By DEXTER DUGGAN
Aggressive “new morality” politicians like Nancy Pelosi who claim to be faithful Catholics may have been surprised when San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wouldn’t let them bully him out of participating in a June pro-marriage rally in Washington, D.C.
When Pelosi and kindred spirits recently tried to hector Cordileone away from standing up for historic marriage, the archbishop, who heads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, replied strongly in a June 16 letter.
Noting the pressures being used against defenders of traditional, historic marriage, Cordileone wrote:
“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.”
For years San Francisco Democrat Pelosi, the U.S. House minority leader, and other so-called Catholic major political figures like Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have pretty much had free rein to push their agenda while many Catholic bishops largely have kept silent about these public figures’ personal betrayal of core morality.
The longstanding issue has been continued reception of the Holy Eucharist by politicians who regularly promote pro-abortion extremism, a severe rejection of “non-negotiable” Church teaching that abortion kills the life of an innocent baby.
Either a person accepts Church parameters about fulfilling the necessary conditions to receive Communion worthily or rejects them. There’s no alternative that allows a prominent Catholic to promote massive abortion while claiming to honor and obey fundamental Catholic teaching — and thereby misleading others into sin, too.
Nor is opposition to permissive abortion a recent Catholic or Christian stand. The ancient pagan Greek physician Hippocrates enshrined a medical ethic that was to come down through the centuries against destroying innocent lives through abortion or “mercy-killing.”
Quite recently, “same-sex marriage” also has become such an issue. Despite nearly universal religious and cultural recognition through the millennia of the traditional male-female bond, “new morality” politicians suddenly act as if this undoubted historic union is some sort of unbearable, inadmissible bigotry that must be driven away.
Politicians like Pelosi demand fealty to “same-sex marriage,” and act as if anyone who takes a different view must be shamed and punished into submission.
Pelosi and other prominent left-wing California politicians like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee began telling Cordileone not to participate in the June 19 pro-marriage march in the nation’s capital.
It was a remarkable sight that such politicians who have felt pretty much free to act as they please were telling a prominent California Catholic clergyman to stay away from an event that affirmed his religion’s historic position they’ve begun to attack.
Southern California Catholic activist Jim Holman told The Wanderer in a June 17 email, “Archbishop Cordileone’s answer to Pelosi, Newsom, and Lee is measured and charitable. He is a California version of Pope Francis.”
Holman is publisher of the online news site California Catholic Daily.
For years many pro-lifers have watched in dismay while numerous bishops declined to discipline so-called Catholics like Pelosi for continuing to receive the Eucharist. Bishops would use such excuses as saying the discipline would be needlessly confrontational or unwelcoming or unloving or would use the Eucharist as a weapon.
This taught politicians that if they could keep getting away with massive abortion, they might be able to get away with anything.
The apparently logical next step: These aggressive secularists could tell clergymen what religious people may and may not do. Why not? Government has begun this on various fronts, including mandating that ordinary citizens must routinely fund abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations for strangers or else pay heavy fines.
As San Francisco archbishop, Cordileone has direct religious authority over Pelosi, who’s publicly regarded as one of the most prominent, powerful Catholic politicians in the nation. Yet even the religiously orthodox Cordileone hesitated to take Pelosi on directly.
Earlier this year, The Wanderer ran as its lead story an interview with John Smeaton, chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
Smeaton asked if bishops would be equally reluctant to act if politicians were unapologetically supporting and refusing to retract laws to allow the execution of bishops and priests. (“British Pro-Life Leader Says World’s Bishops Must Deny Eucharist to Defiant,” February 27, p. 1.)
Not long after this, Cordileone made a statement.
In a video posted March 31 at LifeSiteNews.com, Cordileone spoke about requirements for worthy reception of Communion, without suggesting any names of possible violators.
The LifeSiteNews.com story said, “The Church’s teaching goes ‘all the way back to St. Paul, who writes in 1 Corinthians that anyone who does not receive the Eucharist worthily, that is if they are in a state of sin, blasphemes the Body and Blood of the Lord,’ the archbishop explained. . . .
“As St. Paul teaches,” Cordileone said, “if they dare to approach [Communion] knowing that they are in such a state of sin, they bring condemnation upon themselves. This is not a harsh judgment of the Church, but our understanding of the Eucharist is that it is not simply a way of welcoming people, a way of affirming people.”
The LifeSiteNews.com story continued: “He concluded by noting that the Sacrament of Penance is there for all Catholics who find themselves in such situations, so they can ‘confess their sins and receive sacramental absolution to be restored to a state of grace so they can worthily receive Holy Communion’.”
A news article posted June 14 at “SFGate,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, began: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the lead this week in a high-profile lobbying effort to pressure San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone not to attend the controversial March for Marriage event, which she characterized as ‘venom masquerading as virtue’.”
Following is the text of Cordileone’s June 16 letter replying to various public figures urging that he not participate in the marriage rally:
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Dear Fellow Citizens,
Your letter sharing with me your thoughts on the upcoming “March for Marriage” in Washington, D.C., was forwarded to me while I was attending meetings out of town, and I have reflected on what you have to say.
I appreciate your affirmation of my Church’s teaching — not unique to our religion, but a truth accessible to anyone of good will — on the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life. That principle requires us to respect and protect each and every member of the human family, from the precious child in the womb to the frail elderly person nearing death. It also requires me, as a bishop, 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 19.
With regard to your request that I not attend the March, and the reasons you give for this request, allow me to explain the following points.
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 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.
Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco