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Archdiocese bans marriage petition in all MA Catholic churches -- days after Cardinal O'Malley signs it! Claims Archbishop signed in "moment of weakness."

Conservative Catholics stunned!

October 10, 2008

This is a truly unbelievable. It's as if the world is turning upside-down.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), acting through Cardinal O'Malley, has banned Catholic churches in the state from supporting the signature gathering effort for the Marriage Referendum Petition on the "1913 Law" repeal. This action came days after Cardinal O'Malley himself signed the petition, which MCC Executive Director Ed Saunders told MassResistance was done in a "moment of weakness."

Catholic activists working with MassResistance had planned a big push for signatures in Catholic churches this weekend, Columbus Day Weekend, the last weekend before the Oct 15 deadline. When the Archdiocese found about it on Wednesday, they immediately instituted the ban, effectively crippling these efforts.

Exporting "gay marriage" across the country

In July, the Legislature repealed the "1913 Law" which had prohibited out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if that marriage would be illegal in their home state. This was purposefully done to allow homosexual couples to come here and get "married" and then go back to their home states and sue to have their marriages recognized, using the US Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause, and thus nullify the various "defense of marriage" amendments recently passed by 44 states.

Just before the Senate vote, on July 16, 2008, the four Catholic bishops, including Cardinal O'Malley issued a statement condemning the repeal. That same day the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) published an "alert" for people to call their legislators to stop it.  Why the change of heart?

July 16 statement by Bishops condemning repeal of "1913 Law"

Mass. Catholic Conference "alert" for people to call legislators on vote.

But unfortunately, besides releasing these statements, the Archdiocese did almost nothing on the issue, as far as we could tell.

In August, two weeks after the bill was passed, MassResistance filed a Referendum Petition to force this to be voted on by the people - if we can get approximately 40,000 signatures by next Wednesday, Oct. 15. This is the last opportunity to stop the outrageous Goodridge decision from being exported across the country. Inexplicably, the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) has opposed the petition and, up until now, the Archdiocese had not made a public statement on it.

Cardinal signs petition - then Archdiocese opposes it!

On Sunday, October 5, at the Walk for Life event in downtown Boston, Janet Aldrich of Catch of the Day approached Cardinal Sean O'Malley and asked him if he would sign the petition. He agreed, took the clipboard, and signed it. Janet had previously discussed it with the Cardinal. Immediately afterwards, one of the Cardinal's assistants tried to take the petition sheet from Janet, but she refused to give it up. (We're in the process of getting the video of that.)

  Cardinal O'Malley signed the Referendum Petition
as several people watched.
 

On Monday, October 6, a group of Catholic activists at MassResistance planned the big Columbus Day weekend push to get signatures in churches. They prepared a mailing of petitions and instructions to all 680 churches in the state. The activists wrote a letter about the Cardinal signing the petition, signed by Brian Camenker, which they included. It was mailed on Tuesday.

Letter by MassResistance Catholic activists sent to churches, with petitions

On Wednesday, October 8, Brian Camenker received a phone call from Ed Saunders, director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC). Saunders ordered us to "cease and desist" any efforts to communicate with parishes (an order which, of course, has no legal standing). He said that the Archdiocese had just sent out an email to all the churches in the state (see below) instructing them not to participate in the petition effort.

Saunders said that the letter by Catholic activists was "disrespectful" (you can judge for yourself). He said that the Cardinal signed the petition "in a moment of weakness" and that he did it "privately" - even though he signed it at a public event in front of several people.

We asked Mr. Saunders why the Archdiocese opposed the petition effort. He gave two reasons, both rather strange:

  • He said the Archdiocese opposed petition drive because the Legislature could simply overturn it. But that's been true of everything involving petitions -- including the Marriage Amendment -- since the Massachusetts Constitution was ratified in 1780. That's the way the system works. Do they thus oppose all Referendum Petitions, Initiative Petitions, and Constitutional Amendments? That's absurd. This sends a strong message. Look at Proposition 2 1/2, which has stood solid for over 25 years! 

  • He said that the Archdiocese is instead trying to elect a majority of Legislators so good legislation can be passed. Well, we've all seen how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent. This is obviously a very long-term project. And how legal is it for the Church to be pushing candidates for public office? In any case, doing this doesn't exclude supporting the petition drive.

Here's the email the Archdiocese sent to all the churches in Massachusetts on Wednesday morning:

From: [email protected]

Sent: 10/8/2008 11:44:25 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Clarification on MassResistance effort

Good morning,

It is has come to our attention that you may be receiving a letter from the organization MassResistance, signed by Mr. Brian Camenker, concerning Cardinal Seán having signed a petition pertaining to Massachusetts' "1913 Law", which deals with out of state couples seeking to marry in the Commonwealth. The letter also solicits your help in gathering petition signatures at masses this coming weekend.

Please know that the Archdiocese was not contacted about this letter prior to its having been mailed. Additionally the letter presumes to speak of Cardinal Seán's personal disposition and activities he would undertake as a private citizen. Neither the Archdiocese nor the Cardinal were consulted about these matters at any time. Further, the Archdiocese would not ask pastors or any other persons to gather petition signatures at masses.

The Archdiocese's position concerning political matters is that materials shall not be distributed unless authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), or the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), or the ordinary of the diocese. Regarding the Archdiocese of Boston, none of these has authorized the MassResistance mailing.

If you have any questions about this matter, please be in contact with Ed Saunders, Executive Director of MCC, at 617-367-6060 or via email at [email protected].

Thank you,
Terry Donilon
Secretary for Communications

Catholics across the state had planned to collect signatures at church this Sunday (as they had done for the Marraige Amendment). Many pastors were supporting the effort and said they'd be welcome, but now have told them they can't come. Hundreds of petition sheets are at churches, having been signed by paritioners over the last few weeks, but now we don't know if we'll get them back.

Catholic activists react to "failure of leadership" in Archdiocese

Catholic activists, hundreds of whom have been collecting signatures, have reacted with shock and outrage. It's been quite overwhelming. For example, C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, which has taken a leadership position in this effort, issued the following statement yesterday:

"I urge all Catholics to support the petition drive to hold a referendum on the repeal of the 1913 law. This is a vitally important effort in the critical struggle to defend traditional marriage, upon which the future of our civilization depends. We must prevent the Goodridge decision from being exported to the rest of the country.

"Given the fundamental moral issues at stake, one would hope that those in positions of authority in the Church would support this laudable endeavor, which so many dedicated orthodox priests have already endorsed. Sadly however, faithful Catholics are all too familiar with the culture of betrayal which afflicts our Church. With less than a week to go, we must not be distracted by the failure of leadership, the institutional weakness, or the treacherous influence of liberal clerics in high places in the Archdiocese of Boston. Let us redouble our efforts in the face of this lamentable, but not unpredictable, abdication of responsibility by the hierarchy."

This was the last thing we expected to happen!

It boggles the mind that the Archdiocese of Boston would openly oppose this effort. They should be in the front lines supporting it (and many pastors want to be). Something is very wrong. People expect the Church to be the moral compass on these issues. Just a few years ago the Catholic Church was a leader in the fight for the Marriage Amendment, and championed the signature gathering effort in the churches. 

What's really going on? Several insiders have quietly indicated that the Church leadership now wants to stay away from the homosexual issue, for various reasons. If that's the case, they're doing everyone a disservice. It's not going away.