Tag Archives: archdiocese

Students stage sit-in, launch petition drive on behalf of gay vice principal

A group of Seattle area high school students staged a sit-in Dec. 19 in support of Mark Zmuda, a vice principal forced out of his job after he married his same-sex partner.

Zmuda lost his job at Eastside Catholic High School, which is operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, after officials learned that he’d recently married his same-sex partner, which is legal in the state of Washington. The school is in Sammamish, Wash.

Students responded by launching a Change.org petition and collected more than 8,000 signatures in one day. Students also staged a massive sit-in — hundreds of students assembled in the gymn — to support Zmuda and protest the ouster of the vice principal, who is known around the school as “Mr. Z.”

Bradley Strode, the senior class president who started the petition, wrote, “We, the student body at Eastside Catholic School, have experienced an egregious injustice which was inflicted by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. Our beloved vice principal, Mr. Zmuda, was terminated by the Archdiocese as a result of his marriage to another man. The student body is outraged that an incredible administrator, coach and human being was fired solely because of his love and marriage for another human being. We are uniting in order to change the Catholic Church’s opposition of gay marriage. It is time to revisit the policy and act as Jesus would have, loving and supporting every person regardless of their marital status. United, we want this policy changed so that the Catholic Church can achieve its mission of acting with unconditional love in every situation.”

The petition is written to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

With the protests spreading to other Catholic schools in the area, students also have asked Pope Francis to intervene.

Surveys show that U.S. Catholics support marriage equality at a higher rate than the general public. Six in 10 Catholics support legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.

“The students of Eastside Catholic High School are proof of why the future belongs to the friends of equality,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign. “To young people coming of age in the time of ‘Modern Family’ and Pope Francis, there is simply no argument that can justify discriminating against a beloved member of the community or any LGBT person. To the next generation, the Golden Rule always prevails, and I am inspired by the example the students of the Seattle-area Catholic high schools are setting.”

On the Web …


Chicago Cardinal George says gay marriage unnatural, threat to human dignity

Chicago Cardinal Francis George opened 2013 with a renewed campaign against equality in Illinois. George and six bishops, leaders of the Catholic Church in the state, released a letter saying legalizing gay marriage is against nature and God.

Illinois Democrats hope to deliver a gay marriage bill to Gov. Pat Quinn this month, possibly as early as next week. The legislation, which could be introduced in the state senate on Jan. 2, is called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act because the bill does not require religious institutions to celebrate same-sex marriages or their leaders to officiate at gay weddings.

George says the bill ignores basic truths and that gay marriage is unnatural because same-sex couples cannot consummate a marriage.

He writes, “Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity.

“It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love. Does this mean nature is cruel or that God is unfair? No, but it does mean that marriage is what nature tells us it is and that the State cannot change natural marriage. Civil laws that establish “same-sex marriage” create a legal fiction. The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

George says if lawmakers enact a gay marriage law “it will be acting against the common good of society. We will all have to pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race,” that the “natural family is undermined” and “human dignity and human rights are then reduced to the whims of political majorities.”

The cardinal urges members of the church to go to a Website – www.ilcatholic.org – for information and updates on the issue.

George, in the letter, also claims that the Archdiocese of Chicago “has consistently condemned violence toward or hatred of homosexually oriented men and women. Good pastoral practice encourages families to accept all their children and not break relationships with them.”

Gay civil rights activists challenged that the cardinal’s assertion ignores basic facts and that George has been a leader in the U.S. church’s attempt to block civil or equal rights for LGBT people and he has repeatedly made anti-gay statements, including one comparing civil rights activists to the KKK.

“I don’t really think the cardinal knows what is natural or unnatural,” said gay rights activist Paul Frazier of Rock Island, Ill., who was considering a organizing a demonstration. “He certainly doesn’t know right from wrong.”

Anti-gay Catholic group forms in Kentucky to promote ‘chaste living’

A group that preaches chastity among gays and lesbians is starting a local chapter in Louisville, Ky., with the backing of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

Kurtz says the Connecticut-based group known as Courage has a goal to “promote chaste living” by abstaining from sex outside of a heterosexual marriage. The group was founded in 1980.

Kurtz claimed the goal is “both to promote the dignity of every human being and promote chaste living.”

The Courier-Journal reports the meetings usually consist of 5-10 men. The chapter meetings operate under the 12 Step concept used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Steps include such things as admitting one’s addiction or compulsion, striving for moral reform and seeking help from a higher power.

Angelo Sabella, an assistant to the national director of the group, said Courage does not conduct therapy that seeks to “change” a person’s sexual orientation. But he said the group has invited advocates for so-called “ex-gay” therapy to talk with Courage groups.

The director of a gay rights group in Louisville says Courage is asking gays and lesbians to suppress part of their identity.

“It’s repressive and really unhealthy for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, to suggest one can suppress an entire part of who they are,” said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman, who is Catholic.

Courage has more than 100 chapters worldwide.

