Features

Mass Uprising

The American Catholic hierarchy is escalating a campaign against 
gay marriage—and progressive Catholic churchgoers are angry. 
Angry enough to leave. Angry enough to organize. Angry enough to stop tithing. How much money from that donation platter is going into the fight against gays and lesbians, anyway?

Mass Uprising

Kelly O

ST. JAMES CATHEDRAL Parishioner Dave Clemens, who’s withholding his 2012 pledge to St. James, predicts “there will be widespread disobedience” over the mandates from church leaders on gay marriage. Dominic Holden attempted to interview Father Michael Ryan at St. James Cathedral recently and waited an hour and a half in the snow while Father Ryan evidently slipped out a back door.

Most of the country's 75 million Catholics disagree with their church on gay rights. A Washington Post–ABC News poll last March found that 63 percent of white Catholics believe same-sex marriage should be legal. When Catholics are assured that the issue is civil marriage "like you get at City Hall," 71 percent of all Catholics support same-sex marriage, according to a national poll by the Public Religion Research Institute also conducted last March.

That's more supportive than the public at large, whose support for gay marriage, poll after poll shows, hovers just above the 50- percent mark.

Western Washington has a huge population of Catholics, roughly one million strong, many of them political progressives, which probably explains why the Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain positioned himself as a spiritual moderate when he was installed as the Seattle archbishop in December of 2010. He said he would heed the decrees of Rome but listen to local points of view before making decisions. Seattlepi.com columnist Joel Connelly, himself a practicing Catholic, wrote that Sartain's welcome mass brought "palpable relief that the Vatican has not sent a hard-line 'enforcer.'" Likewise, the Seattle Times reported, "Sartain realizes that reaching people in the largely unchurched Pacific Northwest will be not just about preaching church doctrines but asking the more universal questions."

"I liked what I read," says Barbara Guzzo, 62, a lifelong Catholic who attends St. Mary's in the Central District. She recalls, "People I know were very supportive of him coming, saying that he seems very open-minded."

But Sartain's political views were somewhat mysterious. When evangelical Christians tried to repeal domestic-partnership rights for gay couples in Washington State in 2009, Sartain was still in Illinois, and the Seattle Catholic Church largely abstained from participating. (A local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, gave only $100 to the repeal effort, which failed.)

The first clue about Sartain's views didn't come until January 13, 2012, when Sartain and three other Catholic bishops in Washington State issued a proclamation declaring a campaign to stop the same-sex-marriage bill in Olympia, saying that the "continuation of the human race" hangs in the balance and that "bringing to life the next generation" requires restricting marriage to straight couples—and that everyone should contact their legislators.

That position wasn't shocking, considering that the Catholic Church is an absolute hierarchy and that Pope Ratzinger had decried gay marriage the same week to protect "the future of humanity itself." The unknown was this: Was Sartain simply giving lip service to opposing the marriage bill or was he going to personally and enthusiastically jump into the fray to assist Ratzinger? After all, Ratzinger has something of an unresolved vendetta against gay-friendly Seattle Catholics: In the mid-1980s, then-archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen addressed a group called Dignity, a Catholic LGBT organization, and allowed Dignity to hold its mass at St. James Cathedral on First Hill. This triggered an investigation by the Vatican spearheaded by Ratzinger—who was then a cardinal—instructing the withdrawal of support for "any group which does not unequivocally accept the teaching of the Magisterium concerning the intrinsic evil of homosexual activity." But when Ratzinger sent in a hardliner to usurp Hunthausen's power by assuming his responsibilities, the progressive Seattle Catholics in the pews pushed back. (There's a book about it called Holy Siege: The Year That Shook Catholic America.) Backed by his congregants, Hunthausen ultimately prevailed and remained the archbishop until retiring at his leisure in 1991.

The answer about the extent to which Sartain was going to personally involve himself emerged a week after his initial proclamation. Sartain forced all 147 parishes in Western Washington and another roughly 100 parishes in Eastern Washington to print articles in their church bulletins again instructing all Catholics to "call, e-mail, or write your state senator and two representatives..." Then he traveled to Olympia and, in his testimony against the bill before a state senate committee, explained that straight people require "special laws" to ensure the human race doesn't perish. (Of course, gay-marriage laws are passing left and right and, um, the human race is booming.)

He didn't stop there.

In the week following his testimony, Sartain turned the home page of the Archdiocese of Seattle website into a hail of warnings in red text, ALL CAPS ACTION ALERTS, and links to his latest writings decrying marriage equality. On February 7, Sartain kept up the drumbeat to lobby lawmakers by conflating the anti-gay-marriage campaign with the larger crusade for "conscience rights." The marriage law may not provide "protection to churches and religious organizations" that wish to discriminate against gay people, Sartain warned. "Threats against religious freedom are current, real and concrete," he added. "I will be asking our Catholic people to make our federal and state legislators aware of our alarm and our firm objection."

After both houses of the state legislature passed the same-sex-marriage bill, Sartain published still more directives for parishioners to ask Governor Gregoire to veto it. If you clicked the links, you found the website for the Washington State Catholic Conference (which Sartain is the president of) festooned with the logos and names of beloved local nonprofit Catholic charities. In a sense, Sartain was harnessing the full force of the Seattle archdiocese with all of its affiliates and subsidiaries—even the government-funded human-services nonprofits (more on that later)—as well as every parish in the state for his lobbying campaign.

In other words, Sartain, once the hope of Seattle's progressive Catholics, is defining his rise to prominence with a campaign against gay rights. "In the last few months, obviously, my views of Sartain have changed pretty radically," says Leo Egashira, a 52-year-old Seattle Catholic. It wasn't the bishops' initial statement against marriage equality that surprised him. "He has to toe the Vatican line," Egashira acknowledges. "But in the past couple weeks, he's gone above and beyond toeing the line. He really believes in the statements and is not afraid to speak out strong. Which is disappointing, because up until now, there has not been an issue as divisive as this."

Sartain declined to be interviewed for this story, but his spokesman, Greg Magnoni, says he expects the archbishop to "support a referendum in opposition to the law changing the legal definition of marriage." That means the Catholic Church in Washington State—the state's most organized religious body—is just getting started.

The internal backlash within the church is just getting started, too.

Barbara Guzzo is part of a group of Catholics who are organizing to protest Archbishop Sartain. "We support marriage equality in Washington State and do not agree with the bishop on this issue," Guzzo says. She and other Catholics met in January to plan some sort of protest, she says, and since then "about 60 or 70 people said they would sign up or help put an ad in the paper." Their group doesn't have a name yet.

Similarly, a state lawmaker who voted for the same-sex-marriage bill forwarded me an e-mail from a constituent that read in part: "I am a practicing Catholic, and... I want you to know that all Catholics have their own opinion on this issue, and the archbishop's conservative opinion is not one that I share."

Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of the LGBT Catholic group DignityUSA, which is still around, explains the clash between hierarchy and laity: "They've lost on this and they know their message isn't getting through. This last desperate attempt to show that they have any moral authority or moral relevance is being played out at the expense of LGBT people and our families, straight and gay alike, but it's clear that church leaders don't realize how the issue of marriage equality affects the entire church. We see the ramping up in so many ways. We're also seeing more and more money funneled into both state and federal anti-gay initiatives. The only thing that is more important than defeating us are reproductive issues—not housing, not peace, not health care. I grieve the days of Hunthausen, who was such a promoter of justice. They took him out of his place, which is what happens to anybody who doesn't follow the party line these days, whether you be a choir director, a parish priest, or a bishop."

How much more will churchgoing Catholics tolerate?

"That is a really good question that I ask myself all the time," Guzzo says. "I do ask myself: Where do I say, I can't do it anymore? One of my criticisms of my church is that it is all about sex, anything tied to sexuality. It makes the church irrelevant for so many, including my three adult children who have given up. What I don't know is if there is a point when there is so much I disagree with, I can't call myself Catholic anymore."

