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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 16, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 46
No mercy - After election, Catholic bishops double down on anti-equality stance
Section One
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No mercy - After election, Catholic bishops double down on anti-equality stance

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

One week to the day after voters in four states embraced marriage equality, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) doubled down on its opposition to Gay and Lesbian marriages.

As the bishops met at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore on November 13, pro-equality and pro-choice Catholics demonstrated outside.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic groups that advocate for LGBT rights, including Dignity U.S.A. and New Ways Ministry, said it had hoped that election results in four states would 'drive home the need for the bishops to take seriously the concerns of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Catholics and their families.'

The group added that it was 'profoundly disappointed' that the bishops plan to continue their current anti-LGBT advocacy.

A CALL FOR CHANGE
Catholics United and Faithful America delivered a petition signed by some 20,000 Catholics calling on the bishops to 'refocus their attention on caring for the poor and vulnerable' and to end what it described as the USCCB's 'association' with the Republican Party.

Jon O'Brien, director of Catholics for Choice, said the USCCB conference was 'an opportunity for the bishops to realize the error of their ways.'

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the USCCB's president, did not meet with the protesters.

A vehement opponent of marriage equality, Dolan used the occasion to reiterate the Church's view that traditional one-man-one-woman marriage is an inviolable part of Catholic doctrine.

At a November 13 news conference, Dolan cited a study showing that the pro-equality forces in Washington had outspent equality opponents by a 12-to-1 margin.

'There's no denying we lost in these states on an issue we feel very passionately about,' Dolan said. 'We can't deny that there's a new push coming from the other side.'

The bishops must look for ways to make their case more convincingly, Dolan said, and in the process he hoped they would learn from the way they dealt with the abortion issue years ago.

'Our opponents had succeeded in defining the issue as a matter of 'choice,' making us look like a side that favored restricting choice rather than the one that supported life,' he said. 'We need to find a way to position ourselves as pro-marriage.'

BLAMING THE VOTERS
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops' subcommittee on the promotion of defense and marriage, gave an update on the organization's work in this area, and he seemed to blame Catholic parishioners for failing to understand the Church's teaching.

'Last Tuesday was a disappointing day for marriage,' he said in a public statement. 'Many people simply do not understand [that] marriage is ... the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children born of their union.'

He called marriage a 'child-centered' institution whose meaning is 'written in our nature.'

Cordileone, formerly bishop of Oakland, is known as the 'Father of Prop 8' because of his tireless campaigning against LGBT rights in California.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the host of the conference and the leading Catholic patriarch in a state that just passed marriage equality, agreed that Catholic lay people do not understand marriage.

'Are [the results] concerning? Sure they are,' Lori told Baltimore Sun reporters between sessions at the bishops' conference. 'We do face a challenge in communicating the true nature of marriage and its importance to society. But there's always prayer, teaching, and catechizing to be done, and we plan to continue doing just that.'

In his keynote address to the USCCB conference, Dolan called for a 'new evangelization' that would re-connect Catholics with church doctrines, including 'a supporting and protecting of marriage, married couples, and family life.'

In the USCCB's Draft Strategic Plan, posted on the conference website, the bishops say they will specifically target 'young people, inactive Catholics, and married couples and parents' with their evangelization drive.

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