Catholic leaders call on Minnesota parishioners to fund anti-gay marriage initiative

A mailing from church leadership to Minnesota Roman Catholics asks them to donate to the political campaign to pass a constitutional amendment strengthening the ban against gay marriage.

The money is to be used by Minnesota for Marriage for television ads urging a “yes” vote on the amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The vote is Nov. 6.

The StarTribune reported that the letter was on its way to more than 400,000 Catholic households in Minnesota this week.

Church leaders also are calling on parishioners to vote “yes” on the ballot measure, according to the StarTribune’s report of a memo to priests and church administrators from the Minnesota Catholic Conference. The MCC was described as the public policy voice of the church in the state.

The memo announcing the group’s plans specified that the church is not collecting money at services and has not made a direct appeal for money. MCC is funding the mailing, which is estimated to cost about $100,000.

Also, the memo outlining the mailing specifies that some people will be receiving a request for donations and a vote while others, who don’t have a history of giving to the archdiocese, will be asked for their “yes” vote.

The church has raised more than $1 million for the anti-gay initiative – about $500,000 this year and $750,000 last year from the MCC. The largest chunk of money came directly from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

A poll on the initiative shows voters evenly split.

On the equality side of the fight, the parents of a gay Minnesota soldier killed in Afghanistan have launched a statewide tour by veterans against the amendment. Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt’s son, Andrew, died in 2011.

Catholic bishops to ‘deploy parishes’ for anti-gay initiative

Two bishops in the Catholic archdiocese of Seattle say they will deploy parishioners in the campaign to place an anti-gay initiative on Washington’s November ballot.

The National Organization for Marriage reported in its blog on April 9 that letters announcing the bishops’ support for the initiative campaign were circulated in churches before Easter.

NOM and other anti-gay groups are trying to collect more than 150,000 signatures by June 6 in order to ask voters in November to repeal the state’s marriage equality act, which the governor signed earlier this year.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo wrote, “Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman because of its unique ends, purpose and place in society. The word ‘marriage’ isn’t simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships.

“Instead ‘marriage’ reflects a deep reality – the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman. There is nothing else like it, and it can’t be defined or made into something that it isn’t.”

Washington Sen. Ed Murray, who is gay, said it is “incredibly disappointing” that the Catholic Church would use its resources to advance “a measure that promotes discrimination.”

Murray, a Catholic, questioned the priorities of the bishops, who have yet to release letters against Republican budget proposals that the senator said are harmful to the poor.

“As I read the Gospels, there is a great deal of talk about the poor, and none about homosexuality,” Murray said, according to Instinct.com.

Anne Levinson, a former judge and a leader of the gay marriage campaign, said, “the Church should understand why domestic partnerships can’t replace marriage. Marriage is so much more than a collection of legal rights. The essence of marriage remains the same whether the two people are straight or gay or lesbians: Two people affirming their love and commitment to each other.”

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Priest suspended for denying lesbian Communion

A Catholic priest has been suspended after denying Communion to a lesbian attending her mother’s funeral Mass.

The Washington Post reported on March 12 that the Washington Archdiocese suspended the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The funeral took place on Feb. 25 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

Barbara Johnson attended her mother’s service with her lesbian partner. When Johnson went for Communion, Guarnizo refused her. Then, when Johnson read a eulogy for her mother, the priest left the altar. He also failed to appear at the burial.

In a letter to Guarnizo, Johnson wrote, “You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me. I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., responding to criticism of the priest’s actions, first said, “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for Communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

A statement from St. John’s parish priest announced the suspension and said, “As we know there’s been disagreement within the parish over how and to whom Communion is distributed. From my perspective this disagreement and related emotions flow from love. Love for Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist. However, how we live out this love is important. The Scriptures tell us that we are known above all by how we love.”

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Archdiocese sponsors chastity program for gays

The Catholic archdiocese for Hartford, Conn., has launched 2012 with the adoption of a program encouraging gays and lesbians to practice abstinence.

The archdiocese announced Jan. 3 that it was sponsoring a chapter of Courage, a national Catholic ministry that claims to “support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.”

A press release stated that Robert Pallotti of the archdiocese had been working to bring the program to the Hartford area for four years.

The Rev. Paul Check of the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese is directing the Courage chapter.

“Through support and spiritual intervention, we can help people with same-sex attraction lead moral and fulfilling lives,” Pallotti told the Hartford Courant newspaper. “These people are hurting and so are their families. Doing nothing would be a lack of compassion.”

Linda Estabrook, executive director of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, responded, stating that the Church implied that many gays and lesbians are not moral and are not leading fulfilling lives. That, she said, is not true.

Other LGBT advocates said programs such as Courage actually damage LGBT people, especially young people.

“I can’t tell you how many kids I work with who have been spiritually wounded by this and similar religious perspectives,” said Robin McHaelen of True Colors, a nonprofit agency based in Hartford, offers help to LGBT teens, some of whom have been kicked out of religious households.

“In my opinion, that’s the abomination,” McHaelen told the Courant.