1,000+ Catholic Priests Just Signed a Petition… Guess What It Was About?

Over 1,000 leaders in the Catholic Church — “almost a [quarter] of all Catholic priests in England and Wales” — just signed a petition against same-sex marriage:

The priests write: “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

“Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

“It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah… we all feel bad for the Catholics and how upcoming legislation will make them feel wildly uncomfortable… even though it’ll change absolutely nothing inside of their Church.

Reader Julien raised a much more interesting point about this:

These priests spent a few weeks gathering 1,000 signatures against gay marriage. As the article notes, this is practically unprecedented.

Which leaves you to wonder: when was the last time that 1,000 priests cared enough to sign a petition and make a big deal about an actual life or death issue? Food insecurity? Global poverty? Disease and vaccinations? Anyone?

So in summary:

People dying: Silence.

Telling priests that they can’t control everyone’s personal decision to start a family: All hell breaks loose.

There are some things in life that are important. For everything else, there’s the Catholic Church.

So wonderfully put. For all the talk about how Christians “love” gay people, nothing forces them to take action more than the idea of two gay people getting married and formally declaring their love for each other.

If only they felt that kind of urgency when it came to wiping out abuse in their own Church.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • cipher

    After centuries of persecution, Catholics


  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    When I saw the title, I figured it had to involve either child rape or same-sex marriage. I tried and tried to imagine how they could come up with a petition condoning child rape, but I couldn’t do so. I suppose I am relieved to see that it was about same-sex marriage. Still, I wish they’d stop trying to interfere with the rights of others.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    Well, to be fair, there was quite a bit of persecution against Catholics in Great Britain. Of course, they didn’t help their cause much by periodically plotting to kill the Protestant monarch with the help of Spain/Vatican/etc.

  • http://twitter.com/NotThatGreg Greg Smith

    “If they are also expected to hold the opposite view” == Don’t make us have to cope with the fact that we’ve been wrong, and the church is wrong.

    Sorry, deal with it. Earth goes around the sun too, by the way. Oh wait, Pope has confirmed that one. So, just give it a few centuries.

  • cipher

    Well, to be fair, there was quite a bit of persecution against Catholics in Great Britain.

    Yes, I suppose that’s true. Still, they ran the show up until that point.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    And you’d think that after about 400 years of being persecuted, they would:
    a) Know what real persecution is, instead of crying wolf.
    b) Have learned not to do the same to others.

  • 7Footpiper

    And that’s exactly the point, stop interfering in the rights and lives of others. As a heterosexual male my only recourse against gay marriage (if I had any objection to it in the first place) is to not marry a man. Really is that simple, though the Catholic Church has to spread the lies and falsehoods about homosexuality from their backwards books of “morality”.

  • rufus_t

    I think the vast majority of Protestant on Catholic persecution was largely based on two things:
    1) The Catholic church insisting that people’s loyalty should be to Rome first and Britain second at a time when being not loyal to the Queen (Elizabeth I) first tended to be terminally bad for you.
    2) The Catholic on Protestant persecution that happened the last time that there was a Catholic monarch for more than a couple of years (I regularly walk past the memorial to three Protestant bishops who were burned alive for not being Catholic).
    As things now stand, this is the normal level of thinking-you’re-being-persecuted-when-people-start-calling-you-on-your-bullshit-and-you-don’t-get-your-own-way-all-the-time, which is best filtered out as background noise.

  • Good and Godless

    “Less than 25%” means this is not all that important to them.
    Those 25% are in line for cardinal-ship?
    Given less than 25% support on such a shouty issue it is clear than the minority is trying desperatly to steer.

  • Jayn

    Crap like this is why I don’t argue with my husband about going to my church over his. (Not that we attend often, but liberal Lutheran > Catholic.)

  • Lee Miller

    It’s a shame they didn’t do a petition requesting full legal prosecution of priests who sexually assault children, and their superiors who protect them (including his Popiness). They might have scored some points with something like that. What a creepy group of people these priests are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

    I immediately thought something to do with child rape to. Against extending the statute of limitations, perhaps?

  • smrnda

    I’m not sure how this affects their ability to teach their beliefs about marriage. They can teach whatever they want about religion despite the existence of competing sects of Christianity – the existence of an Orthodox or Protestant church doesn’t stop them from claiming to be right. In the same way, the existence of legally recognized marriages that don’t qualify as valid under Catholic teaching (of which there are many given the church’s stance on issues like divorce) doesn’t stop them from teaching their beliefs about marriage – they just have to accept that not everybody thinks the same way that they do and that their teachings are not the foundation of civil law.

    If they consider this meaningless, then their ability to profess beliefs is already meaningless since they don’t have the power to force anybody to accept them. Just more whining.

  • Erp

    From the article as a quote by one of the organizers:

    “This is a grass roots initiative by priests, it isn’t an initiative by the hierarchy of the church.”

    So there is the hierarchy and the priests who are the grassroots, what does that make the laity; I thought those were the ones in the pews? Did they even have any women sign the petition (perhaps an abbess or other nun)? I haven’t fully checked the the list but all seem to be priests. One or two may be married (part of the Ordinate set up to attract catholic leaning Anglicans).

