Massachusetts Bishops Vacillate on Defense of Marriage Petition Campaign

 The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), which represents the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, has offered no support for the restoration of the state’s 1913 marriage law, which would prevent nonresident homosexuals from going to Massachusetts to be “married” in accordance with the state’s “gay marriage” provisions.

Recent actions by the hierarchy and its representatives are raising further questions about the leadership’s true sentiments on the matter.

The latest controversy began when Sean O’Malley, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, was  approached at a public event asking for his signature endorsing the restoration of the law.

Although O’Malley signed the petition, members of his own entourage attempted to snatch the sheet away.  Now, the Boston Archdiocese, in conjunction with the MCC, has issued a statement implying that signatures cannot be collected on Church property.

In response to a campaign by the pro-family organization MassResistance, to involve Catholic pastors in the petition drive, the Archdiocese of Boston said in an email that “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.”

However, when LifeSiteNews contacted MCC Executive Director Edward Saunders, who was given as the contact for the letter, he claimed that the MCC was not opposed to the collection of signatures, claiming that the Conference was only objecting to the fact that Mass Resistance had not obtained approval for the petition drive before contacting pastors.  However, Mass Resistance is not a Catholic organization.

Although Saunders attempted to downplay the importance of the petition drive, he told LifeSiteNews that local pastors could distribute the petitions if they so wished. “It is permitted, if it is the decision of the pastor,” he said. 

However, to date the MCC has not endorsed the campaign in any way, and according to Brian Camenker of MassResistance, Saunders told him in an earlier conversation that the MCC was opposed to the petition drive, and said that the diocese was following a strategy of trying to get better legislators elected to the state congress instead.  Camenker found the reaction puzzling.

Camenker also says that he was told that Cardinal O’Malley signed the petition “in a moment of weakness” and that it was not a public act.

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  • ckcapecod

    As a resident of MA and a Catholic, I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership the bishops here have exhibited. They seem afraid to say anything and because of their inaction, the Catholics here have been mislead and many are no longer true to the faith. It is sad that lay people have to pick up the slack and do what the bishops should be doing.

  • plowshare

    “Saunders told him in an earlier conversation that the MCC was opposed to the petition drive, and said that the diocese was following a strategy of trying to get better legislators elected to the state congress instead. Camenker found the reaction puzzling.”

    I think almost anyone would find Saunders’s reaction puzzling. Why would anyone wanting a certain end limit the means to that end? The expressions “putting all
    your eggs into one basket” and “fighting with one hand tied behind your back”
    come to mind.

    Besides, in Massachusetts of all places, one would expect bishops to realize that
    legislators are not single-issue people, and that legislators [look at former pro-lifer Ted Kennedy!] have been known to reverse their positions after taking office.

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