Guzzo is like plenty of Catholics who, despite being straight and married, are considering leaving the church for some of the same reasons that so many gay people have left.

"The more heavy-handed our bishops get, the more American Catholics in the pews rush to protect their LGBT family members—and get mad," Catholics for Equality director Phil Attey says. "We don't have a role in the decision-making process. Because of this, sadly, many Catholics are leaving our church."

State senator Ed Murray, prime sponsor of the same-sex-marriage bill and a practicing Catholic, says, "They are taking this issue to a place where they haven't taken issues like poverty or the death penalty. When it comes to issues of sexuality, I am more and more concerned that my church is becoming a single-issue church."

I remember when it was a multi-issue church. I recall growing up in the progressive St. Therese Parish, which was devoted to the social-justice tenets that Murray and every other Catholic parishioner I interviewed for this article see as the church's guiding lights. I vividly remember hugging Archbishop Hunthausen when I was 6 or 7. He was visiting our parish to bless a modern-art mobile, back when no one thought twice about a little boy in the mid-1980s waist-hugging a Catholic bishop.

At St. Therese School, where I was one of only two white kids in my grade, we were steeped in the history of the civil rights movement. MLK was basically our Jesus. Alabama was our Rome. In fourth grade, Sister Maureen would reflect on her years in Nicaragua helping locals. Mrs. Lindsay once performed a heartfelt funeral for a dead sparrow on the playfield. I took my first communion in that frankincense-and-myrrh-scented church, accepting real loaves of warm brown bread, broken off into hunks. It wasn't until years later I discovered that the suckers at other congregations were choking down those god-awful wafers. So—despite the boy-raping scandals and the gay campaigns—my sentiments were a sort of soft-focus impression of equal rights for all, sacrifice for the oppressed, upbeat sing-alongs, and freshly baked snacks.

But the politics were too much. One of the reasons I left the church in my teens, as did my gay older brother, were the decrees from Rome saying that our homosexuality was literally "evil"—that we would have unequal relationships, that we would never be fully accepted before their altar. Like millions of other gay Catholics, I left the church and entered the secular world, where the church, I thought, couldn't touch us anymore.

Perhaps I'd been naive.

Catholics have a right to know where the money they put in those collection plates is going, and many of them probably believe that it's going toward feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, keeping the church's lights on, and social charity. But the truth is that government, not the laity, finances the vast majority of the Catholic Church's charity work.

A records request with the City of Seattle revealed that the city gave the Archdiocesan Housing Authority $1.5 million in 2011 and has pledged $1.2 million this year. The city gave Catholic Community Services of Western Washington $5.6 million in 2011 and pledged $3.2 million this year. Looking at the 2010 annual report for the archdiocese's Catholic human services and housing programs, I found that 72 percent of their $120 million annual budget comes from the government. Only a fraction (10 percent) comes from public contributions. (That annual report opens with a statement from Archbishop Sartain, who controls the organizations.) This is typical around the country, where the Catholic charities are largely funded by government endowments.

"Most Catholics are unaware that so much of their charity work is not charity at all," says Attey of Catholics for Equality. "It's management of government programs."

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Seattle assesses roughly $5.5 million annually from parishes in Western Washington, according to its annual report. An additional "$10 million is raised annually for the archdiocese by parishes through our Annual Catholic Appeal," says archdiocese spokesman Magnoni. (A national body of bishops then assesses millions more from the various archdioceses around the country.)

How much of this money helps fund Seattle's Catholic housing and service charities?

"Zero," says Magnoni.

Magnoni explains that they are "separate nonprofit corporations." Catholic Community Services of Western Washington did not respond to requests for interviews.

I don't mean to make a j'accuse here. The government money that funds the charities isn't being abused for political purposes, nor is the church violating federal nonprofit rules. Compared to the entire annual budgets for the various Catholic entities, the organizations spend only a fraction of their money on lobbying efforts, as allowed by the IRS. Magnoni won't say how much they've spent on the recent anti-gay political campaign but writes in an e-mail that the amount "is negligible (close to zero) when compared with all other activities." But here's something to consider: Progressive Catholic parishioners all over the United States place lots of money on those collection plates every Sunday and, yeah, they're fine with it trickling up from their parish into the archdiocese's coffers. Because the archdiocese does such good work. It's true—they do do good work. But not with the collection-plate money. The good work for human services and social justice is funded mostly out of tax dollars. It's hard to say where all that money from the collection plates goes. But some of it, we know, goes into the anti-gay campaigns.

Plus, consider how Sartain is using the goodwill of these local Catholic charities to support the church's lobbying. For example, the same Catholic Advocacy Network webpage he runs that tells people to "send a message to your state senator and your two representatives" etc. features the logo for Catholic Community Services and the Archdiocesan Housing Authority. Meanwhile, Catholic Community Services is promoting Catholic Advocacy Day on February 15 to join Sartain in lobbying lawmakers.

Who dictates the church's lobbying agenda?

All roads lead to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the hub of the American Catholic hierarchy. Under the USCCB's leadership, the church has deftly pulled money from other states and concentrated it. For example, the money used to repeal same-sex marriage in Maine: It was siphoned from elsewhere.

In 2009, after Maine's legislature passed a same-sex-marriage law, dozens of archdioceses and bishops from around the country sent $568,024 (in quantities ranging from $500 to $10,000) to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, according to records held by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. The archdiocese subsequently transferred every dollar of that to Stand for Marriage Maine and other parts of a campaign to repeal Maine's same-sex-marriage law, and they succeeded, overturning it with 53 percent of the vote.

This year, USCCB's financial power and influence stands to be only stronger. When the bishops' conference met in Baltimore in November, members voted to collect 3 percent more from each archdiocese for 2013. That will require raising the funds this year, money that ultimately comes from the collection plate.

"If a parish fails to raise the money for the bishops' appeal, that money comes from the parish's operating budget," explains Attey. "So either way, the bishop gets his money and the USCCB gets its money."

However, the USCCB itself is just the tip of the cash pile.

Working in tandem with various PACs and the Knights of Columbus, the American Catholic Church has been raising millions more in recent years with less obvious fingerprints. With that aim, the USCCB recently established the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, which concerns itself with the political strategy for stopping the gay-marriage movement. In a report to bishops last June, anti-gay-marriage committee chair Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland acknowledged that working in tandem with affiliated Catholic groups is vital to the church's new strategy: "We remain deeply grateful to the Knights of Columbus for their continued, generous support of the bishops' work in this area."

Likewise, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is widely accepted as a bulldog front organization for the church. "The largest known donation to NOM is $1.4 million from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus in 2009," the Human Rights Campaign reported in its NOM Exposed project. Furthermore, NOM's top leaders—president Brian Brown, founding president Maggie Gallagher, and former board chair Robert George—are all Catholics. Funded by individual Catholics as well, NOM alone contributed $1.4 million to repeal marriage in Maine in 2009 and $1.8 million to repeal marriage in California in 2008.

Combined with these groups, the Catholic Church has leveraged centuries of organization and the credibility of bishops who are embraced by mainstream media to amplify its anti-gay campaign in a way that evangelical churches, for instance, could never do on their own. And while evangelical voters were considered essential to the Bush reelection strategy in 2004, the involvement of the Catholic Church in the last few years has pushed their political movement into prime time.

The church's creeping influence on American politics evokes the presidential race of 1960. John F. Kennedy famously struggled to allay fears among Protestants that if he were elected the first Catholic president, the Vatican would use him as a conduit to shape American policy. Looking back, Senator Ed Murray says, "The fear that took place in the 1960 campaign around the Catholic Church appears to be playing out now in the same-sex-marriage issue."

