It was recently reported by the Human Rights Campaign, according to an image appearing on their website: The Catholic Church is a top funder of discrimination with $1.1 million given this election cycle alone. It is a heart breaking fact, which the article then specifies more explicitly is the Roman Catholic Church. More than half the funds were raised by the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic institution, with the rest collected from diocesan donations and small parish gifts. Right along beside them, it is reported the so-called National Organization for Marriage has donated $1.4 million this cycle in order to stop same-sex couples from experiencing the same freedom and rights as heterosexual couples.
I wish to thank the HRC for exposing this hatred committed in the name of a god who I do not recognize nor wish too. However, as a cleric in a progressive Catholic Christian Church, I feel it is necessary to point out there are countless numbers of Catholics who fully support marriage equality in this country and we must never group them with hate filled institutions, even if accidentally! Not only do statistics show more than half of American Roman Catholics support marriage equality -- against their hierarch's narrow views -- but we have thriving Catholic denominations that officially support equality from the laity all the way to the episcopacy. The Open Episcopal Church (OEC) and the North American Old Catholic Church (NAOCC), are two such Catholic churches. Both tracing their venerable lines back to the Apostles but living in the current day, as a 21st century church, embracing the truth of science, psychology and human sexuality without fear.
I am amazed how we often forget just as there are many Protestant groups varying in theology and social justice positions, likewise there are also many Catholic groups outside of Roman Catholicism. Never would we group all Protestants as "for" or "against" marriage equality and the same realization must be applied to those who are Catholic. The Episcopal Church, while Anglican and not strictly Catholic, considers herself correctly to be a part of the one, hoy, catholic and apostolic church while holding ties to Old Catholicism, officially passed a measure to allow for same-sex blessing ceremonies at their national convention this summer. The OEC, established in 2001 in the United Kingdom tracing its roots the ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands, has officially recognized the sacrament of marriage for same-sex couples since its inception. The clergy and faithful of the OEC have been an ardent fighters for LGBT rights across England and Scotland. Archbishop Jonathan Blake of the OEC has been featured on BBC World News because of the church's vocal fight for marriage equality and his refusal to bow to the pressures of the local mainline churches which refuse to offer the sacraments to all. The NAOCC has done the same since its formation in 2007 when several independent bishops joined forces together in Louisville, Ky. The Old Catholic Churches of several European nations also recognize marriage equality in differing degrees. Not to mention independent national churches across the world which trace to the early Christian episcopacy, in various ways, and also affirm equality. The simple truth: there are many catholic and Catholic Christians -- bishops, priests, deacons and laity -- who stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters considering it a Divine gift to witness them making sacred vows to one another in the presence of Christ and his Church.
I, those in my Catholic denomination (OEC), and many others believe that all God's children are created in the image of the Divine and that the qualification for marriage is not specific body parts but rather the ability to sacrifice and be faithful in a relationship no matter the pressures of life. Our sexual orientation does not dictate which sacraments are offered but rather our heart's desire to be united with God mystically in the Church. The sacraments of the Church are a means of grace and never should they become tools of discipline, embarrassment or a means of who is in and who is out. The belief statement concerning marriage equality for the NAOCC specifically reads:
We support marriage equality and believe that God celebrates the love between two consenting adults, despite gender or any other variables including physical or sexual ability.
We believe that denying the rights of individuals to marry is a profound injustice and disconnect from Jesus' teachings on love.
We believe the sacrament of marriage is an inherent worth of every Christian. Governments or churches that deny or limit marriage rights are oppressive in their denial of God's gift of sexuality and the union of individuals.
A key value of the OEC states its complete acceptance and support of all God's children in the sacramental life of the church, including matrimony, and reads:
We strive to welcome all people without exception and offer an open invitation to all to receive, share and benefit from the sacraments and the life of the Church. We offer unconditional love to all without exception and strive to provide a community that has no walls, barriers or exclusions.
Regardless of your Christian affiliation or denomination, I ask you to remember that not all Catholic Christians are against equality for the queer community and never assume the Catholic Church is limited only to the Roman expression. You are surrounded by Catholics who support your freedom of choice to marry the one you love, regardless of gender, and we fully support your right to all the benefits marriage offers. Not only do we support in voice but we are actively fighting for marriage equality! We are commanded by Jesus, Our Way-Shower, above every other dogma and doctrine, to: "Love God" and "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." It truly is that simple! I stand with you as a progressive Catholic who supports and fights for marriage equality and never will a single dollar of mine feed into hate-filled rhetoric which desires to diminish the value and worth of my fellow human beings. No matter the gender of you and your partner your relationship and family has the same opportunity and divine calling to be an icon of God's love. We must nurture that blessed opportunity and support your vows of love and commitment if we are to truly be Catholic Christians following the Gospel's teaching.
I am a Catholic Fighting FOR Marriage Equality!