Pope Francis’ Words Swayed Illinois Lawmakers to Support Marriage Equality

November 8, 2013

Pope Francis

This week, Illinois became the 15th state to pass marriage equality legislation, and it’s becoming clear from news reports that this was done in no small way because of Catholics in the state, and Pope Francis, too.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?” comments from July seemed to persuade some Catholic lawmakers to vote in favor of marriage equality.  The news story stated:

“The comments sparked a wave of soul-searching by several Catholic lawmakers who had battled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sworn duty to represent their constituents who were increasingly supportive of gay rights even as Cardinal Francis George remained opposed.”

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

As evidence, they offered a quote from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Catholic, who echoed the pope’s famous line as he adapted it to the marriage equality debate:

“For those that just happen to be gay — living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal — who am I to judge that they should be illegal?”

The Chicago Sun-Times  was more expansive in citing Madigan’s remarks:

“House Speaker Michael J. Madigan was one of the final speakers in the debate, giving the bill his blessing, pledging to vote yes and quoting Pope Francis.

“ ‘My thoughts regarding this legislation were formulated before the quote I’m going to offer to all of us,’ Madigan told colleagues, as the packed House chamber fell silent. ‘And the quote that I offer is a quote from Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic church, who is quoted as saying, “If someone is gay, and he searches for the Lord, and he has good will, who am I to judge?”

“ ‘Pope Francis has spoken, and he has articulated the basis of my thinking on this issue,’ said Madigan, who later acknowledged having personally lobbied between five and 10 House Democrats to support Harris’ bill.”

Another Catholic lawmaker who was obviously influenced by Pope Francis is Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (who we quoted yesterday) who explicitly referenced the pope in her explanation of how her faith motivated her to vote for marriage equality:

“As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people.”

Representative Linda Chapa LaVia

The Tribune noted that Chapa LaVia had been undecided about her vote, even as late as this past summer.

The Beacon News interviewed Chapa LaVia for an article about how she came to her decision.  The news story stated:

“Over the past two years, Chapa LaVia met with her priest, made visits to area churches and fielded constituent calls. Chapa LaVia faced competing protests at her district office this summer after declaring she was ’50/50′ on the gay marriage issue.”

In addition to her Catholic faith, Chapa La Via also cited her constitutional oath to uphold the law:

“Besides her husband, developer Vernon LaVia, no one knew exactly which way she would vote until she took to the House floor Tuesday. In her speech, Chapa LaVia said she raised her right hand twice on oath to the Constitution of Illinois and to the Constitution of the United States.

“ ‘Both times it was a promise to promote justice for all, not just some people,’ she said.”

LaVia mentioned that”it’s going to be difficult to walk into church,” but she was not the only Catholic who supported the bill:

“Chapa LaVia noted that many other ‘high-ranking Catholics,’ such as Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Mike Madigan and state Rep. Ed Sullivan, one of three GOP House members to vote ‘yes,’ also supported the bill Tuesday. All Latino state House lawmakers and 16 of the 24 Black Caucus members voted in favor of the bill, too, her office said Wednesday.”

Governor Quinn, who signed civil union legislation a few years ago, is ready to sign the marriage equality bill, too.

These high-ranking leaders joined the thousands of ordinary Catholics in the state who supported marriage equality, many of whom were members of the Catholics for Marriage Equality Illinois coalition.  The Illinois Observer reported on a recent state poll which showed that “Illinois voters who identified as Catholic favor gay marriage by a 2-to-1 margin.”

Some Catholic leaders, of course, were vocal opponents of the bill, and were disappointed with the outcome.   RRStar.com reported:

“. . . the Catholic Conference of Illinois issued a statement that said the vote went ‘against the common consensus of the human race’ and undermines the institution of marriage.

” ‘The Catholic Conference of Illinois is deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority — a natural institution like marriage,’ the statement said. ‘We remain concerned about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill.’ “

Cardinal Francis George

Similarly, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who spoke out numerous times against the bill had this reaction, reported by the Sun-Times:

“It’s no enormous surprise. There was a lot of effort placed into passage of this legislation. I think it’s bad legislation, but we’ve lived with bad laws before. It’ll make some people happy … but it will also, I think, change the nature of our society over a period of time.”

