By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone reached the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 19, he knelt and prayed. He had just completed the second annual March for Marriage — an event that tens of thousands of people had urged him not to attend. The archbishop serves as the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
More than 30,000 people signed an online petition by Faithful America asking the archbishop not to speak at the marriage rally, which they described as “anti-gay.”
Days before the rally and march, the archbishop received a letter with 81 signatories who asserted that march organizers discriminate against homosexual people, promoting “division and hatred.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, sent a separate letter obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. The paper reported that Pelosi characterized the march as “venom masquerading as virtue.”
She quoted Pope Francis, who said last summer, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” The comment was a response to a reporter’s question about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, an alleged conspiracy of gay priests who work in Rome.
Pelosi and the 81 signatories of the other letter mentioned the pope’s words in an apparent attempt to imply that the pontiff would not approve of the march; however, his representative in the U.S., the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, attended the rally.
Many Catholic groups — including the Knights of Columbus, the National Council of Catholic Women, Ave Maria University’s campus ministry, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the USCCB and CatholicVote.org — sent buses to the march. CatholicVote.org funded four buses with donations raised in protest to Pelosi’s letter to her archbishop.
The organization’s president, Brian Burch, explained in a statement that Pelosi’s action “inspired thousands of Catholics to mobilize in defense of the time-honored institution of Marriage.”
In a letter responding to those who called for him to cancel his appearance at the march, Archbishop Cordileone said the march is not anti-anything. Rather, it affirms the great good of bringing mothers and fathers together.
He also asserted that the march’s sponsors, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council are not anti-homosexual organizations.
As the first speaker at the march, he said that Marriage supporters must “proclaim with love” that the strength of Marriage in society is linked to a host of social justice issues. In order to fix the economy, ensure a living wage, improve schools and fix the broken immigration system, Americans must “rebuild a Marriage culture.”
He said there will be “no justice, no peace, no end of poverty without a strong culture of Marriage and the family.”
Other Catholic speakers included NOM’s president Brian Brown and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Boston’s Rev. Eugene Rivers, pastor of Azusa Christian Community, also addressed the crowd.
Rivers said that there are many Catholics and Pentecostals like himself who understand what Marriage is.
“Do not feel defeated, because we have the victory, because we are the majority,” he said. “We must understand what Jesus said before He left, ‘Go out to all the world and preach the Gospel.’”
From the road back to Boston the day after the rally, Kristian Mineau, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told The Anchor that the march was an exciting, energizing event.
He hopes to see the number of participants from the Commonwealth grow in future years. Massachusetts citizens who are faithful to “true Marriage” need to stand up and be counted, particularly because their state was the first to legalize same-sex marriage, he said.
“The idea [behind the march] is to keep the vision of Marriage with one man and one woman alive and to keep the battle for Marriage alive,” he said. “Regrettably, this battle began in Massachusetts.”
The entire rally before the March for Marriage can be viewed at https://www.marriagemarch.org/live/.