The Philadelphia Catholic Conference, which represents the ten Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, sharply criticized Tuesday's ruling on marriage:
Pennsylvania’s longstanding Defense of Marriage Act was passed by democratically-elected officials and recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman. Today’s decision by one federal judge speaks to the confusion and misunderstanding among many today about the fundamental building block of society: the family. Every child has a basic right to a mother and a father united in marriage as a family. Today’s decision does not change that.
Yes, marriage is a personal relationship, but it is not merely a private affair between two people. It is a relationship with great public significance and, since it is the foundation of the family, it affects the wider society. By God’s design, every child has a mother and a father. Circumstances may prevent a child from being raised by his or her own mother and father, so we stand in solidarity with single mothers and fathers who work responsibly each day to raise their children. However, marriage is the way society provides for children’s needs. The redefinition of marriage enshrines in law a denial of the rights of children to a mother and a father united in marriage.
The Catholic Church teaches that all people are made in the image of God and that everyone has inherent dignity. No one should face unjust discrimination. But human experience, considerable social data, as well as our religious convictions, lead us to see clearly that children thrive best in a stable family grounded on the marital union of one man and one woman. Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage is not a statement about the worth of human beings who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about the nature of marriage itself.
Marriage is more than a private arrangement between two people. It's a public commitment of love and fidelity, and it's ordered not just to companionship but to creating and rearing new life. This is why every child deserves a mother and a father in a loving marriage, and the child is the fruit of that love.
All men and women are formed in the image of God and deserve our respect. But attempts to redefine the nature of marriage, no matter how well intentioned, damage a cornerstone of our human interaction and ultimately work against human dignity itself.