Today, Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco will be visiting several parishes to ask them to sign a petition asking that city’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone not to speak at an anti-marriage equality rally in Washington, DC, later this month.
The petition (organized by Faithful America) is a part of a campaign to ask Cordileone to stay away from the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) rally on Thursday, June 19th. The event is being supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Cordileone is the chair of the conference’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. The rally is co-sponsored by the anti-gay Family Research Council.
A separate part of the campaign was a letter sent to the Cordileone signed by over 80 California politicians and national religious and community leaders, asking him to refrain from participating in the event. The Los Angeles Times reported on some of the substance of the letter:
“If he attends as scheduled, they [the letter signers] noted, he will be ‘marching and sharing the podium’ with individuals who ‘have repeatedly denigrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.’ . . .
“By standing alongside those participants and organizers, ‘you appear to be endorsing their troubling words and deeds, which directly contradict the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral teaching that “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it,” ‘ they wrote.”
Among the Catholic signers of the letter are Francis DeBernardo, executive director, New Ways Ministry; Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director, DignityUSA, Jim FitzGerald, executive director, Call To Action; Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry and coordinator for the National Coalition of American Nuns; Jody Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG National; Mary E. Hunt, Co-Founder/Director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER).
The entire text of the letter can be read here.
At the USCCB’s national meeting this week, Cordileone re-affirmed his commitment to anti-marriage equality work and to participation in the conference. According to The National Catholic Reporter:
“Pointing to the recent string of state same-sex marriage bans struck down by federal judges, Cordileone said the country was at a ‘critical point.’
” ‘An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against judicial activism,’ he said.
“The San Francisco archbishop also announced he would be attend the second annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., June 19. The march is organized by the National Organization for Marriage, a group advocating for legal recognition for marriage as only between one man and one woman.”
The letter to Cordileone also appeals to the example of Pope Francis:
“While not all of us agree with official Catholic teaching on marriage and family, we appreciate the many statements from Catholic leaders defending the human dignity of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially the recent words of Pope Francis: ‘If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?’
“Pope Francis’ words echo the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that lesbian and gay people ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’ “
If Archbishop Cordileone does decide to speak at this event, he would do well to distance himself from the negative rhetoric of NOM by speaking up for the Catholic principles of “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” for lesbian and gay people. While it might be best if he avoided the event, if he speaks forthrightly for the human dignity and equality of lesbian and gay people, he can turn this potentially negative event into a positive one.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Sister Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter blog: “San Francisco archbishop under fire for plan to speak at March for Marriage”
San Diego Gay and Lesbian News: “Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone petitioned to not march with anti-gay hate groups”