In a statement Monday, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis responded to a demonstration held outside the city's cathedral by a gay rights group protesting the use of archdiocesan funds to defend traditional marriage in Maine. Catholics have an obligation to “carry out Christ's teachings, whether in the privacy of our own home or in the public square,” stated the prelate on the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.
On Sunday, gay rights organization Show Me No Hate protested the donation of $10,000 that the Archdiocese of St. Louis made to the “Yes on 1” campaign in Portland, Maine earlier this year. The initiative, which supported traditional marriage between a man and a woman, was voted on and passed during the mid-term elections.
According to The Vital Voice, Show Me No Hate has accused the Archdiocese of St. Louis of misusing the funds, saying the Church has neglected the poor, sick and homeless in the city by donating the money to a campaign against gay “marriage.” The organization plans to rally outside the cathedral every Sunday for the duration of the season of Advent.
“Following Christ's teaching on marriage does not mean we neglect the poor,” stated Archbishop Carlson in response to the accusations. “In fact, no other private institution in the world does as much for the sick and poor as the Catholic Church.”
Archbishop Carlson explained that the funds used for the “Yes on 1” campaign were discretionary, provided by private gifts and sent in response to the request of the Archdiocese of Maine. The archbishop also mentioned that “Yes on 1” succeeded despite the fact that same-sex “marriage” supporters had outraised the campaign by almost $2 million.
The Church “always tries to follow the teachings of Jesus in welcoming all people,” and “does not believe in discrimination” said the archbishop in his statement on Monday. He then made reference to the fact that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is currently the largest private contributor to Doorways, an organization that provides services for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The archbishop explained, however, that this “does not mean we can change Christ's teaching on the nature of marriage” and added that Catholics have the obligation to “carry out Christ's teachings, whether in the privacy of our own home or in the public square.”
“Separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor a particular faith,” continued the prelate. “It does not mean that faith-filled people lose their right to speak out publicly and engage in the political process.”
When it comes to serving the poor and supporting traditional marriage, Archbishop Carlson added that “it's not an either/or choice when it comes to Christ's teachings. As Catholics, we are called to live and teach them all.”