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Press Release

 Office of Media and Communication

 The
Evangelical Catholic
Diocese of the Northwest

Chicago Illinois 60617-8388
Office: 773-721-5383   Fax: 773-721-2581

 January 2, 2013

 Chicago, Illinois - For Immediate Release

 

Bishop Wilkowski's Letter

 endorsing

Marriage Equality Legislation in Illinois

 

The following is the letter by Bishop James Wilkowski of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest endorsing legislation for marriage equality in Illinois.

 

 

 

 

The Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest

Post Office Box 178388   Chicago Illinois 60617-8388

Office:  773-721-5383     Fax:  773-721-2581

 

Office of the Bishop

 

 

In support of The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act

 

January 2, 2013

To my Brothers and Sisters in the family of God:

 

As we begin 2013, the Illinois General Assembly is considering “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.”  As Evangelical Catholics, the title of this legislation aptly reflects the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit and our baptismal commitment to Social Justice and Peace for all of God’s children.

 

Marriage and our desire to commit to another person is a natural gift from God.  It is a vocational calling.

 

Throughout most of the recorded history of humanity, the concept of marriage, far more often than not, never mirrored the prototype of Ward and June Cleaver.  The concept, understanding and practice of marriage morphed into many models and practices prior to the 1800’s and for centuries had been a vexing issue for political leaders and theologians.  In matters spiritual, theologians throughout history have changed their positions on the theology of marriage almost as often as the Kardashian women change their husbands or partners.

 

In our time we have discerned the Sacrament of Marriage as a sacrament and as such it is a sign to the world of the invisible God living in our midst - the living God who bears fruit in the lives of two people and back within the world.

 

It has been argued by some that it is physically impossible for a gender common couple to consummate their marriage.  Our response to that limited view is that the consummation of a marriage goes beyond acrobatics.  I had assumed that many years ago Catholics had matured away from the limited view that procreation was a baby-making contest.  If the physical act of love between gender common couples is predicated on their vocational and spiritual commitment to a life-long shared journey, we must be supportive – and some need to let go of their obsessions as to what goes on in their bedrooms.

 

It has also been argued that children born to mixed gender couples can obtain their personal identities.  That is a false and mean-spirited statement beneath the dignity of any cleric.  I am a child of adoption and like all of us had no problems discovering and embracing our identities.  I further believe that any child adopted by gender common couples who are witnessing their vocations to their marriage will have no trouble embracing their identities. 

 

In the secular world any civil laws establishing the legalization of gender-common marriages compliments the theological principles in the teachings of Social Justice and Peace.  The State has a constitutional obligation to protect the rights and liberties of all citizens. 

 

While the Church did not “create” marriage, it has given itself the sacramental obligation to minister that sacrament.  The Evangelical Catholic Church is obligated to discern with any couple preparing for marriage is they possess the maturity, responsibility, freedom and willingness to commit themselves to one another before God and in the presence of the community of the faithful to a lifelong relationship of fidelity to one another and openness to the creation or adoption of children in their lives.

 

Since the time of its consecration, the Evangelical Catholic Church has rejected any form of prejudice to any person on the bases of their age, race, ethnicity, gender, orientation or marital status.  And for many years we were the only jurisdiction within the catholic world to do so and some days we felt rather alone.  In recent times, we have been pleased with the evolution of other communities of faith in their journey towards inclusion and equality.

 

While our endorsement and support for “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” is motivated by our faith as Catholics, it is also motivated by our civic responsibilities as citizens of this state to support all forms of civil rights and human rights.  It is our roots of our faith that calls us to be responsible citizens.

 

We have heard from other religious leaders who are opposed to this bill solely on the ecclesiology of their jurisdiction.  While their norms and customs demand our respect, their arguments lack the foundation for the statewide conversation we are currently in.

 

Theocratic arguments towards civil legislation are by their natures unnatural and unable to make a procreative contribution to this discernment process.  In most cases, many of these theocratic arguments have been historically used by many to continue the procreation of slavery in American and after Reconstruction to justify many of the Jim Crows laws of the South.

 

If religious institutions wish to limit marriage to only heterosexual couples, that is their right within their internal forum.  It is unnatural to impose their practices upon the secular society.

 

We believe that the institution of marriage will be strengthen for ALL married couples through the inclusion of gender-common couples.  Not only would marriage equality provide gender-common couples the civil rights of marriage, but it will also deepen their obligations and contributions to society as a whole.  We believe that God calls us to work for the common good for all and marriage equality is a step in the direction for the common good of all people.

 

It is the desire of the community of the Evangelical Catholic Church to grow in its understanding and practices of civil and human rights in all forms.  It is in this sprit that we respectfully contribute our support for this legislation.

 

Respectfully Yours in Christ,

 

 

 

James Alan Wilkowski

Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

 

 

 

 

“A Welcoming Community of Faith Rooted in the Catholic Tradition”

 

 

www.evangelicalcatholicchurch.org/northwest.htm

 

 

Diocesan Church Office
Post Office Box 178388  Chicago Illinois  60617-8388
(T)  773-721-5383   (F)  773-721-2581

diocesenw@evangelicalcatholicchurch.org
©2013