OAKLAND, California, March 16, 2011 ( – The leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ committee tasked with defending marriage this week stated that political elites in the United States are subverting democracy and using the issue of same-sex “marriage” to consolidate power into their hands, away from the people.


“It is a curious irony that in this moment of history, when people in a number of countries in the Middle East are agitating for change from dictatorship to democracy, here in our own country, the oldest democracy with a written constitution in the world, there is a movement of the ruling class toward taking more and more power into its own hands,” wrote Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB ad hoc committee for the defense of marriage, in a column for the Catholic Voice, Oakland’s diocesan newspaper.

Cordileone said the flashpoint for this political takeover is marriage and that the actions of political elites should alarm both opponents and supporters of same-sex “marriage” alike.

“The fact of the matter is, wherever ‘gay marriage’ has become the law of the land, it has happened in a way that avoids the democratic process, and sometimes even goes directly against it,” he said.

The Catholic bishop noted a number of “ironies” relating to the connection between the attack on marriage and the decline of democracy in the United States.

First, Cordileone noted that former Attorney General Jerry Brown (now governor) had a public duty to defend California’s constitutional amendment (Prop. 8) defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But Brown refused: “His reason? He is personally opposed to it.”

The bishop said that points to another irony because Brown’s refusal to defend the law based on his personal convictions in effect contradicted the excuses of so many other Catholic politicians, who say they cannot in good conscience legislate their personal morality on others. Brown is a baptized Catholic and an ex-Jesuit seminarian.

Cordileone added that the bid to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Washington, D.C. was also alarming, given that in order to accomplish that goal, the D.C. Council successfully prevented the people (most of them African-American) from having a vote. Ironically, “a small group of political elites (almost all of them white), in a claim to expand rights, deny one of the most fundamental rights in a constitutional democracy — the right to vote — to the masses of black citizens.”

The bishop added that President Barack Obama’s decision not to defend the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) effectively “repeals DOMA by the decision of a federal court judge” – even though Obama asserted that DOMA should be repealed through Congress, not the courts. He added that Obama’s decision also violates the constitutional separation of powers, because he had effectively declared DOMA unconstitutional (which Cordileone said was the purview of the court) by refusing to enforce and defend it.

“Regardless of one’s position on the marriage issue, these and so many other moves by our public officials should give cause for concern about the fate of democracy in our country,” said the bishop.

He urged individuals “to inform themselves of the facts, to inform their consciences from the natural moral law and Church teaching — understanding that marriage is not discrimination against anyone, but benefits everyone and that we must treat those who disagree with us on this issue with respect and compassion.”

“Many people describe our country as currently being engaged in a ‘culture war.’ A century-and-a-half ago, we were engaged in a civil war. Now, as then, the conflict puts the future prospects of our democracy at stake,” concluded Cordileone.

Read the full column here.