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Lesniak Calls On Archbishop Myers To Temper Remarks On Gay Marriage

Says Catholic Community Should Focus on ‘Building Up, Rather Than Tearing Down’

TRENTON – State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, one of the prime sponsors of legislation to provide for marriage equality in New Jersey, issued the following remarks today in response to Newark Archbishop John J. Myers’ pastoral statement, in which he compares gay marriage to incest:

“I am saddened by Archbishop Myers’ comments about marriage equality, and about his pastoral statement which equates gay marriage to incest. I believe that the Archbishop should temper his remarks. Words are hurtful and to put gay couples in the same category as incest perpetrators is hurtful, not helpful.

“As someone who was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, I know that the Catholic Church is capable of amazing acts of kindness, generosity, and social progressiveness. Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has stood against the tyranny of despots, has opposed slavery, has been on the front lines to fight the exploitation of factory workers during the dawn of the Industrial Age, and has marched with people of varied faith, race and creed in the quest for civil rights in the 1960s. The Church provides alms for the poor, operates food kitchens and emergency shelters in our inner cities, and is committed to educating our children, from pre-K through college.

“However, when church officials point to their religious doctrine as justification to deny the unalienable rights of others, that calls into question the many good deeds of the church as a whole. When church officials promote an unblinking worldview that invalidates the loving relationships of others as wrong or evil, they are not following that most basic of Catholic teachings – ‘God is Love.’

“Archbishop Myers, through his pastoral statement, has urged Catholic voters to oppose efforts – and by proxy, candidates – which, according to his estimation, undermine the sanctity of marriage, and has said that Catholics who disagree with the Roman Catholic Church position on gay marriage should refrain from taking communion. By way of contrast, I would urge Catholic voters to focus on the aspects of their faith that build up, rather than tear down – build up our communities, build up our nation, and provide a helping hand to lift up those in need. If they take those values into the ballot box, I am confidant that most Catholic voters will pay little attention to a candidate’s stance on gay marriage.”