Catholic Church | Gay Marriage | Religion | Seattle | Washington

Dissent Among The Parishes As Seattle Archbishop Seeks To Roll Back Marriage Equality

SartainSeattle's Archbishop J. Peter Sartain is one of the worthies who spoke out against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state. It didn't matter: Governor Christine Gregoire signed marriage equality into law earlier this year. (Incidentally, Gregoire is a Catholic.) Now the Archbishop is circulating petitions through the state's parishes to get the issue on a November ballot. From Reuters:

A bulletin from Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who testified against the gay marriage bill, and the Washington State Catholic Conference has asked parishes to participate in the signature-gathering effort and "do everything you can to uphold the traditional definition of marriage in our state."

"We bishops have already made known our strong opposition to the redefinition of marriage, and we will continue to do so," the letter said. "Because we believe that this issue is critically important, we ... have approved the gathering of signatures in our parishes over the next few months."

As things currently stand, same-sex couples will be able to marry in Washington this summer. But if equality's opponents collect 120,577 signatures before a June 6th deadline, those marriages will be delayed until after the November elections. If Washingtonians should vote to roll back equality, the state will continue to offer civil unions, though full marriage will be delayed indefinitely.

But Archbishop Sartain may not get as much help as he hoped from his signature drive, as several Catholic parishes have refused to circulate his petition.

From Reuters:

Reverend Michael Ryan of St. James Cathedral, which opted not to take part in the petition drive, told church members in an email: "Doing so would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community."

Using similar language, the pastoral life coordinator at St. Mary's Church, Tricia Wittmann-Todd, said collecting signatures would be "hurtful and divisive" to her parish.

"I am particularly concerned about our youth who may be questioning their own sexual identity and need our support at this time in their lives," she said in a statement.

The dissenting parishes have received considerable moral support from pro-equality members of the laiety. Among them is Barbara Guzzo, a 62-year-old woman who co-founded Catholics For Marriage Equality In Washington:

"There are Catholics who clearly aren't going to move off the position of marriage as only between one man and one woman, but this is about civil marriage," she said, adding that some Catholics dislike the idea of circulating legislative petitions in church, which has not been done since the late 1980s.

Seven Catholic parishes have so far refused to participate in the signature drive. There are 300 Catholic parishes in Washington altogether.

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  1. If the Catholic church is going to play politics then it's time they got taxed.

    Posted by: Curt | Apr 15, 2012 12:00:06 PM

  2. Once again...why isn't the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church been taken away? Petition drives regarding secular issues is blatantly political.

    Posted by: Terry | Apr 15, 2012 12:02:09 PM

  3. This is a blatant example of the right wing's creep(y)ing, crawling, stealth campaign to create the theocratic states of america. This example should forwarn everyone opposed to such tactics. This is politics, not religion. I'm completely in favor of removing ALL churches' tax exempt status, they should have to register as a PAC, and also remove the right of pastor's to legalize marriage as is in Europe. The marriage is a state contract not a religious one.

    Posted by: Steven | Apr 15, 2012 12:14:13 PM

  4. Just as in the Mormon church's all-out megabucks stealth campaign on Prop 8 in California, this is a religious institution's end-run around the conditions of their tax exempt status. High time that it was re-examined!

    Posted by: greggo | Apr 15, 2012 12:18:40 PM

  5. Keep this up and I might not be so inclined to think ill of most Catholics.

    Posted by: Marc C | Apr 15, 2012 12:22:45 PM

  6. This church is truly CURSED. If Jesus could come back from the dead, He'd slap the holy sh*t out of Archbishop Sartain and order him never to pray to Him again.

    Posted by: It's enough | Apr 15, 2012 12:35:28 PM

  7. The monumental moral corruption of the Catholic Church as evidenced by the many sexual abuse scandals is particularly galling when one contemplates the vast (and covert) wealth of that particular enterprise.

    It's a racket, and it costs taxpayers even more money to monitor, uncover and fight the abuse it invites - none of which would be necessary if such unenforceable loopholes in our tax code never existed. They take great advantage of their tax-free status, all while espousing doctrines of intolerance and hatred, filter funds to foreign enemies, and cause far more harm than good in their communities. They are nevertheless entirely tax-exempt, their finances never scrutinized, because they qualify as "religious organizations." Tax-exempt status is a privilege - not a right - and churches should be held to the same standards as other non-profits - if not higher standards.

    "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." -James Madison

    Posted by: Mestone67 | Apr 15, 2012 1:30:09 PM

  8. How extraordinary: kindness and compassion in response to a religious fatwa. I'm so delighted to read this. It doesn't happen nearly enough.

    Posted by: ryan | Apr 15, 2012 1:37:05 PM

  9. I was going to post something but everyone's beaten me to it.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 15, 2012 1:40:17 PM

  10. sounds like their archbishop's gonna be mighty busy keeping an awful lot of people away from communion. Man oh man. You'd think somebody in the Roman church's upper-management would have enough sense to know they CAN'T WIN on this - that promoting hate isn't just bad business for the Roman church: it's BAD BUSINESS.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Apr 15, 2012 2:07:03 PM

  11. Do they have designer robes and vestments? Wonder if any gays design church vestments. Is there like a show+catwalk or something every Sept.? They're really quite colorful. And the hats. Don't get me started. When I was an alter boy I use to sit during church service and dwell on stuff like this. Took a lot of will power not to burst out laughing. Funerals were the worse.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 15, 2012 2:17:16 PM

  12. This happens because we put up with it. We have access to the Catholic Churches. We have access to Catholic people. Did anyone stand up in church and call the Bishop out on this? Is there even a bumper sticker in opposition?

