Prayers for the Seattle Archdiocese

A reader writes:

I know you’re busy, but could you please join me in praying for my parish, St James Cathedral? The pastor, Fr Michael G. Ryan, has decided not to hold a signature drive to help put Referendum 74 on the ballot this summer, worried about being “hurtful and seriously divisive.” I’m not a fan of politicking at churches, and I can understand how people might be turned off by it on those grounds. However, other parishioners seem happy that the parish is not supporting the drive, but not because it’s politicking, but rather because they agree with the “same-sex marriage” bill. So, I’m disturbed by all of this not because my parish isn’t going to have the signature drive, but because people are cheering the move for the wrong reason.

Fr Ryan has always been vague about where he stands on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and “same-sex marriage.” I continue to give him the respect he deserves as the pastor of my parish, and the trust that what he’s doing is due to genuine pastoral concern for people’s souls. However, so many of the sheep seem so badly catechized and misinformed that they believe it’s Archbishop Sartain who is wrong in opposing “same-sex marriage” in general. Even more disturbing is the fact that I’ve heard some of them say that it’s the Holy Spirit that is guiding the parish in this direction.

Please pray for us! And please pray for Fr Ryan, who I hope the Lord will not find guilty for leading the sheep astray.

Father, hear our prayer that Catholics in the Seattle Archdiocese uphold the sacrament of marriage through Jesus Christ our Lord. Mother Mary, pray for our Archdiocese.

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  • Peggy Hagen

    Whatever Fr. Ryan’s views are, he is being used as the poster child of Principled Catholic Resistance to the Evil Bishops by “Catholics for Equality”. He’s the crowning joy of their press release urging organized disruption of Mass should “anti-gay politicking” take place.

    • Dear Peggy,

      The press release we issued on Friday does not urge “organized disruption” of the Mass. Instead, we’re urging parishes not to allow our bishops, at the direction of the Vatican, to poison our Liturgy with anti-gay and election year political activity and statements.

      “Anti-gay (or anti-woman or anti-any marginalized or oppressed group politiking” has no place in the mass and is disrespectful to the Body and Blood or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

      We are urging parishes to respectfully decline the bishops’ requests and mandates that political activity and statements be introduced into the mass and ask instead that parishes hold open and honest parish discussions around such issues outside of the mass, where pastors can address political issues, allowing lay leaders and congregants discuss them and form their own conscience around what issues and candidates they will support on election day.

      We hope all faithful Catholics, regardless of where you stand on these issues, will agree, they do not belong in the Liturgy and should be held outside of mass.

      Yours in Christ,
      Phil Attey, Executive Director
      Catholics for Equality

      • Mark Shea

        In other word, standard Gay Brownshirt activity: crushing free speech and suppressing Incorrect Thought.

      • KML

        Phil, with all due respect I didn’t see anyone talking about including this during Mass. If a petition is to be circulated, it wasn’t going to be passed around with the collection baskets – it would be offered outside of church in the vestibule after Mass, which seems like exactly where you’d like it to be. Frankly, I think that’s where most people want it, regardless of whether they’d sign it or not. Based on your reasoning, it seems certain that you have a problem with the pastor who announced during his homily that he would not be circulating petitions and why and received applause….right?

        • Mark Shea

          Correct. This has nothing to do with Mass, so that is a (typical) Gay Brownshirt lie, calculated to crush and suppress free speech, as is the custom of Gay Brownshirts.

          • Mark –

            Thank you for agreeing with us that anti-gay or election year political statements do not belong in the Mass. Thank you, also, for agreeing with us that free speech is vital for Catholics — and all Americans — to form our own conscience on social and political issues.

            The point where I believe we disagree is on the reality that free speech is not free speech if it is not free for everyone. And I’m going to say that again because it is the root of the problem: free speech is not free speech if it is not free for everyone.

