“Our Abysmal Apathy”

Strong words from Bishop Thomas J. Tobin in his latest column, “‘Rhode Island, Most Catholic State, Welcomes Gay Marriage’” in The Rhode Island Catholic. He reviews why Catholics oppose gay marriage and explains how gay marriage will affect us and why we should be concerned. Excerpts:

The march toward gay marriage across our nation is relentless, and liberal New England is leading the way. The supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are well-organized and well-funded. They’re fiercely determined to impose their politically correct agenda on all the citizens of the state – human history, culture and moral principles not-withstanding. Anyone who opposes them is quickly labeled a bigot.

And what’s the typical response of Catholics in Rhode Island? “As long as it doesn’t affect me, I really don’t care what other people do,” you say. “We shouldn’t judge other people,” you demur. “The Church is losing its influence. I don’t think there’s anything we can do,” you rationalize. . . .

Proponents of gay marriage say that the Church won’t be forced to witness such marriages. Don’t believe it. And other related problems will inevitably arise. Will the Church be required to admit gay couples as sponsors for baptisms; to rent its facilities for gay wedding receptions; to hire employees despite their immoral gay lifestyles; to grant family benefits to gay couples? For simply maintaining its teachings in these and many other possible scenarios, the Church will be accused of bigotry and unlawful discrimination. The threat to our religious freedom is real, and imminent. . . .

“The Church is losing its influence,” you say, “and there’s nothing we can do.” “Bull feathers,” I reply. I don’t know if we have 600,000 Catholics in the state or 500,000 or 400,000. But if even ten percent of our Catholic population got actively involved in this issue – even five percent – we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity.

Lots of things you can do about this issue. First, you can be aware of the legislation as it’s introduced in the General Assembly. You can contact your state senator and representative and insist that they oppose gay marriage and defend marriage and family values. You can exert your influence with letters to the editor and calls to talk shows. You can join and support organizations like NOM-RI that’s leading the charge on this issue. And you can pray fervently that God will help us in this critical struggle on behalf of morality and common sense.

The Church teaches us that it’s the responsibility of the laity to get involved in public life, to transform the secular order into the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if someday a headline reads, “Rhode Island, Most Catholic State, Welcomes Gay Marriage,” people across the nation will ask, “How did that happen?” And it’ll be our fault, fellow Catholics – not necessarily because we approved of gay marriage – but simply because our abysmal apathy allowed it to happen.

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