US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Should we have petition drives at Sunday Mass? Seattle and the same-sex marriage repeal referendum

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

With news that two more Seattle parishes are joining Seattle's St. James Cathedral in declining to collect signatures in support of a referendum to repeal same-sex marriage in Washington state, I'm wondering about the wisdom of politicizing Sunday Mass in this way. Considering the number of gay and lesbian people in church on Sunday, as well as their parents, siblings, and children, it sounds like a divisive recipe for disaster. As Father Michael Ryan of St. James Cathedral said to the National Catholic Reporter: "I decided to take a preemptive strike by sending out my email (April 11) thinking that many of my parishioners would either boycott Mass this coming Sunday or that they would arrive in a white heat."

Funny thing is, I've signed petitions and letters for gun control and immigrant rights in the parish basement, and that's never bothered me. In fact, I thought of it as an extension of the commitment to justice that the Eucharist calls me to.

For me this is different, because it seems like punitive action directed at a small minority, both in church and society. But I can see someone on the other side of the issue saying: Why is it OK to sign a petiition for immigrant rights (a position in line with church teaching), and not a petition to make the legal definition of marriage a union between a man and a woman only?

Is there a difference?