By Kathleen Gilbert

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, April 29, 2009 ( – If same-sex “marriage” takes hold of Rhode Island, it will be because of the “abysmal apathy” of Catholics who did not stand up for true marriage, says Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence.

Bishop Tobin penned an April 23 column for the Rhode Island Catholic, discussing the growing pressure in New England to overthrow marriage, and the negative consequences in store.

“And what’s the typical response of Catholics in Rhode Island?” he wrote.  “‘As long as it doesn’t affect me, I really don’t care what other people do,’ you say. ‘We shouldn’t judge other people,’ you demur. ‘The Church is losing its influence. I don’t think there’s anything we can do,’ you rationalize.

“Well, my friends, gay marriage will affect you and you should be concerned,” said the bishop, who then pointed out the impact that the normalization of homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” would have on the free speech rights of religious authorities and individuals.

“Proponents of gay marriage say that the Church won’t be forced to witness such marriages.  Don’t believe it,” he warned.

“And other related problems will inevitably arise.  Will the Church be required to admit gay couples as sponsors for baptisms; to rent its facilities for gay wedding receptions; to hire employees despite their immoral gay lifestyles; to grant family benefits to gay couples?

“For simply maintaining its teachings in these and many other possible scenarios, the Church will be accused of bigotry and unlawful discrimination,” wrote Bishop Tobin.  “The threat to our religious freedom is real, and imminent.”

The Rhode Island bishop praised Governor Donald Carcieri, as well as House Speaker William Murphy and Senate President Joseph Montalbano.  “They – along with a number of other legislative leaders – have been consistent and courageous in deflecting the onslaught of gay activists and in upholding the traditional definition of marriage,” he said.  “We hope and pray they’ll continue to do so.”

The bishop continued: “‘The Church is losing its influence,’ you say, ‘and there’s nothing we can do.’

“‘Bull feathers,’ I reply.

“I don’t know if we have 600,000 Catholics in the state or 500,000 or 400,000. But if even ten percent of our Catholic population got actively involved in this issue – even five percent – we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity,” affirmed the bishop.

Bishop Tobin encouraged Catholics to contact state legislators to insist that they uphold marriage and family values, and pursue other public venues such as letters to the editor and call-in radio talk shows. 

“The Church teaches us that it’s the responsibility of the laity to get involved in public life, to transform the secular order into the Kingdom of God,” urged Tobin.  “Therefore, if someday a headline reads, ‘Rhode Island, Most Catholic State, Welcomes Gay Marriage,’ people across the nation will ask, ‘How did that happen?’

“And it’ll be our fault, fellow Catholics – not necessarily because we approved of gay marriage – but simply because our abysmal apathy allowed it to happen.”

(To read Bishop Tobin’s full column in the Rhode Island Catholic, go to:


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