NOM and the bishops are planning to stage another public fight in Washington State: On February 13, the same day Governor Chris Gregoire signed the marriage-equality bill into law, opponents of gay marriage filed Referendum 74, attempting to overturn the law at the ballot (thereby putting marriage equality in limbo until the election). Mind you, no state has ever approved marriage equality by popular vote—only courts and legislatures have enacted it—and every state that has repealed marriage equality has done so at the ballot with a decisive, well-financed boost from NOM and the Catholic Church.

"Yesterday, there was a commitment of $1 million made to this campaign" to repeal marriage in Washington State, Cedar Park Assembly of God Church pastor Joe Fuiten announced on February 2. Who made the pledge? "I'm not going to say, but it's been committed," replied Fuiten, adding that it was out-of-state money. But the out-of-state funder seems obvious: NOM announced the same day on its blog that it would help run the referendum campaign. The day the referendum was filed, National Organization for Marriage's Christopher Plante, who had just flown in from Rhode Island, announced that NOM and its allies would likely spend $2 million to $6 million to repeal the marriage law in Washington State.

And there will be hell to pay for any lawmaker who crosses NOM's path.

In mid-January, NOM pledged $250,000 to oust any Republican legislator in Washington who voted for same-sex marriage (six voted for it anyway) and similar pledges to fund legislative races for lawmakers who help repeal same-sex marriage in New Hampshire and New Jersey.

NOM didn't respond to repeated interview requests.

Meanwhile, US bishops are also ramping up their campaigns. In Minneapolis in particular, Twin Cities archbishop John Nienstedt is working his way toward passing a constitutional amendment this fall banning same-sex marriage. He's helped raise $750,000 for Minnesota Catholic Conference's portion of the campaign, mailed 400,000 DVDs to Catholics around the state arguing against same-sex marriage, and even demanded that priests read a "marriage prayer" from the pulpit while parishioners recite a pledge to "proclaim and defend [God's] plan for marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman..." Just last month, Nienstedt silenced clergy and said there would be zero "open dissension."

The US bishops also have plans for anti-gay-marriage campaigning in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virgina, and Iowa, according to a November 2011 report.

What does this mean for Washington State?

"Through this marriage committee of the USCCB, the bishops in Washington State will have a network of funding sources from across the country, some from archdioceses and collection plates, some from Knights of Columbus chapters, Opus Dei, and Catholic women's groups that will fund the most sophisticated campaigns at the highest levels," says Attey.

"You need to be prepared for that."

"If the label of 'bigot' sticks to us—especially in court—because of our teaching on marriage, we'll have church-state conflicts for years to come as a result," Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said in a report to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops last fall. Indeed, the pitfall for the Catholic Church in pursuing its political agenda is being perceived as a bully. It would be far better for bishops if they could couch their top two legislative goals—curbing access to contraception and curtailing gay marriage—while taking the opposite posture, the posture that the Catholic Church has historically preferred: being the victim.

Which is why the USCCB created the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty on September 29, 2011. In collaboration with the gay-marriage committee, this new body focuses on recasting the church's clashes with gays and women as a defense of Catholics—staving off threats to their conscience. Dolan's report continued: "The establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee is one element of what I expect to be a new moment in the history of our Conference."

Indeed, America has witnessed the church's clever, effective reframing in the past month.

President Obama bowed to the American Catholic Church on February 9 by withdrawing the White House's plan to require private employers (including religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals, adoption agencies, and service providers that rely largely on tax revenue) to provide health-insurance plans that cover contraception. Instead, insurance companies will be required to provide that coverage free of charge. Catholics claimed victory, both on policy and in the media.

That same Catholic rhetoric of religious victimhood got more traction on the floor of the Washington State House last week when Republican representative Norma Smith called same-sex marriage part of "a broader issue that we are seeing play out across the country, and that is the issue of religious liberty. Small-business owners who may have a heartfelt view born out of love, born out of their love of God... for traditional marriage have the potential to be silenced. The issue of religious liberty is being challenged across the nation."

Smith added that the threats are "not a red herring. They are not hyperbole. Catholic charities had to close their doors due to their view of traditional marriage." Other lawmakers sympathized with florists, photographers, caterers, hoteliers, and other workers who would face fines if they followed their conscience and refused to serve gay couples.

A quick question: anti-gay florists?

"This religious liberties argument is disingenuous to the point of being criminal," says Catholics for Equality director Attey. Adoption services, hospitals, schools, and other institutions can set their own conscience rules—provided that they are privately funded, he points out. But Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Illinois decided to shut down because they would rather close than meet the equal-service standards that accompany public financing. "They want to take money from taxpayers then claim victimization when the taxpayers expect them to honor the laws of their state," says Attey.

In Washington, despite Archbishop Sartain's implications, churches still have nothing to worry about if voters uphold same-sex marriage this November. Washington's new marriage law explicitly reiterates constitutional protections for religious institutions to refuse marriage services and for a church to deny use of its facilities to same-sex couples.

But the argument gets traction.

Jamie Pedersen, sponsor of the marriage bill in the state house, an attorney, and a practicing Lutheran, says the religious liberty argument is "a red herring." Despite an LGBT anti-discrimination law on the books since 2006 and domestic partnership ceremonies under way since 2007, Pedersen says, "They can't point to a single claim that's been filed in six years in our courts. So the idea that there is going to be some tidal wave of lawsuits is fearmongering."

Both Pedersen and senate sponsor Ed Murray say that carving out an exemption for private businesses to deny service to customers would be tantamount to refusing service to African Americans at the lunch counter.

"If we go back and allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians," says Murray, "I believe we set a precedent to going back and letting businesses discriminate against Catholics and Jews, Asians and African Americans—we just absolutely do not want to go there again."

I went to St. James Cathedral on a recent Sunday to ask church leaders if they agreed with Archbishop Sartain's crusade and logic (the argument that same-sex-marriage laws would cause humanity to die off). And if they disagreed—as most Catholics in our famously liberal archdiocese do—would they denounce the decree from the four local bishops?

As people left the mass, I approached a man in a long white robe wearing a mammoth silver crucifix necklace. "I can't speak for any of those people," said the man named Jerry, who claimed he didn't have a last name. Do Seattle's liberal Catholics believe the argument about procreation? "He, being the archbishop, has to toe the line of Rome," Jerry explained. "But for most of us, we toe the line of Jesus: He didn't speak hatefully of anyone. There is a large lesbian, gay, and transgender population at St. James."

Would they oppose this campaign?

"Yes, in many different ways," said Jerry, but he wouldn't say how.

Jerry said I should catch up with Father Michael Ryan—who was Hunthausen's right-hand man during the 1980s—in the parish hall next door, where they were serving Filipino food. The parish hall smelled of sesame oil and roasting meat, and I waited near the entryway for Father Ryan. I hadn't interviewed anyone, but I had my reporter's notebook out.

As I waited, a thirtysomething woman rushed up and ordered me to leave. I explained that I was a reporter and I'd been told to come speak to Father Ryan. "It is not appropriate," said the woman, turning red in the face. She said she worked for St. James. As I noted that, she lunged for my hand and grabbed it and then shifted her grip to take my pen from my hand. Holding onto the pen, I asked, "What are you doing? I'm a reporter and you're getting physically confrontational with me for taking notes." She said she didn't want to be named (I never got her name), briefly apologized for trying to take my pen, and then insisted I stand outside. So I went and stood in the snow.

At that moment, a man standing in the doorway said he wanted to speak to me.

"I support Governor Gregoire," said parishioner Bill Baumgartner, 76, explaining his support for the marriage-equality bill. "We should have marriage for all people."

He volunteered the church's hypocrisy in targeting gay people: "Would the bishops say, 'If you are divorced one or two times, leave the church' or 'If you have used contraception, leave the church'? But we don't do that."

I stepped a few feet back inside to see if Father Ryan was available, when a woman, declaring herself to be another employee of St. James, rushed up and began screaming at me. She yelled that she would get Father Ryan and then told me to get out, so I went back outside and stood under a sign that read "All are welcome."

