Catholic Bishop Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware has joined his fellow bishops in attacking marriage equality in anticipation of the state passing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Without once acknowledging the existence of gay people or their families, Malooly uses his pastoral letter to claim that they are nonetheless destroying the institution of marriage because of their selfish motives:
We live in a society in which these good purposes of marriage are not well understood. We live in a society that has driven wedges between sex, marriage, and procreation – a society that has separated what God has joined together. We live in a society that has increasingly embraced the notion that marriage is about adult life-style choices. Many have forgotten that children are its most precious fruit and an essential part of its meaning. Children contribute “very substantially to the welfare of their parents” in the words of the Second Vatican Council. In a world that tends to see children as an economic burden or a life-style choice, the Council reminds us of the joy and humanizing challenge that children bring to adults. In caring for children adults gain not only love and affection but high purpose and growth in character.
If unrestrained romanticism damages marriage so also does its opposite – the individualism, isolation, and plain selfishness of our era. Out of fear or because of the pursuit of other goals fewer people are marrying. This has led to a host of often unrecognized problems, not least of which is the withholding of the gift of new life. Living according to God’s design for life and love does not mean that couples cannot plan their families. They can do so in moral and responsible ways. But fear of marriage and parenthood and the relentless pursuit of pleasure and economic advancement threaten authentic happiness and the fabric and future of society itself.
By this narrative, the Church should be attacking its own opposite-sex couples who choose not to have children. Instead, Malooly ignores the millions of same-sex couples who want to marry because they already have children. There is no “fear of marriage and parenthood” among the LGBT community; there are people actively pursuing the challenges of a committed relationship and raising a family in spite of not having society’s support. If Malooly’s points have any validity, they don’t apply to the opposition of same-sex marriage.