This may be some of the best news I've seen on the religious front for a while: Catholic parishes standing up to the homophobic demands of their leadership:
The congregation at Seattle’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church gave the Rev. Tim Clark a standing ovation Sunday when he announced that the parish would not gather signatures for a referendum to repeal same-sex marriage. The parish became the sixth in Seattle to opt out of the petition drive for Referendum 74 that has been endorsed and foisted on parishes by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain. “I am happy to report that Our Lady of the Lake parishoners have been overwhelmingly and, thus far, unanimously supportive of the decision I made NOT to gather signatures in support of this Referendum,” Clark wrote in response to an e-mail.”I don't want to overstate this, because the Roman Catholic church remains very much a not-democracy, and the Archbishop Peter J. Sartrain, who has been foisting this petition drive on his parishes, sounds like a real not-peach. He's been trying to muster Catholics in favor of Referendum 74, which would block Washington's new same-sex marriage law.
But this outright refusal to accede to the Archbishop's wishes touches on a post I made back in February arguing that the Conference of Catholic Bishops' attempts to mobilize a "Catholic voting bloc" a la the conservative evangelical Protestant vote, would backfire badly. Yes, on paper the Church is very hierarchical; in practice, Catholic voters are much more diverse than the Bishops would like to admit:
Despite the fervent efforts of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in the last decade to turn Roman Catholics into single-issue voters focused on abortion, they just aren't. Despite hints, or even outright threats, of excommunication for supporting pro-choice politicians, a majority of Catholic voters supported Obama in 2008. In the fall, the UCCB is threatening that Obama could lose "the Catholic vote." While I'm sure that a year of political sermons will definitely shave off some voters, there are still liberals and moderates in the pews. There are still Kennedy Catholics and Vatican II Catholics, the people for whom serving the poor and needy is more important than controlling women's wombs—indeed, there are Catholics who object to these draconian attempts to control the bodies of women et. al.And lest anyone doubt for an instant that the current campaign by the Catholic hierarchy against teh gays is intimately related to its war on teh wimminz, let me note that Archbishop Satrain has also been appointed to head up a "major reform" of Catholic women's religious congregations (that's nuns to you and me) "to ensure their fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality." (Cue ominous music.)
So, the guy the Vatican has tagged to keep the sisters from speaking out in support of women's rights and gay rights and like can't even keep his parishes in line. Great pick, Vatican! His leadership skills are obviously as wonderful as his opinions! You are not only acting very Jesus-y, you are acting very competently!
Meanwhile, genuine wishes of good luck to Our Lady of the Lake and other parishes and individuals who dare to take a public stand stand against the bigotry and not-peachness of His not-Excellency. I have a feeling you are going to need it.