Slog

Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Father Ryan Refuses Anti-Gay Petitions, Calling Them "Hurtful and Seriously Divisive"

Posted by on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM

In an email to his flock, St. James Cathedral reverend Michael Ryan has announced that he won't circulate petitions inside his parish for the campaign to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law. Here's his full email:

Dear Friends,

Archbishop Sartain has written a letter in which he has expressed his support for Referendum 74 and for the collecting of signatures in parishes. Media reports regarding this are somewhat misleading. While the Archbishop has given his support to the effort, he has wisely left it up to each pastor to decide whether to allow the collection of signatures in his own parish.

After discussing the matter with the members of the Cathedral's pastoral ministry team, I have decided that we will not participate in the collecting of signatures in our parish. Doing so would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.

Father Ryan

First things first: Father Ryan deserves serious praise from Seattle's LGBT community. This is bold.

Second: In saying some media reports are misleading, Father Ryan is probably referring to articles like mine and the one in the Seattle Gay News, which says Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and his auxiliary bishop have "ordered churches in their jurisdiction to collect signatures." In his letter letter to parishioners last week, Sartain explained he had "approved the gathering of signatures in our parishes over the next few months" and given priests "information regarding the signature drive." It seemed clear that the Archbishop had given petitioners permission to work the churches. And typically in the Catholic Church hierarchy, when the archbishop says he has allowed activity in his parishes, the activity isn't just allowed—the subordinates need to comply. For example, three months ago Sartain "asked" all his parishes to run anti-gay statements in their bulletins, and they complied, including St. James. Last week, I contacted the archbishop's office and his spokesman to ask if there was any option for priests to refuse to circulate the petitions or deny access to petitioners. They never replied. (I'll update my online article with a link back to this post.)

Anyhow, if priests can refuse—and they can call the archbishop's campaign "hurtful and seriously divisive"—that's great. But the Catholics I talked to didn't seem to think that was an option. "If priests spoke out, I think they would be silenced. They would lose their pulpits. That's a safe bet," Barbara Guzzo, who attends St. Mary's in the Central District, told me.

I hope Guzzo was wrong—that Father Ryan isn't silenced and that more follow his lead.

 

Comments (28) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Hooray for Fr. Mike. Once again a shining light. Thank you, Fr. Mike. We love you.
Posted by Sandman on April 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Zebes 2
That's really good to hear. This is the sort of thing that makes a curmudgeonly atheist leftist like myself adjust the extent of my anti-religious ire.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on April 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM · Report this
3
That's amazing, but not altogether surprising coming from that church. Saint James Cathedral actually does a lot to help out the immigrant and refugee communities near them, I'm glad that they are also stepping up to protect the gay community (also near them) and their gay parishoners.
Posted by gayjesus on April 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
4
Finally, a Christian who actually follows Matthew 25:40.
Posted by maddogm13 on April 11, 2012 at 5:26 PM · Report this
5
"Up to the pastor" I think that's what I told said in a comment to the previous blog post on the matter.
:)
Posted by BelieveInNuances on April 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
7
Fr. Whitney at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill has made the same move, even more directly. The following is posted on their website - "You may have heard about a petition drive concerning Referendum 74, which will be gathering signatures at a number of parishes in Seattle. Please be aware that Fr. Whitney has decided that no petitioning will be permitted anywhere on the campus of St. Joseph. Please contact Fr. Whitney with any concerns. I suspect St. Mary's will also do the same. Hopeful many other pastors & parishes will follow this lead!
Posted by ConstantCognitiveDissonance on April 11, 2012 at 7:33 PM · Report this
8
I hope more pastors do this sort of thing - http://ncronline.org/news/people/invitat…

Heck, maybe we should invite the Archbishop to lunch ourselves...
Posted by jt on April 11, 2012 at 9:17 PM · Report this
9
Priests with some big cojones!
Posted by Jeff Smtih on April 11, 2012 at 9:46 PM · Report this
AynSavoy 10
Is it not illegal for churches to circulate political petitions, or is it just illegal for them to advocate a certain position?

Not that it's enforced, anyway...
Posted by AynSavoy http://madartlab.com on April 11, 2012 at 11:19 PM · Report this
11
+1 to @10 if anything happens to this guy there should be an immediate attempt to remove tax exempt status from what is obviously a political group and not a religion.
Posted by econoline on April 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM · Report this
12
@10, @11 Circulating petitions for, donating money towards, endorsing or provide support for an initiative or referendum apparently is considered advocating for legislation, which non-profits are allowed to do. The main thing they can't do politically is to endorse or give money to candidates for public office. Sucks, but that's the current situation.
Posted by decidedlyodd on April 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM · Report this
13
I am not surprised by this story. The Catholic laity has long been supportive of LGBT civil rights including marriage equality. While the Bishop may be taking a hard line, it is increasingly clear that parishioners—LGBT and straight—are talking to their parish priests and their priests are listening. We must encourage people to share their stories about why marriage equality is important with their clergy. And we must recognize that many faith traditions are already leaders in support of marriage equality, others are in transition and still others are deeply divided but increasingly are showing sensitivity to the reality that there are LGBT people among their faithful.
Posted by Joshua Friedes on April 12, 2012 at 12:31 AM · Report this
14
Hooray to Fr. Ryan for honoring the example of Christ.

Revoke tax exempt status for religious institutions.

