|AB Neinstedt took this approach to gay marriage in his edict to his priests, but parishes and priests in Seattle, when given a choice, refused to load, proving that not all Catholics are compliant intimidated sheep.|
In Seattle last Sunday parish laity voiced their opinion about Archbishop Sartain's request for using their parishes to gather signatures for Referendum 74, Washington's version of California's Prop 8. The following is from the Seattle Post Intelligencer and printed in full because I so seldom see American Catholic laity make their own political statement and I wanted to give full kudos to Fr Tim Clark and the laity of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church.
Catholic pastor applauded for shunning anti-gay marriage drive
Joel Connelly - 4/17/2012
The congregation at Seattle’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church gave the Rev. Tim Clark a standing ovation Sunday when he announced that the parish would not gather signatures for a referendum to repeal same-sex marriage.
The Parish became the sixth in Seattle to opt out of the petition drive for Referendum 74 that has been endorsed and foisted on parishes by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain.
“I am happy to report that Our Lady of the Lake parish-oners have been overwhelmingly and, thus far, unanimously supportive of the decision I made NOT to gather signatures in support of this Referendum,” Clark wrote in response to an e-mail.
“The standing ovation experienced during one of the Masses says less about me and much more about the health of this parish. I only wished the archbishop could have experienced the sustained applause — the ‘sensus fidelium’ — of the people. He needs to listen to this ‘voice.’ That is my prayer.”
Other parishes to shun the signature drive have includes St. James Cathedral, St. Joseph Church, St. Mary’s Church, St. Patrick Church and Christ Our Hope Catholic Church.
In several parishes, pastors have said that gathering signatures against marriage equality would, in the words of the Rev. Michael Ryan of St. James Cathedral, “prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.”
Archbishop Sartain, in a letter that Clark will place in his parish bulletin next week, asked the Catholic faithful in Western Washington to support Referendum 74.
Opponents of marriage equality need to gather 120,577 valid voter signatures by June 6 to block the state’s new same-sex marriage law from taking effect and put the issue on November’s ballot.
The archbishop said that all persons “should be treated with respect, sensitivity and love,” but reiterated church teachings on sexuality that are eschewed by many American Catholics.
“It is important to remember that all Christians are called to chastity, and sexual intercourse is so intimate and significant that it is intended only for a man and woman in marriage,” said the letter, cosigned by Archbishop Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo.
“When I first read the archbishop’s letter I was troubled by the content and his intentions,” Clark wrote. “In conscience, I could not allow signatures to be gathered, to allow the faith to be politicized in this way.
“What troubles me is the message this whole approach sends which I find discriminatory and insensitive. To follow through with his wishes would be hurtful, divisive and a countersign to what we are trying to foster in this Catholic community in Wedgwood.
“I deeply believe, and say this with boldness, that this approach is not in the mind of Christ.”
Clark is grateful that Archbishop Sartain did leave the decision whether or not to gather signatures to the discretion of pastoral leaders.
The conscience-driven dissent expressed by Seattle-area Catholics has been stifled elsewhere in the nation.
The Rt. Rev. John Nienstedt, archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, is pressing to amend Minnesota’s state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
In a fiery letter to priests that also condemned no-fault divorce and cohabitation outside of marriage, Archbishop Nienstedt said he would brook no public dissent from any priest in the archdiocese.
“It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead,” Nienstedt wrote.
“There ought not to be open dissent on this issue,” he added. “If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly.”
Archbishop Nienstedt has also mailed out 400,000 anti-gay DVDs to Catholics in his diocese and refused communion to students wearing rainbows at a diocesan mass.
According to Catholics for Marriage Equality, there are now 15 Seattle parishes and 10 outside Seattle that have opted out of the Archbishop Sartain's signature campaign. If readers remember, when Fr Geof Farrow took a similar stance in California he found himself out on the street in a nano second with no outward support from his fellow priests. To me, the fact that at least 25 priests and their parishes have elected not to participate in the Washington campaign is very indicative of how things have changed since 2008. The USCCB can only punch the fear card so many times before thinking people reject the fear and voice their real truth.
Unlike Archbishop Neinstedt in Minnesota, I have to give Archbishop Sartain credit for allowing parishes to make up their own minds about R 74. That obviously took the courage that Neinstedt doesn't possess. I do not make the mistake of confusing conviction expressed through edict with conviction expressed through choice. If one has to mandate conformance to their conviction, that's a sure sign one doesn't believe in their conviction enough to let it stand on it's own merits. That's about conviction in one's authority, which is the antithesis of Jesus's notions of servant leadership. This kind of shepherding is akin to penning all the sheep in a semi while you do all the driving. It's efficient but not exactly pastoral.
Given the general negative reaction to the USCCB's call for civil disobedience I think our bishops have over played their political hand. I doubt they will need too many semis to haul their sheep to their demonstrations. That's a good thing.