Archbishop Cordileone Speaks Up on Marriage
The National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit group that formed in 2007 to lobby in defense of traditional marriage, has arranged a march in Washington D.C. for June 19. This will be the second such march, which they have made an annual event. The organization planned the march in order to stress the need for traditional marriage, that is, a permanent bond between one man and one woman. It should be made clear that this organization is non-denominational and did not form from a single religious group. In this regard, it is more of a grassroots organization that believed a public voice was missing in the marriage debates, that is, a voice that disagrees with the expansion of same-sex marriage in our country. Although not religious per se, the organization does invite religious leaders from various denominations to speak at its rallies, including Catholics.
To be honest, I do not know the organization in depth and cannot comment on any tactics or statements they have used in the past or will use at the rally. In reviewing their website, it does not appear they advocate violence or hate but do make calls for action. In this regard, it does not appear they are different in tactic and methodology from other lobbyist groups, with the exception that there are Catholic bishops who have supported them or delivered talks at their rallies. The main difference with this group is that they are standing up for something that goes against the current mainstream agenda. In the public forum today, there are those doing all in their power to enact laws allowing same-sex marriage and this group is challenging them. Generally speaking, there has been little public “dialogue”, and anyone who expresses opposition to the laws is caricaturized as a bigot or anti-gay. To this end, whenever someone expresses opposition, he or she is often suppressed by emotion-laden comments and attacks, which merely serve to shift the attention to the person (or organization) and not the issue at hand.
Normally, it is the liberal media or another lobbyist organization that leads the charge to suppress the dissenting voices and level the ad hominem attacks. This is important to note because this rally comes at a time when the government has been restricting religious freedom and attempting to silence the voices of religious leaders. To this end, Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco was invited to speak at the rally and graciously accepted. His acceptance has ignited a series of pleas from politicians and other community leaders to withdraw his acceptance. If it were other citizens of the United States who spoke out against his presence, this would be a non-issue and fall under a public opinion debate. However, earlier this week it was the prominent voice of house minority leader Nancy Pelosi who chastised the archbishop for agreeing to speak at the rally. It is unclear how the San Francisco Chronicle obtained the letter, which should be private correspondence, but it is a safe bet that the archbishop was not the one who leaked it to the press. The rhetoric quoted from the letter should be considered an attack on free speech and religious freedom.
Gladly, the archbishop responded and defended his acceptance to speak to the many who voiced opposition. In his response, he did not resort to attacking Pelosi (who is not even mentioned in the letter), a self-identified Catholic whose Catholicism has been called into question many times, or others who disagree with him. He did not even invoke his right to free speech or indicate the obvious move to restrict religious freedom by a national political leader. Rather, he stood his ground as one who is pro-Marriage and a defender of the Truth about Marriage. In this regard, as a Roman Catholic priest, I, along with the archbishop, remain committed to speaking about the WHOLE Truth of Marriage and the attacks that have been leveled against it for many centuries. (For an extended treatment on the attacks on Marriage, see my pastor’s reflection from 2011, available by clicking here.) A clear weakness of the National Organization for Marriage is that they do not defend other aspects of Marriage that have eroded due to the secular attacks on it. In this regard, we must keep in mind that the push for same-sex marriage is the most recent, but not the only, attack on traditional Marriage. If a public conversation is to ensue at this point, it must be made clear that the Church is concerned with the whole Truth of Marriage, which is what the archbishop seeks to do.