            Lastly, please refrain from name calling. Our Catholic community is divided on a serious issue that affects the lives of many members of our families and parishes and we will only find common ground if we show each other mutual respect as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ.

            Yours in Christ,
            Phil Attey, Executive Director
            Catholics for Equality

            • Andy, Bad Person

              Thank you, also, for agreeing with us that free speech is vital for Catholics — and all Americans — to form our own conscience on social and political issues.

              You’re putting words in mouths here. Free speech is vital for Catholics, and the proper formation of conscience is also crucial. However, free speech is not necessarily the normal channel for the formation of conscience. Fidelity to the Church and her teachings is. You don’t need free speech at all for that.

            • Ted Seeber

              According to the Catechism, there are 7 precepts of the Church that are required if one is to be considered Catholic. I am wondering if our dear friend from “Catholics for Equality” can quote them.

      • Ted Seeber

        The trouble with that is, Referendum 74 isn’t anti-gay, it’s anti government benefits for gay marriage.

        There’s a difference, and any real Catholic knows how to separate the sin from the sinner.

      • Peggy Hagen

        Yes; and you also encourage Catholics in parishes where the petition drive is taking place to stand up and read off of cards provided by you should the issue get so much as mentioned during Mass. That is organized, and disruptive of the Mass.

        Of course, since your organization claims to represent the views of every Catholic in America (all 75 million+ of us), why the concern? There’s no opposing view to stand against, is there?

  • It is disturbing that, about every other day since Archbishop Sartain gave his permission, the Seattle press has come out with some article or opinion piece interviewing the “brave” pastors who are “standing up to” their archbishop who has … given them the choice to permit collection of signatures or not. Some pastors have chosen one way, some the other, and I understand that there can be good reasons behind both decisions. But why is it necessary to release a statement to the press about the choice you’re making? If avoiding hurt and division is a priority, then why make a public stink about it?

    If parents offered their child the choice of taking piano lessons or not, and the child chose not to take the lessons, is this an act of rebellion? Is this a case of “standing up to authority?” Isn’t it just taking one of the choices freely offered?

    • B.E. Ward

      Between this and the LCWR issue, the Times has indeed been on a tear.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Wasn’t Fr. Ryan the mastermind behind the campaign to obstruct the implementation of the new missal? What’s going on at that cathedral?

  • “If parents offered their child the choice of taking piano lessons or not, and the child chose not to take the lessons, is this an act of rebellion? Is this a case of “standing up to authority?” Isn’t it just taking one of the choices freely offered?”

    The closer analogy from the Catholic Right might be my eighty-eight-year-old mother suggesting I take piano lessons. Now, I’ll admit that I’m a pretty good pianist, but despite that, I would certianly benefit from lessons. But maybe I need to spend more of the family budget on fixing a broken window, painting the bathroom, or sending my daughter to camp. My mother may be well-intentioned, and perhaps the state of Washington would benefit from a proactive stance on same sex unions. But in any particular parish, there might well be a greater good.

    The Fr Ryan naysayers might well be like my sister who thinks I shouldn’t ruffle family feathers by declining piano lessons. Are adult men and women in the Church, people below the level of mitre and crozier, to be trusted with decisions? Sometimes not, it seems, when they disagree with us.

    • I think you misunderstand my point. I’m not objecting to Fr. Ryan saying, “no petitions at the cathedral.” I’m objecting to the way he’s making public statements about it in the media. I don’t know whether the reporters approached him (and other priests), or if he approached them. Fr. Ryan himself (in the articles I’ve read) has been relatively tactful, mentioning only fears of being divisive. Other pastors have made more noise about taking a stand. But I don’t understand why they’re making a big deal about exercising a legitimate option. Nobody is making them do anything. Rather, the archbishop is allowing as optional something that would otherwise be controversial.

      • Okay.

        But as a huge skeptic where the media is concerned, especially in matters it knows little about, like science or religion. The modern media exists to sell product for its corporate masters. And if more product can be sold by advertising Seattle as a hotbed of dissenting clergy, well, some Catholics have clearly bought into that schtick.

