UPDATED: additional commentary by Diana Butler Bass and Tobias Haller and others – see below:
The Washington Post reports,
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington issued this response today:
The Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church have significant theological differences on the issue of same-sex relationships, so perhaps it is not surprising that the social service organizations affiliated with the two Churches have reached different conclusions regarding the effect of the legislation to legalize same-sex marriage currently under consideration in the District of Columbia.
Our partners in ministry have expressed no reservations about the legislation. Episcopalians understand that none of us has the right to violate the human rights of another individual. That’s the law of the District of Columbia. More important, it’s at the core of the Gospel. I hope that the least among us will not be victimized by the struggle over this legislation, and I pray that people of faith will come forward to provide food and shelter if the need arises.
The Catholic Archdiocese in its press release (see below) is careful to say “the committee’s narrowing of the religious exemption language will cause the government to discontinue our long partnership with them.”
What do you think: Is that an ultimatum? Or is their logic Orwellian?
A plainer statement would be: We could not in good conscience adapt our practices to meet the requirements if this bill were to become law; that would result in an end to our partnership with the District.
Diana Butler Bass comments here:
That’s right. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is holding poor people hostage in order to keep gay and lesbian persons from getting married. They are willing to trade the indigent for getting their theological way.
Tobias Haller writes here:
The idea that employee benefits required by law represent the “promotion” of anything other than simple justice is ludicrous. Employees are, as the church teaches, all sinners in one way or another, and paying them a fair wage with benefits need not be seen as the promotion of their sins, whatever they may be.
Adam Bink at Open Left also comments here
So the Catholic Church announced it is blackmailing the DC Council over marriage equality, at the expense of the poor and kids without homes. Oh, well, heaven forbid (pun intended) they should have to obey city laws.
Extracts from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington press release of November 11:
The committee rejected concerns raised in testimony by the ACLU, the Archdiocese of Washington, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and a group of nationally-recognized legal scholars, including Robin Fretwell Wilson, professor at Washington & Lee University Law School. In calling for broader religious liberty protections in the bill, the experts cited well established United States Supreme Court case law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a federal law that applies to the District of Columbia.
“It is our concern that the committee’s narrowing of the religious exemption language will cause the government to discontinue our long partnership with them and open up the agency to litigation and the use of resources to defend our religious beliefs rather than serve the poor,” said Edward Orzechowski, president/CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. Catholic Charities serves 68,000 people in the city each year. The city’s 40 Catholic parishes operate another 93 social service programs to provide crucial services.