Thomas J. Tobin, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, urged Rhode Island lawmakers on Monday to oppose efforts to legalize same sex marriage.
In a column in this week’s Rhode Island Catholic, Tobin said that allowing same-sex couples to receive the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex couples was “immoral and unnecessary.” He said that “traditional” marriage affirmed “the complementary roles of males and females,” and provided the best environment for raising children.
“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,” the bishop added. “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.”
Rhode Island state Rep. Art Handy and state Sen. Donna Nesselbush introduced legislation last week that would extend marriage rights to same sex couples. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent, said he supports the bill.
Contrasting Tobin’s opposition, a group of more than 100 clergy released a statement on Thursday in support of the legislation.
“No one church or leader represents all persons of faith, and it’s important to recognize that the legislation currently before the General Assembly speaks specifically to civil marriage. Faith organizations that do not affirm same-sex relationships will in no way be required to do so when this bill becomes law,” said Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and chair of the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality.
“However, for those of us who do lead welcoming and affirming faiths, it will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care – and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community.”
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