NEW ORLEANS, LA – Much of the opening day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 2014 Spring General Assembly on Wednesday was devoted to the defense and promotion of marriage.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, led the charge by telling his brother bishops: “We are at a critical point in this country as it comes to defense of marriage in the law.”

Archbishop Cordileone outlined the grave situation for the defense of traditional marriage and resulting threats to religious freedom.  He noted that if the Supreme Court takes up one of the state marriage amendment cases, by next June 2015 we could have a decision.

The U.S. bishops meet June 11 in New Orleans at their spring General Assembly.

“A negative decision by the Supreme Court would undoubtedly have a profound impact on the nation,” he said. The archbishop ended by promoting the March for Marriage in Washington, DC on June 19.

Archbishop Cordileone’s presentation was followed by one from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president, who spoke on the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family to take place at the Vatican in October.

Archbishop Kurtz disclosed the general themes of the consultation with Catholic laity that was undertaken as a preparatory measure for the synod.

He related that:

  • Catholic laity appreciated being asked for their input.
  • There is much ground to cover regarding sharing the good news of marriage and family.
  • There is need for greater teaching on the key tenets of our faith – the indissolubility of marriage, the importance of sexual differences in marriage, natural law and a married couple’s openness to life.
  • Many of the faithful indicated a great desire to hear the teachings in a faithful and accessible way.
  • Many noted distractions caused by inaccurate portrayals of the Church’s teachings.
  • Parents often felt at a loss to teach the faith to their children because they themselves have not been fully catechized and evangelized.

Next there was a presentation on the World Meeting of Families by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The week-long meeting will take place in Philadelphia from September 22-27, 2015 with Pope Francis expected to attend the final two days.

“This comes at a time when,” said Archbishop Chaput, there is a great “confusion about the nature of marriage and the family.”

The importance of defending marriage was raised again by Archbishop William E. Lori, who heads the USCCB ad hoc committee for religious liberty. The bishops voted to reappoint him for a second term of three years.