by giving a moral and legal equivalency to homosexual relationships.

The legislation contained what are called "religious exemptions". However, a group of homosexual equivalency activists who called themselves "Marriage Equality Rhode Island", who represent the "LGBTI"  (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) community  issued this statement upon the passage of the legislation:

"We are extremely disappointed that the Senate brazenly ignored the commonsense objections raised by equality and civil rights leaders here and across the country. This civil union bill contains dangerous and discriminatory language that, without question, will cause significant harm to countless gay and lesbian couples in loving, committed relationships, and we will continue to fight it through whatever means are necessary."

"Furthermore, we renew our request that the governor veto this hurtful and ill conceived bill. To not do so would be a slap in the face to the gay and lesbian community, and every Rhode Islander who cares about equal rights and protections for all our state's citizens."

As a constitutional lawyer who has practiced public interest law to defend life, marriage and religious freedom, I know the way that Public Interest Lawyers utilize litigation. The mix of "homosexual marriage" and "civil union" legislation throughout the Nation is part of a deliberate strategy. It will be used by lawyers for the homosexual equivalency movement in their ultimate goal. They want to set up a 14th Amendment "Equal Protection" constitutional argument with which they will seek to use the US Supreme Court to try and compel the entire Nation to recognize homosexual unions as the legal equivalent of marriage.

The cases are being set up in much the same way the opponents of the Right to Life used the Courts, beginning with Griswold V Connecticut in 1965, to lay the groundwork for legalized abortion on demand. Griswold was a 'contraception" case involving a married couple which went to the Supreme Court and led to the precedent establishing a "zone of privacy". That set up the infamous Roe and Doe opinions which removed all legal protection for our youngest neighbors and unleashed the horrible bloodshed on abortion on demand by finding a penumbra in that "right to privacy" which somehow allowed the taking of unborn life. Griswold was filed by the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. 

Bishop Tobin issued a statement upon the passage of that Civil Union legislation in which he wrote: "I am deeply disappointed that Rhode Island will establish civil unions in our state. The concept of civil unions is a social experiment that promotes an immoral lifestyle, is a mockery of the institution of marriage as designed by God, undermines the well-being of our families, and poses a threat to religious liberty.

"In this context it is my obligation to remind Catholics of the teachings of the Church on this matter. First, the Church continues to have respect and love for persons with same-sex attraction; they are indeed children of God and our brothers and sisters in the human family. We pray for their well-being and offer them spiritual guidance and pastoral care. We also extend our love and support to families of homosexual persons who sometimes struggle with this difficult emotional issue."

"At the same time, the Church reminds its members that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law and the will of God and, therefore, is objectively sinful. Persons with same-sex attraction are required to live the Christian virtues of chastity and modesty, as all persons are. The importance of these virtues is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures and in the constant tradition of the Church."


"Because civil unions promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the Church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion, Catholics may not participate in civil unions. To do so is a very grave

violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful. A civil union can never be accepted as a legitimate alternative to matrimony."

The Bishop was correct, courageous and prophetic. He was also pilloried by the media. Horrid efforts were made to ridicule and marginalize him. I covered the incident in a series of articles. He was simply being a faithful bishop. On June 3, 2003 the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger issued a directive entitled "Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal recognition To Unions Between Homosexual persons." It clearly rejected any effort to give equivalent legal status to homosexual unions. It restated the unbroken tradition of the Catholic Christian Church for two thousand years. It sought to help all Bishops to direct Catholics in Public Life:

"The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience"

The recent events leading to President Obama announcing his intention to undermine marriage and become the de facto head of the Homosexual Equivalency Movement, reveal the serious risk we face as a Nation. There is a cultural revolution underway led by those on the fringes of the homosexual activist community who will stop at nothing less than legal "equivalency" between homosexual unions and true marriage.

Having learned from the verbal engineering of the movement to make the taking of innocent life in the womb through abortion "a right", they are master manipulators of the language. They have reframed their  anti-marriage movement as a movement for "marriage equality" much like the proponents of abortion succeeded in calling killing the unborn a "choice."

Catholics must be honest about some in our own house. Some Catholic Politicians undermine the Church, do violence to the truth, cause scandal, and put their own souls in jeopardy. They hide behind a self erected "public/private" dichotomy in rejecting their duty to defend the right to life and protect marriage and the family and society founded upon it. They engage in sophistry to explain away their flagrant error. They are not only being unfaithful to the truths proclaimed by their own Church, they are undermining the common good. The 2003 directive spoke forcefully to these folks:

"If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favor of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications."

"When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."

The directive addressed the whole of civil society: "Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society."

The document presents a lucid, solid, powerful defense of the truth about marriage and family. Yes, it presents this truth from within biblical revelation and the Christian Tradition. However, like all of the Church's Social Doctrine, it also does so from the order of right reason, the natural law, the biological and anthropological order, the social order and the legal order. That is because truth is truth. Every serious Catholic should read it and learn from it how to defend the truth about marriage.

The Prefect for the Congregation, who issued the directive, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is now Pope Benedict XVI. He continues to insist that Catholics in political life defend marriage and family. Just as Catholic politicians must support the right to life for unborn persons they must also support true marriage.

On May 10, 2012, the day after the President of the United States announced his "evolution" to a position which undermines marriage and the family and society founded upon it, Bishop Tobin issued the following statement. It can be found on the Diocesan website here.

"The decision of President Barack Obama to endorse same-sex marriage is extremely disappointing, but not at all surprising. This is a very divisive and devious president who, from the beginning of his administration has actively pursued a liberal, secular agenda that discards fundamental moral values including respect for human life, and religious freedom. This is a sad day in American history.  Even the President of the United States does not have the authority to redefine the sacred institution of marriage that has been given to us by God."

Once again we see the mettle of this good man and witness the heroic example of one more Bishop. I ask every reader of Catholic Online throughout the whole world, to pray for courageous Bishop Thomas Tobin, the Defender of Marriage and Family. We need to learn from him to be strong in the struggle ahead.