It is beginning to look like many priests have decided that they are fed up with being forced into the political arena by the their bishops. Three Catholic churches have refused to take part in a petition drive to try and overturn Washington State’s marriage equality law. St. Joseph’s parish is the latest to do so. This is in direct violation of Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain’s statements demanding participation in the process.
Even though some have started to refuse to be involved, the Archdiocese is saying that the majority of churches in Western Washington have begun to collect signatures. Still, Barbara Guzzo, who organized Catholics for Marriage Equality in Washington, feels that this move from the archbishop is driving people away from the Catholic Church. She stated “I think this is just another way that we say to people that you really aren’t welcome. Some people are going to feel nervous about even going to church: Are there going to be petitions? Do I want to sign? Do I not want to sign?”
The Archdiocese has said that this was a request to parishes to participate, not a directive; however, as anyone who has ever worked in a place where there is a capricious work environment and few workers rights know that a suggestion is often a directive no matter what you want to believe. The Archdiocese’s spokesman stated “There’s no question that people are divided on this issue and each pastor is being given the authority to decide at the local level how best to handle this issue.”
Guzzo applauds the parish leaders at the three who have refused saying “I agree with them that having petition gatherers at church is very divisive.”