Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called for renewed efforts to build strong marriages, which he said serve as the foundation for a healthy society and a witness of God's love.
As Catholics, we believe that “the best way to get a hint of how God loves us now, and in eternity, is to look at how you, married couples, love one another,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan, who serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered the keynote address at the Knights of Columbus' Aug. 7th States Dinner in Anaheim, Calif.
The dinner, which took place during the Knights' 130th Supreme Convention, drew a crowd of more than 2,000, including dozens of bishops and cardinals from around the world.
During his remarks, Cardinal Dolan thanked the Knights for their vibrant witness to the faith over the past 130 years.
As he looked out upon the audience, he said that he was filled with “awe, admiration, and deep appreciation” for the marriages that are “radiantly” lived out as a representation of the love between God and his people.
Describing Catholics as “hopeless romantics” when it comes to married love, he explained that the faithful still believe in keeping their wedding vows for life.
In addition, he said, we see married love as a “mirror” of God’s love for us – faithful, fruitful and forever.
Through Christ, married couples are strengthened to overcome “tension, trial, temptation and turmoil,” being filled instead with “tried-and-true-trust,” he said.
Recalling that the Knights of Columbus was founded in part to help men better live out their vocations as husbands and fathers, Cardinal Dolan stressed that there is a great need to strengthen marriage in the contemporary world.
Today, there is a “vocation crisis in the call to the Sacrament of Matrimony,” he observed.
A strengthening of marriages will naturally bring about an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, helping solve vocation shortages in these areas as well, he said.
But strong marriages are not only important for the Church, he added. Rather, they are necessary for the entire society to be healthy.
Our culture faces threats to “the very definition of marriage as a lifelong, life giving, faithful union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal Dolan cautioned.
He warned of “a well-choreographed, well-oiled crusade to conform marriage to the whims of the day instead of conforming our urges to God’s design.”
This effort must be resisted, he said, because marriage plays a “singularly pivotal, irreplaceable role” in the “civilization of love” that recent popes have emphasized.
It is not simply religious authorities who recognize “marriage and family as the central, love-promoting cell of the human project,” the cardinal said. Rather, “historians, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists” also acknowledge this truth.
Social science shows us that when strong marriages are the norm, the areas of industry, finance, culture and government can be better directed towards virtue and responsibility, he noted. In contrast, when the basic cell of society is weak, the civilization gives in to “the primitive lust and selfishness” that have historically been shown to destroy societies.
We must realize that the preservation of marriage and family is the “most effective guarantee” of love, life and solidarity in a culture, he said, adding, “When that goes, we all go.”
Cardinal Dolan encouraged the Knights of Columbus and their families to continue working to defend and strengthen marriage as the sacramental union that God intended it to be.
In doing so, he said, they are promoting “the very relationship between one man, one woman, united in lifelong, life-giving, faithful love, that dates back to the Garden of Eden itself.”