    Given the very outspoken opposition of the hierarchy against civil recognition of same-sex marriage (Christmas sermons against it), I fully expect the petition drive had strong support from the hierarchy (13 bishops signed it) and yet they only managed to get a quarter of the priests in the country to sign.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    The thing is, 25% is still a significant minority. As Julien points out, they haven’t expressed this sort of solidarity on ridiculously straightforward (and supposedly Christian) issues and values, such as poverty and hunger–or addressing the horrific and widely publicized child-abuse cover-ups that have come to light in the last decade. When an organization supposedly built on a foundation of charity and love decides that an issue emphasizing exclusion and thoughtless bigotry trumps focusing on universal human values of empathy and goodwill, you have a real problem. I’ll also point out how conveniently simple it is to rail against something that will never personally affect you and requires nothing more than yelling your beliefs at the top of your lungs, versus physically going out and making a difference in the world. It’s so much easier to appear “righteous” when you focus on pointless, abstract values as opposed to the ones staring you in the face and demanding action. Everyone ought to be ashamed of this 25%…however small it appears to be at first glance.

  • Tim

    The previous pope (JPII) admitted the Church was wrong over Gallieo. In 1992 FFS. Then the nasty current Pope issued a statement saying Galileo had been dogmatic and sectarian in his statements at the time, and the Church authorities had acted reasonably given the levels of knowledge available then.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    ” severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.”

    Ah yes, because the most important thing when providing charity to anyone is to inform them that if they love someone of the same gender and want to marry them they are infringing on the rights of catholic priests.

  • coyotenose

    Two things stuck out for me here:

    There are fewer than 5,000 Catholic priests in England and Wales? Very nice.

    They actively tried to get signatures on an issue considered a key point of current Catholic political doctrine from a very small group and managed to get fewer than 25% of them? Also very nice. Unless of course they stopped once they got 1,000 votes, stupidly thinking it was a magically important number.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’m usually a half-empty type, but I see this as 75% of Catholic Priests support same sex marriage. Or at least don’t give a shit. I know, ‘grass roots’, and if this were the general public I’d buy it. But you can’t tell me that they can’t get the word out to all 4000 priests. And as high as 25% is, it’s a lot better than what we have among the general public in the US.

    Edit: I mean “Catholic Priests in England/Wales” of course.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i know, right? give me a break, catholic priests. the only thing coming for your asses these days is the future, and it’s saying “you’re irrelevant.”

  • Pepe

    It seems weird that god didn’t pass on the correct information to church authorities. Hmm.

  • Golfie98

    Of course it is a complete load of nonsense and a smokescreen as they well know.

    They have the exact same issue on divorce as they have with same sex marriage (it is legal and their church does not recognise it either in marrying divorcees or teaching it as an acceptable choice). If same sex marriage was going to cause all of this apocalyptic stuff then the legislation to allow civil divorce would already have done.

    They have just really run out of ways to oppose same sex marriage and are flailing about throwing anything they can at it no matter how ridiculous it makes them look.

  • Glasofruix

    On the scale of a nation, a thousand people petition is a laughable number, do they think that being pedo priests makes them magically relevant?

  • pagansister

    Did any priests -1000 or so sign anything to have the child molesters prosecuted over the last 50 plus years? No. The “Church” handled that in house—-so don”t start crying that they are worried about same gender marriage! Those of the same gender that marry do NOT need the Catholic church to do so. And how is it that the Catholic church will be restricted from teaching their view inside the schools they run? Do they run all the schools in England and Wales? no.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    I do find that heartening, Rich. What bothers me so much is that I can’t find any online record of such a large number of priests petitioning to seek justice for the victims of the church’s horrific cover-up scandal, or vowing to actively fight poverty, etc. I’m a half-full person myself, so when I do get down on something, I tend to come down hard.

    And damn, it’s sad (but you’re completely right) that a smaller percentage of Catholic priests in England are against gay marriage than the general population in the US. Sigh.

  • severalspeciesof

    “Catholics have, in recent
    times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in
    the life of this country”

    Rubbish… they haven’t fully participated with the penal system regarding pedophilia…

  • TheBlackCat13

    Yeah, the 25% thing stuck with me as well.

  • TheBlackCat13

    “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been
    able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life
    of this country.”

    Right, so now that they are able to “participate fully in the life
    of this country,” it is now their turn to prevent others from being able to do this. It is really ironic that they are using discrimination they faced to justify discriminating against others.

  • Chakolate

    Came here to make the same point. But if they were looking for the magic number they’d have stopped at 3.

    But YAY that they couldn’t get 3/4 of the priests to sign on to their bigotry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    Yeah but this is the UK…so now in a day or so you can expect to also see articles in the press where various politicians, pundits etc tell the priests to take their petition and views and sod off back to their dusty pewed empty churches.

    In the UK priests and faith leaders are not treated with any way near the same levels of deference and respect by the press and public as they are in the US.

    By the way, as the Telegraph should be renamed the Theocratograph (as well as its traditional nickname the ToryGraph) watch the more liberal end of the press – The Guardian and The Independent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    You are forgetting mate that some UK legislation is still vehemently anti-Catholic, and that the Wars of Religion in the UK rumbled on till the Highland Clearances that followed the Jacobite Rebellion (a Catholic vs Protestant war).

    Not that I have any sodding sympathy for either side.

  • http://twitter.com/Brimshack northierthanthou.com

    I love the way that we are just to accept that what they are defending is a vision of truth. …as if their doctrines were not tired, malicious, and demonstrably false!

  • Mommiest

    Maybe they meant, “after centuries of practicing persecution,” they same way you might say, “after months of dieting.” At least, that’s the way I read it.