The cardinal also indicated that gay and lesbian couples who marry legally would not be eligible to receive communion:

“If someone is living in a lifestyle that is publicly against the Gospel as interpreted in the church, whether heterosexual or they’re gay, no, they don’t take communion. But that’s the discipline of the sacrament that applies to everybody, not just to gays.”

Yet, it seems that Catholics in the state are paying more attention to Pope Francis than to the local hierarchy when it comes to LGBT issues.  In fact, the bishops’ opposition seems to be having a somewhat  counter-productive effect for their position.  The poll mentioned above also had results that showed that when Catholics were told that bishops opposed marriage equality, this information actually increased support for the legislation.  The Illinois Observer reported:

“Catholic voters actually offered more support for marriage equality legislation when told that some public figures, including Cardinal George and Catholic bishops, oppose marriage between same-sex couples, according to a new poll by Fako & Associates of Lisle, IL, a national public opinion research firm. . . .

“Catholics supported marriage fairness 61 percent to 32 percent; Catholic support increased to 63 percent, 31 percent opposed, when read the balanced statement that included the bishops’ opposition.”

For more information on Catholics who support marriage equality, visit the Catholics for Marriage Equality website and “like” them on Facebook.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LGBT Issues Pervade 2013 Call to Action Conference

November 4, 2013

Call To Action 2013 Plenary Session

LGBT Catholic issues pervaded Call to Action’s 2013 conference this past weekend as progressive Catholics gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to organize for a more justice and inclusive Church and society. Bondings 2.0 offers a round-up from the weekend to show how central acceptance, welcome, and justice for all sexual orientations and gender identities is in broader efforts for Church renewal.

On Friday, New Ways Ministry co-founder Jeannine Gramick, SL joined other prophetic voices in a daylong reflection on conscience, sponsored by the 8th Day Center for Justice. Gramick spoke about her four decades in ministry among the LGBT community and her struggles with the institutional Church that resulted from this work.

A La Familia also hosted a seminar on the same day focusing on acceptance within Latino families of LGBTQ members, which was hosted by Lisbeth Melendez Rivera and Rose Manriquez.

Jamie Manson

Jamie Manson

Saturday’s plenary session featured writer and LGBT advocate Jamie Manson, a Catholic lesbian woman whose reflections on intergenerational companionship this blog recently profiled. She joined a panel on the future of Catholic ministry, and when speaking on inclusivity, Manson said:

“It used to be prophetic to include women and LGBT people. For the new generation, it’s not prophetic. It’s just common sense.”

Manson also spoke of the many young adults who are educated in theology and ministry, but unable to answer their call to leadership in the Church because of, among other obstacles, their sexual orientations and gender identities. Roy Bourgeois, a former Maryknoll priest forced out of his community for supporting women’s ordination, echoed these sentiments, saying the Church’s many years of prayers for more vocations would be answered if only those who want to serve as priests were allowed entry.

World Youth Day participants from Equally Blessed

Saturday also featured several workshops highlighting the need for LGBT justice in Catholic and civil communities. These included:

  • “Why the Church, for its Own Salvation, Needs Our Queer Sisters and Brothers” led by Miguel De La Torre;
  • “Same-Sex Marriage and Beyond: The Catholic Imperative for LGBT Equality” led by Marianne Duddy-Burke;
  • “Sharing the Message of Equally Blessed: Stories from the Pilgrimage to World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil” led by members of CTA 20/30 and Dignity Young Adult Caucus;
  • “LGBT Catholics Standing Together: Intergenerational Issues” led by Jeannine Gramick, SL and Bob Shine;
  • Caucuses by Fortunate Families for parents of LGBT children and by Catholics for Marriage Equality for those in Illinois, and Equally Blessed.

Loretto Volunteers helping with marriage equality in Maryland

On Sunday morning, Call to Action’s Leadership Award was granted to the Loretto Volunteers, a program of the Loretto Community that offers a year of service for young adults in an LGBT-affirming atmosphere rooted in the Catholic tradition. New Ways Ministry is one of the host sites for the Loretto Volunteers.

Following that, Marianne Duddy-Burke of Dignity USA offered a homily during the conference’s closing liturgy. Speaking on the story of Zacchaeus, she proposed modern exclusionary labels equivalent to “taxpayer” that included gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and the parent of an LGBT child.

