In an op-ed yesterday, the National Catholic Reporter, a major independent Catholic newspaper, detailed a compelling critique of San Francisco Archbishop Salvator Cordileone's involvement in the March for Marriage rally last Thursday in Washington, DC, where hundreds rallied against marriage equality before marching to the Supreme Court. The poignant editorial was an important step uplifting the voices of lay Catholics who understand and advocate for marriage equality in the context of their faith.
Cordileone's prominent participation in the rally earned its place as the main target of the National Catholic Reporter's critique because of the huge statement Cordileone's presence made by placing the Catholic Church "front and center at the ill-named March for Marriage…tak[ing] the stage in the nation's capital." Prior to the rally, Cordileone's plan to participate garnered outrage from hundreds of Bay Area Catholics and local leaders who opposed aligning the Catholic Church with the National Organization for Marriage, the rally's organizer and a group that has sought to globalize the anti-gay movement by "strategizing with Russian authorities in that country's campaign to enact harsh anti-gay laws," for example. Cordileone, however, ignored the appeals to not make this public move against marriage equality.
Instead, Cordileone was a feature speaker at the rally where he gave a problematic speech, according to the National Catholic Reporter. The central flaw with Cordileone's speech as well as with the broader movement against same-sex relationships in general was his articulation of "two irreconcilable points" of 1) everybody despite all differences being children of God and loved and welcomed by God, and 2) people who love others of the same sex must deny that love. In the words of National Catholic Reporter staff,
Underlying the sincere declarations of love for all of the God's children is the real nub of the issue, the language that stings no matter how one might try to disguise its harshness beneath theological nuance. The church has declared that people of homosexual orientation are objectively disordered. With that understanding, the church effectively tells the LGBT community that it must quarantine its sexual reality, its affections and its members' love of one another in order to be welcome in its worship spaces and among its ministries.
Perhaps that inherent contradiction -- professing to uphold the dignity of all while simultaneously requiring some to block off an integral part of who they are in order to be a member of the community in good standing -- is the reason the church is losing the battle in the courts and at the ballot box.
The National Catholic Reporter editorial makes the simple but powerful point that Christians against marriage equality have unconvincing, irrational arguments. For example, the claim that marriage equality will threaten heterosexual marriages is inaccurate; rather, "the problems with heterosexual marriage are created by heterosexuals, and by no one else." The argument that children need the guidance of both a mother and father "remains elusive for a growing number, not because of homosexuals, but because of the males and females who are creating the circumstances of single-parent families."
The editorial closes with the poignant question as to why so many church leaders are against marriage equality:
It is mystifying, with so many social problems needing attention, to watch so much of the U.S. Catholic leadership obsessed with these sexual matters. The fact is that people of other than traditional sexual orientation no longer engage in self-sequester or quarantine. That age has passed, and it has little to do with willful disregard for church teaching and far more to do with a growing understanding of the complexity and diversity of humankind.