‘Toolkit on Marriage’ equips Catholics for the public debate

By: By Tom Dermody

To help Catholics better understand the church’s teaching on marriage and defend it in the public debate now taking place in Illinois and across the nation, the Catholic Conference of Illinois has assembled a “Toolkit on Marriage.”

The kit is available online at ilcatholic.org and will be distributed in early 2013 to parishes throughout the Diocese of Peoria.

It includes a question and answer section on 12 topics most often discussed in the debate, including “Why oppose redefining marriage in law for same-sex unions?”

In answering that question, the CCI toolkit defines marriage as “a lifelong, exclusive relationship between one man and one woman which is open to the creation and care of new human lives.” It adds that “both reason and faith tell us that the marriage of one man and one woman calls forth the best of spouses, not only for their own sake, but for the well-being of their children and for the advancement of the common good.”

“By attempting to redefine marriage,” it explains later, “the state would inculcate in its citizens the belief that marriage is not concerned with reproduction or the rights of children to be bonded to their parents. Instead, marriage would be perceived solely as the function of the romantic interests of any group of consenting adults.”

Other question topics include rights for same-sex couples, why the church interjects itself into public debates, and whether the church’s teaching on marriage is “outdated.”

The toolkit is designed for clergy, parish staff, and an informed laity.

“If Catholics are to defend marriage, their catechetical leaders, teachers, priests and deacons need to have reliable information to pass along,” reads the introduction. “The defense of marriage will require the participation of all of us.”

The toolkit is separated into seven individual sections. Following the introduction and question and answer sections, there are:

— a list of the best resources for explaining church teachings, including links to videos produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ initiative “Marriage: Unique for a Reason,” available for viewing at marriageuniqueforareason.org

— an outline and reflection guide for homilies and other catechetical efforts

— information on Courage, a ministry for those who experience same-sex attraction

— a list of members of the Defense of Marriage Department of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, including Craig Dyke, director of Diocese of Peoria’s Office of Evangelization and Family Life, and

— information on how to get involved in the public debate over marriage, including by joining the Illinois Catholic Advocacy Network.

“We desire nothing more than to help you make the case for marriage so that this unique and valuable institution may endure for the benefit of all children and future generations,” reads the introduction.

Craig Dyke welcomed its publication and expressed hopes for the toolkit’s wide use in the Diocese of Peoria.

“There needs to be an encouragement of teaching on this issue,” he told The Catholic Post.

“Either we don’t know what the church teaches on marriage, or we do know Catholic teaching and still need formation in how to give answers consistent with what the church teaches in truth and charity,” he added.

Dyke especially appreciates the toolkit’s list of resources for catechists and others, and recommends wide use of the videos produced by the “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

While culture often paints church teaching on marriage with broad strokes of “no,” Dyke said “we need to accentuate the ‘yes'” to its many beautiful facets, including on the complementary nature of the sexes. He said that, ideally, marriage education nights using the toolkit could be planned within parishes or regionally.

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