The big news in David D. Kirkpatrick's latest New York Times report from the front pews of the Culture Wars is hinted at in the lead and then buried way near the bottom. The big news: It seems that a few leaders on the Catholic left may agree to back a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriages. Here's the lead:
About 50 prominent religious leaders, including seven Roman Catholic cardinals and about a half-dozen archbishops, have signed a petition in support of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage.
And here are the details that really matter, the names of some (repeat some) of the clerics who signed on with that Alliance for Marriage petition.
Organizers said the petition had brought together cardinals from both the left and right sides of the United States bishops' conference, including the liberal Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles and the conservative Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, as well as Cardinals Edward M. Egan of New York, Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, William H. Keeler of Baltimore and Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston.
So what is the news in that? After all, the Catholic Church has defended its ancient doctrines on marriage and sex. Even the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference has supported a ban on same-sex marriages. The news, and Kirkpatrick underlines it, is that some Catholic progressives have stepped foward to back an effort that has, primarily, been led by evangelicals and by conservative Catholic politicians who do not mind cooperating with evangelicals. This has major political implications.
The petition drive was organized in part by Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton, a Catholic scholar with close ties to evangelical Protestant groups. Aides to three Republican senators -- Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader; Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and Sam Brownback of Kansas -- were also involved, organizers said. ...
No one expects the measure to pass this year. But drives to amend state constitutions to ban same sex-marriage proved powerful incentives to turning out conservative voters in Ohio and elsewhere in 2004. At least two states with contested Senate races -- Tennessee and Pennsylvania, where Mr. Santorum is seeking re-election against a Democrat who also opposes abortion rights -- are debating constitutional bans on same-sex marriage this year.
However, I really do wish that the online version of this story included a link to the full list of the clerics who signed the petition. The Alliance for Marriage site does not have a full list either.
Why does this matter? Almost all of the nation's major religious groups are opposed to same-sex marriage. But some are acting on the issue and some are not. This list will, in some ways, show who is who on the issue and also offer clues for reporters who are looking ahead to the annual summer doctrinal wars in mainline religious conventions and conferences. It even has implications for which churches stay in, and which churches may vote to leave, oldline groups like the National Council of Churches. There are also updates on growing tensions among major African-American and Hispanic groups.
Read between the lines of these paragraphs:
The prominent conservative Protestant figures included leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination, as well as the president of conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a handful of Episcopal bishops.
Other signers included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family; the evangelist D. James Kennedy; Bishop Charles E. Blake of the historically black Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals; Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of the Orthodox Union; and officials of the Orthodox Church in America.
Has anyone out there found a link to the full list of clergy who signed? There are stories in that list.