Episcopal, Catholic Bishops in New Jersey Clash on Marriage, Families Led by Same-Sex Partners

(Photo Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Newark/ Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark)Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Newark (left) and Rev. John J. Myers, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark are seen in file photos.

An Episcopal Bishop in New Jersey says families led by same-sex partners contribute to community stability in response to a Roman Catholic Archbishop's views in a pastoral teaching letter released last month where he says redefining marriage to include same-sex partners undermines the basis of civil rights, "moral law based on our nature and dignity: the natural law."

Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Newark wrote in the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Sunday that he shared Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark John Myers' hope for the flourishing of family life but expressed disagreement with Rev. Myers's opposition to a legal right to marry for same-sex couples.

Rev. Beckwith said Rev. Myers and many other religious leaders "harbor the conviction that families led by same-sex partners undermine the institution of marriage and the well-being of children."

He continued: "In 33 years of ordained life, I have seen just the opposite: blessing and supporting relationships that are marked by love, fidelity and commmitment - whether they are headed by a man and a woman, two women or two men - provide a foundation of social stability that supports all families. Marginalizing people has never been a pathway to community stability."

"My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state - including 42 percent of children in Newark - living below the federal poverty level," he said.

Archbishop Myers on Natural Law, Teaching, and Freedom of Religion

In his pastoral teaching, a 16-page letter released to members of the diocese, Rev. Myers wrote: "It is more than a little ironic that some who promote a radical radical redefinition of marriage do so claiming "civil rights" when to achieve their goals they must undermine, ignore or deny the very basis of all our civil rights: the moral law based on our nature and dignity: the natural law."

He continues: "[A]ll social processes that undermine the natural law, embody untruths about our humanity and distort our understanding of what is good and just, and hence our ability to live accordingly," Rev. Myers said.

"The law teaches. Changing the definition of marriage teaches that marriage is basically about adult emotional and physical gratification (the fulfillment of desire), not one-flesh union and children. It would also enshrine a non-optimal way to raise children as equivalent to that which is best."

Rev. Myers also said a change would "seriously undermine religious freedom and moral truth."

"Make no mistake about it: the freedom of the Church as an institution (including our schools, our universities, our hospitals, our counseling centers, and other social-service organizations) and Catholic believers as individuals will be significantly curtailed by any redefinition of marriage that would abandon the understanding of marriage that has been accepted since well before the foundation of our nation. Equally at risk are the rights of Eastern Orthodox Christians, Evangelicals and other Protestants, members of the LDS Church, observant Jews, Muslims and other people of faith."

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