State

Mar 22, 2013 3:52 PM by JD Downing

Bishop Sheridan reacts to signing of Civil Unions law

COLORADO SPRINGS - Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Diocese of Colorado Springs has issued the following statement regarding the new civil union law:

"Yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed the Colorado civil union bill into law. This law not only threatens the traditional understanding of marriage as a life-long union of one man and one woman for the procreation and rearing of children, it also lacks any meaningful conscience protections for Coloradans. I am profoundly disappointed by the leadership of our state.

Marriage deserves unique protection in law as a means to preserve and promote a stable and sustainable society. While the political reality currently existing in Colorado favored civil union legislation, Governor Hickenlooper could have, at the least, recognized the diversity of belief in the state by insisting upon conscience protections in this legislation. Instead, many individuals, businesses and ministries like Catholic Charities' adoption services - which places children with loving families in accord with the 2000 year-old Catholic tradition and teaching on marriage - are now threatened.

As I expressed in my earlier statement when the civil unions bill passed out of the legislature, our state leaders have struck a serious blow against marriage and religious freedom. They have now created the real probability that this law will be used as a tool for anti-religious discrimination. Similar legislation without conscience protections has already been used to attack religious institutions and people of faith in other states.

In rejecting conscience protections, our government leaders seek to limit where religiously-affiliated organizations may perform their charitable work. But these charitable ministries are an inseparable part of the church's very identity, and an obligation of the faithful no matter the status of the law. Faith cannot be fully lived within the four walls of a church, and the government oversteps its proper role when it seeks to keep those with sincerely-held and long-standing religious beliefs from participation in the public square. Regardless of one's denomination, our system of government is designed to protect and not to persecute the expression of religious belief in society. Both the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Colorado Constitution recognize this truth; sadly, our state leadership seems not to."

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