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Statement of Archbishop William Lori on the Teaching Role of Priests

I have been a priest for over 35 years. In that time, there is nothing I pray about more than the duty entrusted to me to preach the word of God. It is my first duty as a bishop, and it is the first duty of every bishop, priest and deacon. Preaching the word of God requires subordination of personal views to the word of God as taught by the Catholic Church. This was my promise when I became a priest, as it is the promise of every priest at his ordination.

It is in the light of this responsibility that I have been teaching about marriage, the subject of a ballot question in this year’s election in Maryland. In union with the whole Church, I have been teaching that marriage is not just any relationship, but a unique union that reflects the fidelity of God to His people, as evidenced in Scripture, including as recently as yesterday: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church ... A man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Eph. 5:2A, 25-32).

No bishop, priest or deacon has the right to use the pulpit to advance his personal opinions. The pulpit is the place where the living word of God, as it comes to us through the teachings of the Church, is to be proclaimed and taught. In this Year of Faith when all Catholics are called to deepen their relationship with Christ and the Church, may all priests, including myself, be mindful of their obligation to preach the Gospel even when it is unpopular with prevailing culture; may we be given the sublime humility required of each of us to accept as our own the Word of God as communicated through the teachings of our Catholic faith, and may we bear witness to that word by what we say and do.