Clarifying the Catholic stand on marriageThat the...


April 03, 1997

Clarifying the Catholic stand on marriage

That the combination of sex and the Catholic Church made news in The Sun recently is not surprising. Nor is it news that engaging in sex outside marriage is something the church does not endorse.

What is notable about the story is that, in an effort to simplify the issue, seeds of confusion were scattered.

The Pontifical Council of the Family recently issued a statement to clarify and challenge Catholics to consider most seriously the state of marriage and to reassert the consistent teaching of the church that marriage between a man and a woman is for life.

In short, marriage is not a mere temporary civil formality, although the popular media culture would have us believe and accept that.

In situations where marital unions end in irretrievable breakup and civil divorce, the Pontifical Council cautions Catholics to clarify their marital status through the proper forum of the church, which is the tribunal system (marriage court) of the church. For those who enter new marriages without having received a church decree of nullity, commonly known as an annulment, the call and challenge on the family is clear.

The church cannot recognize multiple second, third, fourth, etc. ''marriages'' and be true to the words of Jesus Christ, who said, ''Let no one separate what God has joined.''

The church acknowledges the existence of civil marital unions and does not pass judgment on those comfortable with these arrangements.

However, for Catholics and others who desire to follow church teaching, there is a legitimate forum in which civil unions are clarified.

Jeremiah F. Kenney


The writer is chief judge of the Marriage Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Where one great faith is silent on sexuality

Joan I. Senyk, pastor of St. John's of Baltimore City United Methodist Church (letter, March 23), said ''that Jewish, Unitarian, and Christian religious leaders spoke in favor of the anti-discrimination bill and the bill for same sex marriages.''

One of the world's oldest religions and one with millions of followers, Buddhism, is silent on homosexuality.

I taught in a Buddhist university in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, Thailand, for two years, and I soon learned that Buddhists just accept homosexuals as part of the human race.

They are not one bit homophobic, but they don't have same sex marriage.

Tom Gill

North Beach

Jumping for fun beats bailing out

I, like President Bush, was forced to bail out of a military airplane during World War II and was rescued by the U.S. Navy. And, like the president, many, many years later, I decided to jump again, this time under much more favorable conditions.

I made my "fun jump" on the Eastern Shore, near Ridgley. As I am sure Mr. Bush would agree, it was much better the second time around.

John F. R. Scott Jr.


Column opinion seen as incorrect

I was distressed to read Sara Engram's March 16 column, which severely criticizes the House Judiciary Committee for not passing a bill which would relax the rules regarding hearsay in Maryland courts in cases of alleged child abuse.

In her column, Ms. Engram acknowledges that "when to allow hearsay evidence and when not to is a highly technical area of the law." But she unfairly asserts that the committee lacked justification for the failure to pass a bill which would dramatically change traditional rules that have guided our criminal justice system since its inception.

Ms. Engram's assertions to the contrary, Maryland's evidentiary rules are not more restrictive than other area states.

Maryland has a very relaxed rule regarding the taking of testimony of a child on closed circuit television. Maryland law currently allows certain professionals, trained in interviewing children, to testify as to what they were told, regardless of whether the child is available to testify or does testify.

The bill which the House Judiciary Committee rejected would have allowed anyone, including people with no expertise of any kind in interviewing small children, to testify. Most importantly, the bill would have allowed testimony from parties which are far from neutral, such as spouses involved in custody disputes, where the incidence of false reporting is frighteningly high.

Judith R. Catterton


The writer is past president of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.

Daffodils bring hope to city

Baltimore has many problems -- troubled schools, crumbling houses, crime and drugs, to name only a few. Yet, as I drive from west to east and back again to and from work, I notice a very pleasant feature. It's the daffodils.

There must be dozens of large patches, planted here and there on strips of city property. They bring beauty and cheer and, perhaps, a margin of hope to our problem-ridden city.

So thank you to all in Baltimore city government and members of the non-profit Beautiful Baltimore organization who are responsible for the gift of daffodils.

Elke Straub


Pub Date: 4/03/97

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