Cordileone’s “March for Marriage” Response a Gem

I shouldn’t say it because, well, this guy has good reasons why I oughtn’t (H/T) but recovery from pneumonia (and now bronchitis) has made me busier than I want to be, as I try to catch up with work that has fallen behind. I barely have time to read all the Patheos writers, much less off-site pieces.

Because I must read those, though, I was happily prompted, first by David Mills’s excerpt, and then by Deacon Greg, to read San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s outstandingly pastoral response (pdf) to critics of the upcoming “March for Marriage” who, in the name of human dignity, have asked him not to speak at or participate in the event.

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 19th.

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.

Really, the letter is gorgeous and a gift — respectful, forthright, abundant-in-faith, courageously open and even willing to be vulnerable for the sake of communio and Christ. He demonstrates a truth that is becoming increasingly untenable to too many people in our country: that “tolerance”, when it is true, is not just a one-way street, but a highway with many exits; we travel together when we can, depart where we must. And that’s not bigotry; in fact it’s quite the opposite.

. . .if we lose the ability to respect that people can only go as far as their consciences will allow, we risk becoming mired in a muck of illusion, imagining hate where none exists, equating compelled behavior with authentic love, and losing sight of the fact that traveling together sometimes means that we walk the extra mile on one challenging road, and they walk it on the next. Everyone spares a bit of shoe-leather for the sake of the other. This is how love travels.

I must study Cordileone more closely. His pitch-perfect response is, to my way of thinking, the constructive antidote to political attacks dressed up in religious clothing, and a better alternative than fretting and reacting. He managed to do this without even mentioning his most prominent critic, who, in her willingness to defame if it will inflame and fling venom in pursuit of victory, rightly should go unnamed. I am recalcitrant and resistant, but must learn that lesson.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jakeithus

    As someone who writes and follows political responses for a living, the Archbishop’s response in this case is one of the best I have ever seen or read. He focuses on the positives, without coming across as overly defensive. He is non-apologetic without seeming callous. It is reasonable and Christ like, and only those with a strong pre-existing bias will say his critics appear to be in the right.

    A Catholic politician from my area has been getting all sorts of criticism for supporting a March for Jesus event with some “anti-homosexual connections”. His response could have learned a lot from the Archbishop.

  • Mike

    Yes, the tone and the truth was very well presented; not distorted or conflated or obscured but presented with simplicity and love.

    A neighbor of mine, suspecting i was what i look like i am, a sort of yuppie lefty which in his mind auto. means you’re for redefining marriage, came up to me last friday as i was cutting my grass and said he didn’t like so and so bc he was a “wacko bible thumper” who didn’t believe in gay marriage. I couldn’t believe the rudeness as he knows we go to church but i didn’t “take the bait” until after he’d said it the 3rd time at which point i replied that i too didn’t think it should be redefined bc i think that every child deserves a mom and dad. Well he seemed stunted, like he’d never heard the argument presented so plainly and so effectively; he didn’t seem to know what to say and just kind of looked at me like i’d just performed some magic trick. I guess he’d just never thought of the implications like that.

  • Michael O’Keefe

    You remind me of a lady of River City: “Reticent, oh I am reticent…” ;-)

  • David Wolf

    Cordileone is no less a bigot than Fred Phelps. He just dresses it up better.

  • David Wolf

    And fuck you, “Elizabeth”.

  • MeanLizzie

    Why in heaven’s name would you use scare quotes? That’s my name, don’t wear it out.

  • MeanLizzie

    No gift for fine distinctions, eh? Ah, well.

  • MeanLizzie

    Why would I, or my friends, want to do that?

  • MeanLizzie

    Btw, you only get to drop 1 F-bomb around here, and that’s just b/c I’m in a good mood.

