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Archbishop to Pelosi, critics: No, I won’t drop March for Marriage

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San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks to the U.S. Bishops at their fall plenary assembly in Baltimore on Nov. 11, 2013.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has responded that, despite criticism from political leaders in his home state, he will attend the March for Marriage this week, because his position requires him to act as a defender of the Catholic faith.

In a letter released today, Cordileone wrote that he is required “as a bishop, to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing ... especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife,” Cordileone wrote. “That is what I will be doing on June 19th.”

Political figures from Nancy Pelosi to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom had written to Cordileone, asking him not to take part in the second annual march in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Pelosi, who supports marriage redefinition, called the march “venom masquerading as virtue.”

"We share our love of the Catholic faith and our city of San Francisco," she wrote to her archbishop. But she said some of the event's participants show “hate and disdain” for homosexuals.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League accused Pelosi of selective outrage. “When gays go naked in the streets of San Francisco, and mock Catholicism in patently obscene ways, Pelosi is never offended. What offends her is her archbishop's public defense of the Church's teachings on marriage,” he said.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a separate letter with numerous homosexual activists asking that he “reconsider [his] participation and join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

They criticized the National Organization for Marriage and added that “the Family Research Council, which is co-sponsoring the event, has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Among those who signed Lee and Newsom's letter is Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an openly dissenting Catholic group condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when it was led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Other prominent signatories include Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine and Harry Knox, a defrocked Methodist minister whom President Obama named to his Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009. Knox now leads the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Dr. Christine Mugridge, head of the Archdiocese of San Francisco's department of communications and outreach, told that the politicians had allowed ideology to blind them to an archbishop's mission. “They are forgetting the fact that he has an obligation to teach the faith,” she said. “In the public arena, they are not responsible for every speaker’s opinion at a public meeting.”

“It isn’t his personal opinion; it is the teaching of the Church,” she said.

Both letters quoted an off-the-cuff remark by Pope Francis, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?" The statement has been used to confuse the faithful and public at large about the Church's stance on homosexuality – confusion Archbishop Cordileone aims to dispel. 

“The Holy Father is being misquoted repeatedly to defend acceptance of the gay lifestyle,” Dr. Mugridge told LifeSiteNews. “The Pope has said he is a son of the Church and that he does not defend the gay lifestyle and opposed lobbyists for that lifestyle.”

“His 'who am I to judge?' quote is now being used to condone the active homosexual lifestyle, which is in complete contradiction to our Catholic faith,” she said.

In his response letter released today, Cordileone, who chairs the USCCB's Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, cited words of Pope Francis that have attracted less media attention: “We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and mother.”

That view, he said, is not “anti-LGBT” but simply pro-marriage.

He noted much of his correspondents' criticism of NOM and FRC was “based on misinterpretation or is simply factually incorrect.”

“There is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction,” he noted – and not merely rhetoric. “Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence ... such as, most notably, the attempted gunning down of those who work in the offices of the Family Research Council.”

He implored his left-leaning political correspondents to get to know him and other defenders of marriage as people. “Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images, and comments taken out of context,” he said. “Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings.”

“I myself am willing to meet personally with any of you not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other. It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. In the end, love is the answer, and this can happen even between people with such deep disagreements. That may sound fanciful and far-fetched, but it is true, it is possible,” he continued. “I know it is possible, I know this from personal experience. When we come together seeking to understand the other with good will, miracles can happen.”

“When all is said and done, then, there is only one thing that I would ask of you more than anything else,” he said, “before you judge us, get to know us.”

You may read Archbishop Cordileone's full response here.

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