Amen.
Posted by DMonaghan on April 12, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this
15
Father Mike, you've always been committed to doing what you believe to be the right thing. I commend you and I support you.
Posted by ohbother on April 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM · Report this
16
Thank you Fr. Ryan, for doing what I think our Lord would do.
Christ came to heal the wounded and bring us together in love, not cause more hurt and despair. !
Everyone is invited to St. Joe's. We are be Body of Christ !!
Posted by lilydancer on April 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
17
I, too, feel I was somewhat misquoted. I was asked if it would be problematic for priests to publically speak out in support of Referendum 74. I do believe the Church hierarchy would find this problematic. However, I was NOT asked what would happen if priests decided not to gather signatures in their parishes. I believe the Archbishop when he said that it was up to individual pastors to decide whether or not to collect signatures, and I do NOT believe that pastors who choose not to collect these would be silenced.
Posted by Barbara G on April 12, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
18
I, too, feel I was misquoted. I was NOT asked what would happen if pastors chose not to gather signatures at their parishes. I believe the Archbishop when he said he would leave it up to invidual pastors to decide on this, and that the Archbishop will honor their decision.

I was asked what would happen if priests spoke out publically in support of Referendum 74. I do suspect they would be silenced for doing this.
Posted by Barbara G on April 12, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
19
You'll know where I stand if you see the bumper stickers on my truck:

"Proud to be an Orange Counry Catholic" "I do support marriage equality."

Posted by Straightandfair on April 12, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
20
Thank you Fr. Ryan. I hope other priests will follow your example. We love you.
Posted by Virginia on April 12, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
21
More Seattle Catholic churches are not going to circulate petitions (including mine, St. Patrick's), which doesn't surprise me. The bishops (including Bishop Saratin) are out of step with the laity on this issue. Per a 2010 Pew Research poll, more U.S. Catholics support gay marriage than oppose it.
Posted by Irish on April 12, 2012 at 6:51 PM · Report this
22
Thank you Father Michael. We all love you so much and you've brought so much life and support to our lives at A Terrible Beauty and mine personally. Your wisdom and unconditional love for people shines in my heart everyday. I love you, Jenna
Posted by A Terrible Beauty on April 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
23
What a wonderful day it is when the clergy are finally willing to take a stand on marriage equality, let's hope the Pope and bishops will follow suit and join the community of believers they call sheep.

Soldier of Christ
Posted by Soldier of Christ on April 12, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
24
My parish St. Patrick's in North Capitol Hill is also not participating. Being an out member of the parish and showing up each Sunday puts a face on who we are - A out gay couple with two teenage children 14 & 18. Thus, my parish is choosing to vote no on collection of signatures.

Keeping the doors of Christ open to all. D. Dirk Stanley. Message from father Pat of St. Pats below:

A message from Fr. Pat:
As you may have read in the media, the Archbishop is encouraging support of Referendum 74 by allowing the collection of signatures in parishes. However he is giving each pastor permission to decided whether to allow the collection in their own parish. For pastoral reasons, we are not inviting anyone to collect signatures at St. Patrick’s. Given the make-up of St. Patrick’s, we do not believe that this would be pastorally advisable. We note that Fr. Ryan at the Cathedral has made a similar decision.
Posted by D Dirk Stanley on April 13, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
25
My parish St. Patrick's in North Capitol Hill is also not participating. Being an out member of the parish and showing up each Sunday puts a face on who we are - A out gay couple with two teenage children 14 & 18. Thus, my parish is choosing to vote no on collection of signatures.

Keeping the doors of Christ open to all. D. Dirk Stanley. Message from father Pat of St. Pats below:

A message from Fr. Pat:
As you may have read in the media, the Archbishop is encouraging support of Referendum 74 by allowing the collection of signatures in parishes. However he is giving each pastor permission to decided whether to allow the collection in their own parish. For pastoral reasons, we are not inviting anyone to collect signatures at St. Patrick’s. Given the make-up of St. Patrick’s, we do not believe that this would be pastorally advisable. We note that Fr. Ryan at the Cathedral has made a similar decision.
Posted by D Dirk Stanley on April 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
26
Fr. Ryan, Fr. Clark and other priests truly en-courage us to try to follow Christ and his teaching, his love of all men and women and children as sons and daughters of God. Discerning the Christian way to live and to love sometimes, perhaps often, demanding and difficult. We need companions on that way, not judges and law enforcers. Thank the Lord for fellow-pilgrims like Fr. Ryan and Fr. Clark. May their fellow clergy also find encouragement.
Posted by Caminante on April 14, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
27
How sad. Neither the Catholic Church nor the local Archdiocese is anything but supportive of individual GLBTs, but like any sinner, they are obligated to love the sinner and condemn the sin. In that regard, Father Ryan has failed. I recommend those Christians in favor of Gay Marriages review the seven deadly sins. God has given us healthy appetites to provide for our bodies well being and proper function. When we become obsessed with one or more of these appetites, to the point where the appetite becomes the end rather than the means to a proper end, we have succumbed to one of the 7 deadly sins. So that when we eat just for the pleasure of eating rather than to give our body energy, we become obese, succumbing to gluttony. When making money becomes the end and we become hoarders, we succumb to greed. When sex is no longer for pro-creation but for self-satisfaction of the libido, we are guilty of lust. Although gay sex (lust) is no more a sin than greed, sloth, gluttony, pride, anger or envy, these poor priests do their congregations a disservice by giving the impression that it is not a sin, and they fail in their vows as Catholic Priests. Though none of the deadly sins should be illegal, we do the individuals of our society significant damage by encouraging these sins. Declaring gay unions to be a marriage does just that.
Posted by jjxxxx on April 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
28
The priest who is not teaching about the evil of pride, is he still a priest?
Posted by T Marie on April 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Advertisement
 

Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!


All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy