San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone has responded to an open letter from dozens of public officials, community and faith leaders who had asked him not to attend the March for Marriage this week, saying the event is "not 'anti-LGBT' ... it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything."
In his own open letter, addressed "Dear Fellow Citizens," Cordileone said late Monday that church teachings compel him to respect the dignity of all human beings much as those who wrote to him implored him to do. And they also require him "as a bishop, to proclaim the truth — the whole truth — about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing.
"I must do that in season and out of season," he continued, "even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife."
In their letter Tuesday, the public officials and community leaders -- among them Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee -- called on Cordileone to cancel his planned appearance at the National Organization for Marriage march and rally in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
If he attends as scheduled, they wrote, he will be "marching and sharing the podium" with individuals who "have repeatedly denigrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." The letter then quoted other event participants who have likened homosexuality to incest, pedophilia and bestiality.
In his Monday response, however, Cordileone -- who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops subcommittee for the promotion and defense of marriage -- said the conclusions about the organization are either "based on misinterpretation" or are simply "factually inaccurate."
Cordileone said it "gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric," but then went on to note that "there is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction.
"In fact, for those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric," he wrote.
Though he acknowledged a history of attacks against gays and lesbians and condemned those, he added that some advocates of "marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia" have "lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence."
He concluded that "it is not so much people exercising their right to free speech that drives us further apart than people punished precisely for doing so that does," and implored his critics to "not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings."
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