U.S. Catholic Prelates Speak Out on Anti Gay-Marriage

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday October 2, 2012

Catholic religious leaders across the country have made national headlines this week for their anti-gay marriage stances.

Newark, N.J., Archbishop John J. Myers has been in the spotlight after releasing a pastoral letter in which he said Catholics who support marriage equality should not receive Holy Communion, Life Site News reports.

In the letter, Myers writes Catholics who back gay marriage, "in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion" and that "to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest."

The 16-page document goes on to slam same-sex relationships. "We cannot define and redefine marriage to suit our personal tastes or goals," the archbishop writes.

Was Vatican Appointment a Message to San Francisco?
The New York Times reports that Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who has recently been appointed as a new leader of the archdioceses of San Francisco, has local LGBT Roman Catholics and gay activists worried because of his longstanding opposition to same-sex marriage in California.

The newspaper points out, however, that many congregants of Most Holy Redeemer, which is in the iconic gay neighborhood of the Castro, have taken a "wait-and-see" attitude towards the bishop; others hope that Cordileone could possibly change his views after spending time in the Castro.

"In a sense, I am glad that the church is sending the top guy that they have - the top antigay - because it means that we, as a community of Catholics, have done something good to deserve attention," said George Woyames, 68, who says that he was raised as a Roman Catholic but became committed to the religion only after joining Most Holy Redeemer in 1987.

Cordileone was a strong leader for those who supported Proposition 8, a measure that bans gay marriage. He is also the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's subcommittee for the defense of marriage, an organization whose mantra is "promoting and defending the authentic teaching of the church regarding the nature of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman."

For his part, the bishop is not sure what he will focus on as archbishop of San Francisco. He has been quoted as saying it was "too early" and that he needs "to get a better lay of the land." The New York Times quotes experts who point to the appointment of an anti-gay marriage archbishop to the ancient San Francisco seat as sending a distinct message from the Vatican.

"It's very difficult to know why a particular appointment is made of a certain bishop to a certain diocese by the Vatican," Vincent Pizzuto, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit school, told the newspaper. "But in this instance, it's very difficult not to see this as a signaling of an attempt to rein in the diocese, particularly on hot-button issues like homosexuality and same-gender marriage."

It should also be noted that Cordileone was arrested in August for driving under the influence, the Associated Press reported. Cordileon, who at the time was a candidate to be the city's archbishop, was stopped at a police checkpoint near San Diego State University but it was not revealed if he took a sobriety test.

Minn. Archbishop' Letter Causes Walkouts
Additionally, in August, John C. Nienstedt, archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, sent a letter asking Roman Catholic followers to support a measure that bans same-sex marriages in Minnesota, the Minnesota Post reports. When the letter was read, it allegedly upset a number of people who walked out.

"Our effort to support God's unchanging plan for marriage is not a campaign against anyone, but rather a positive effort to promote the truth about marriage as a union between one man and one woman," Nienstdt wrote.

"But the reality is that marriage is not ours to redefine, just as another human life is not ours to take," the archbishop continued. "God is both the author of life and the author of marriage. It is this most fundamental understanding of the natural order that animates who we are as Catholics. ... It is also why we fight to defend God's plan for marriage, because his providence is as clear for what marriage is as it is for the dignity of each human life."

According to the newspaper, Michael Bayly, the director of Catholics for Marriage Equality, said that members of the churches where the letter was read pointedly walked out in a show of protest.

The issue has roiled the state, with even the hometown team the Vikings become a hotbed of debate.