I waited for an hour and a half.

Father Ryan never came. When another staffer stepped outside, he told me, "Father Ryan already left." So I guess Father Ryan slipped out the back door.

While it's understandable that some people at St. James and the archdiocese may feel like they're being wrongly placed under a microscope by having a reporter arrive, it was their leaders who issued the proclamation, their leaders who lobbied our lawmakers in Olympia, their leaders who are going above and beyond to infringe on other people's rights. If they are scrutinized, it's because their institution initiated a conflict.

The church isn't the victim here.

So perhaps I was naive for having faith in Seattle's Catholic leadership, for thinking that they were kind or at least brave enough to explain themselves. The shepherds, not the flock, are the collective problem. To Father Ryan's credit, his sermon on February 12 spoke warmly of gays and lesbians, noting that "there are no outcasts whatever: only fellow humans in need of love, human warmth, healing, acceptance." But he never addressed the massive political campaigning being waged in the name of Catholics, with Catholic money. By refusing to directly repudiate bigotry, priests in parishes around the state are the ones defending it.

St. James parishioner Dave Clemens has had enough. "Regretfully, I need to withhold my 2012 pledged contribution to the Cathedral until I see what St. James Cathedral will do on this issue, which will likely be a ballot question in the Fall," Clemens wrote in a January e-mail to St. James pastoral assistant Larry Brouse. "I'm very discouraged that Archbishop Sartain is going to pull the local Church into a divisive election issue this fall."

In a follow-up e-mail to me, he continued: "If Sartain gets heavy-handed with us before the fall vote, I think there will be widespread disobedience."

Joel Connelly, the Catholic columnist who welcomed Sartain in 2010 for not being a hardliner, was attending mass at St. Hubert on Whidbey Island in the week following Sartain's proclamation.

"The priest, who I respected, began to deliver a sermon about threats to religious liberty in the United States. He then got into same-sex marriage and talked about Catholics who disagreed with the church's position being unwilling to face the truth," Connelly says.

"I decided to face the truth, and heeded the age-old admonishment of St. Thomas More: 'Silence gives consent.' So I got up, and I left the church. I have found another parish home." recommended

 

Comments (71) RSS

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1
She yelled that she would get Father Ryan and then told me to get out, so I went back outside and stood under a sign that read "All are welcome."
Posted by Satan's itchy butthole on February 15, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Hunthausen also famously opposed the anti-gay Initiative 13 in 1978. He even had a big press conference. Check the Seattle Times archives.

Seattle voted down I-13 by 62%, upholding anti-discrimination laws :)
Posted by Baconcat on February 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
3
Thank you for this article. I agree that most Catholics are accepting (and perhaps excited for) marriage equality, especially in WA state. I can tell you that my entire family are liberal Democrats who also attend church weekly.
However, I don't see some mass exodus of the Catholic church on this issue. The thing is, priests don't discuss gay people or gay marriage in mass. They don't talk politics. The sermons are appropriate, fitting for many situations, and are not offensive (in my experience of course). So, who cares what some old guy at the top is saying? Yes, he's the Pope, but we didn't vote him in. He's just a man, sinful as any other man (and wrong at times). He can print whatever decree he wants; yes it bothers me, but it's not changing my mind.
And lastly, mass feels traditional and comfortable. Other Christian religions seem what my dad calls "religion lite". In addition, the Catholic church does so much work for our community. I can guarantee you that none of my family - the 7 uncles and 4 aunts and their respective families - are leaving anytime soon.
Although I wish Pope John Paul II was in power now.. I doubt this would be happening.
Posted by SaraJean on February 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
seatim 4
Great piece Dominic.
Posted by seatim on February 15, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
5
At some point, Sarajean, you have to see that you and your family are enabling the bigots.

I have a gay brother and sister: you will never find me crossing the transom of a Catholic Church again.
Posted by judybrowni on February 15, 2012 at 1:59 PM · Report this
6
Why doesn't anyone ever ASK these people what they're talking about? Seriously!

---

The first clue about Sartain's views didn't come until January 13, 2012, when Sartain and three other Catholic bishops in Washington State issued a proclamation declaring a campaign to stop the same-sex-marriage bill in Olympia, saying that the "continuation of the human race" hangs in the balance and that "bringing to life the next generation" requires restricting marriage to straight couples—and that everyone should contact their legislators.

---

So there aren't any "out of wedlock" pregnancies? So we're clear that marriage is NOT needed to reproduce, right?

Then how would letting one probably-non-reproducing couple get married PREVENT a DIFFERENT couple from having children (or even the above mentioned O-o-W pregnancies)? Because we already allow infertile couples to marry.

So this is not about "continuation of the human race". Why isn't anyone asking them about it?
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on February 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
This is a good article. You can't mention the history of this diocese, with Hunthausen being removed by Ratzinger long before he was pope, enough.

But I think you're being a little skewed in your description of Catholic Community Charities. There really isn't a distinction between "charity" and "government programs". EVERY area charity that does homelessness work is "managing government programs". That's how homelessness works.

People may be confused about whether their collection plate money goes to CCS or not, but they shouldn't be confused about where CCS money mainly comes from. Which has never been the collection plate.

That's where the hurt will come from, though. I encourage all Catholics to start withholding that money and giving it instead directly to CCS, or one of the other fine agencies in the area -- Solid Ground, Downtown Emergency Service Center, Multi-Service Centers, Hopelink....
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on February 15, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
8
A good read - thanks, Dominic. Disheartening, to say the least.
Posted by MLM on February 15, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 9
Great article.

Nearly every practicing Catholic I know is a decent person with a deep appreciation for family, society, and justice.

They deserve so much better than their Church.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on February 15, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
10
The "continuation of the human race" hangs in the balance...

... says the celibate man who have taken a holy vow never, ever to procreate.
Posted by TechBear on February 15, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
11
If the archbishop "support(s) a referendum in opposition to the law changing the legal definition of marriage" and will be ordering the Catholic Church in Washington to directly involve itself in what he admits is a civil matter dealing with civil rather than moral law... isn't that a direct violation of the Church's tax exempt status?

Methinks a federal investigation should be called.
Posted by TechBear on February 15, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
12
@6 Bingo. In fact, it turns out that there are people "redefining marriage." You know who? All the people whining about "redefining marriage!" They're the ones who are redefining marriage as something to do with sex and childbirth. Sex and childbirth has to do with biology, not government grant of licenses, nor Church ceremonies.

Marriage is currently, and has been for the last century at least, all about choosing someone to live with and love, in sickness and in health, to make a life together, to share burdens and support each other. It's choosing your next-of-kin and your co-head of household. Sex and begetting offspring are optional, and even as every idiot knows, widely available outside of marriage.

So, why are they doing this, redefining marriage? Because without it, they have no argument at all. Love is love. Life partnership is life partnership. They HAVE to introduce some imaginary linkage to child-bearing to have any hook at all to hang this shit on.

Fuck them. Call them out. THEY'RE the ones doing the "redefining!"
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 15, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this
13
I believe we need a citizen's initiative stop the city from making these payments. Hire the CCS folks on the city payroll, where they can get contraception as part of their benefits. Prevent the Church from "poverty washing" (similar to green or pink washing that corporations do with token environmental or Komen(tm) efforts) government money to their own PR advantage.

They want religious freedom? They can have religious freedom -- from taxpayer dollars.

