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Catholic bishops support Florida marriage amendment

This is a  Letter to the Editor from Miami Archbishop John Favalora, Orlando Bishop Thomas G. Wenski and seven other bishops:

Between a man and a woman

As teachers and pastors, we seek to educate Florida's Catholic faithful on the true nature and meaning of marriage as established by God and honored by Catholic teaching and tradition. In the beginning, the Lord showed us in scripture his plan for marriage as the joining of a man and a woman. ''They shall become one flesh'' (Genesis 2:24).

Marriage between the baptized is a sacrament, a sacred bond of husband and wife publicly witnessed in a church in the presence of the Lord. The sacrament of matrimony gives spouses the grace to love each other with the same love Christ has for his church. This grace perfects the couple's love and strengthens their indissoluble unity. From a valid marriage arises a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses. It is within this nuptial covenant that a man and a woman remain open to fertility and the gift of children is received and nurtured.

The common good and the future of our society are served best through the natural order of a union of a man and a woman. Research and history support the traditional family as the best environment to nurture and raise healthy children who thrive both physically and emotionally.

Amendment 2 states, ''In as much as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.'' This amendment to the Florida Constitution affirms Florida's existing marriage law and protects marriage as currently defined in law from being negated or overturned by legislative process or judicial ruling.

The church's teaching about marriage, ''ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring'' is clear. Our support for this constitutional amendment is not motivated by discrimination or animosity toward any group. The amendment does not affect benefits offered or contracted in the private sector. Healthcare and government benefits currently being received by individuals, including seniors, will not be impacted. Through proper legal consultation for estate planning, health and end-of-life care, family members or others may be granted many of the same rights and privileges available to a spouse.

In view of all this, we support Amendment 2.

JOHN C. FAVALORA, archbishop, Archdiocese of Miami

THOMAS G. WENSKI, bishop, Diocese of Orlando, and seven other bishops

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