Bp. Tobin of Providence on contrary-to-nature unions: “Almighty God will, in His own time and way, pass judgment upon our state”

His Excellency Most Rev. Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence, whom we have seen before in these electronic pages, issued a statement about the legislative approval of contrary-to-nature unions.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence
Office of Communications

June 30, 2011Statement of Bishop Tobin on the Approval of Civil Unions in Rhode Island

(PROVIDENCE, R.I.)-The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, today released the following statement relative to the passage of legislation approving civil unions in Rhode Island.

“I am deeply disappointed that Rhode Island will establish civil unions in our state. The concept of civil unions is a social experiment that promotes an immoral lifestyle, is a mockery of the institution of marriage as designed by God, undermines the well-being of our families, and poses a threat to religious liberty. [That last is a point which must be constantly kept in mind.]

In this context it is my obligation to remind Catholics of the teachings of the Church on this matter. First, the Church continues to have respect and love for persons with same-sex attraction; they are indeed children of God and our brothers and sisters in the human family. We pray for their well-being and offer them spiritual guidance and pastoral care. We also extend our love and support to families of homosexual persons who sometimes struggle with this difficult emotional issue.

At the same time, the Church reminds its members that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law and the will of God and, therefore, is objectively sinful. Persons with same-sex attraction are required to live the Christian virtues of chastity and modesty, as all persons are. The importance of these virtues is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures and in the constant tradition of the Church.

Because civil unions promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the Church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion, Catholics may not participate in civil unions. To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful. A civil union can never be accepted as a legitimate alternative to matrimony.

Can there be any doubt that Almighty God will, in His own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] its leaders and citizens, for abandoning His commands and embracing public immorality? I encourage Catholics to pray for God’s patience, mercy and forgiveness in these distressing times.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. irishgirl says:

    Bravo, Bishop Tobin! A shepherd who is not afraid to call down God”s Judgment on immorality!

  2. He’s hardly “calling down” God’s judgment. It’s not an imprecatory prayer. This is the bishop reporting the spiritual time and weather. (And may God have mercy on us.)

  3. PostCatholic says:

    Can there be any doubt that Almighty God will, in His own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, its leaders and citizens, for abandoning His commands and embracing public immorality?

    Yes, yes there can. We call it agnosticism, atheism, non-theism, or just non-belief in that particular deity.

  4. Cath says:

    I believe the good bishop was addressing Catholics so that they understand Church teaching on the this issue.

    “In this context it is my obligation to remind Catholics of the teachings of the Church on this matter”

    He has not only the right, but the serious duty to lead his flock.

  5. PostCatholic says:

    Fair enough; still, there can be a doubt and it has a name.

  6. Trad Tom says:

    Your name says it all. Why do you skulk about truly Catholic websites, blogs, etc.? Surely there are other places that your kind would find more in keeping with your [non]beliefs. Go. Stay.

  7. ContraMundum says:

    I doubt there will be any supernatural visitation upon the United States. More likely, God will simply allow us to face the fierce and unrelenting judgment of Nature, the effects of which we have been the cause. “Let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man”– nor into the hand of Nature.

  8. ContraMundum says:


    Uh huh. You can also doubt whether Obama was born in Hawaii; there are names that could be given to that. You can doubt your own mortality. You can doubt you are similar enough to a rodent for rat poison to be unhealthy for you.

    The bishops rhetorical question concerned whether judgment itself is doubtful, not your admitted ability to strike a doubtful pose towards anything, including the nose on your face.

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    I don’t see how this will impact anyone but the believer. It seems like the entertainment industry is quite populated with sodomites (do a google search on “famous gay people”) and they are not impacted one bit. It would seem “God’s Judgment” only hurts those who love him. Haiti (80% Catholic) was nearly destroyed by a hurricane and an earthquake, Indonesia (86% Muslim- you know they don’t tolerate sodomy!) was engulfed by a tsunami, recently Chile (one of the most Catholic countries on Earth) was rocked by the 6th worst earthquakes in history, etc.

