Office of Media and Communication
Diocese of the Northwest
Chicago Illinois 60617-8388
Office: 773-721-5383 Fax: 773-721-2581
Chicago, Illinois - For Immediate Release
Bishop Wilkowski's Letter
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.
Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest
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
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
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
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”