On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, thousands of pro-equality Americans gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. to show support for the freedom to marry on the same days that the Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
On March 26, a coalition of anti-gay groups held their own event advocating for the preservation of marriage discrimination against same-sex couples. It consisted of a march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court and back followed by a rally on the Mall, and was enthusiastically endorsed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their Facebook page; the prelates encouraged Catholics across America to take time from their solemn Holy Week observances to travel to Washington, D.C. and demonstrate against marriage equality. (I can’t think of a better way to prepare for Easter, can you?)
As the eyes of the nation turned to the Supreme Court, pro-equality groups including the Human Rights Campaign urged people across the country to express their support for marriage equality by turning their social media profile photos red. (Facebook data indicates that up to 2.7 million Facebook users appear to have done so.) The most commonly-used image was a red version of HRC’s ubiquitous equal-sign logo:
Well, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone — a notoriorious homophobe (and drunk driver) who leads the USCCB’s crusade against marriage equality and is widely known as the “Father of Proposition 8″ — must have been upset by all the red he saw on Facebook this week, because the official archdiocesan Facebook page posted a photo yesterday mocking marriage equality. Joe.My.God reports that the post was deleted after it garnered over 350 negative comments, but Jeremy Hooper snapped this screenshot of the offensive graphic before it was yanked (click on the photo to be taken to Good As You, Jeremy’s blog):
That’s right: instead of following the example of Jesus, who Christian tradition says demonstrated ultimate humility on Holy Thursday by washing his disciples’ feet, Archbishop Cordileone decided to spend his Holy Thursday mocking and deriding those — including a majority of the American people and a plurality of American Catholics — who believe gays and lesbians should have the simple freedom to marry the person they love.
Sending a message that’s literally divisive on one of the holiest days in the Christian liturgical year is a new low, even for someone like Archbishop Cordileone who regularly plumbs the depths of hate-fueled homophobia. But even though Cordileone’s smug, self-righteous bigotry is unusrprising, it nevertheless is astoundingly repugnant. The man he claims as his savior would be deeply ashamed.
Proving once again that the Catholic Church will stop at nothing in their crusade against LGBT rights and their attempt to force civil marriage law to reflect Catholic Church law, two U.S. Catholic archbishops are voicing their opposition to a new Pentagon policy that expands the range of benefits offered to same-sex spouses of active-duty military personnel.
While the so-called Defense of Marriage Act prohibits such spouses from receiving the full range of benefits, including health care and housing allowances, that their straight counterparts are given, last week’s policy change extended a wide range of valuable benefits previously unavailable to same-sex military spouses including hospital visitation, emergency leave, child care, ID cards, legal assistance, and family support programs such as family readiness groups.
But Archbishops Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services (above) and Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (below) are speaking out in opposition to the new benefits, saying that providing basic protections for gay and lesbian soldiers, their spouses, and their children — protections that families headed by opposite-sex couples take for granted — amounts to a barely-concealed attack on marriage itself.
“This new policy under the guise of ‘equal benefits’ undermines marriage as the union of one man and one woman because it treats two persons of the same sex as spouses,” Abp. Broglio said in a statement released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The notoriously homophobic Abp. Cordileone, who leads the USCCB’s fight against marriage equality as chairman of the bishops’ “Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage,” agreed. “There is no question that all service members should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat different things differently,” he said. “For the sake of our nation, and especially for the sake of our children, marriage should be promoted and protected at every opportunity, never undermined.”
This is what hatred looks like, folks. Sure, it comes in the form of well-packaged and seemingly innocuous sound bites, wrapped up in the language of religious freedom and liberty, and evoking false concern for preserving diversity and protecting children. Hell, it even comes wearing a skullcap, cassock, and pectoral cross! But don’t be fooled: opposing even basic recognition and protections for LGBT servicemembers, their spouses, and their families — even as those families sacrifice for our country and face the often unbearable pressures of military life — is hate, pure and simple.
Yesterday, Salvatore Cordileone, the “Father of Proposition 8,” assumed his new position as Archbishop of San Francisco in front of a crowd of about 2,000 people, including 40 bishops. A group that included the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence protested outside.
“God has always had a way of putting me in my place,” he said. “With the last episode in my life, God has outdone Himself.”
Cordileone pleaded guilty to DUI charges on Monday.
As the New York Times notes, the new archbishop faces a skeptical flock in an archdiocese long known for its outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics.
[Cordileone's] record on marriage stands in contrast, experts said, to those of predecessors who have tried to accommodate gay residents of San Francisco. Some of those archbishops regularly visited parishes like Most Holy Redeemer [a noted gay-friendly parish] or appointed priests sympathetic to parishes with many gay members.
For nearly two decades, until 1995, the San Francisco Archdiocese was led by Archbishop John R. Quinn, a standard-bearer of liberal Catholicism. He made strategic appointments, naming, for example, a priest who helped bring about Most Holy Redeemer’s transformation from an aging parish to one made up mostly of gay men, said the Rev. Donal Godfrey, a Jesuit priest and author of “Gays and Grays,” a history of Most Holy Redeemer.
In 1997, Archbishop William Levada brokered a deal that allowed the church to comply with a city regulation requiring that benefits be paid to the unmarried partners of people doing business with the city.