  • Victor

    Dear Anchoress,

    I don’t really know where to start but after reading it all, I now feel better cause I thought that Cardinals were now going to march so that all could get married. I’m also asking myself right now how I’m going to write while staying on topic without going off on too many tangents and ……………….
    AND YA SAY VICTOR? Give “IT” UP cause YAS don’t stand a chance in this twenty first century and we gods are getting pretty tired of defending those so called five per sent age cells of that imaginary “Jesus” you keep talking about at

    where Fred thinks that you’re harmless in reality. Truth be known, after what happened to “ME”, “ME” and “ME” again today, “I” think that the angels want “ME”, “MYSELF” and “I” to talk YA into forgetting about starting a third blog to prove that YAR GOD (Good Old Dad) really did create Angels before HE took a stab at creating Himself in the image of man. If sinner vic’s, “I” mean us godly truth be known, angels don’t exist and for that reason, GOD really never destroyed any of them. Now had they existed, they would need no help eating, “I” mean hating each other while including any thing that got into their invisible way. Did YA know that sinner vic, “I” mean us gods thinks that Good Old Dad is nothing but a calculated imaginary Love sick combination of “ONE” human godly cell of inventory. Long her, “I” mean longer story short her, there’s no truth to the rumor that some invisible angel cells have been contaminating human cells with spiritual reality gangrene. None have been found setting in so Victor should stop wondering if GOD’s Apostles Cells really still believe and also weather, “I” mean whether they are prepared to March for Adam and Eve with all “Prophets of Old”? Relax Victor while all of US (usual sinners), “I” mean us gods keep all of the angels from taking over insects who luv, “I” mean like being made into powerful parasites to help YA human puppets, “I” mean YA good evolving animal of the past and………………………………………………………….and…………………………………………



    Go Figure brothers and sisters in Christ nowadays?

    God Bless Peace

  • FrankieBeanPie

    Awful. Just awful. I don’t think I’ve ever felt bad for someone because of a comment left on a webpage, but I’m sorry Elizabeth had to read this.

  • Terri

    This is a good response, however my response back would ask is the purpose of marriage only for children? I don’t believe so. (she writes as a childless woman) People get married to commit themselves to one another and form a family that is united with each other and hopefully also with God. I truly believe that God prefers marriage over living together without such a commitment. I understand gay marriage is not historical or accepted but I do believe that level of commitment between two who love each other is a great alternative to flitting around. Do I condone children in such marriages? Less so, but there are a lot of children in this world who need loving homes. A commitment to be a family is one alternative I believe God would bless. I don’t want to see churches forced into this mold, and that is a real fear. The answer in my mind is again the separation of church and state. Marriage ideally is done in both places.

  • Manny

    I hope you’re feeling better.

  • Sygurd Jonfski

    Don’t you have your “partner” to do that?

  • The Lost Dutchman

    Cool story, bro.

  • MeanLizzie

    Mending slowly. Getting old is a bword. :-)

  • Theodore Seeber

    And neither are you, with this obvious display of heterophobia.

  • Theodore Seeber

    “This is a good response, however my response back would ask is the purpose of marriage only for children?”

    A family without children is like a bicycle without wheels. And I say that as one who has also felt the sting of infertility I see underlying the above screed.

  • Terri

    So you’re suggesting that the elderly widowed never marry? Or those with an ample crew of kids who’ve lost their spouse to never remarry? Or even those with busy careers without an interest in children but who are committed to another to never marry? I disagree. Marriage is to combine two people into one for the purposes of both the state and religion.

  • Mike


  • ahermit

    ” people can only go as far as their consciences will allow”

    Well, no one is asking to bishop to get gay married, just to stop trying to get in the way of other people’s happiness. If not denying equal treatment under the law to people he disagrees with goes against his conscience I think his conscience is where the problem lies.

  • Mrshopey

    I liked his response.

    It is easy to take the defensive stance which he didn’t.
    In the end, the truth will be presented and not all people will accept it. It doesn’t mean it is no longer the truth tho.

