The Defense of Marriage Department is CCI’s newest department. It was created by the bishops to support policies that promote marriage and strengthen the family. It opposes policies that undermine marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman.
The department also seeks better conscience protections for Church agencies in regards to Illinois’ civil union law, which went into effect June 1, 2011. Catholic Charities have been cut off from state-funded foster care and adoption contracts because of a dispute over the law’s religious exemption.
Efforts to strengthen conscience protections have redoubled since the state’s marriage law was redefined from "between a man and a woman" to "between two persons." The new law went into effect on June 1, 2014. However, a Cook County judge in February 2014 ruled that same-sex couples in that county did not have to wait until June to obtain a marriage license. The Illinois attorney general later reinforced that decision, prompting other counties to also issue marriage licenses early.
Zach Wichmann serves as the CCI staff member for the Defense of Marriage Department.
Representatives from each diocese make up the
Defense of Marriage Department
Jennifer Collins – Rockford
Deacon Joe Dalpiaz – Joliet
Craig Dyke – Peoria
Deacon Richard Hudzik – Chicago
Ken Norgard – Belleville
Mary O'Grady – Rockford
Deacon Victor Puscas – Joliet
Carlos Tejeda – Springfield
Deacon Richard Hudzik serves as the current chair of the department.
CCI issues Marriage Toolkit
In November 2012, the Defense of Marriage Department issued its Marriage Toolkit, a resource for clergy, parish staff and the laity.
The toolkit is designed to help Catholic individuals and parish communities understand, explain and promote the Catholic Church’s answers to the following questions:
- What is marriage?
- Why is the definition of marriage important?
- Why does the Church endure the repercussions of taking a stance on marriage which is contrary to popular social trends and media advocacy?
- And, most importantly, why should you care about marriage?
The toolkit is separated into seven individual sections:
- An introduction to the toolkit
- A Q & A on the topics most discussed in this debate
- A list of the best resources for explaining Church teachings
- An outline and reflection guide for homilies and other catechetical efforts
- Information on the Courage ministry
- A list of members of the Defense of Marriage Department
- Information on how to become more fully involved in the public debate
The entire toolkit can be downloaded here.