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Hundreds gather in Aurora in defense of traditional marriage

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:16AM

AURORA — Several hundred Hispanic Catholics withstood the chill rain and wind to walk and pray in defense of heterosexual marriage Monday evening.

The Processional and Prayer in Defense of Marriage at Sacred Heart Church was organized by Bishop David Malloy, who led the parishioners in prayer, and the Diocese of Rockford in response to same-sex marriage legislation working its way through the Illinois General Assembly.

“The bishop asked for this (church) specifically to encourage the Hispanic community to contact their legislators to encourage them to preserve marriage and to vote ‘no’ on same-sex marriage, but to do so in the context of prayer and respect for all,” said Penny Wiegert, director of communication for the diocese.

Hundreds of congregants walked, some carrying signs declaring “El matrimonio es y debe seguir entre un hombre y una mujer” — Marriage is and shall; continue to be between a man and a woman. They crowded the sidewalks and the temporarily stalled traffic on the block, shielding their candles from the wind and rain, mostly in vain.

The pastor of Sacred Heart, Monsignor Archimedes Vallejo encouraged members to take up their candles and “show that Christ is the light of the world.”

Between Hail Marys — first recited by women, then men — they prayed to the Virgin Mary.

“This is God’s law, no one can change God’s laws,” Vallejo said. “We are a strong community. We will defend the sanctity of marriage.”

Following the procession, the standing-room only crowd filled the pews and aisles, some kneeling on the floor of Sacred Heart, its altar draped in purple for the Lenten season, to pray and hear testimony.

Bishop Malloy told the crowd that heterosexual marriage ought to be defended as God’s plan. “Man and woman are made one for the other,” Malloy said. “The physical union of man and woman is the conduit for new life. We are all here today because woman was made for man.”

And he said that the matter was not one of discrimination.

“Discrimination is not part of who we are,” he said. “Christ said love your brothers and your sisters...but this does not mean we should abandon God’s plan.”

He urged the parishioners to call their representatives and to ask their friends and families to call on their representatives to vote no on the legalization of same-sex marriage, calling the proposition “dangerous.”

Three families also spoke at the service, offering testimony of the influence their marriages have had over their lives, and in their relationships with God.

“Our parents taught us to be good Catholics,” said Maria Garcia, her husband of 12 years, Fernando, at her side holding their daughter, and their son, an acolyte, behind. “We married young, too young, and we had problems. But we followed the example set by the Holy Family, and now we are blessed.”

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