Sowing Dissent on Marriage

Church teaching is undermined from without, within.

In his book Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky taught revolutionaries to "cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within."

To revolutionize the non-negotiable Catholic teaching against same-sex "marriage" and civil unions, activists are advancing the cause with organizations such as "Catholics for Equality" and "Catholics for Marriage Equality" — just as organizations such as "Catholics for Choice" have long promoted abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization.

One activist who opposes Catholic teaching on same-sex "marriage" infiltrated a marriage educational conference this summer and criticized it in his blog.

Carlos Maza applied for and won a scholarship to attend the weeklong "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" conference in San Diego, where students learn the value of marriage between one man and one woman. The annual summer conference is sponsored by the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

"I saw my application as more of a joke than anything else," Maza wrote on his Aug. 28 blog about the conference. "So when I got a ‘Congratulations’ email at the end of July informing me that I’d been accepted into ITAF, I wasn’t sure how to react."

After accepting the invitation, Maza pretended he was a heterosexual with a girlfriend and an interest in marriage. Unbeknownst to the program lecturers and his fellow students, Maza is a homosexual and a homosexual-rights blogger.

In a blog post that criticized the work of "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village," Maza spoke of a lecture by Bill Duncan, an adjunct law professor at Brigham Young University and founder of the Marriage Law Foundation.

"His talk — ‘Marriage and the Law’ — attempted to establish a legal case for barring same-sex couples from marrying," Maza wrote. "The speech was basically a rehashing of NOM’s list of pre-approved marriage talking points: Marriage is about procreation; marriage equality would redefine the institution of marriage for everyone; mothers and fathers aren’t optional, etc."

Maza characterized Duncan’s talk as "anti-equality." He documented no anti-homosexual comments from the conference, but concluded it was "one of the most disturbing and overtly homophobic experiences of my life."

Duncan, for his part, said that he wasn’t surprised that someone working for same-sex "marriage" would infiltrate a marriage conference.

"You’re talking about a by-any-means-necessary movement," Duncan said. "Anything to push this forward is worth doing if you believe same-sex ‘marriage’ is the next important accomplishment of the cultural revolution."

Duncan said that orchestrating confusion is a more common tactic among same-sex "marriage" activists.

"Marriage and religion are tied together," said Duncan, a Mormon. "Nearly all major religions have similar teachings on marriage. It is an institution of a man and a woman. So, if these activists can make it look like the position of religions is changing in regard to marriage, perhaps the courts and legislatures will seize on this and say that religious groups are all over the map on the issue. If they can do that, they can undo thousands of years of moral tradition."

Other pro-homosexual-rights activists are working at self-described Catholic organizations that support and lobby for same-sex civil unions and "marriage."

Catholic teaching does not allow for same-sex civil unions or same-sex "marriage."

The Catechism states: "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament" (1601).

The Catechism goes on to state, "The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution, despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes" (1603).

That doesn’t stop Father Joseph Palacios from working for "gay marriage" throughout the country, as foundation director and founding board member of Catholics for Equality.

"I’m a gay man and a celibate gay priest," said Father Palacios, who is on inactive status at the request of Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez.

Though his organization begins with "Catholics," Father Palacios is quick to point out that he does not represent himself as a priest while working for same-sex "marriage." He claims a high level of respect for Archbishop Gomez, however.

"My inactive status was mutually agreed to during a meeting with Archbishop Gomez in June of this year," Father Palacios said. "We agreed that I would stay on inactive status as long as I am politically active."

In a statement issued to the Register, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles elaborated on the status of Father Palacios.

"He is on inactive leave without faculties. He should not be wearing a Roman collar, should not be celebrating Mass, nor may he present himself as a priest in public," explained Tod Tamberg, director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Though Father Palacios is an inactive priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he teaches Latin American studies at Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution in the Archdiocese of Washington. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, has stated publicly that Catholics for Equality is not a legitimate Catholic organization.

According to Canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, "The Church encourages the Christian faithful to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings but, nevertheless, prohibits any such undertaking from claiming the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority [the local bishop]."

