San Francisco's Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone—one of the architects of California's Proposition 8—fired back at critics who had called for him to pull out of a planned "pro-marriage" march in Washington.
In an open letter published recently, Congressmember Nancy Pelosi, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Ed Lee, and a host of LGBT and religious leaders had urged Cordileone to not participate in Thursday's March for Marriage, sponsors of which include the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cordileone, the chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is billed as one of the featured speakers at the Washington D.C. march, along with Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee.
This is not the first time that tensions between the theologically conservative Cordileone and San Francisco's liberal political establishment have flared. As we wrote in a 2012 profile of Cordileone soon after he was installed in office, "The local diocese finds itself further and further removed from the community’s values. In contrast to previous eras, when church leaders would lock arms with civil rights activists and provide voices of comfort and strength during times of national uncertainty, Catholic clergymen in the Bay Area and elsewhere now find themselves on the losing side of a cultural war." That cultural disconnect has only been heightened since the ascension of the current Pope, Francis, whose statement on LGBT people ("Who am I to judge?") was quoted in the letter from Cordileone's critics.
For his part, Cordileone's response is thoughtful, articulate, and self-admittedly out of step with the growing consensus in America in support of marriage equality (Cordileone writes that he is required to "proclaim the truth [...] I must do that in season and out of season, even when the truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular.")
The bulk of Cordileone's response follows:
1. The March for Marriage is not “anti-LGBT” (as some have described it); it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything. Rather, it is a pro-marriage march. The latter does not imply the former. Rather, it affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union. This is precisely the vision promoted by Pope Francis, who recently said, “We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and mother.” Rest assured that if the point of this event were to single out a group of individuals and target them for hatred, I most certainly would not be there.
2. While I cannot go into all of the details here of your allegations against the sponsors of this event and scheduled speakers, I do know that at least some of what you say is based on misinterpretation or is simply factually incorrect. For example, it is not true that the National Organization for Marriage connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. What is true is that three years ago a conference was sponsored in Baltimore by the group B4U-ACT for the purpose of finding ways to encourage tolerance for pedophilia. A statement on NOM’s blogpost objecting to this conference affirmed that this is something that would outrage people in the gay community as well. Unfortunately, many conclusions are being drawn about those involved in the March for Marriage based on false impressions.
3. It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric. It must be pointed out, though, that there is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction. In fact, for those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric. Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence. It is true that historically in our society violence has been perpetrated against persons who experience attraction to members of the same sex, and this is to be deplored and eradicated. Sadly, though, we are now beginning to see examples, although thankfully not widespread, of even physical violence against those who hold to the conjugal view of marriage (such as, most notably, the attempted gunning down of those who work in the offices of the Family Research Council). While it is true that free speech can be used to offend others, it is not so much people exercising their right to free speech that drives us further apart than people punished precisely for doing so that does.
4. Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images, and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings. I myself am willing to meet personally with any of you not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other. It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. In the end, love is the answer, and this can happen even between people with such deep disagreements. That may sound fanciful and far-fetched, but it is true, it is possible. I know it is possible, I know this from personal experience. When we come together seeking to understand the other with goodwill, miracles can happen.