Decry Illinois Senate passage of redefinition of marriage bill

Photo Caption: Catholics from the Diocese of Peoria are encouraged to join concerned citizens from throughout Illinois at the State Capitol in Springfield on Feb. 20 for a “Defend Marriage” lobby day.

The organization representing the state’s Catholic bishops today decried Senate passage of redefinition of marriage legislation, saying lawmakers are blatantly ignoring the institution’s key role in the foundation of society.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 10 on a 34-21 vote. The measure changes the current definition of marriage set in state law from “between a man and a woman” to “between 2 persons.”

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said Senate Bill 10 tosses aside the natural order of marriage as the complementary union of one man and one woman as the foundation for the family.

“Marriage joins a man and a woman in love to meet one another’s needs, to procreate and to raise children. This is the lifeblood of any human society,” Gilligan said. “This legislation tears at that definition with unknown consequences.”

Gilligan criticized the limited nature of religious freedom protections found in the legislation, noting the extremely limited conscience protections for religious organizations and the total lack of any such protections for individuals.

“We remain wary of government interference in the church’s ministry and structure,” Gilligan said. “We heard promises two years ago when civil unions were passed, and now Catholic Charities has been kicked out of its mission of serving children in foster care.”

Proponents of civil unions legislation two years ago promised during Senate floor debate that the social service mission of churches and faith-based organizations would not be affected. Within six months of civil unions becoming law, Catholic Charities in Illinois was barred from contracting with the state for foster care and adoption services for abandoned, neglected and abused children because of its religious beliefs.

Gilligan called upon House lawmakers to reject the measure.

“This legislation callously redefines a bedrock institution of our society and deteriorates the free exercise of religion in our state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has urged Catholics in the Diocese of Peoria to join concerned citizens from throughout Illinois at the State Capitol in Springfield on Feb. 20 for a “Defend Marriage” lobby day.

The Diocese of Peoria is chartering a bus to transport participants to the gathering, the bishop announced, adding that he hopes others will carpool or caravan together to Springfield. (See bus registration information below.)

The Feb. 20 event begins at the State Capitol at 10:30 a.m. and is being coordinated by the Illinois Family Institute with support from the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Bishop Jenky agrees that if the bill now under consideration becomes law it will have “detrimental repercussions to traditional marriage, religious liberty, parental rights and society as a whole.”

While the bill has passed the Senate, the Feb. 20 date is ideal to lobby House lawmakers, according to the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Bishop Jenky said the time for action is now.

“The sanctity and dignity of Marriage is under attack,” he wrote in a Feb. 6 letter to Catholics of the diocese, “and I am calling upon you, the Catholic faithful, to stand beside me in this important mission to defend, protect and uphold the institution of Marriage.”

He encouraged Catholics to “grab your rosaries” and travel to Springfield “in the prayerful spirit of pilgrimage.”

“As Christians, we know that the institution of Marriage was created by God Himself, and that He alone defines its nature,” wrote Bishop Jenky.

“For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has passionately defended the doctrines of Jesus Christ,” he added. “It is now our time as the faithful of the Diocese of Peoria, to take a public stand to protect and uphold the sanctity and dignity of Marriage.”

The charter bus offered through the Diocese of Peoria will leave from the Spalding Pastoral Center, 419 NE Madison Ave. in Peoria.

The pilgrimage will open with a Mass at 8 a.m. in the pastoral center’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel. The bus will leave at 8:45 a.m., and participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch, snacks and water.

“Our only stop will be at the Capitol Building in Springfield,” said Craig Dyke, director of the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life. The return trip begins at 1 p.m. with a scheduled arrival in Peoria at 2:30 p.m.

Cost is $20 per person. Reservations must be made by Feb. 15, but Dyke said that because space is limited that reservations should be made as early as possible.

Checks should be made payable to “Catholic Diocese of Peoria” and sent to Craig Dyke, Office of Evangelization and Family Life, 419 NE Madison Ave., Peoria, IL 61603.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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