    I'll bet some Gay church group is having a prayer vigil or something. How adorable. Well at least they are doing something besides posting on bulletin boards, I guess.

    Why are there criminals in the ghetto? Because the ghetto puts up with it. Why are there bigots in the pulpit? Because the ghetto puts up with it. Each Catholic parish is a ghetto and each Bishop is a gang leader. You can lock your doors, or you can go out and reclaim your street. It doesn't matter which ghetto you are in.

    Posted by: David Hearn | Apr 15, 2012 2:43:52 PM

  13. TAX this church, it's foreign controlled and so unAmerican.

    Posted by: Barney | Apr 15, 2012 5:53:07 PM

  14. David, I'm not sure that most Catholics would appreciate your analogy between gang leaders in the ghetto and Bishops. But even if they would, isn't it well known that crime is out of control in the ghettos because of the disintegration of the family (and this could be an argument FOR gay marriage, by the way)? From what I understand, people in the ghetto are overwhelmed by crime. The drug dealers threaten to murder anyone who goes to the cops to report them. Vigilante groups might be able to overwhelm a lot of thugs, but then if they have the power to do this aren't they at risk of becoming thugs themselves? Not trying to provoke a fight here, just genuinely curious about how you think citizens in any locale can eliminate crime.

    Posted by: Mary | Apr 15, 2012 6:54:12 PM

  15. Also, David you're forgetting that unlike Protestant churches, the Catholic Church is not democratically run, and not SUPPOSED to be democratically run. Bishops and Cardinals have the ultimate power (after the Pope of course) and are considered to be representatives of God. This doesn't mean that they can't make mistakes, but that the mistakes can only be corrected by other clergy. Catholic theology can't change just because most Catholics might want it to.

    Posted by: Mary | Apr 15, 2012 7:00:04 PM

  16. Add Assumption Parish in Seattle to the list of churches where the head priest has refused to allow signature-gathering for these hateful petitions. He announced it from the pulpit this morning. Father Oliver said that the church should be about bringing people together, not dividing them. Good for him.

    And remember, churches are allowed to participate in political ISSUES such as civil rights. (Remember Rev. Martin Luther King?) They just are not allowed to endorse candidates.

    Posted by: Seattle Mike | Apr 15, 2012 7:58:10 PM

  17. "Catholic theology can't change just because most Catholics might want it to."

    Therefore it needs to END

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 15, 2012 8:33:37 PM

  18. stop giving money to these kid-f***ers.

    every time you give a cent to these pedophile-protectors you become a part of the problem.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 15, 2012 8:40:02 PM

  19. Ratbastard - rent and watch Fellini's "Roma." He has a wonderful fashion show scene of vestments ending with the appearance of a pope. It gets more and more outlandish and if you wondered about things like this as an altar boy, you will laugh for days about this scene.

    Posted by: john patrick | Apr 15, 2012 9:23:58 PM

  20. Actually, Ratbastard, you don't have to rent the film. Just view it on YouTube:

    Posted by: john patrick | Apr 15, 2012 9:47:48 PM

  21. All religion is myth. The myths were written by men. The priesthoods are largely populated by men It is the oldest of the all boys clubs. Rid yourselves of these ancient and primitive myths. Live as free 21st century people.

    Posted by: jack | Apr 15, 2012 10:25:25 PM

  22. JOhn Patrick;

    Thank you ! I watched that movie ages ago when I was sick with a high fever. I was starting to think that I had imagined it. I still couldn't tell you what it was about, but I remember the fashion show. Strange movie.

    - David Hearne

    Posted by: David Hearn | Apr 15, 2012 10:33:10 PM

  23. If you want to know how crazy religion is look at that pic of Sartain posted above. Do you realize that he is pretending to have just changed that cup of wine into the real blood of jesus christ. Its called transubstantion. The Catholic cuurch actually teaches that after the priest says the words of consecration over the bread and wine, it becomes "the body and blood, soul and divinity of jesus christ". Thats right the creator of the billion gallaxy universe is on that altar. And you thought the sacred underware of the Mormons was goofy.

    Posted by: jack | Apr 15, 2012 11:17:13 PM

  24. To Curt and Terry et al: All religions play politics. The biggest and most blatant offender is the African American Church. Politicians, mostly democrats, actually go to their churches and give political speeches to the congregations. Many of the African American elected leaders and politicians were or are acting ministers. Separation of church and state does not exist in African American society.

    Posted by: jack | Apr 15, 2012 11:49:29 PM

  25. actual evidence points out that Separation of Church and State doesn't exist in a "Republican society". nor a "white one".

    please cite with specifics why and HOW the "african american church" (?) is the most blatant offender. specifics, please. with citations.

    Prop 8 was begun and mostly funded by the LDS. in case you didn't notice, they be crackers.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 15, 2012 11:56:17 PM

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