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WASHINGTON-Recognizing the societal implications of legislative and judicial efforts to redefine marriage, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has joined efforts with the Knights of Columbus to develop a national plan of action in defense of marriage.
The effort, which will highlight the bishops' promotion and protection of marriage, will be led by an ad hoc committee appointed by Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB. The committee chair is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who also serves as chair of the USCCB sub-committee on Marriage and Family Life. Other members are Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, and chair of the bishops' Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chair of the USCCB task force on strengthening marriage. Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, serves as a consultant on the committee.
"We must increase our efforts to make known the unique beauty of the vocation to marriage," explained Archbishop Kurtz when the ad hoc committee was announced. "At the same time, we must address inadequacies in the ongoing public debate on the nature of marriage through education and public policy advocacy."
The Knights have agreed to fund the bishops' efforts. First initiatives will include the development of a brief video that will be available on the Internet, marketing through social networking Web sites and redistribution of the bishops' statement on marriage, "Between Man and Woman." The statement, which affirms that marriage is a unique relationship between a man and a woman and, as such, is an essential core element of healthy societies, was released in 2003 by the U. S. bishops. (It is available at http://www.usccb.org/bishops/manandwoman.shtml.)This new plan to defend marriage continues broader efforts undertaken by the bishops aimed at promoting and protecting marriage. In addition to their 2003 statement on same-sex unions, the bishops in 2004 began a National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage (http://www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/npim.shtml) whose main purpose is to strengthen marriages. A major outreach of the Initiative has been a "For Your Marriage" campaign. This campaign includes public service messages and a Web site (www.foryourmarriage.org) offering information and help to engaged and married couples.
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