If services for the disadvantaged are so important, they can spend their own money on it.
Posted by moretent on February 15, 2012 at 3:35 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 14
bigoty bigoty bigoty amen.
Posted by scary tyler moore http://pushymcshove.blogspot.com/ on February 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Keister Button 15
You can give to Catholic Community Services of Western Washington programs individually: I've been redirecting church dollars to Sacred Heart Shelter in Queen Anne, and St. Martin de Porres Shelter in SoDo to alleviate hunger and homelessness. Actually, the Vatican's needless change to eucharistic rites and the unnecessary scrutiny of the women-religious communities precipitated this redirection. No Roman Catholic has yet convinced me of the justification for the lobbying against marriage-equality, scrutinizing, and rewording. Cynically, I suspect some attention-redirection from the sex abuse scandals is the reason for all three. Maybe some misguided Vatican City higher-ups believe marginalization of certain communities is bound to increase attendance and positive feelings; or maybe because the increased church attendance in developing nations and China outnumber the lost church attendance in Western industrialized countries the Vatican is less inclined to give a shit about "bringing everyone to the table."
Posted by Keister Button on February 15, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
16
The Stranger needs to print a coupon that says "I gave this weeks tithe to upholding marriage equality" so that people can have something to put in the collection plate as it goes by.

Of course, I am not Catholic and no longer Christian. The religion I was raised in no longer appeals to me.
Posted by Charlie-45X on February 15, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
17
Wow, SaraJean. I'm a Jew and I care what Ratzinger thinks because his views impact my access to birth control, my friends' ability to access basic human rights, etc. So before you go minimizing his (and your 'comfortable,traditional' church's) impact, you may want to reread the article and think again about how your money is being actively used to discriminate.

Also, your comment about other Christian sects just sounds condescending. If I were a Lutheran I'd be pissed (but very polite about it).
Posted by jt on February 15, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
18
This was brilliant and scared the shit out of me. Absolutely commendable!! I am a gay former Catholic, and to see this collection plate money used for such abominable ends is unacceptable.

I am a Californian. I moved here just before Prop 8 passed, and it was a nightmarish ordeal. I want to be in Washington this November. I want to do everything I can to resist these people. They must not win again!
Posted by adamsass on February 15, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
JonnoN 19
agree with @11

how does this
"Sartain forced all 147 parishes in Western Washington and another roughly 100 parishes in Eastern Washington to print articles in their church bulletins again instructing all Catholics to "call, e-mail, or write your state senator and two representatives...""

not directly violate their tax-exempt status??
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on February 15, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
Donolectic 20
@3 - I'm sorry change scares you. It scared the Church too when Martin Luther pointed out their inanities. But I understand, you're too comfortable with your rituals to do the right thing.

Jesus would be so proud.
Posted by Donolectic on February 15, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this
Crazy Cat Guy's Husband 21
@11 & 19 Regarding tax status — churches can't involve themselves in electoral politics in the case of candidates for office, but they're free to work for or against referenda and initiatives.

IRS: Charities, Churches and Politics
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,i…
Posted by Crazy Cat Guy's Husband on February 15, 2012 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 22
DEAR GOD, please tell those that want Marriage Equality to stop using the Destructive term "Gay Marriage".

Did you hear what M Gallagher said about "Marriage Equality" THE TERM? She did not like it. WHY? Because it's about Marriage and it's about Equality. Why does she always use "Gay Marriage" or "Same Sex Marriage"? Because it's about GAY and SEX and she do hate those Gay folk.
Amen.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 15, 2012 at 7:40 PM · Report this
23
As a practicing Catholic, I am concern and sadden that the Archdiocese of Seattle and Archbishop Sartain has made this a mission. The Church that I know and love looks to support those that are marginalize. The fact that Archbishop Sartain has decided to crusade against the "evil" of the union of two people that love and are committed to each other leaves me speechless.

Does he not realize that he is crusading against a large gay community within the Church that love, support and provide community? I can only assume that isn't the case.

As a Catholic, I am proud of the work that the Church does. But,there are things I am very ashamed of too. I do feel at the end of the day the good far outweighs the bad. Unfortunately, in this case I am beginning to question that balance.
Posted by Questpace on February 15, 2012 at 7:42 PM · Report this
Baconcat 24
You all need to write a letter.

Pick a day to drop your letters in the mail at the same time and let them pour in. Maybe on a Thursday so they all arrive on his desk on a Friday or Saturday?
Posted by Baconcat on February 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM · Report this
25
@12 What interest does the government have in who you live with and love? But there is obvious government interest in supporting the basic family unit which produces and raises the future members of our society.
Posted by Vertex on February 15, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
26
Thanks for writing this, Dominic! Whatever one's sexuality or religion, this issue speaks to conscience... More love please. If our beliefs do not propel us to be more loving, compassionate humans, what is all the ritual for?
Posted by downtownkitty on February 15, 2012 at 9:07 PM · Report this
27
I'm a practicing Catholic, and I thought this article was very thorough and fair. Definitely a cut (several cuts) above the usual writing in The Stranger about religion.

I don't think people will leave the Church over this issue. Most practicing Catholics aren't Catholic because of the hierarchy or bishops (often they are in spite of them)--they're Catholic because they were raised that way and it's part of their identity; they like their parish or priest; their spouse is Catholic; or a hundred other reasons. That won't change.

However, that doesn't mean people who disagree should be silent. I have written to the Seattle Archdiocese and the US Conference of Bishops and told them why I disagree with their views on gay marriage and contraception. I have withheld money and told the Archdiocese why. Anyone with any Catholic identify who disagrees with what the Archdiocese is doing should do the same.
Posted by Irish on February 15, 2012 at 9:11 PM · Report this
28
I disagree with this article 100%.
Posted by Catholic on February 15, 2012 at 11:41 PM · Report this
Steven Bradford 29
#3, I would disagree, the mass exodus has already happened, and continues to happen, at least among non-immigrant catholics in america. I come from a catholic family, we were devout and active in our parish. I was the first of the five kids to abandon it thirty five years ago, in a conscious decision, not a lapse because I didn't feel like going to mass every sunday. (This was long before coming out as gay, I just found the theology to silly for my 15 year old reasoning)

All my siblings drifted away too. Finally, several years ago, my parents stopped going. My best friend from high school, from a hispanic family, was very religious, went to seminary for a year, eventually became a lay minister and gave communion at masses when that became neccesary with the priest shortage, even he gave up several years ago, largely in frustration with the RC church's continual move backwards on the treatment of women and gays. This IS the story of american catholicism.
I know why the good people who are left there stay on. The church has been a force for good at times in the past. But the structure of the church brooks no disagreement.
Posted by Steven Bradford http://www.seanet.com/~bradford/ on February 15, 2012 at 11:46 PM · Report this
Seattlebcc 30
Look, I'm a parishioner at St. James and I'm gay. I also volunteer there on occasion. It's been my parish for years. I am a "cradle catholic" and in all the parishes I've been to across this country it is probably the most welcoming one I've ever been to. I see gay couples both with and without children holding hands. The church feeds the hungry and tends to the sick and dying - including those with HIV/AIDS. Fr. Ryan has better things to do than justify himself to a biased, media hyped situation. And if it wasn't so biased, you'd be at mass or would be volunteering at St. Vincents, seeing first hand that the church's mission goes way beyond just marrying people. It takes care of its community as best as it can with the donations it receives. What has this paper done for the sick and dying lately? I know if I were on my deathbed and needed last rites, I wouldn't want any priest to be held up by the likes of The Stranger.
Posted by Seattlebcc on February 16, 2012 at 6:20 AM · Report this
Seattlebcc 31
Look, I'm a parishioner at St. James and I'm gay. I also volunteer there on occasion. It's been my parish for years. I am a "cradle catholic" and in all the parishes I've been to across this country it is probably the most welcoming one I've ever been to. I see gay couples both with and without children holding hands. The church feeds the hungry and tends to the sick and dying - including those with HIV/AIDS. Fr. Ryan has better things to do than justify himself to a biased, media hyped situation. Especially as we enter the season of Lent - which, by the way, a good majority of people Catholic and Non-Catholic people have no problem celebrating with Fat Tuesday (prior to Ash Wednesday). And if it wasn't so biased, you'd be at mass or would be volunteering at St. Vincents, seeing first hand that the church's mission goes way beyond just marrying people. It takes care of its community as best as it can with the donations it receives. What has this paper done for the sick and dying lately? I know if I were on my deathbed and needed last rites, I wouldn't want any priest to be held up by the likes of The Stranger.
Posted by Seattlebcc on February 16, 2012 at 6:33 AM · Report this
32
The US constitution guarantees me the separation of church and state. It does not guarantee the Catholic church or any church access to my tax dollars. No tax money to churches period! And while we are at it, why is church owned property tax exempt? Why am I subsidizing churches with my property tax dollars?
Posted by rschepper@gmail.com on February 16, 2012 at 6:49 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 33
bigoty bigoty bigoty amen.
Posted by scary tyler moore http://pushymcshove.blogspot.com/ on February 16, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
slade 34
Obama whack Osama Obama win the Super bowl Obama put the Catholic in a head lock and give the pope a long nasty noogie till his hat wont fit no more!

