Bishops Rally Ministers to Fight 'Gay' Marriage
1 Year after 'Pedophile Priests' Scandal, Catholic Clergy Want Constitutional Ban
May 30, 2003
After reeling last year from devastating and widespread revelations of predatory homosexual priests in the Catholic Church, Massachusetts' four bishops have shaken off the dust of scandal and are now actively encouraging the state's Catholics to lobby their legislature for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage, according to a Boston Globe report.
They are also asking Massachusetts clergymen to remind worshippers that the Catholic Church opposes homosexual marriage, and to post notices in church bulletins explaining the ins and outs of contacting legislators.
In an e-mail reply to the Globe, Worcester's Bishop Daniel P. Reilly explained the reasoning behind their public stand now: "The bishops have a right and a duty to remind Catholics of what it means to be a married couple, and they are reminding people that everyone has a right to let their legislators know what they believe marriage is. It is not an anti-anything statement, but a reminder that marriage holds a unique role in the history of mankind and should be respected for what it is, a union of a man and a woman who seek to live a new life focused on the best interests of that new couple and their potential family, not just each other's personal interests."
The four bishops - of Boston, Fall River, Worcester, and Springfield - say they're concerned over the possibility the Massachusetts Supreme Court might decide that state's constitution permits same-sex marriage.
Last year, the Catholic Church underwent its biggest crisis in memory with the twin revelations of widespread sexual abuse on the part of priests, and cover-ups by high-level clergy.
In explaining the "pedophile priest" scandal, Father Donald B. Cozzens, author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood," said on NBC's Meet the Press last year: "The real problem the Catholic Church faces is the disproportionate number of gay men that populate our seminaries. I think we have to ask the question: Why are 90 to 95 - and some estimates say as high as 98 - percent of the victims of clergy acting out against teen-agers, boys? Why isn't there ... a higher percentage of teen-age girls?"
In a scandal that consumed the attention of the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy, including the pope, astronomical sums of money were set aside to settle claims of sex-abuse victims and high-ranking clergymen who failed to stop known abusers were toppled from their positions.
"This is chiefly a scandal about unchaste or criminal homosexuals in the Catholic priesthood," summed up National Review senior writer Rod Dreher. "For Catholics, to start asking questions about homosexuality in the priesthood is to risk finding out more than many Church members prefer to know. For journalists, to confront the issue is to risk touching the electrified third rail of American popular culture: the dark side of homosexuality."
Despite the devastating scandal, virtually all parties agree the number of offending priests, as a percentage of the whole, is small. So today, having recovered somewhat from the scandal that rocked their church last year, and spurred on by fears of legal sanction for same-sex marriage and the confusion they believe it would sow in the next generation, Catholic clergy are fighting for their church's traditional teachings once again.
In Massachusetts, support for the bishops' stance is predictably strong from many quarters. However, homosexual groups and others expressed outrage, including, as the Globe reported, Marianne Duddy, executive director of Dignity/USA - described as an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics. Said Duddy, "Any Catholic family who has a gay or lesbian family member who is in a committed relationship will be extremely insulted and angry if they hear this read from the pulpit or are handed a copy as they attend Sunday liturgy. To see the bishops using their influence to uphold discrimination is tragic."
But the bishops, in their joint statement, insist that allowing same-sex marriages "will have devastating consequences here and nationally," according to the Globe report. If marriage is extended to same-sex couples, they said, "the state will no longer be able to promote the union of a man and a woman as uniquely beneficial to society." In addition, said the report, "the Catholic Church and other private institutions with moral objections will be forced to change their employment and other policies to recognize other relationships as marriage, or face discrimination lawsuits."
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