Catholic Parishes Nationwide Urged to Oppose Bishops' Request to Turn our Liturgy into Anti-Gay Political Activity
Group, Representing the Views of Over 75 Million American Catholics, Asks Catholics to Only Fund Parishes Which Publicly Oppose the Bishops' Political Campaigns and to Vocally Stand Up Against Political Messages and Activity at Mass.
WASHINGTON - Catholics for Equality, the country's largest national political organization of Catholics who put their faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families, representing the views of over 75 million American Catholics, announced a nationwide campaign for observant Catholics to visibly, vocally and financially oppose efforts by Catholic bishops to introduce anti-gay political activity into the liturgy of the mass.
This year Catholic bishops in Maryland, Maine, North Carolina and Washington and conservative anti-gay Catholic organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus are leading state-wide political campaigns to prevent lesbian and gay couples from being legally recognized by the government. These campaigns include the use of parish facilities and the liturgy of the Mass to gather signatures for ballot measures in as well as to mobilize voters to attack lesbian and gay.
Already parishes throughout Washington state are issuing public statements that they will not participate in the bishops' anti-gay political campaigns. Rev. Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Seattle, said, "Doing so would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.” Since Rev. Ryan's public refusal to participate, five other parishes have joined the resistance.
"Catholics in the pews respect the Liturgy of the Mass too much to allow it to poisoned by election year politics and anti-gay political campaigns," said Catholics for Equality Executive Director Phil Attey. "We hope Rev. Ryan's leadership will inspire pastors and Catholic lay leaders across the country, especially in the states where parishes are being asked to participate in these petition drives, to do the right thing and respectfully decline participation."
SPEAKING OUT FINANCIALLY AGAINST ANTI-GAY POLITICAL ACTIVITY
The organization is urging parishes to issue public statements against the institutional church's involvement in anti-gay political campaigns and urges congregants in parishes unwilling to issue public statements like that of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, to redirect their weekly financial offerings to Catholic parishes or organizations that do.
"There is no financial transparency once parish funds reach the office of the bishop," says Attey. It's likely that millions of our dollars are being laundered into these political efforts. "And it's sad, but a reality, that the only possible way for faithful Catholics to ensure their money does not fund political attacks against their own LGBT family and parish members is to completely cut off funding to their parish."
Catholics for Equality has created issue specific offering cards for non-political and pro-equality Catholics to place in their envelopes or directly into the collection plate, instead of cash or checks.
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ANTI-GAY POLITICAL ACTIVITY AT MASS
In parishes which choose to introduce political statements into the Mass, faithful Catholics are encouraged to stand up and respectfully remind the priest or lector making the statements that they have no place in the liturgy.
"These political campaigns put Catholics in the pews in a horrible position," says Joseph Palacios, Director of the Catholics for Equality Foundation. “We go to mass to celebrate and honor the life of Jesus Christ and not to participate in political campaigns to oppress the marginalized and the oppressed -- people Jesus told us to protect. If we are to be faithful to His teaching, we must be willing to stand up and speak out when injustices in His name are being conducted -- especially in His House."
Catholics for Equality has produced palm cards supporters can download and print out to distribute at mass should fellow parishioners hear anti-gay political statements at Mass. They include instructions on one side, and the following suggested respectful statement on the other:
With all due respect, we have come to celebrate Mass and not be involved in a political campaign. We are all God's children. Please do not mix our Mass with politics. Thank you.
After reading the statement, parishioners are asked to sit down and not engage in debate.
"Our intent is not to further disrupt the liturgy," says Attey. "Catholics in the pews are not introducing politics into the liturgy or our parish grounds. The bishops are. We are only standing up and respectfully asking that it be removed."
Catholics for Equality hopes parishes across the country will avoid disrespectful political messages, activity, and confrontations during the liturgy by holding parish group discussions outside of mass, where pastors, lay leaders and parishioners can openly and honestly talk around the bishops' increased involvement in anti-gay political activity and how it affects the LGBT members of the parish and the community at large. The organization says such open discussion forums are long overdue.
Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.
Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family, parish and community members.