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Flipping the narrative, Duddy-Burke asked attendees to place themselves in the position of Jesus, who called Zacchaeus out of the tree and into life. Jesus saw Zacchaeus as a human being with a profound need and engaged that alone, thus Catholics must do the same no matter how different or unlikable people crying out may be.  In conclusion, she envisioned a Church where the only label that makes a difference is beloved Child of God.

Given these speakers and workshops, there is not only widespread need, but also excitement around building up inclusive Catholic communities where LGBT people, their loved ones, families, friends, and allies are all welcomed. You can check out Call to Action’s website for more information on several of these programs described. For further reflections from Jeannine Gramick and Bob Shine on how diverse generations engaged around LGBT issues, check Bondings 2.0 later this week.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Illinois Catholics Organize to Pass Marriage Equality Law

October 12, 2013

rainbow wedding ringsThe debate surrounding Illinois’ SB10, a marriage equality bill, is heating up, and Catholics are playing a major role to help get the measure passed.  In addition to the formation of a coalition of Catholic supporters of the bill,  the other news is the publication of an insightful op-ed from a Catholic professor on the topic of the law’s relationship to organized religion.

“Catholics for Marriage Equality–Illinois” formed recently to highlight the fact that Catholic lay people support equal rights for lesbian and gay couples in regard to marriage law.  The coalition is comprised of members of Chicago and West Suburban Call To Action chapters, Faithful of Southern Illinois, Dignity/Chicago, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.

The coalition will participate in an October 22nd “March on Springfield,”  Illinois’ state capital.  Marriage equality supporters from all over the state will gather that day to urge lawmakers to pass the bill.

“What can Catholics do?” asked Barbara Marian, the mother of a gay daughter. “Support for marriage equality is a natural outcome of the best of Catholic social teaching. We encourage all Catholics to take a moral stand FOR equal marriage. Email or call your friends, urge them to get involved, sign up with Catholics for Marriage Equality, attend the rally in Springfield on October 22nd
and write letters to the editors. This is clearly an issue where the bishops do not speak for the membership of the Catholic Church.”

For more information on Catholics for Marriage Equality–Illinois, visit the website:  www.CatholicsForMarriageEquality.net or their Facebook page.

Cristina Traina

Cristina Traina

The Chicago Sun-Times website published an op-ed by Cristina Traina, a Catholic religious studies professor at Northwestern University, Illinois, in which she dispels three common myths concerning religion and marriage equality:

Myth #1:  Religious leaders will be forced to marry gay and lesbian couples, against their principles.

Traina states:

“In Illinois religious organizations and leaders may refuse to officiate at any wedding. They already do so whenever they decline to marry people who do not fit their criteria for marriage, for whatever reason: divorce, non-membership in the religious community, cohabitation before marriage, unwillingness to go through the community’s marriage- preparation process, and the like. SB10 does not force religious communities to accommodate same-sex partner weddings; these couples can still marry in a civil setting.”

Myth #2: Religious organizations will be forced to accommodate gay and lesbian couples under the new law.  

Traina points out accommodation is not covered by the new marriage equality bill, but it might be required by state anti-discrimination bills:

 “. . . [T]he Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act would not alter the obligations that any organization has to gays and lesbians under Illinois’s human-rights and public-accommodations act. If an organization or business is obligated to welcome, serve, or employ partnered or unpartnered gays and lesbians now, it would be obligated to welcome, serve, or employ people married to same-sex partners later. If it is not obligated under the act now, it would not be required to accommodate married gays and lesbians in the future.

Myth #3: The institution of marriage has always been a religious concept, and it has never changed its form.

Traina offers an important history lesson:

“Marriage was a social and legal institution before it was a Christian one. In the United States, there has often been quite a lot of daylight between civil law and mainstream Christian definitions of marriage. For instance, polygamy — historically prohibited by almost all American religious groups except some Muslims and nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints — did not become illegal in U.S. territories until 1862. Prohibitions against interracial marriage — which few religious groups have explicitly prohibited — were not overturned until 1967.”