The former executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, Brian Cahill — who recently wrote a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed titled “Catholic Church wrong on gay nuptials” – asserted in another opinion piece that Archbishop Cordileone faces a clear choice between kissing up to the hierarchy in Rome (who obviously gave him the San Francisco assignment in order to stick a thumb in the eye of the LGBT civil rights movement) and doing his job as the spiritual leader of the more than 400,000 Catholics in his archdiocese:
No one expects him to be silent on church teaching, but he has a choice to make. He can continue to be the aggressive, outspoken leader of the American Catholic bishops in their effort to prevent civil gay marriage, or he can be the shepherd of his flock. He can’t be both, and if he tries, he will fail.
Count this former Catholic skeptical that Cordileone will choose to continue the archdiocesan tradition of outreach to the LGBT community. After all, though his ecclesiastical star isn’t likely to ascend much higher, there’s still the possibility of a red hat in the future if he plays his cards right by pleasing the right people. And if there’s one thing that the leadership of the Catholic Church has made abundantly clear, it’s that homophobic bigotry is both institutional policy and a top priority. Stay tuned, folks.
Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop-elect of San Francisco, said in a recent interview that gay and lesbian Catholics in sexual relationships of any kind should not present themselves for the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the holiest sacrament of the Catholic church. The Los Angeles Times reports:
. . .in a recent interview at the headquarters of the Oakland diocese, where he has served as bishop for three years, Cordileone was more direct: Gays and lesbians who are in sexual relationships of any kind, he said, should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, the central ritual of Catholic life.
“If we misuse the gift of sexuality, we’re going to suffer the consequences,” he said, “and I firmly believe we are suffering the consequences.”
Cordileone, who was arrested last month on drunk driving charges, then elaborated, puzzlingly appearing to blame same-sex couples for the problem of absentee fathers in the inner city:
The prelate’s light-filled office overlooks Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Just beyond the graceful urban estuary, he said, are “100 blocks of inner-city neighborhoods. Those are fatherless children.”
Archbishop-elect Cordileone was appointed in July by Pope Benedict XVI to head the San Francisco Archdiocese in a move widely seen as a thumb in the eye to the LGBT civil rights movement. He assumes the new position on October 4.
Salvatore Cordileone, a Catholic bishop widely known as the “Father of Proposition 8,” was arrested in San Diego early Saturday morning for drunk driving. The 56-year-old currently serves as the Bishop of Oakland and was appointed in July to be Archbishop of San Francisco by Pope Benedict XVI in a move widely seen as a thumb in the eye to the LGBT civil rights movement. Cordileone will assume the new position on October 4; he’ll be in court facing misdemeanor DUI charges just five days later.
The bishop was driving his 88-year-old mother home from a dinner party the two had attended. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Cordileone:
. . . was headed along San Diego State University’s southern edge when he encountered a sobriety checkpoint, said Officer Mark McCullough. Cordileone was amiable but appeared intoxicated and was arrested at 12:26 a.m., McCullough said.
The bishop was released from jail shortly before noon after posting $2,500 bail.
McCullough described Cordileone’s demeanor further:
He was very calm, somewhat apologetic at the time. . . He said he’d been drinking. But he wasn’t a stumbling, falling-down drunk.
In 2008, while serving as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, Cordileone marshaled California’s Catholic leaders and a group of wealthy donors to raise $1.5 million in seed money that kick-started the Proposition 8 campaign to strip same-sex couples of their existing right to marry in that state. Frank Schubert, the infamous anti-equality crusader who spearheaded that initiative and has had his hands in every marriage discrimination campaign since, told the Chronicle that Cordileone is a “brilliant” man who was “instrumental” in the ballot measure’s successful passage. In an interview with a Catholic radio station after Proposition 8 was approved, Cordileone bragged about his role in the amendment push and said that allowing loving and committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry under civil law was the work of Satan himself. In his words, “the ultimate attack of the Evil One is the attack on marriage.”
Cordileone also leads the American Catholic hierarchy’s national anti-gay persecution campaign as the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.” He told bishops at a USCCB meeting last November that the Catholic Church’s fight against civil marriage equality “affirms the inviolable dignity of every human person.” Just last June, his subcommittee announced an anti-LGBT outreach initiative targeting Spanish speakers as part of a broader effort by the bishops to undertake an extreme makeover of their public image. According to Reuters:
Outreach efforts also include a Spanish-language video, now in production, that will take the form of a tasteful soap opera, tracing one family’s interactions over generations. The drama aims to promote traditional marriage and combat rhetoric that frames gay marriage as an issue of equality, civil rights or justice, said Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland.
Reaction to Cordileone’s arrest on drunk driving charges has varied widely. The Chronicle reports that clergy in the Oakland diocese are “stunned” by the news, with one priest telling the paper that “[his fellow priests are] all kind of in shock.” In a video interview with KFMB-TV (below), the bishop’s mother Mary blamed herself and fellow partygoers for her son’s drunkenness, but not Cordileone himself. When asked how she felt about her son’s elevation to the San Francisco archdiocese, she told the reporter, “It’s gonna be a tough job because, you know, he’s always preached against same-sex marriages and then, the gays are very active up there.”
For his part, archbishop-elect Cordileone issued a statement of apology yesterday:
I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself. I will repay my debt to society and I ask forgiveness from my family and my friends and co-workers at the Diocese of Oakland and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this.
In light of Cordileone’s DUI imbroglio, some in San Francisco are calling for the Vatican to withdraw his appointment, but that’s not likely to happen. After all, in the Catholic church, these guys get promotions even after being exposed for knowingly protecting pedophile priests. As far as Rome is concerned, something as “trivial” as a drunk driving charge isn’t likely to matter much.