The Tribune on May 24 published a story about a Catholic church in Mandan that refused to marry a disabled couple. It was presented in the fashion of a “feel good story” about a disabled couple who loved each other and just wanted to get married but were being stymied by the church.

At the outset, it should be noted that the Catholic church does not have a policy prohibiting disabled people from getting married. The church is not completely foreclosing marrying this disabled couple at some future date, assuming some unstated (confidential) concerns are satisfactorily resolved.

The importance of marriage in the Catholic Church cannot be overstated. It is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a permanent covenant with God, between a man and woman who each give free and knowing consent, who are open to receiving, loving and raising children.

While not presented as such, the story pointed out at least one possible impediment of the disabled couple being marriage within the Catholic church. The disabled woman, 42, has the intellectual and emotional development of a 15-year-old, and therefore has a guardian appointed to watch out for her. Under those circumstances, there is a serious question of whether the woman can give free and knowing consent to be married.

What the Tribune fails to point out is that a 15-year-old (if we were looking at biological age) would not be allowed to get married in North Dakota. One must be at least 16 before being allowed to get married in North Dakota, and then there is an additional requirement of parental consent if you are between the ages of 16 and 18.

At a time when the institution of marriage is being attacked on every front, with a liberal media more than anxious to help in that process, the Tribune’s attack on the Catholic church is understandable. That doesn’t make it right, however, and is hurtful for those like me who love the church.

The Catholic church has and will continue to uphold marriage to the high standard for which it was created by God. Nothing the Tribune may say or do will ever change that.

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