The Newark archbishop is urging more than 1 million Roman Catholics in northern New Jersey -- especially Catholic politicians -- to defend marriage against those he says would "deconstruct or radically alter its meaning."

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In a pastoral statement Tuesday, Archbishop John Myers said equating same-sex marriage to marriage as "it has traditionally been understood" damages the institutions of both marriage and family. He says redefining marriage would "enshrine in law a non-optimal way to raise children as equivalent to that which is best."

Myers says Catholics who disagree with church teachings on marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. The archbishop says he is not endorsing a political party. He says he just wants Catholics to exercise their right to vote in defense of traditional teachings on marriage.

Garden State Equality, the state's largest gay rights organization, notes polls show a majority of Catholics favor "marriage equality."


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