San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone believes a Supreme Court ruling striking down Prop 8 would intensify the marriage debate.

The Supreme Court will next week hear oral arguments in a case challenging California's 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment which defines marriage as a heterosexual union.

Cordileone, who leads the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, explained the church's opposition to gay marriage in an interview with USA Today.

“No matter what the Supreme Court rules, this debate is not over,” Cordileone said. “Marriage is too important and the issues raised by treating same-gender unions as marriages are too fundamental to just go away. Just as Roe v. Wade did not end the conversation about abortion, so a ruling that tries to import same-sex marriage into our Constitution is not going to end the marriage debate, but intensify it.”

“We will have a bitterly polarized country divided on the marriage issue for years, if not generations to come.”

After arguing that marriage was an institution created to meet the needs of children, not adults, Cordileone explained why marriage was appropriate for infertile straight couples but not gay and lesbian couples.

“Our bodies have meaning. The conjugal union of a man and a woman is not a factor to produce babies; marriage seeks to create a total community of love, a 'one flesh' union of mind, heart and body that includes a willingness to care for any children their bodily union makes together.”

“Two men and two women can certainly have a close loving committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do,” he added.