Catholics United Denounces Knights for Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

I am going to re-blog this article in its entirety. I want Public Catholic readers to have a base of information about these groups so we can discuss them later. The article is from Catholic News Service. You can read other fine articles like this one here. Emphases are mine.

Catholics United urges ‘gay marriage’ surrender
By Kevin J. Jones

Washington D.C., Oct 26, 2012 / 03:12 pm (CNA).- The group Catholics United, which until now has avoided directly contradicting Catholic teaching in its defense of Democratic political causes, has now denounced Catholic efforts to defend traditional marriage as a “far right-wing” social issue.

The shift comes in an Oct. 18 statement criticizing Catholic donations to organizations that support marriage and oppose its redefinition to include same-sex couples. Catholics United called for a halt financial support for “anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives” in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, states where the issue is on the November ballot.

Catholics United Executive Director James Salt said advocacy against “civil same-sex marriage laws” has the effect of “pushing younger generations of Catholics out of the Church.”

“Younger Catholics don’t want our faith known for its involvement in divisive culture wars, we want our faith known for serving the poor and marginalized,” he argued.

Catholics United’s Oct. 18 statement cites a report by Equally Blessed, a coalition of four dissenting Catholic groups: Call to Action, Dignity USA, Fortunate Families and New Ways Ministry. The report criticizes the $6.25 million that the fraternal order the Knights of Columbus has made since 2005 to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

The founders of New Ways Ministry, Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, have run into the highest profile trouble of any of the members in the coalition.

In 1999, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that because of “errors and ambiguities” in their approach, Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent were permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual individuals.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said in a Feb. 2010 statement that New Ways Ministry’s “lack of adherence” to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts was the “central issue” in the censure of its founders and continues to be its “crucial defect.”

While Catholics United criticized only the Knights of Columbus for “anti-marriage equality spending,” the Equally Blessed report also blamed the Vatican for opposing homosexual political causes.

The Equally Blessed report also criticized Knights’ support for the pro-life movement. It said the fraternal organization contributes to what it calls “far-right anti-abortion groups”: Americans United for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List and the pregnancy center network Birthright USA.

The political fight over the definition of marriage has resulted in harassment and intimidation of traditional marriage supporters. Some supporters of traditional marriage, including Catholics, have lost their jobs because of activist pressure. Businesses and non-profits which do not want to recognize same-sex relationships have been the target of lawsuits and legal action.

In some states that recognize same-sex unions, Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close because they could not in good conscience place children with same-sex couples.

In Washington state, the “gay marriage” ballot measure has attracted the support of wealthy donors like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated $2.5 million to the campaign.

The known donors to Catholics United also support “gay marriage.”

Tax forms show that the Tides Foundation, whose 2009 newsletter describes itself as “a leading funder of LGBT work,” has given at least $35,000 to the group since 2007. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose president praised President Obama’s endorsement of redefining marriage in May, has given at least $32,500. The AFL-CIO has given $5,000 to the group, whose contributions and grants in 2011 totaled about $470,000.

Catholics United also has connections to the White House.

Visitor records from the White House show that the Catholics United leadership has visited it several times, sometimes as part of a large group of faith-based representatives and sometimes for small meetings.

The records show Salt and Catholics United founder Christopher Korzen in September 2010 had a small meeting with Patrick Gaspard. At the time, Gaspard was the Obama administration’s Director of the Office of Political Affairs. He is now the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee.

On Feb. 10, 2012, Catholics United communications director Chris Pumpelly attended a White House meeting with Joshua DuBois, special assistant to President Barack Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

White House officials at the meeting discussed the intended accommodations to address concerns about the Health and Human Services contraception and sterilization coverage mandate, meeting attendee Kristen Day told CNA in June.

Alexia Kelley, former head of Catholics United ally Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, also attended the meeting. She is presently director for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The leadership of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good itself has several connections with the Obama campaign. Board member Stephen Schneck, director of Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, is also a member of the group Catholics for Obama.

Two Swing-State Catholic Universities Host Speakers From Catholics for Obama

According to a CNA article, at least two Catholic colleges in the swing states of Colorado and Ohio have ended up hosting discussions by Catholics for Obama. Among those who attended were representatives of Catholics United, a group which opposes the Church’s teaching on traditional marriage.

