The Thomas More Law Center is appealing a federal judge's recent approval of a virulently anti-Catholic resolution passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that the Board's resolution condemning Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality and urging the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
The resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, alludes to the Vatican as a "foreign country" meddling in the affairs of the City and describes the Church's moral teaching and beliefs as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "insulting and callous," "defamatory," "absolutely unacceptable," "insensitive and ignorant." The resolution calls on the local Archbishop to "defy" the Church's teachings and describes Cardinal William Joseph Levada, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for safeguarding the doctrine on the faith and morals of the Church throughout the Catholic world, as "unqualified" to lead.
Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling this matter, commented, "Our Constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith. In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco have abused their authority as government officials and misused the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church. Their egregious abuse of power now has the backing of a federal judge. This battle, however, is far from over. We are appealing this offensive ruling."
The Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two Catholic residents of San Francisco. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear the appeal.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, observed, "This judge totally ignored or attempted to rationalize the evocative rhetoric and venom of the resolution which are sad reminders of Catholic baiting by the Ku Klux Klan."
Continued Thompson, "Federal judges across the country are removing passive religious symbols, such as the crèche and the display of the Ten Commandments, from the public square because these innocent symbols supposedly express an official government endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. However, when San Francisco passes an overtly, anti-Catholic resolution expressly attacking Church moral teaching and calling on Church leaders to defy Church teaching as a matter of official government policy, a federal judge gives these anti-Catholic bigots a free pass. Unfortunately, this case amply demonstrates the anti-religious bias that pervades our judicial system."
Catholic doctrine proclaims that allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. According to Church authority such policies are gravely immoral and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households. Accordingly, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has directed Catholic organizations to adhere to the Church's moral teaching.
The Law Center's lawsuit claimed that the City's anti-Catholic resolution violated the First Amendment, which "forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general." The Law Center argued that the "anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message to Plaintiffs and others who are faithful adherents to the Catholic faith that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and an accompanying message that those who oppose Catholic religious beliefs, particularly with regard to homosexual unions and adoptions by homosexual partners, are insiders, favored members of the political community."
In her decision upholding the resolution against the Law Center's constitutional challenge, the federal judge defended the City by essentially claiming that the Church invited the attack by publicly expressing its teaching on moral issues. In her written opinion, the judge stated, "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its [doctrinal] statement. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of this provocation."