Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson delivered a message to catholic parishioners on Saturday and Sunday that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and that Referendum 74 should be rejected by voters in the November election. The referendum would redefine marriage in Washington as a contract between two people. The bishop says the proposal upends the traditional understanding of marriage turning it into a genderless contract, having negative impacts for religious liberty, and for children. “The most obvious is the fact that every child has a mother and a father, and marriage is the only institution that meets a child’s right, as far as possible, to know, love and be raised by his or her mother and father together, in an intact home.”

Bishop Tyson acknowledges that R-74 has popular appeal.  “Why do we settle for this kind of law? I think out of fear. There’s the plain misunderstanding of the meaning of marriage, which I think has been a significant factor in our cultural debate.

“But some of us have friends and family with same-sex attractions,” he said. “And we are aware of a painful pattern of unjust discrimination and personal reject. We love them.  We do not want to lose them.  We do not want them to feel rejected again.  Yet, because we support marriage’s unique meaning does not mean we love any of our family any less.”

The Bishop noted that the R-74 debate occurs at a time when the Catholic Church is embarking on a “Year of Faith,” calling for a new effort to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his letter he asks parishioners to “consider what kind of picture of marriage you desire to give the next generation.  If you and I don’t uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, who will?  If we are intimidated by those supporting marriage redefinition who picket and threaten donation boycotts of our charity and our ministry, then who will proclaim the true meaning of marriage?

“This is the Church’s mission given to us by Christ.  As bishop, I intend to clearly, fearlessly and boldly proclaim this message - not only for your consideration - but the consideration of everyone,” he said.

Bishop Tyson will deliver his message personally in a few parishes Saturday evening and Sunday in the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Moses Lake.  The letter, and related information about R-74, will be posted on the diocesan website, www.yakimadiocese.org, as well as being distributed in parishes, along with copies of the pastoral letter.