Father Palacios’ critics say an organization named "Catholics for Equality" could lead poorly catechized Catholics to assume that Catholic teaching allows for same-sex "marriage."

"There are plenty of groups willing to use Catholic identity in order to confuse Catholics," said Thomas Peters, a Catholic and the cultural director at National Organization for Marriage. "It can be harmful for Catholics who may already be looking for a way to vote against Church teaching."

Peters said Catholics for Equality is the most organized and influential pro-homosexual "marriage" organization that identifies as "Catholic." Other notable players include: New Ways Ministry ("a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics"), Call to Action ("Catholics working together for justice and equality") and Catholics for Marriage Equality ("Catholics promoting the freedom for all loving couples to be included in civil marriage").

Peters said countless small organizations of self-identified Catholics can be found promoting same-sex "marriage" throughout the country, but most are less influential than Catholics for Equality.

The Catholics for Equality website lists Aniello Alioto as a "founding board member." Alioto is also the political director of ProgressNow, an organization credited by the book The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) with engineering a successful pro-homosexual political coup in the Mile High State.

ProgressNow’s victories, as explained by the book, have hinged on funding by billionaire Pat Stryker, a homosexual-rights activist, and other wealthy business leaders in the "marriage equality" movement, including Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., the founder of ProFlowers; Tim Gill, the founder of Quark; and Rutt Bridges, an oilman and chairman of Quest Capital.

November ballots will contain measures pertaining to same-sex "marriage" in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state. A variety of organizations with "Catholic" on their letterheads seek to influence elections in favor of same-sex "marriage."

"Much more than in the other states, Minnesota activists have developed a Catholic-dissent mechanism in an effort to defeat a ballot measure to forbid ‘gay marriage,’" Peters said. "There are a lot of pro-homosexual ‘marriage’ bloggers in Minnesota who work on this full time."

A pivotal moment for Minnesota’s ballot measure supporting true marriage came on June 10, when Benedictine Father Bob Pierson of Edina, Minn., addressed about 200 people gathered for an event sponsored by Catholics for Marriage Equality.

"My conscience tells me to vote No on the amendment," said Father Pierson, who self-describes as "openly gay." "In fact, I believe the Church does not have the right to force its moral teaching on others outside the fold.

"Too many of us have been taught to think of God in terms of God’s judgment, rather than God’s tremendous love and mercy. I believe this amendment violates an important principle in Catholic teaching and that as Catholics we can vote No."

Father Pierson declined to answer questions for the Register, saying only: "I’ve been asked by my abbot not to speak with reporters."

Father Pierson’s abbot, Father John Klassen, did not return a message left by the Register.

Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved" (Catechism, 2357).

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity," the Catechism goes on to state. "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (2358).

Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who has advised student groups seeking to advance awareness of Catholic and natural-law teaching, agrees that groups such as Catholics for Equality are able to confuse those who are not well-grounded in Church teaching. But he’s not too worried.

"On the surface, it seems there may be no better way to undercut the Catholic teaching on conjugal marriage than to purport to represent the Catholic point of view," George said.

"But our experience with Catholics for Free Choice (a pro-abortion organization), which has been lavishly funded by organizations on the left, has shown that while this tactic is capable of doing some harm, most Catholics are not confused or tricked, and they know that these types of groups are proclaiming teachings that are deeply contrary to the teachings of the Church."

George hopes the tactic of promoting Catholic dissent from so-called "Catholic" perspective will only become less effective over time. He believes practicing Catholics are more influenced by bishops and priests than by media reports, activists and lobbyists.

"I’m seeing a rising generation of bishops and clergy who are strong and faithful to Church teachings," George said. "I’m also seeing a rising tide of Catholic intellectuals who are better informed than they were at the dawn of the sexual revolution, when they had not been challenged like this, and they took for granted that Catholics understood and would obey Church teachings. They are much better prepared today. I am even seeing this more in my students."

Wayne Laugesen

writes from Colorado.