Its amazing what happens when Republicans are not in power? Free heath care! Civil Rights! the end of wars! all that toxic crap gets discovered and the entire nation gets healthy and wise.

I feel like having a baby.
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on February 16, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
35
Seattlebcc, I'm sorry for the pain this causes you. Father Ryan is between a rock and a hard place and I'm sure you are too. There's a profound cognitive dissonance caused by having to reconcile who you are with an institution that doesn't fully support you (especially when you've been in that institution since birth). This is a massive shift for the church and I only hope the bishops come around and join the modern world instead of waving this 'religious freedom' canard around.
Posted by jt on February 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this
36
@27 - well said, Irish. Totally agree.

@31 Seattlebcc - I noticed that also. Why should the priest have to talk to a reporter who just shows up without an appointment after mass? He knows anything he says will be printed in an article, and knowing it's from The Stranger, he probably made a wise decision (as this paper and the writers, as much as I enjoy them, seem to fervently hate the concept of religion).
I don't blame Father Ryan for slipping out the back door.
Posted by SaraJean on February 16, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
37
Excellent column, Dominic! This shit has to be called upon.

I agree with @6, @10, and @12. THAT'S where the real "imbalance" hangs--between the legs of every bible thumping, woman-hating, altar boy raping celibate and his fellow hypocrites!
Posted by auntie grizelda on February 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
slade 38
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey says He will Veto Gay Marriage in New Jersey and wants to fly flags at half mass for Ms. Houston after he so eloquently put in a Television interview that Ms. Houston has attained the same stardom equal to "White" celebrity's from Jersey.

The Race for the 8th State to recognize its own citizens go full speed.
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on February 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
39
You multisexuals don't care about "rights." You want to piss off right wing moralists.

If you cared about rights you would work to have all references to "marriage" removed from all legislation, No, you want to pollute the language just as you ruined "gay."
Posted by billwald on February 16, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
40
"Catholic charities had to close their doors due to their view of traditional marriage." Other lawmakers sympathized with florists, photographers, caterers, hoteliers, and other workers who would face fines if they followed their conscience and refused to serve gay couples."

Next time someone makes this ridiculous claim, ask them why Catholic Charities of Boston's adoption services placed children with gay couples for 20 years before same-sex marriage was legalized in MA and Sean O'Malley decided to advance his career by scapegoating LGBT people.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive…
Posted by mercury613 on February 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
41
SaraJean, why should Father Ryan be immune? The smarter thing to have done would have been to meet Dominic and schedule a time for an interview. Again, I understand why he would slip out, but these are extraordinary times and he is a public figure. It comes with the territory. And this battle isn't your internal battle - your bishops have brought it to the rest of our doorsteps.

I wish you the best of luck and support reforming your church from within - and I'll refrain from any jokes about catholicism seeming like 'religion lite' to this little ol' jew.
Posted by jt on February 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Geni 42
There's a similar quiet backlash happening among some of the younger Mormons, too. I have a number of LDS friends who utterly disagree with their church's views on homosexuality and marriage equality and are trying, in their well-behaved Mormon way, to bring about internal change.
Posted by Geni on February 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM · Report this
43
Sorry, Sarajean, Pope John Paul II hated gays even more than the current pope and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy. He asked the Italian government to stop a mere gay pride march in Rome, among other things. Look it up. This idea that Pope John Paul II was some kindly old man has got to stop.
Posted by CaitlinV on February 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM · Report this
44
@41: your comment made me smile, jt. There is a Jewish side to my family by marriage. I've been to all their weddings and bat/bar mitzvahs .. they come to Christmas Eve every year (not mass but dinner and presents etc). It's pretty great. And notice I said "other Christian religions"... :)

And no, I don't think FR should have done the interview. I'm a teacher.. If my district instated a new policy, I wouldn't do an interview with the local news declaring I'm against it. I just wouldn't - it's better to have a job. And I think Father Ryan is serving the community the best way he knows how, and not doing a public interview against his boss (and the old ways of the Church in which he works!) is part of that. If he gets fired, he can't really help anymore.

I'm sorry if I come off as Pollyanna, but change takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. But it WILL happen -- and for the Catholic church, maybe not fast enough for some people. But look at how far our society has come in the last 50 - no, 30 - no, 15 years!! 50 years ago, the Catholic church was delivering sermons in Latin to English-speaking countries. 15 years ago, you couldn't even really come out in high school. There are just NOW storylines about this on television.
I believe we'll get there. In the meantime, I don't take some note posted by a bishop in the weekly bulletin as important, and I am not leaving my church.
Posted by SaraJean on February 16, 2012 at 8:04 PM · Report this
45
You'd think that most Catholics' acceptance of gay marriage wouldn't come as a surprise given their "silent-majority" acceptance of the gay things that happen under the altar, if you know what I mean.
Posted by Depetriu on February 16, 2012 at 8:35 PM · Report this
46
This is the same church that has lead a world-wide cover up about it's priests and cardinals sexual abuse of children. A preist abuses a child, move them to another parish. The same thing happens again, move them to a different country. When the parishioners find out and demand answers tell them the church deals with this internally, and not to contact the police. When a lawsuit is finally filed move any wealth in the parish to the Vatican and when the parish looses the lawsuit, claim no relationship between individual parishes and the 'Holy See'. Take extra collections so your parishioners have to pay for the sins of the fathers.

Why does anyone care what these old pedophiles have to say about anything? It is time for the Catholic Church to hold a going out of business sale and shut down the worlds most sophisticated ring of pedophiles.
Posted by SpicyBaconator on February 16, 2012 at 11:20 PM · Report this
47
All of this maligning Father Ryan is ridiculous and extremely ignorant. Fr Ryan is probably one of the most progressive priests in the State of Washington, if not the country. His homily last Sunday, which is available on the front page of the Cathedral website, was precisely about accepting gays and lesbians and *against* bigotry. The idea that he "slipped out the back" rather than talk to a reporter about the issue is absurd; did it ever occur to Mr Holden that perhaps, as the Pastor of the Cathedral church of the largest religious organization in Washington state, something may have come up? Did the author even inquire, or attempt to reschedule the interview, before accusing Fr Ryan of slinking away like a frightened schoolboy?

Fr Ryan is a man of integrity who is not afraid to express his opinion, even when it contradicts the received wisdom of the Church hierarchy (as proof, try googling Fr Michael G Ryan). That is far more than I can say for Dominic Holden. This abortion of an article, riddled with falsehoods and lazily-researched half-truths, only perpetuates ignorance. It is primarily ignorance that feeds the anti-gay hysteria in this country, so it is a great pity and sad irony that those who claim to support gay rights feed the flames with ignorant, amateurish works like this.
Posted by Jason Hoetger on February 17, 2012 at 12:19 AM · Report this
48
All of this maligning Father Ryan is ridiculous and extremely ignorant. Fr Ryan is probably one of the most progressive priests in the State of Washington, if not the country. His homily last Sunday, which is available on the front page of the Cathedral website, was precisely about accepting gays and lesbians and *against* bigotry. The idea that he "slipped out the back" rather than talk to a reporter about the issue is absurd; did it ever occur to Mr Holden that perhaps, as the Pastor of the Cathedral church of the largest religious organization in Washington state, something may have come up? Did the author even inquire, or attempt to reschedule the interview, before accusing Fr Ryan of slinking away like a frightened schoolboy?