  • Theodore Seeber

    “So you’re suggesting that the elderly widowed never marry?”

    I’m suggesting that they don’t deserve a tax break for marrying, and besides, in many cases they’d lose social security benefits for doing so.

    ” Or those with an ample crew of kids who’ve lost their spouse to never remarry?”

    There’s a difference there- there are kids. But why would you deny those children the joy of a step-sibling?

    “Or even those with busy careers without an interest in children but who are committed to another to never marry?”

    If you have no time for children, you don’t have time for a spouse either. Better to not marry and pursue your other vocation with all of your heart, soul, and mind. (Roman Catholic Priests should not marry, and neither should nuns, for this exact reason).

    “Marriage is to combine two people into one for the purposes of both the state and religion.”

    No, that’s specifically what marriage is NOT.

  • Manny

    “Marriage is to combine two people into one for the purposes of both the state and religion.”

    Marriage (in various forms) existed long before the modern concept of the ‘state’ came about.

    I wish Catholics would say screw the ‘State’ and just get sacramentally married. That’s the only part that matters.

  • ADG

    I say leave it up. It’s good to see what type of cloth the anti-marriage crowd is cut from.

  • Dennis Mahon

    Cool story, bro…

  • CSmith

    Excellent letter. Gonna be saving that one. Thank you for writing about it.

  • George

    God bless you David. I’m sorry winning the right to be married has not brought relief from your anger.

  • Kelley

    I understand the Archbishop needs to respond to the allegations… I would just like to see more of him reaching out to LGBTQ people in the community and in the pews. That might make people more open to actually listening to what he has to say. At this point he is viewed a irrelevant by many… or as an enemy.

    I have looked for support for LGBTQ people in the SF Archdiocese and I have had little success finding things that aren’t on one extreme or the other. To be honest, I’ve kind of given up on trying to find a support network within the Church when it comes to this. I manage, but it’s difficult to see the others that would benefit from the support.

    I’m an advocate on homelessness here in the City and the latest data found that 29% of the overall homeless population identifies as LGBTQ… which was stunning even to service providers. We knew about LGBTQ youth, but didn’t realize the overall numbers were so disproportionate. So clearly there is a need to reach out to this marginalized population… and I don’t mean via a 12 Step program. A 12 Step model just isn’t fitting in this situation.

    Also, since the support isn’t there I am very reluctant to encourage my LGBTQ friends to engage in the Church. That’s just how it is at this point. I hope that will change though. Pope Francis has made me feel a little more hopeful about this.

  • Mike

    Gay men and women can ALREADY get legally married in all 50 states and every country on earth; the law is not discriminatory, it is a simple reflection of biological reality and the societal good that all kids deserve a mom AND a dad.

  • captcrisis

    Gay marriage is supported by 58% of American Catholics and 0% of Patheos’s Catholic bloggers.

  • Mark Cee

    –What is specifically “pro-marriage” about the March, or for that matter about NOM in general? To me, a march that was about strengthening the institution of marriage would address the issues of divorce and adultery. From a religious standpoint, both are Biblical sins. From a social standpoint, both are obviously prevalent in the destruction of marriages. Yet I don’t see one word about either of those issues from the Archbishop, or NOM itself. Care to comment on why that is?

    Further, the Archbishop suggests that march is not anti-gay, and suggests that if the point was to single out a group for hatred, he would not be there. Yet the Family Research Council, one of the sponsors of the march, is one of the most anti-gay organizations in existence, so much so that it’s been classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their rheotric is a matter of public record. Do you imagine the Archbishop is unaware of this?

    –The Archbishop is mistaken when he claims that NOM does not connect homosexuality with pedophilia. In fact, they do. It’s one of their talking points, that legalizing same-sex marriage will pave the way for the legalization of pedophilia. This is a matter of public record–there are several examples. Further, many of the other speakers/sponsors in the march have done the same thing. For instance, speaker William Owens has on multiple occasions equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia. Again, it is possible that he’s unaware?

