PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Saying that civil unions "promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion," Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin reminded Catholics that they may not participate in such ceremonies.
"To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful," he said in a statement June 30, the day after passage of legislation that will give same-sex couples who enter into civil unions the same rights and benefits as marriage in Rhode Island.
The state Senate agreed to the bill, which the House had already approved, on a 21-16 vote late June 29 and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, an Independent, has said he will sign it. Some proponents of same-sex marriage in the state opposed the bill, however, saying it did not go far enough and allowed overly broad religious exemptions.