Fr Ryan is a man of integrity who is not afraid to express his opinion, even when it contradicts the received wisdom of the Church hierarchy (as proof, try googling Fr Michael G Ryan). That is far more than I can say for Dominic Holden. This abortion of an article, riddled with falsehoods and lazily-researched half-truths, only perpetuates ignorance. It is primarily ignorance that feeds the anti-gay hysteria in this country, so it is a great pity and sad irony that those who claim to support gay rights feed the flames with ignorant, amateurish works like this.
Posted by Jason Hoetger on February 17, 2012 at 12:21 AM · Report this
49
too many catholic "liberals" stay in the church like compliant sheep

the church raped boys then criminally organized a RICO conspiracy to cover it up. when sued, they lie in court to hide the fact it's all one big corporation directed from the vatican, to let dioceses declare bankruptcy.

they discriminate against women.

they are trying to force hundreds of thousands of nurses and doctors in catholic affiliated hospitals to follow catholic church teaching on birth control -- this is attempted forced conversion.

they can do this because enough people stay in the church. look at connelly, big deal, he moves to another parish. wtf?

father ryan is part of a criminal enterprise that raped young boys and hid it and now works actively to harm gay people by denying them equal rights and to harm women and their families thru forcing them to convert to catholic teaching on birth control; he is an enabler as is jason hoetger and all the other enablers; you're in a pact with the devil. and btw the church history isn't all that great either what with popes living it up, feeding off the poor for centuries, etc.

why isn't the fucking catholic church up in arms about no national health care? about us torturing people? oh wait, they care more to stir up bigotry and hate than actually teaching the real teachings of jesus which were love your neighbor. what's more love your neighbor than gay rights, jason hoetger? why do you support a criminal enterprise that's so corrupt and evil?
Posted by bishops: evil cheating gangsters on February 17, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
50
#46 - SpicyBaconator
"Why does anyone care what these old pedophiles have to say about anything? It is time for the Catholic Church to hold a going out of business sale and shut down the worlds most sophisticated ring of pedophiles."

EXACTLY. Could not have set it better myself.
Posted by gwenlane on February 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM · Report this
51
My heart has been heavy since reading the Archbishop's dictate re: the Wa. legislature's Marriage Equality bills in my parish bulletin some weeks ago. I feel this represents a clear violation of the separation of Church and state and an imposition (overstep)on the right of individual conscience. Also, and more importantly, it neglects from a pastoral standpoint to reach out in Christian love and acceptance to the "marginalized" -- LGBT persons and their families -- within the Catholic Church. Where is the social justice model of Jesus? Not in the contemporary Catholic Church in America!!!!!
Posted by annconnolly on February 17, 2012 at 4:31 PM · Report this
52
At best, Father Ryan is a good man who has devoted his life to a profoundly evil, immoral criminal organization.

No good he may do can erase the evil he has made himself a part of.
Posted by RealityBites on February 17, 2012 at 6:05 PM · Report this
53
As a cradle catholic and as someone who works for the church, I have to laugh when I read an article like this. Nothing makes the RC church look worse than the imbeciles who run it. These men are drunk on power and clericalism. The real Catholics are out there serving others quietly and unselfishly. Many of these real Catholics attend church, support it financially yet believe in marriage equality and use contraceptives. I know many a good priest who roles his eyes when he gets "handed" something to read to his congregation. Such things are a joke and completely out of touch with thte sense of the faithful.

Despite their incompetence and sinfulness, I refuse to let these jokers hijack my religion. I don't worship them, I believe in a god who loves everyone regardless of who they love.. As the good books says, God created it all good.

Even Dominic, the author, saw the good those nuns taught him. There was and still is good there, sadly, many of the same men who covered up abuse are now lecturing us about marriage and contraceptives? WTF?

I won't let them take this faith from me. Gay, straight, bi, vegetarian, you name it- we are one.
Posted by Aint no assisi on February 17, 2012 at 9:38 PM · Report this
54
Well said, 53. I feel exactly the same way. No reason to let the hierarchy drive me out of the church--it means they've won. It's my (and your) church as much as it is theirs.

52, Fr. Ryan hasn't devoted his life to an institution--he's devoted it to serving the needs (spiritual and otherwise) of his parishioners.
Posted by Irish on February 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
55
I think it's hilarious to see a commenter referring to other religions as "lite" when every "Catholic" I know treats the church's teachings like a smorgasboard, picking and choosing what bits they want to do.
Posted by tiredofbs on February 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM · Report this
56
If the Catholic Church has failed you, and you are looking for a progressive church home where gays and lesbians are welcomed along with anybody and everybody else, and where you don't have to leave your brain at the door, any Pacific Northwest congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) would be thrilled to have you. See ucc.org. They have so moved past all of this conservative, hateful ridiculousness that the Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons seem to keep stirring up.
Posted by Sassy Dog on February 19, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
57
Thank you for this article. There is a significant disconnect between Roman Catholic bishops and their flocks. The article seems to assume that Catholic=Roman Catholic, and that is not so. The Roman Catholic bishops may be very vocal and showy, but there are other Catholic denominations, such as the Ecummenical Catholic Community in the Pacific Northwest that do not follow the Roman line of think on this, and many other issues. ECC is a place where the faithful are assumed to be intelligent, capable of making reasoned judgments in line with the faith and who recognize that within Christianity the only true distinctions that exist between people are those based on need. ECC is just one strand of the Catholic tradition, and it is a very clear example of what catholic looks like when the spirit and energy of Vatican II informs the religious practice.
Posted by ignatiusecc on February 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
58
Excellent article!

As to all the comments about Dominic flaming Fr Ryan I didn't get that at all! It was more a critisizm of church staff and the ridiculous response he got from them. In all probability Fr Ryan was never even notified that there was a reporter waiting on him. They kept him out of sight and in the dark for an hour and a half after all.

Yes, absolutely, Fr Ryan has no obligation to justify the church's or his opinions on the matter to the press. One thing is clear though, if church leadership let's radicaly minded parishoners do their speaking for them it'll be hard to percive the message as anything less then bigotry. They could use someone with a cool head to run a little PR every once and awhile.
Posted by Proteus101 on February 20, 2012 at 9:02 PM · Report this
thelyamhound 59
What interest does the government have in who you live with and love? But there is obvious government interest in supporting the basic family unit which produces and raises the future members of our society.
If marital benefits only applied where progeny were present, that argument might have value; so long as the elderly or infertile are allowed to enjoy state recognition, subsidy, and/or various special rights, the argument from procreation no explains the current state of civic marriage.
Posted by thelyamhound http://thebayinghound.blogspot.com on February 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
60
uh let me be first to call out the large, stinking elephant in the room. how can anyone take the catholic church seriously about anything post pedophile priest scandal...or should i say how the catholic church was finally revealed to be the greatest haven for pedophiles in our times. think about it. you want to molest boys? become a catholic priest. even if you get caught, they will just reassign you, if you get caught with media attention, they pay all the bills. where does this money come from? what a fantastic use of tithes.
Posted by rayray on February 21, 2012 at 8:34 PM · Report this
61
#23, I agree with #46 and #60... the balance between good and evil in the Catholic Church tipped LONG AGO, and it wasn't toward the good.
Posted by auntielarrie on February 22, 2012 at 6:24 AM · Report this
slade 62
http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aei…

The communiqué, signed by Fathers Guido Rodheudt, Hendrick Jolie and Uwe Winkel as well as German, Austrian and Swiss priests, launches a harsh attack on the “Call to Disobedience” which was published last summer by the Priests’ Initiative, a liberal movement with roots in Austria, that is asking for a review of the Church’s stance on homosexuality, celibacy and women’s access to the priesthood.

