USCCB silence on ‘Don’t ask’ provokes criticism
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the wake of the successful repeal of the U.S. military’s “Dont’ ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy banning open homosexuality, some voices from the religious corner are criticizing U.S. bishops for not lending support to the pro-family side on the hot-button issue.
After much back-and-forth on Capitol Hill, DADT was finally repealed by the Senate last month, and the change was signed by President Obama December 22. The repeal hinged upon a much-debated Pentagon report that supporters of repeal said proved the appropriateness of the repeal, and that conservatives and military chiefs argued showed the exact opposite.
The repeal took place amid strong public support, despite urging from top conservative groups such as the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America to oppose the change. And while several other large groups urged against repeal, including major organizations representing veterans and military chaplains, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and individual prelates largely did not join the fray.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, stated last month on Fox News Sunday that “there isn’t a specific Catholic Church position” on the issue of homosexuals serving in the military.
However, in 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote that “there are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.”
Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio was targeted by several groups and individuals for reproach after he became one of the lone Catholic authorities to speak out against repeal.
Broglio had stated that, as there exists no “right” to serve in the military, homosexuals are not subject to unjust discrimination by being barred from service because the practice of homosexuality is harmful to unit cohesion and morale. “Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war,” he argued.
Broglio also pointed out that behind the repeal lies “an agenda to force everyone to accept as normal and positive behavior that is contrary to the moral norms of many religions, including the Catholic Church.”
Meanwhile, a rising dissident Catholic group, Catholics for Equality (CFE), loudly championed the repeal’s cause and repeatedly castigated Broglio for upholding the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
On their Facebook page they urged their supporters to “call your Senators ... and remind them that the Pentagon study refutes the misinformation and fear tactics in Archbishop Broglio’s statements opposing DADT.”
In a September letter to Broglio, CFE’s leaders decried the “deep disrespect” shown to gay servicemen by opposing the repeal and urged that the Catholic Church become an “enlightened partner in the American pluralistic military and society.”
Kevin Whitman, a Catholic writer for the national Examiner, questioned the USCCB’s “conspicuous” silence on the issue, which he claimed “fuel[ed] the belief that the pro-homosexual Lavender Mafia is alive and well within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America.”
Following Wuerl’s statement, Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, lamented at the silence on the part of the Catholic Church, normally a weighty voice in the moral debates on Captiol Hill.
“When the issue got right down to the final vote - the one that ultimately was successful, the Catholic Church, among other organizations that had spoken in June, were silent,” Donnelly told OneNewsNow.