Her essay is worth reading in its entirety, and it can be accessed here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 


Catholic Mom Takes on U.S. Bishops

December 10, 2012

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has launched an on-line advocacy campaign directed to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking church leaders to back away from their expensive campaign against marriage equality.

James Servino (center) poses with siblings and his mother, Barbara Servino (second from right).

James Servino (center) poses with siblings and his mother, Barbara Servino (second from right).

James Servino of HRC launched the campaign, which features a letter to Cardinal Dolan written by his mother, Barbara Servino.  He explains the campaign’s origin:

“My mother is amazing. She’s had my back from the second I came out to her – and long before that.

“When she heard that the leaders of our Roman Catholic Church had spent $2 million on anti-gay marriage ballot campaigns in this election, she wrote a letter to the top Catholic bishop in the U.S., sticking up for people like me. I think it’s a message he desperately needs to hear.”

You can join the campaign by adding your signature to Mrs. Servino’s letter, which reads:

To: His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York

Your Eminence,

I’ve been going to Catholic mass almost every week since I was a little girl. My aunts and uncles are nuns and priests. My husband was a member of the Knights of Columbus. We raised our kids in our parish community and sent them to Catholic schools. Catholicism is more than just a belief for me — it’s a deep seed of my identity.

And it has always taught me that God made us all, and loves us all the same. The same way I try to love all my kids. That’s why, when my incredible son told me he was gay, it didn’t change my love for him one bit.

He’s always my child.

That’s why I was outraged to learn that the leadership of our Church just spent $2 million on anti-gay marriage ballot campaigns. Think of all the positive things that $2 million could have accomplished. Think of the hungry fed, the sick comforted, the homeless sheltered. Instead you chose to use parishioners’ donations like mine to divide and discriminate.

Catholicism teaches us to love one another — not to attack our sons and daughters for simply wanting to make lifelong commitments and start families. You won’t have to ever marry a same-sex couple, but it makes no sense to deny them the right to be married under the law. And your parishioners aren’t going to stand for it much longer.

I think it’s time we all got on the right side of history. I hope you do, too.

Sincerely,
Barbara Servino

The deadline for the letter is this week, so sign it soon!

Another recent HRC blog post, from Anne Underwood, founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, makes the case for why Catholics are supporting this cause.  Entitled “Pro-Equality and Roman Catholic Is Not an Oxymoron,” the essay explains why marriage equality is a Catholic issue:

I am pro-equality because I am a Catholic committed to freedom and fairness for all God’s people. The majority of U.S. Catholics — anywhere from 53% – 73%, according to 2012 polls — are like me.

Most people recognize that marriage equality could not have prevailed in ME, MD, MN and WA this fall if a majority of Catholics hadn’t voted for justice over their hierarchy’s preference for dogma. Over $2 million for dogma notwithstanding, Catholic faithful were not persuaded that their consciences were “improperly formed.” . . .

Vatican II confirmed Jesus’ teaching — it is the people of God, not their rulers, who represent the Kindom of God. We Catholics in the pews, the voting booths, at our lesbian and gay family and friends’ weddings – we are the Church. We are speaking proudly and increasingly loudly as Church.”

Though we’ve had our recent four-state success, there are still many more states to go before equality is the law of the land, and Catholics will play a decisive role in many of those struggles.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 

 


MD Catholics Light Up Marriage Equality Message at Basilica & in Newspapers; Baltimore Pastor’s Pro-Equality Sermon Is Removed from the Web

November 5, 2012

Maryland Catholics who support marriage equality had a busy weekend showing their support for their state’s referendum on the issue which will be on the ballot tomorrow.

Catholics for Marriage Equality vigil outside Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption.

On Saturday evening, November 3rd, about 40 Catholics in the state stood outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption holding lighted signs which read “Catholics for Marriage Equality.”

On Friday, November 2nd, a half-page ad appeared in The Baltimore Sun signed by over 340 Catholics expressing their support for the state’s Question 6, which will ratify the marriage equality law passed in the spring.   The same ad appeared in The Star Democrat, a newspaper on the state’s Delmarva peninsula.  The ad’s statement read:

“As Catholics, we believe that all God’s children are created equal and have inherent dignity. We believe every member of our family and our community should enjoy the same opportunities, freedom, and fairness in life. Therefore, we support the Civil Marriage Protection Act signed into state law on March 1, 2012. The Civil Marriage Protection Act preserves religious freedom and protects civil liberties in a manner that respects the diversity of our great state.