    Yet, I haven’t seen where the Castro District of San Francisco has slid into the ocean. I haven’t heard of Amsterdam sinking into the Atlantic. Greenwich Village has yet to be destroyed by a meteor.

    God will not be mocked, but I don’t think He sends misfortune to his people. Why did the Black Death wipe out 1/3 of Christendom before the Reformation? Was He punishing the Catholic people for not going by Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide? I find that highly unlikely.

  10. bookworm says:

    “I haven’t seen where the Castro District of San Francisco has slid into the ocean. I haven’t heard of Amsterdam sinking into the Atlantic (and) Greenwich Village has yet to be destroyed by a meteor.”

    I’ve noticed that too. I have yet to hear of an abortion clinic being blown away by an F5 tornado (even though Tiller’s infamous late term abortuary in Kansas is right in the middle of Tornado Alley), or a gay bar being washed away in a flash flood, or the Playboy Mansion being toppled by an earthquake. If the current rash of natural disasters is an expression of God’s displeasure with the people of liberal “blue” states like Rhode Island, New York, etc., why is He taking it out on people in “red” states like Alabama (tornadoes) Missouri (tornadoes, flooding), North Dakota (floods), Texas (wildfires), etc.?

    With regard to natural disasters, I don’t think one can draw a direct connection between them and divine judgement. No, I would say that the most likely way in which God would “pass judgment” upon the people of Rhode Island would be simply to let them suffer the consequences of the morally compromised leadership they have elected.

    Sooner or later, if you keep electing people for the wrong reasons (because they promise all sorts of goodies with no explanation of how they will be paid for) and without regard for whether they respect human life, respect the sanctity of the family, and without regard for their personal morality and integrity… eventually those people are going to do things that make life more difficult for citizens like raising taxes, cutting essential services, imposing onerous laws and regulations, etc. They also will at some point bring shame and disgrace upon the citizenry by their actions. (As an Illinois resident who endured the Blago administration, I can vouch for this.)

    My guess is that what will eventually happen, unless the tide is turned by much prayer and effort, is that the kind of leaders who endorse these contrary to nature unions will eventually make life more problematic for all Rhode Island citizens to the point that many of them will have to move elsewhere to make a living or raise their families in peace.

  11. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Faith is tried by fire as gold by the furnace. If things are all going well for one they should beware, they may not be a friend of God. I have learned this the hard way, which is the good way.

    God’s people will always be in the middle of tornadoes while others mock their faith. He doesn’t keep the tornadoes away, He shows us (internally) how to deal with them.

    It has taken the near death of my faith by emotional abuse by church people to understand that whole gold/fire/suffering/perseverance thing. And even now I forget a lot of times and feel sorry for my personal “tornado.”

    God waits for the unfaithful to turn to Him. He waits as patiently as the One who made time itself.

    Tolstoy wrote a great story with a great title: “God Sees the Truth, and Waits.”

    We must love people who don’t believe and show them by our actions why they should believe. The internet is a truly rotten place for evangelization because things so often descend into childish name calling and sniping and people seem to think it is cute and funny. It is just as wrong there as it is in the parish kitchen.

    The temporary fire right now is much better than the permanent one later.

  12. Powerful, clear and brave statement.

  13. Dr. Eric, I don’t think that the bishop was necessarily talking about punishment in this world in terms of natural disaster and the like. At least, that was not what immediately came to my mind. Sure, disasters and disease are consequences of sin and sometimes even strike those directly responsible for the sins, though as often does not and it would be very dangerous for most of us to decide when it strikes as temporal punishment upon those responsible for the sins which caused them.

    What came to my mind, was that one day all will be manifested and every evil and good will be known, as we well know. This is surely a passing judgment upon the state and upon the actions of those responsible. Now, by that time those responsible will hopefully have repented and thus not face eternal punishment. In other words, for the individual, and perhaps even for the community, we can hope that we will see God’s judgment on these actions sooner so as to be able to repent of them. However, surely everyone will eventually see the evil they have committed in this regard and God’s judgment of these actions regardless.

