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, asks Catholic parishes across the country during the Easter Season through to Pentecost, to take weekly steps to discuss and respond to the heightened anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity of our bishops, and to take steps to prevent divisive and harmful political activity from being conducted in our parishes and being introduced into the liturgy of our Mass.
Week One Action:
Catholics for Equality urges you this week to request that your pastor or parish council issue a statement, declining parish participation in anti-gay and 2012 election year political campaigns.
At the direction of the Vatican, Catholic parishes across the United States are being pressured by their bishops to participate in anti-gay and 2012 election year political activity. From Maine to Washington state, parishes are being asked to engage in petition drives to put anti-gay referendums on the election ballot, mobilize voters on election day -- and even to support or oppose specific political candidates. These statements and activities are not only happening on our parish grounds but during the Mass.
These campaigns are legally and morally suspect. They are sacrilegious. The Mass is not the place for political activity. Any intrusion of politics during the liturgy runs against American Catholic tradition, which has long respected the separation of church and state principles that have allowed Catholics to participate fully in public life. We are afraid that this intrusion into politics at Mass will weaken respect for Catholics in American public life, especially among our young people.
Parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle have already begun to respectfully decline Archbishop Sartain's request that they participate in these political campaigns. Parishes, especially throughout Washington state, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and North Carolina, are asked to also respectfully decline their bishops' requests to wage statewide anti-gay political campaigns. These campaigns are being organized and financed by conservative Catholic groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Opus Dei working with state Catholic Conference lobbyists and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
A Simple Step
Your parish can make a difference! Asking your pastor or parish council to issue a public statement may seem like a simple step, but combined with similar steps in Catholic parishes across the country, your (and your parish's) step will have a profound impact across the country.
We urge you to keep the proposed statement simple and to the point:
[Parish Name] Catholic Church in [City, State] respectfully declines participation in anti-gay and 2012 election year political campaigns, including the use of parish facilities and the liturgy for anti-gay and political statements or activity.
If your pastor or parish council has issue with singling out the bishops' anti-gay political campaigns, please ask that at the very least your parish issue a general statement about political activity:
[Parish Name] Catholic Church in [City, State] respectfully declines participation in 2012 political campaigns, including the use of parish facilities and the liturgy for political statements or activity.
Once your parish has issued the statement, please notify Catholics for Equality via email: firstname.lastname@example.org -- and please include the parish name, city and state, and the exact wording of the parish statement.
Three Steps to Achieving Step One
If you are not a lay leader or parish councilmember, please do not be intimidated from participating in this important action. Remember, the overwhelming majority of American Catholics, including observant Catholics -- your fellow parishioners -- support legal recognition and protection of LGBT people. And we hope all American Catholics at least agree that political statements and activity has no place in our liturgy.
Step 1: Talk with your Pastor or a Parish Lay Leader.
Unless you are a member of the parish council or an actively engaged lay leader, we encourage you to first talk with your pastor or a parish councilmember and share your concerns that your parish is being pressured to engage in anti-gay and election year political activity.
Step 2: Ask your Pastor to Hold a Discussion Forum Outside of Mass.
Ask that your parish avoid uncomfortable and unnecessary situations during the liturgy by holding a forum outside of Mass to discuss our hierarchy's engagement in political activity and how this affects your LGBT family and/or parish members. In most parishes, such meetings have never occurred -- and many times only because no one has ever asked for one. You can fix that!
Step 3: Ask your Parish to Issue a Public Statement.
The above resolution is just an example of the type of simple statement your parish could make. In many parishes the pastor himself will offer to issue the statement. In such parishes action by the parish council, though not necessary, is still encouraged, as it strengthens the weight of the statement. In parishes where the pastor will not issue the public statement, action on the part of the parish council is clearly warranted.
Remember to report your parish's official statement to Catholics for Equality, so we can add it to the growing list of parishes nationwide, who in this highly politicized election year are saying "Not Our Parish!"
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.