Catholics Organize to Promote Gay Marriage

Deal W. Hudson
February 24, 2010

Those wondering why Francis Cardinal George suddenly announced his condemnation of New Ways Ministry on February 5 should take note of a meeting held a few days earlier in Washington, D.C. During the last weekend of January, a group of Catholics, lay and religious, met in Washington to launch “Catholics for Equality” (CFE).

New Ways Ministry, a homosexuality advocacy group, had long been considered controversial even before Cardinal George – President of the USCCB – publicly stated, “It has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church, and they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.”

One of the founders of Catholics for Equality, Father Tony Bilerico, regardedCardinal George’s statement as “retaliation” for the creation of an organization dedicated to changing Church teaching on homosexuality and marriage.

Father Tony goes on to describe the founders of CFE as an “A List of Catholic thorns in the sides of American Bishops,” including two people associated with New Ways Ministries, Frank DeBernardo and Matthew Myers. Not all the names at the meeting were disclosed, for “political and practical reasons,” but among those mentioned were members of the Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, the Georgetown LGBTQ Resource Center, Dignity USA, and the newly formed Catholics for Marriage Equality groups in Massachusetts and Maine.

Another attendee, not mentioned by Father Tony, was Rev. Geoffrey Farrow, a priest from Fresno, California. Father Farrow made headlines in October 2008 when he told his congregation at the local Newman Center about his opposition to Proposition 8 and revealed his own homosexuality. He was promptly removed from his ministry by Bishop John T. Steinbock for making a public statement contradicting the teaching of the Catholic Church and, interestingly, “using the Internet as a means of continuing your conflict with the Church’s teaching.”

Father Farrow described the Church’s support for Proposition 8 as “bigotry,” but thought that even more “egregious” was the directive of Bishop Richard T. Malone in Maine that his priests preach a series of sermons on how Catholics should vote on a same-sex marriage referendum.

On his personal blog, Father Farrow wrote of his recent visit to D.C. to attend “meetings with representatives of various Catholic organizations and theologians who are organizing into a voice for the laity, clergy, and religious of our Church.” Father Tony portrays the meetings in more colorful terms: Those who came together that snowy weekend was…

…a cordial group of folks who are sorely discontent with the aggressive, inappropriate and hateful actions of the Catholic bishops regarding the LGBT community. We aren’t here to discuss just gay marriage, folks, although our losses on those state battlefields have awakened us to the need for a united voice that will help all Catholics guide their clueless bishops back onto the path of goodness and grace. Those bishops, the supposed shepherds of the flock, have lost their way, and it is up to the sheep to repair the damage they have done.

What’s particularly interesting about reading these blogs is the refrain that the bishops don’t represent the majority view of the Catholic laity. Both Father Farrow – “a public voice to the vast members of our Church” – and Father Tony – “the bishops no longer speak for the Catholic Church” – believe they are the spearheads of an inevitable Catholic uprising.

I’m unaware of any polling that shows that the majority of active Catholics no longer regard homosexual acts as sinful, or that same-sex marriage should be legalized. But even if such data could be produced, it would only prove the need for the Church to be more forthright in arguing its position on those issues. Catholic doctrine is not defined by polling – not yet, anyway.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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