INDIANAPOLIS — Bishops representing Indiana's five Roman Catholic dioceses have issued a pastoral letter in response to a proposal to add a ban on gay marriage to the state constitution, but didn't take a side.

The letter says the church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, an institution established by God as a permanent partnership between one man and one woman. But it also says the church upholds the dignity of every human, including people with same-sex attraction, who must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin says the letter will help Catholics avoid the extremes of either seeing the public debate about the proposed amendment as a battle or as an issue in which they should simply be guided by polls.