Contrary to the impression one might get from reading the Sept. 16 article “Catholic diocese has scaled-back role in latest referendum,” I have not backed down in the church’s defense of marriage. Although the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is not a member of the current political action committee, we are playing a crucial role in November’s vote by having launched a communication and education effort based on my pastoral letter “Marriage: Yesterday … Today … Always.”

The constant teaching that is found in this letter, rooted clearly in the natural law, is intended to educate all people of good will about the truth and beauty of marriage as it has been recognized and preserved for millenniums by society and nearly all religions. Objectively, the essence of marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman open to the new life of children, whom they nurture in their irreplaceable roles as father and mother.

Any other relationship cannot legitimately call itself “marriage.” Faithful Catholics will continue to defend God’s plan for marriage by preaching and teaching in the public square. Those who speak out in opposition to more than 2,000 years of Christian teaching on the importance of marriage to a stable society do not speak in the name of the Catholic Church. They simply do not understand or accept the faith to which they claim to belong. I am grateful to the faithful Catholics who continue to stand up for the unique relationship marriage is, and I urge all Catholics to support the right of a child to have both a mother and father by voting their faith in November.

Bishop Richard Malone is the apostolic administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.