Cant be Gay! Cant have Sex! Cant be a Woman! must vote Republican! Must vote Republican and keep America strong for (record scratch)Vatican city? yes! Catholics do have a Nation and we don't need to slap it down in the middle of the middle east after kicking the crap out the earth after a world war?

since Gay people are more intelligent then Catholics and don't have any religious objection to serving our Great Nation in times of war we know where this is going.

One big Gay 4th of july! Put your colors on and bring it like Evel Knievel! God Bless Gay America.
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on February 22, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
63
as a former member of the LDS church, I feel like I can relate to this article very much. I am a straight man, and always have been. But when the LDS church promoted prop 8 in California, I knew I could not support that lack of tolerance or acceptance.

I never understood why my religion emphasized the importance of choosing right from wrong yet wanted to eliminate the ability for two people in a loving and committed relationship to formalize that bond. Regardless of whether they viewed LGBT lifestyle as sinful or righteous, eliminating the ability to choose that lifestyle would take away from that agency of right or wrong.I could understand the need to take the ability to choose wrong away if someone was harmed by this act such as stealing, or lying. But for a lifestyle founded upon the principle of LOVE, I could never understand why this was such an issue.

I had the realization that my religion had no right to force their lifestyle or their beliefs on people different. To deny someone the ability to be happy with their partner. To deny someone the convention of marriage (because let's face it no one says when I grow up I want to get a civil union). The principle of separate but equal has been one of the greatest fallacies of our history, and I could just not support it (even if it were true). As a result, I left my church in favor of adopting the principle of love and respect for all people. In no way do I claim to be perfect, but I feel that this principle of love is much closer to what Christ may have been trying to get at than what modern day Christianity promotes.
Posted by MCHommes on February 22, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
64
If someone told a black person they couldn't drink from a fountain or had to sit at the back of the bus, wouldn't you hope you would of done something? Wouldn't you quit going to a church that spoke out against different races being married? How is this any different? It is discrimination.

I was Catholic, (questioned lots of stuff though) but this was the breaking point. I too walked out of mass when the priest talked about this. It is sad, because I thought the catholic church was more progressive when in came to social justice issues. Now it is just like the crazy 4 square churchs. Phoney!

As the article says, "silence means consent." And evil thrives when good people do nothing.
Posted by crazy mad on February 24, 2012 at 1:27 AM · Report this
65
Seems I'm late to the party.

I'm a Catholic priest and I can't begin to explain how important my friendships are with many men who - for whatever reason - happen to be attracted to other men. One of these guys in particular ranks as one of the (dare I say) holiest people I know. Of course, he as well as a few of my other friends who share his orientation support the Catholic Church's official teaching 100%. As a priest I need to support the Catholic teaching on this so that these men feel supported in their struggle for chastity - a struggle that straight men and even celibate man have as well.

I wonder what anyone thinks of the "gay" men and women in the Church who agree with the Catholic Church's teaching. I also wonder if readers of this publication view any and all objections to same sex marriages as being automatic "hate speech?" In other words, is there any argument out there at all in which a person can make against same sex marriage and not automatically be thought of as a bigot? If not, I'd question who the real bigots are on this issue.
Posted by A Priest on February 24, 2012 at 10:45 PM · Report this
66
#65 Nailed it! Seems the self proclaimed "open minded" are sometimes blind to their own narrowness.
Posted by Vertex on February 25, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
67
thank you so much for this piece. as a practicing Catholic who is absolutely disgusted by the Church's actions it has given me a lot to think about. I don't give to the Annual Appeal for $$ for the Archdiocese and havent for years but it makes me think about my contribution to my parish. LGBT community who are also practicing Catholics-want to hear more from you about how you will deal with this evil-and how the straights can better support you.
Posted by mary d on March 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Report this
68
In response to #65. If someone is gay and chooses not to be in a relationship, that is fine. BUT this is about people who are gay, who would like to be in a committed relationship. BIG difference. The Catholic Church is discouraging and preventing that. That is why I left the church. They are pushing their views on others.
Posted by crazy mad on March 4, 2012 at 5:44 PM · Report this
69
"Gay marriage" is Civil Marriage. Wish I could remember the article, but recently someone wrote eloquently that Civil Marriage is about property rights, rights of inheritance, and rights to make medical decisions. It has *nothing* to do with religious beliefs and everything to do with continuity in secular matters.
Posted by little viking on March 7, 2012 at 11:17 PM · Report this
70
I have no doubt money from local Catholic charities is being spent to finance getting signatures against the Marriage Equality Bill here in Washington State. I think it's high time the government took away the Catholic church's 501 C3 status and called it what it really is -- Big Business. Also, I'm appalled this kind of outrage energy wasn't present in 2002, 2003, 2004 to present day regarding the clergy sexabuse scandal. So glad I left and no longer consider myself Catholic.
Posted by Sadie01 on April 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Barbara Tee 71
#65: There is not one single, rational argument from ANY point-of-view whatsoever, against Marriage Equality {or "Gay Marriage}. Nobody has yet or can possibly come up with a single RATIONAL argument. Therefore, what it all comes down to, is merely one religious group {that formerly exercised some political power} attempting to impose the views of its irrational, faith-based religion on everyone else, especially including those who definitely do not follow that religion: atheists, agnostics, secular people, and people who follow other religions with different views.

The recent unearthing of DOM documents outlining a program to divide Black people and Gay people over Marriage Equality, specifically states that they are trying to get people to call each other by the name of "bigot". Articles in Seattle Gay News, have specifically asked Gay people in their correspondence on the the subject, NOT to use such terms, such name-calling. If you feel you are a "bigot", that is your own problem. Name-calling is counterproductive. Rather, we should RATIONALLY and compassionately, address people's IGNORANCE. What the Catholic hierarchy has to say on the subject, is definitely not the last word.

That being Gay and having Gay sex and not being Gay-and-celibate, is a "SIN", is NOT a RATIONAL argument; rather, it is an argument of religious superstition as the belief in Sin, Hellfire, Satan, Devils, Purgatory, God's Punishment, etc. etc., can NOT be supported RATIONALLY.

The belief propagated by the Catholic Hierarchy from the very top, Ratzinger, that "the future of the Human Race is at stake", is LAUGHABLY IRRATIONAL. There is NOTHING about being Gay, that makes anyone sterile! Many, many Lesbian women are Mothers; many Gay men are {biological} fathers. Look around you! Straight parents have Gay kids; Gay parents have Straight kids.
Even if every presently-alive Gay man & woman were to undergo forced sterilization, Straight parents would still have Gay kids, who would have kids both Gay and Straight, who would have kids.......
So, "saving the Human Race from extinction" is NOT a RATIONAL argument -- again, just one based on COMPLETELY UN-SCIENTIFIC and purely cultish religious beliefs.

Again, the belief that Gay parents are somehow inferior parents who can't raise kids decently, has been shown by DOCUMENTATION, to be a mere BELIEF, and NOT a fact -- it can NOT be demonstrated RATIONALLY.

To choose to go by RATIONALITY, and not by someone else's Faith-based traditions, is NOT "bigotry". Again, if you feel like that, that is YOUR problem. I choose not to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Great Pumpkin, either. I do NOT feel like a "bigot" in any sense of the word. I do NOT believe Humans were conceived and born in "Original Sin". Neither do the VAST MAJORITY of the people of the world. We can't ALL be "bigots" for not holding such an IRRATIONAL belief!
More...
Posted by Barbara Tee on April 6, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this

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