Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

As we approach our national Independence Day celebration on the Fourth of July, it is a good time to ask: Is the United States of America a great nation? Certainly the U.S. is a powerful country, but that does not mean that we are a great nation.

Our Fortnight for Freedom will conclude on July 4, our national commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with its famous proclamation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The bishops of the United States have called religious liberty "our first most cherished freedom." I believe that a nation's respect for religious liberty is the best barometer for measuring a nation's greatness.

Unfortunately, a year ago the State of Illinois began its successful drive to force Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services because of our religious beliefs about marriage and family life. Proponents of this assault on religious liberty argued that this was a matter of equality, claiming that gay and lesbian couples could provide loving homes for children the same as heterosexual married couples. Two recent studies have shown that these claims are utterly false.

Two peer-reviewed research articles in the social sciences, released June 10, 2012, challenge the claim made by same-sex parenting researchers over the last decade that parents engaged in same-sex relationships do just as well as other parents at raising children. This claim, that there are "no differences" in outcomes between the two kinds of parenting, is undermined by new evidence that these papers present.

The first article was published in the July issue of Social Science Research, titled, "Same-Sex Parenting and Children's Outcomes: A Closer Examination of the American Psychological Association's Brief on Lesbian and Gay Parenting." In this article, Professor Loren Marks of Louisiana State University's School of Human Ecology reviews the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 American Psychological Association brief that came to the conclusion that there are "no differences." Marks's study casts significant doubt upon the older evidence on which the APA brief, and thus the "no differences" paradigm, rests.

The second article, by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the Population Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, presents new and extensive empirical evidence that shows that there are differences in outcomes between the children of a parent who has a same-sex relationship and children raised by their married, biological mothers and fathers. This new evidence is based on the data from the New Family Structures Study of the University of Texas, which in 2011 surveyed 2,988 young adults for the specific purpose of collecting more reliable, nationally representative data about children from various family origins.

Based on 40 outcomes evaluated, there were statistically significant differences between children from intact biological families and those of lesbian mothers and gay fathers in areas such as receiving welfare, thoughts of suicide, depression, need for therapy, infidelity, sexually transmitted infections, sexual victimization, educational attainment, marijuana use, frequency of smoking, and criminal behavior. The study concluded that "the 'no differences' claim is unsound and ought to be replaced by an acknowledgement of difference."

Moreover, contrary to romantic images of gay parents as committed couples who plan their family and adopt a child, the study found that the children of lesbian mothers and gay fathers experience a comparatively high level of relationship instability. Out of 2,988 respondents, only 40 children reported living with two lesbian women for three years or more, which is not a long time. Among those who said their father had had a same-sex relationship, only 24 percent reported living with him and his partner for at least four months. Only 1.1 percent of children whose father had a same-sex relationship spent at least three years together in the same household with both gay men.

Therefore, these two new studies reaffirm — and strengthen — the conviction that children do best when they are raised by their married, biological mother and father. The full report of these studies can be found at www.familystructurestudies.com.

Unfortunately, not only did the State of Illinois discriminate against Catholic Charities on the basis of religion, but these scientific studies provide empirical evidence that the Department of Children and Family Services is now acting contrary to the best interests of children by placing them for foster care and adoption with civil union couples.

Another prime indicator of a nation's greatness is its respect for the rule of law. There are troubling signs on this front as well. Until very recently, the strategy of the activists was to go to court to get judges to declare laws unconstitutional. This was the approach taken to get the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the nation's abortion laws in Roe v. Wade. Now, the new social engineers don't even bother going to court. President Obama determined unilaterally that his administration would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act or enforce the federal deportation laws against certain classes of undocumented immigrants. He did this despite having said just last year that he did not have the legal authority to do this by himself.

Taking their cue from our nation's chief executive, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez recently announced that they will not enforce the Illinois law which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. When officials of the executive branch of government, who took an oath to uphold the law, decide for themselves which laws they will or will not enforce, we are dangerously closer to the tyranny of dictatorship than we are to democracy.

Fortunately, our nation's founding fathers designed a system of government with checks and balances, so I remain hopeful that our nation can still live up to its potential for greatness.

May God give us this grace. Amen.