Friday, September 5, 2008

Joint Orthodox Jewish-Catholic statement voices ‘shared commitment’ to marriage

.- A joint statement on marriage has been issued by a group of Orthodox Jewish and Catholic leaders, affirming their faiths’ “shared commitment” to God’s design of marriage between one man and one woman. Challenging efforts to create a “new definition” of marriage, the statement reaffirms the duty of the state to safeguard the traditional place of marriage.

Representing Catholics, the Bishop of Rockville Centre William Murphy signed the statement. He was joined by consulting members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On the Orthodox Jewish side, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, the rabbi of the Young Israel Synagogue in New York, signed the statement with consulting members of the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America.

The statement says that, at a time when many U.S. communities are discussing the meaning of marriage, leaders of both faiths affirm their commitment to “the ordinance of God, the Almighty One, who created man and woman in the divine image (Gen. 1:26-27), so that they might share as male and female, as helpmates and equals (Gen. 2:21-24), in the procreation of children (Gen. 1:28) and the building up of society.”

Noting the rise in demand for the legal establishment of same-sex marriage, the statement authors acknowledge the equal human dignity of all people but insist that this dignity “does not justify the creation of a new definition for a term whose traditional meaning is of critical importance to the furtherance of a fundamental societal interest.”

Saying that God’s design for marriage “clearly revolves around the union of male and female, first as husband and wife, and then as parents,” the statement explains that the goal of reproduction and the raising of families constitute the “unique goal” and “essential function” of unions between a man and a woman.

Laws describing same-sex unions as marriage, the statement argues, “Dilutes the special standing of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Noting that every society’s future depends on its ability to reproduce and to raise young people in a stable environment, the statement asserts “it is the duty of the state to protect the traditional place of marriage and the family for the good of society.”

While granting that others are free to disagree with them, the signatories conclude: “we hope that even those outside of our common religious traditions will recognize that we speak from the truth of human nature itself which is consistent with both reason and the moral life.”

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