In opposition to the desires of millions of lay Catholics for simple justice for all, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has long aligned itself with, and often led, the forces of hate and bigotry opposing equal rights for gays and women.
At 10:30 AM on Freedom-to-Marry Day 2010 – Sunday, February 14, Valentine’s Day – the Gay Liberation Network will host an informational picket of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street, to highlight the role the Church’s leadership has played in promoting inequality.
For many years the Catholic leadership has attempted to fly under the radar screen with its opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. A key secret to their success has been their stealthiness, ironically often assisted by gay rights “leaders.” These “leaders,” not trusting rank-and-file Catholics to be fair and too worried about hurting their fundraising base with well-connected and wealthy Catholics, are too cowardly to call out Catholic leaders for promoting hate and discrimination.
As a local example, Chicago’s Catholic leader Cardinal Francis George has worked tirelessly — albeit from behind the scenes — to block our path to full legal equality. George attempted to kill LGBT inclusion as a protected class in the Illinois Human Rights Act, which now protects us from housing and employment discrimination. He and other Catholic bishops circulated petitions in a failed effort to force an advisory referendum on “gay marriage,” and George is the head of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops which spent big bucks backing Prop 8 hate in California. Back in Illinois, George is working hard today to block same sex-marriage and/or civil unions.
On Sunday, February 14th, with our picket of Holy Name Cathedral, we will make a start in dragging Francis George’s bigotry out of the closet.
But Cardinal George is no lone voice in the wilderness. He is joined by almost the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church whose record of activism against gay equality is long and sordid:
** Speaking of the current pope, the Associated Press reported that “Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, spearheaded a Vatican campaign against same-sex unions in 2003, issuing guidelines for Catholic politicians to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” Associated Press, 6/6/05
** The Portland, Maine Archdiocese gathered more than a quarter of the funds recently used to defeat marriage equality in Maine. In addition, Marc Mutty, the chair of the principal statewide organization in Maine that fueled anti-gay discrimination there, was the Portland Archdiocese’s head spokesperson until taking a leave of absence from his job to spearhead the successful effort to rob gays and lesbians of their equal marriage rights.
** The Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus bankrolled California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 to the tune of over $1 million.
** As California’s East Bay Express noted about newly-minted Oakland Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, “What almost no one knows is that without Bishop Sal, gay men and lesbians would almost surely still be able to get married today. As an auxiliary bishop in San Diego, Cordileone played an indispensable role in conceiving, funding, organizing, and ultimately winning the campaign to pass Proposition 8. It was Bishop Sal and a small group of Catholic leaders who decided that they had to amend the state constitution. It was Bishop Sal who found the first major donor and flushed the fledgling campaign with cash. It was Bishop Sal who personally brought in the organization that took the lead on the petition drive. And it was Bishop Sal who coordinated the Catholic effort with evangelical churches around the state. Bishop Sal even helped craft the campaign’s rhetorical strategy, sitting in on focus groups to hone the message of Proposition 8.“
While Catholic leaders decry any attempts to label them as haters and bigots, their own scapegoating statements tell a very different story about their true feelings:
** Former pope Karol Wotija, aka John Paul II, condemned gay foster parents for doing “violence” to children. He called us “disordered,” and “against the natural law.” He railed against civil marriage equality for all same-sex couples whether Catholic or not, condemning our civil marriage contract as an act “against God,” and proclaimed defeating marriage equality his “primary task” for 2005.
** In a 2005 pastoral letter read in every church in the diocese of Calgary, Alberta, Bishop Frederick Henry called on his flock to stamp out same-sex marriage. “Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.” (365Gay.com)
** In an end-of year address in 2008, the current pope, George Ratzinger (aka Benedict XVI), said that the existence of gay people threatens humanity as much as the destruction of rainforests and that “blurring” genders through acceptance of transgender people would kill off the human race.
** Beginning in 1986, Ratzinger wrote a series of church documents that branded sexually active gays as “evil,” told church officials to kick Dignity chapters off church property and even warned Catholic lawmakers that voting in favor of gay-rights legislation is “gravely immoral” because “the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.” (Deb Price, Detroit News)
** Ratzinger has disparaged lesbian and gay couples as engaging in “pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex.”
** Bishop Cordileone has called same-sex marriage a Satanic plot: “The ultimate attack of the Evil One is the attack on marriage.”
** In 2007 Chicago’s Cardinal George wrote that same-sex behavior “brings people’s salvation into jeopardy” in a column for the Archdiocese of Chicago newspaper.
When haters garb themselves in clerical robes, their statements and activities must be exposed.
The Gay Liberation Network encourages all people of good will, regardless of faith background, to join us at 10:30 AM, Sunday, February 14 for an informational picket of Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street, Chicago.
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