        No, I think I read you right. I was just using your quote to poke at the Temple Police. Or ask Mark calls them, self-appointed bishops.

  • Arnold

    I was a parishoner at St. James for nearly 14 years. Fr. Ryan and I had differences of opinion on several occasions, in particular the very lax position of the parish regarding pro life issues plus his thinly veiled contempt for Rome. In fact the subject of abortion and other life issues rarely if ever came up from the pulpit even on Pro Life Sundays. Each year Fr. Ryan preached a homily where he listed the various constituency groups in the parish, i.e. the different ethnic and age groups etc. He also included gays as a constituency in the parish, the only one that differed based on its sexual practices. Back in the 1990s he also publicly opposed the bishops of the state on another issue involving gays. Fr. Ryan is a very talented man running a huge parish with the help of hundreds of lay volunteers as well as paid staff. I would venture that the overwhelming majority of the staff is liberal, even ultra liberal. As an example, I remember back in 2004 seeing that the cars in the staff parking areas all had Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers. His decision not to allow the signature drive reflects those surrounding him as well as his own views, I believe.

    Mark, what has the position been at your parish of Blessed Sacrament? Full throttle support of the petition drive? From what i have read, the opposing parishes are largely in Seattle’s inner city areas. What has been the situation at the many other parishes?

    • Mark Shea

      Blessed S is opening the doors to the petition per the Abp’s. request. No hysteria. Just giving people the option to support it. Dominicans aren’t big on hysteria.

      • KML

        “Dominicans aren’t big on hysteria.” ::snort!:: One of the many reasons I love visiting BS to sing when I get a chance. Mark, if we ever meet in person I shall have to tell you my funny Fr. Daniel story. Although I have a feeling you probably already have quite a few stored away!

        • Mark Shea

          I have a couple of dillies. He kills me. We’re typically at the 9 AM. Hope we bump into each other! Our daughter in law Tasha is in the choir.

          • KML

            I’ve sung with Tasha a few times with a women’s group organized by Amy C for the Saturday evening Mass! Haven’t been able to recently as I got myself a Fancy Church Gig (I’m extremely blessed to be one of the few paid church musicians in a Catholic church around here), but I hope to get to sing there again soon! Drool-worthy acoustics….

  • Peggy Hagen

    Todd, the troubleq is not so much that Fr. Ryan declined to hold a petition drive. The trouble is the way he went about it, which has readily lent itself to things like this: If those protest cards pop up over here in Maryland, if someone tries to break the piano rather than allow anyone to have lessons, we’ll have him to thank in part.

  • This is my point exactly!

    • Sorry: this was inteded as a reply to @Peggy Hagen above.

  • Sadie

    People only whine that the Church shouldn’t meddle in politics when they don’t like the issue at hand. I have a friend who was furious when her priest speak out against “gay marriage”, claiming that there must be a “separation of church and state”, but when that same priest spoke in favor of ending the death penalty in her state, she was thrilled! I am against both, but the inconsistency is amazing.

    • Ted Seeber

      I have to wonder- does anybody in this discussion know the 7 precepts of the Church that one is *required* to do to be Catholic?

  • Alfredo Escalona

    I. To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and resting from servile works.
    II. To observe the days of abstinence and fasting.
    III. To confess our sins to a priest, at least once a year.
    IV. To receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season.
    V. To contribute to the support of the Church.
    VI. To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
    VII. To participate in the Church’s mission of Evangelization of Souls.

    • Ted Seeber

      Very good Alfredo- are you a Knight of Columbus? Something tells me #6 is what is missing from “Catholics for Equality”.

  • Dave Clemens

    I think Fr. Ryan is a great pastor and I fully support his decision not to assist the Referendum 74 campaign. Fr. Ryan is doing the right thing.