“As Catholics, we will follow our consciences and vote FOR Question 6 on November 6, 2012 to support the Civil Marriage Protection Act.”

The statement was a condensed version of a pledge to support marriage equality.  The full text of the pledge can be found on the Catholics for Marriage Equality Maryland website.  You can visit the website to make a donation to the Catholic campaign to support marriage equality.

A news story on Washington DC’s Metro Weekly website quoted two of the ad’s organizers:

” ‘Catholic lay people in Maryland are voting their consciences to make sure that our state’s laws treat all people equally and fairly, and that all families in Maryland are strengthened and protected,’ said Francis DeBernardo, a spokesman for the coalition and the executive director of New Ways Ministry, a coalition partner, in a statement announcing the ad.

“The statement also quoted Ryan Sattler, one of the ad’s signatories: ‘While we respect our church’s leaders, we disagree with them about this issue of public policy. Our Catholic faith impels us to work for justice and dignity for all people, and supporting marriage equality is the right way to secure those values, and that is why as Catholics we are proud to be voting for Question 6.’ “

This weekend it also became known that the online video and audio recordings of a Baltimore Catholic pastor who preached in support of marriage equality had been taken down.

Who withdrew the video and audio recordings of Father Richard Lawrence’s October 28th sermon at St. Vincent dePaul parish?  Dan Rodricks, a Baltimore Sun reporter has a theory:

I inquired about what had happened, but the pastor declined to comment and I haven’t heard back from St. Vincent’s. I assume Lawrence’s superiors might have had something to do with the removal of the video. The same day it disappeared, a message about “the teaching role of priests” appeared on the archdiocesan web site. “

As part of that statement, Archbishop William Lori said:

“Preaching the word of God requires subordination of personal views to the word of God as taught by the Catholic Church. This was my promise when I became a priest, as it is the promise of every priest at his ordination. … No bishop, priest or deacon has the right to use the pulpit to advance his personal opinions. … May all priests, including myself, be mindful of their obligation to preach the Gospel even when it is unpopular with prevailing culture.”

Rodricks commented:

“None of this surprised me — not Father Lawrence’s courage in speaking from conscience, not the church’s predictable position against such a challenging expression from the pulpit. The church feels empowered to press its views about a civil matter, to lobby and to influence representatives, to campaign, to be a player in the democratic process that culminates in Tuesday’s election. And yet the church is itself no democracy; it refuses to hear dissent, even from one of its most eloquent and faithful servants speaking about a matter of civil justice.”

The actions of Maryland Catholics described at the beginning of the post, and the fact that Fr. Lawrence had received a standing ovation from his congregation, reveals that the laity do not agree with suppressing discussion of this issue in the church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 


Maine Catholics Urge Others to Vote Their Consciences on Marriage Equality Referendum

October 30, 2012

As we come into the final week before Election Day, Catholics in Maine are becoming more public about their support for the state’s referendum to legalize marriage equality, while the Catholic bishop there is becoming more vocal about his opposition.

Catholics for Marriage Equality, the state’s organization of Catholic in favor of the referendum, took out quarter-page ads in three Maine newspapers this past Sunday urging people to vote for marriage equality.  100 Catholics across the state put their names to the ad to show their support.

In a Boston Globe news story, Anne Underwood, the lead organizer of Catholics for Marriage Equality, explained the background for the ad statement:

Anne Underwood

‘‘ ‘The premise is we support marriage for same-sex couples because it’s a matter of conscience,’’ said Underwood, an attorney from Topsham. ‘’And Catholics have an obligation to form their own consciences, especially on political issues and issues of morality.’ ’’

(You can view a video clip of an interview with Underwood by clicking here.)

The same news story quotes former governor of Maine, John Baldacci, a Catholic who is a strong supporter of marriage equality:

‘‘While we’re tremendously respectful, we also recognize that God gave us the ability of free choice and to be able to follow our hearts. When we see people who want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, that’s something we should be praising and supporting.’’

Baldacci recently hosted two spaghetti dinners to raise awareness for the marriage equality referendum.