    Of course, I am not privy to the bishop’s thoughts and intentions, but these were my immediate thoughts upon his words.

  14. Kerry says:

    Post Cath, when you said, “We call it…”, who is the “We”? Would that be just you and some other but not “that particular deity”? Shall I paraphrase Tonto from the joke and ask, “What you mean ‘We’, post-catholic-man…? Have you read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural speech? If not, why not?

  15. I should say further to my post above, that I didn’t mean to exclude any number of possible ways God would pass judgment in this world or the next, but simply to say that I certainly don’t think it is restricted to natural disasters and the like. When God does show his judgment in terms of illness, disaster etc upon those responsible, this is of course a merciful chance to turn to Him and repent. Even when it may not immediately be perceived as judgment or have any connection with earlier sins, bringing a person into the desert seems to be a method often employed by God to call a person to Him when that person has failed to respond to previous calls. As well as any mystical connection between sin and disaster, disease and natural evil, we have of course also the direct consequences of sin (which disease also of course can qualify as in some senses). The direct consequences of this kind of sin is the gradual destruction of the very fabric of the state introducing and promoting it. Again, God leaving us to face the natural consequences of our sins is a great mercy calling us to repent and turn to Him, to follow the perfect law of freedom, at which point everything, including the suffering, can be turned to good.

    However, sadly, even faced with severe and clear consequences of wrongful actions, people often choose to remain blind. We see this with the ABC policy. After decades of promoting ‘safe sex’ we have a generation of promiscuous lost young people (and people who are no longer so young but went through this), an obsession with lust and sexual gratification, venereal disease and any number of unwanted teenage pregnancies and abortions. Yet, what do the governments do… call for more of the same and throw in an increasing amount of permission and outright promotion of promiscuous and deviant behaviour on state channels, in education material, and in legislation.

    In whatever ways God passes judgment, there is no escaping this judgment, and sin indeed carries within it its own punishment in so many ways in spite of perceived temporary advantages. However long one chooses to ignore the consequences of and judgment upon sin, all will eventually become clear. Judgment will come and it is better that when the final judgment comes one has taken the previous hints and come to repentance.

    I don’t know if that is what the bishop meant, but just clarifying my own post about my thoughts on his words.

  16. PostCatholic says:

    I’ll keep a good humor about the insults directed at me and reply merely that I don’t doubt I have a nose. As for why I ‘skulk’ around Catholic blogs–this is the only one I frequent, and I’ve answered my motives many times elsewhere on this website.

    Tobin’s question is of the essence of the letter, and perhaps that’s why it’s reshaped a straightforward assertion in the title of this post. There are problems with this assertion.

    1. Firstly, there can be doubt that God will pass judgment on Rhode Island. There is quite a lot of it, apparently, or the Rhode Island democracy would not be so bold.
    2. But conceding that point for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s certain that God will indeed “pass judgment” on the state. It leads on the question, will God also pass sentence on the state? If so, how? Does He intend to punish an entire American state, or all its humans, or just some subset of them. By which of His historical means? Natural disaster? an Angel of Death inspecting the lintels of Rhode Island for the all-clear signal? Letting an enemy invade? Or will He sit patiently and wait for Rhode Islanders to find their way the pearly gates, where their state of origin will be a chief grievance?

  17. robtbrown says:


    Perhaps the punishment is not a Hollywood style disaster but rather the serious problems with drugs–people who want to get high or are reacting to withdrawal symtoms. And of course, there are also those who are on Prozac or ADHD drugs. And then there are the social problems, which are varied.

    I was disappointed that JPII didn’t mention the contemporary drug problems (self destructive, i.e., anti life, behavior) in Evangelium Vitae. Later, Cardinal Ratzinger did. A disordered mind is its own punishment. By extension, a disorder culture is its own punishment.

    NB: God moves through instrumental causes.

Comments are closed.