San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has responded to appeals from politicians and religious leaders that he back out of an appearance at a pro-marriage event in Washington, DC later this week, stating that the event “is not ‘anti-LGBT’”.
In a letter dated June 10, nearly 80 leaders, including California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee as well as representatives from various churches and religious organizations, called upon Archbishop Cordileone to reconsider participating in the National Organization for Marriage’s annual rally and march at the nation’s capital on June 19.
“[W]hile not all of us agree with official Catholic teaching on marriage and family,” the letter reads, “we appreciate the many statements from Catholic leaders defending the human dignity of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially the recent words of Pope Francis: ‘If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?’ … We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event’s speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental human dignity of all people.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend that US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a similar letter to Archbishop Cordileone asking him to cancel his appearance at the march. Pelosi also invoked the words of Pope Francis in her appeal.
The archbishop responded to the June 10 letter from Newson et al. with a letter of his own, in which he stated that his duty is “to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing.
I must do that in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. That is what I will be doing on June 19th.
He also said that the March for Marriage is “not anti-anyone or anti-anything. Rather, it is a pro-marriage March. … 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.”
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…
Archbishop Cordileone’s letter concludes:
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 good will, miracles can happen.
When all is said and done, then, there is only one thing that I would ask of you more than anything else: before you judge us, get to know us.