Bishop Tobin urges Rhode Island lawmakers to resist redefining marriage


When President Obama expressed his support for same-sex marriage, Bishop Tobin said that it was a “sad day in American history.”

When former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy made public Bishop Tobin’s private request for him to forego Holy Communion because of his views on abortion, Bishop Tobin released a statement saying “I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever [Rep. Kennedy] attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the Church, or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry.”

Now, Bishop Tobin is urging Rhode Island lawmakers to resist redefining marriage so to include same-sex relationships.

The Rhode Island House Speaker has already promised to bring forth a bill by the end of January that would legalize same-sex marriage. If passed, Rhode Island would join EVERY OTHER STATE in New England in allowing same-sex marriage.

In his column for this week’s Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin wrote the following (with some omissions):

The proposal to legalize “same-sex marriage” in the State of Rhode Island is immoral and unnecessary. Despite enormous political pressure, the General Assembly should stand firm, resist the current fashionable trend, and continue to uphold its longstanding commitment to marriage as traditionally defined.

The proposal to legalize same-sex marriage is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has existed in every culture from the very beginning of human history. Marriage between a man and a woman was designed by God for two specific purposes: to affirm the complementary roles of males and females in a loving relationship, and to provide a stable foundation for the procreation and raising of children. Homosexual relationships can achieve neither of those goals.

Secondly, homosexual marriage enshrines into civil law immoral activity. The natural law, the Holy Scriptures, and long-standing religious tradition are very consistent in affirming that homosexual activity is sinful, contrary to God’s plan. It should never be encouraged, ratified or “blessed” by the state. It’s important to emphasize once again, however, that while rejecting homosexual activity, the Catholic Church has consistently promoted respect and pastoral care for individuals with same-sex attraction. They are children of God and our brothers and sisters. They are invited to be members of our churches. It is our very concern for their spiritual welfare, however, that motivates our rejection of the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.

Next, the concept of same-sex marriage is an untested social experiment with unpredictable long-term outcomes. The marriage of man and woman is, and always has been, the fundamental building block of the human family and human culture. One cannot tinker with this societal DNA without risking unknown changes to the structure of our society, especially as it relates to the proper upbringing of children.

Another real problem to consider is that the establishment of same-sex marriage would pose yet another threat to religious freedom. Proponents of same-sex marriage have frequently proclaimed that no religious institution will be obliged to officiate at marriages that are contrary to their beliefs. That may or may not prove to be true. But what is of equal concern, however, is that religious bodies will be obliged to extend their resources, facilities and benefits to individuals who are living in immoral relationships – contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs. This is not a hypothetical situation; it’s already happening throughout our nation.

A final point. If we are in fact forced to discuss the nature of matrimony in our state, it should be placed before the general public in a referendum. The proposal to redefine marriage as a fundamental structure in our culture is a very serious issue with profound consequences. I suspect that people on both sides of the issue agree with that. On a question of this magnitude, then, the people of this state should decide as they have in many other states. Let us vote!

It has been said that “the world is changing” and that we need to get with the times. Well, it’s certainly true that the world is changing, but the truth is that not all change is good. It’s never good to accept and promote immoral activity; it’s never good to experiment dangerously with the long-term well-being of the community; it’s never good to impose a politically-correct, socially-fashionable agenda item on the entire community, especially if it challenges the conscience and religious liberty of many, many citizens.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Stephen Kokx is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of political science living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. His writing on religion, politics and Catholic social teaching has appeared in a number of outlets, including Crisis Magazine, The American Thinker and his hometown paper The Grand Rapids Press. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and is a graduate of Aquinas College and Loyola University Chicago. Follow Stephen on twitter @StephenKokx

Leave A Reply