I’ve experienced the lengths some people will go to in order to find a way into forums that hold opinions different from theirs. Public Catholic has attracted more than its share of this. I am wondering if the college administrators fell for arguments similar to the ones that have been used on me.

On the other hand, university campuses have traditionally been places that were open to the free exchange of ideas between people of opposing viewpoints. My concern with this is not that they had these people on campus so much as whether or not the presentation was balanced and that there were faithful Catholics who also spoke who were capable of standing up to them.

What do you think?

The CNA article says in part:

Denver, Colo., Nov 1, 2012 / 04:03 am (CNA).- The Obama campaign attempted to schedule a rally-like event on a Catholic university campus in the key swing state of Colorado before settling on a dialogue with a co-chair of Catholics for Obama.

“Their original intent was to have more of a rally element to it,” said Paul Alexander, director of Regis University’s Institute for the Common Good, which hosted the event.

“We just felt we couldn’t do a rally, but we felt a healthy dialogue among Catholics was important.”

About 45 people attended the Oct. 25 dialogue and small group discussion with Catholics for Obama national co-chair Nicholas P. Cafardi, a law professor and dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law.

The event was titled “Catholic Social Teaching: The Intersection of Faith and Politics.” Although it was hosted by the Jesuit university’s institute, it took place because of outreach from the Obama campaign.

Alexander told CNA Oct 26 that another Catholics for Obama national co-chair by the name of Victoria Kovari, the “main point of contact,” had sought out the university and asked if it would be willing to host an event.

Kovari is a former national field director and former interim president of the Democrat-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

She attended the Denver event along with Broderick Johnson, a senior advisor to the Obama campaign.

At the Thursday evening gathering, Alexander said that the campaign had reached out to schedule the event, but had set no conditions on the talk.

“There was a strict adherence to bring a message that is totally non-political,” he said.

Cafardi’s remarks examined moral judgment in public life, saying that the Church must leave solutions to political problems to “the informed consciences and prudential judgment of the laity.”

He had pointed criticisms of Catholic bishops’ actions on political matters.

“Our sacred pastors will tell us the ethical and moral principles that should govern human behavior. They can tell us the values that should be defended,” he said. “No bishop, no priest, can tell you how to vote, ever. They don’t have that right. That right belongs to you, and your informed conscience.

“They don’t even have the right to hint how you’re supposed to vote, as a number of them have been doing lately in their non-endorsement endorsements,” he said, adding that no one can question the decision of an informed conscience.

Cafardi, who rejects the criminalization of abortion, said the Catholic Church’s advocacy for the legal prohibition of abortion as the only way to address life issues ignores the need to use prudential judgment to decide the best way to protect human life.

He defended the Obama administration’s controversial mandate which requires most employers of 50 or more employees to provide no co-pay insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

Cafardi argued that the Obama administration’s proposed conscience accommodation, whose details are unclear, is adequate. He also said that the mandate was justified under the same logic as the cost segregation practice which allows the government to fund the non-religious activities of religious employers.

He ridiculed broad exemptions for objecting private employers as the “Taco Bell exemption.”

At least one other Catholic college has hosted Catholics for Obama speakers. Last month in Ohio, another politically key state for the presidential elections, the Xavier University College Democrats hosted Johnson, Kovari and other speakers who presented a Catholic case for voting for President Obama.

CNA contacted the Romney campaign to determine whether it has engaged in similar outreach to Catholic colleges and universities but did not receive a response by deadline.

Michael Hernon, a former president of the Republican-leaning group The Catholic Association, told CNA he has not heard of any Catholics for Romney outreach to Catholic colleges and universities.

Hernon, who is also a vice president of advancement at Franciscan University, said that Franciscan University of Steubenville has many faculty and students who support the Romney campaign in a personal capacity, but the university has not had any partisan events on campus.

Among the attendees at Regis University event were Catholics United Colorado State Chairman Anthony DeMattee. The organization expanded into Colorado with its first Denver event on Oct. 22, holding a debate watching party with Catholics United Executive Director James Salt.

Until recently, Catholics United avoided directly contradicting Catholic teaching. On Oct. 18, it denounced Catholic efforts to defend traditional marriage as a “far right-wing” social issue. The group also attacked the Knights of Columbus for giving financial support to the Catholic bishops’ marriage defense efforts and to marriage amendment ballot initiatives. (Read more here.)


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