    –The Archbishop says that harsh and hateful rhetoric flows from both sides, suggesting an equivalency can be drawn. Yet I’m aware of no efforts by the LGBT community to deny heterosexuals the right to get married, or to deny them other civil rights. I also know of no LGBT march against those things or against Christianity or Catholicism. So how do you suppose he can claim equivalency when only one side has declared a “culture war” on the other?

    –Finally, I’m wondering about a few Biblical issues all of the above raises for me: the prohibition against bearing false witness, for one–I’m sorry, but I find it implausible that the Archbishop is unaware of these issues–and also Jesus’ instruction that we love our neighbor.

  • Mark Cee

    Wow. You chose to delete the entirely respectful comment I made earlier? Very dishonest, Elizabeth. Also quite telling.

  • MeanLizzie

    I’ve deleted no comments today. What exactly is your issue, now? Oh, comments weren’t moderated fast enough for your liking? I apologize for not being at my desk at every hour of the day to moderate comments the moment they are left. Perhaps when I am done recovering from post-pneumonia bronchitis and crashing every afternoon and needing naps, I will be able to never, ever leave my desk and can moderate comments instantly. In the meantime, why would you assume the worst, of someone (she deleted my civil comments!!! Dishonest bitch!!!) when you could assume the best, (‘she hasn’t released any comments in a few hours. Maybe she is busy. Or even sleeping.”) Bad form indeed. Also quite telling.

    I felt strong yesterday and was in a good mood when I was told to go screw myself. I feel weaker today and much more exhausted. I’m in a “bad” mood, so I’m not taking being accused of censorship or of being “dishonest” lightly.

  • MeanLizzie

    well there you go again assuming the worst of someone, rather than giving the benefit of a doubt. Very telling? I suggest you listen to the bishop’s remarks at the thing or write to him directly if you have questions. From what I have heard of him privately, he is open to engagement. Also, I would love to see a march against divorce and adultery, myself, and yeah, the whole society could stand to hear about it. My church preaches against both, but then again, society hates my church, and clearly no one is listening. A march against our sinful natures and our selfishness…I’m all for it.

  • MeanLizzie

    Actually several Patheos bloggers have said they have no issue with gay civil unions but draw the line at compelling churches to perform them, which is already happening in some countries. But you’ll have to read them and their archives to find out which ones. :-)

  • MeanLizzie

    I would like to hear more about this.

  • FW Ken

    Every win for gay rights advocates has been marked by increased rage. You have to wonder what happens when they have gained their way and silenced all opposing voices. What will they blame then?

  • Manny

    There appears tobe chapters of the Courage Apostolate in the Bay Area

  • ahermit

    We’ve been over this before Mike…your first statement is the same argument the racists used to use when defending anti-miscegenation laws…”they can still get married, just as long as it’s to someone of the same race…” Not really much of an argument is it?

    And since we don’t withhold the legal rights and benefits of marriage from heterosexual couples who can’t or decide not to have children that can’t be an excuse for denying those same legal rights and benefits to same sex couples. Especially the ones with children…

  • Manny

    Your appeal to guilt by association isn’t as clever as you’d like to think. Marriage has always been understood as the union of one man and one woman. Anti-miscegenation laws, a historically recent invention, placed unjust conditions on the natural form of marriage. Same sex “marriage” ignores the biological realities underpinning marriage. Furthermore, heterosexual couples are capable of providing children with the natural form of a family (i.e. a mother and father), regardless of whether or not they decide to do that. It is impossible for homosexual couples to provide this.

  • FW Ken

    That’s like saying diabetics should be given sugar. Of course, if diabetics want to eat foods bad for them, or alcoholics want to drink whisky, that’s their right. But I don’t have to pay the freight

  • FW Ken

    I’m thinking that’s not what she had in mind, Manny. ;-)