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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Catholic Priests Speak Out for Equality!

 

Retired Catholic priests Fr. John Brandes, Fr. Timothy Power and Fr. Thomas Garvey, left to right, wrote a letter to the Star Tribune expressing their opposition to a constitutional marriage amendment that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The letter, which was not published, urged Minnesota Catholics to vote against the amendment. The priests were photographed Thursday, May 17, 2012 near the Lake Harriet bandshell in Minneapolis. (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

Catholic Priests Speak Out for Equality!

Of the many closely guarded secrets within the ranks of Catholic priests is the reality that the overwhelming majority of them support social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people -- including justice and equality for gay and lesbian couples in regard to civil marriage recognition and protection by the government.  But because for them to speak out publicly on this issue is to face great personal hardship and retribution from the Vatican and the bishops, most are forced to remain silent on the issue -- or worse, advance from the pulpit, anti-gay political campaigns, which they know have no place in the liturgy of the Mass.

Catholics for Equality applauds retired Catholic priests Fr. John Brandes, Fr. Timothy Power and Fr. Thomas Garvey of Minnesota (pictured above, left to right), who this week wrote a letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune voicing their opposition to the constitutional marriage amendment on their state ballot this year, that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

In a radio interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Fr. Power said that he was inspired to write the letter when Catholics in the Minnesota community came up to him asking "where are all the priests who believe as we do?" 

The letter from the three retired priests, was joined by a chorus of support from a Minnesota group representing 80 former Catholic priests spoke out against the marriage amendment.

In reaction, Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference purports that the priests' views are not representative and that "the vast majority of the Catholic community stands in solidarity with the bishops."   But in reality, this is not true.  As with  issues around contraception, the vast majority -- 71% -- of American Catholics oppose the bishops on the issue of civil marriage equality.

Catholics for Equality asks all Catholic priests to speak what you know in your hearts to be true on issues of social justice for God's LGBT children.   We understand that bluntly speaking out against church doctrine puts you at risk of great economic hardship -- left on the streets, with no home, income, health care or pension.  We understand that having only a Masters in Divinity makes it difficult for you to find jobs in the public workforce.  But we also know that there are ways for you to facilitate the open and honest dialogues in our Catholic community that help open hearts and minds, without speaking out against church doctrine.

We ask you to look to the example of the Fr. Michael Ryan, who refused to allow anti-gay petition drives and anti-gay political statements to take place at the Cathedral of St. James in Seattle, WA. 

We ask you to look to the example of Fr. Dan McLellan of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, NC, who perfectly navigated these waters by holding a public forum at the Durham Public Library, where after reading the official position of the Catholic Church, he opened up the conversation for lay Catholics to share their feelings and opinions on the issue.

This is the conversation the bishops and conservative Catholic groups like the National Organization for Marriage fear the most.  They know that when Catholics families and communities talk about equality, they will support equality. 

Catholics for Equality understands that Catholic priests are being put in horrible positions by their bishops, but remaining silent and doing nothing is not an honorable or moral option -- no more than it is to remain silent and do nothing when one sees anyone being marginalized and oppressed for being different or for being "the least among us."

We ask that all Catholic priests this weekend, reflect on what Jesus called you to do when He called you to Holy Orders.   And we pray that if you cannot find the strength in Him to speak out for what you know in your hearts is right, at least hold public forums for Catholics in the pews to speak out for what they know in their hearts is right.


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