Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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.



  1., this is just a thought and I don't know AB Sartain but....If Sartain didn't believe in the Vatican's 'Gay=ebil' campaign, he couldn't outright say so. After all, he's sworn allegiance to the Pope.

    But if he knew his diocese didn't believe in the campaign either, he could defer the decision about R74 to the parishes and let those 'poor lost sheep' say what he can't.

    1. I wondered about that myself Tim. If it's true it's still angers me. I would dearly love one of these mitred heads to actually tell their truth if they disagree with the Vatican line.

    2. Do you mean like ex-bishop Morris from Australia?

  2. Looks to me like Sartain has been given another opportunity to speak his mind:
    From the basis of this article, it looks like The Vatican is cracking down on the LCWR just because they don't mention certain items with sufficient prominence.

    1. Veronica, thanks for the heads up. After having read the CDF letter, this is all about asserting male dominion over the LCWR. I wonder what the reaction to this is going to be. AB Sartain may not be able to offer such choice to the LCWR because he will answer directly to the CDF and the Pope.

    2. Absolutely it is about asserting clerical dominance and isn't it just... peachy that happens to be male and shuts out women completely. Not that the Church is sexist or anything. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe both.

      But I was wondering if this is a case of the Holy Spirit handing Sartain the rope with which to hang himself. I'm not inclined to think of God as Trickster. But every once in a great while, something happens which makes me want to re-evaluate that.

    3. I have always gone back to the book of Job when I have to deal with God as Trickster. I think the book of Jobe comes closest to presenting the Native American idea of an adversary. In Job Satan is given God's permission to function as an adversary to test Job's faith. Native American tribes of all persuasions have a 'trickster' that functions like the Satan in Job. Humanity has free will and that is what makes this world go round. There is a huge shift coming to fruition in how we understand ourselves. Male dominance is a done deal because it represents an old out of balance energy. Women are far more educated and far more empowered. I find this attack on the LCWR fascinating because it's the last gasp of a very afraid male energy. I will be very interested in the response from the LCWR leadership. This is because every Indigenous tribe I've worked with is universal in their belief that 'grandmothers' hold the real spiritual power. The reason for this is the 'other side' directly teaches women, while men teach other men. This always makes me think about Mary being directly connected and the Apostles having to be taught.

  3. Why do dissidents never really explain the religious reasons for their consciences demanding the marriage of men to men and women to women (or, more accurately, LGBTQ+ to LGBTQ+)?

    Anyone willing to oblige?

    1. I have Invictus. It has to do with honoring love between couples and the fact Jesus was very inclusive, even to the point of speaking with Samaritans and touching lepers. While he addressed adultery, and in terms of relationship, he did not address least if He did it was never recorded.

      It isn't sex between a man and a woman which singularly makes the world go on, it's their love for each other and their children. Sex is designed to foster the relationship and produce children, but not every sexual act produces children, where as it can promote the well being of the couple and the individuals themselves. Reducing sex to procreation is insulting to humanity and it's potential. I've always thought that if right sex was that important to our salvation Jesus was have engaged in it and shown us how it was to fit into the scheme of things. Since He didn't I just don't think it's that big a deal except in terms of relationship and power dynamics. Then misuse of sexuality can indeed be a very damaging thing. Which is why I think Jesus did not engage in a sexual relationship because such a relationship would have been completely lopsided in terms of personal power dynamics. Who can possibly love Jesus the way He loves us?

    2. Jesus wasn't shy of condemning those whose lives are immoral, though, don't forget? If marriage between members of the same sex is in fact legitimate in the eyes of God, why didn't Jesus let us know?

      Why did Jesus shy away from challenging the "sin of heteronormativeness"?

    3. It doesn't seem to me Jesus cared too much about sexual sins in the first place. Other than adultery, which references a contractual agreement, which Jesus forgives in lieu of participating in the required stonings, there isn't much at all on sexual behavior.

      Given that, I can not begin to understand why the Church has suddenly gone all whacko on sexual issues unless here in American it's to cuddle up to the Evangelicals.

      And then there is my very strong belief that the most important segment of the population necessary for the current celibate priesthood is gay men terrified and confused with their sexuality.

    4. If it is such an obvious moral good for a LGBTQ+ to marry another LGBTQ+ in the eyes of God and in the security of the Church...why did none of the disciples say anything about it?

      Why did the Church, vouchsafed by the Holy Spirit, literally never ever do anything to even slightly suggest that marriage was anything other than an institution comprising a man and a woman united in an essentially procreative relationship?

      Given that Jesus, his contemporary disciples, the disciples of those disciples, and literally every Church leader from then until the modern age has accepted marriage in those terms...why are you so stridently confident that you are right, and the Church is wrong?

      Do the signs not perhaps show that something in your thinking might be amiss?

    5. Ah, no. Apparently there is no doubt, Colkoch. Jesus and the disciples were just bigots. Blates.