Meanwhile, the state’s Bishop Richard Malone, the state’s Catholic ordinary who is governing the diocese from his new diocese in Buffalo, New York, issued a statement that any Catholic who votes for marriage equality is opposing Catholic doctrine.  He stated, in part:

Bishop Richard Malone

‘‘A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and church teachings cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the church. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children, is a matter of established Catholic doctrine.’’

In response to the bishop’s statement, a Catholics for Marriage Equality spokesperson encouraged Catholics to vote as their conscience directs them:

“ ‘Emotionally, I have to say I’m disappointed and embarrassed a little bit that he would put out a statement like this,’ Frank O’Hara of Catholics for Marriage Equality said Thursday in a telephone interview. ‘In some respect, I think the bishop is overstepping the bounds of church teaching by telling Catholics how we should vote on an issue.’ ”

“O’Hara, 62, of Hallowell said he and other Catholics who support same-sex marriage will be voting their consciences on Election Day.

“’The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “man must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience,’” O’Hara said in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon by Catholics for Marriage Equality. ‘Bishops cannot ask Catholics to vote against their consciences. No council has ever given them the authority to dictate obedience in matters of politics and civil government.’

“O’Hara agreed with Malone that Catholics for Marriage Equality does not speak for the Catholic church or every Catholic in Maine.

“ ‘We do, however, speak for an important group of Catholics, all of whom are part of the universal church,’ he said. ‘In this perspective, the bishop does not speak for all Catholics either, at least insofar as politics and government are concerned.’ “

In a related item, the Knights of Columbus have recently donated $100,000 to the campaign in Maine opposed to the marriage equality referendum, according to a news story in the Kennebec Journal. 

--Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Campaigns for Marriage Equality in Maine and Maryland Intensify

October 20, 2012

Seventeen days remain until voters in four states will cast ballots regarding marriage equality’s future in their respective states. In Maine and Maryland, Catholic leaders on each side of the ballot questions are intensifying their efforts to turn Catholics out.  New Ways Ministry had public roles in the campaigns in both states this week.

In Maine, where a third of the population are Catholic, former Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in conjunction with Catholics for Marriage Equality to urge Mainers to vote Yes on Question One.

Governor John Baldacci (center) with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick.

Catholics for Marriage Equality, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, and Catholics United invited New Ways Ministry co-founder, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, and Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, to speak at the dinner. The dinner also fundraised for a local homeless shelter defunded by the US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after the shelter came out in support for equality in 2009.

Sr. Gramick told those gathered:

“It is not just a vote for lesbian and gay couples and their right, because they do have the right to get married. It is a vote to support families. You can be a good Catholic and vote with your conscience and vote for marriage equality.”

You can watch a news video of the event, including interviews with Governor Baldacci and Sister Gramick by clicking here.

One priest in Maine has recently noted how hard it is for Catholics to speak together about marriage equality.  Fr. Seamus Griesbach of Bangor referenced the emotional damage caused by a 2009 Catholic bishops’ campaign against gay marriage that saw significant financial and staff investments. Fr. Griesbach told National Public Radio:

” ‘We have both perspectives in the church, and they’re very inclined to really get pretty nasty,’ says Griesbach. ‘So I think the church said, wait a minute, we cannot allow the Gospel to be limited to some kind of slogan.’ “

Sister Jeannine speaks at the Maryland press conference.

Meanwhile, Maryland Catholics joined with other faith communities in encouraging residents to vote for Question 6 and uphold a pre-existing marriage equality law. Religious leaders,  including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, gathered on Thursday, October 18th at an interfaith press conference to express their support for Question 6.

Sister Jeannine spoke at the conference and was quoted in the Washington Blade :

“As we grow in the moral right, we sometimes have to make conscience decisions that are at odds with the leaders of our religious denomination…I do respect the position of the Catholic bishops on this question, but I disagree with them and I disagree with them because my conscience tells me so. My conscience tells me that social justice teaching in my church… supports equality and dignity for every individual. And so I can apply that social justice teaching of my church to the question of civil marriage for lesbian and gay people. This is not a question of church doctrine. It’s a question of public policy. And in this area of public policy I respectfully disagree with the bishops of my church.’”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,135 other followers