Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2015 / 17:32 pm
Everyone must be free to proclaim their religious beliefs, a Catholic group has said after prominent speakers spurned its summit because of the group's stance on homosexuality.
"At its core, this issue is about the freedom of Legatus members - in fact all Catholics, and by extension people of any religion - to have the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs, which includes the ability to gather together and discuss their faith," the Catholic group Legatus said in a statement released Thursday.
Earlier this week, the speakers – FOX News anchor Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise, and Molson Coors chair Pete Coors – withdrew their slots at the upcoming Legatus 2015 Summit. They expressed concerns over the group's stance on homosexuality, which is in support of the Catholic Church's teaching.
Legatus is a Catholic group of business leaders that seeks to "integrate the three key areas of a Catholic business leader's life – faith, family, and business."
"We have great respect for Bret Baier, Peter Coors, and Gary Sinise and regret that our members will not have the opportunity to hear about all the good work they are doing," Legatus said.
Church teaching on homosexuality is about unconditional love and dialogue, contrary to accusations leveled by critics, the group added.
"Legatus embraces all that the Catholic Church teaches – nothing more, nothing less. Of course, at the core of all that the Church teaches is Christ's unconditional love for every man and woman."
"Church teachings on same-sex attractions are not intended to marginalize the individuals who experience them. On the contrary, the Church wants to reach out to these individuals - as well as all who will enter into dialogue about its teachings - and help them to understand why the Church teaches what it does."
Baier is the anchor of FOX News' Special Report, Pete Coors is chair of the Molson Coors brewing company, and Gary Sinise is an actor who has starred in the TV series CSI: New York as well as the movies Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, and The Green Mile.
In a statement earlier this week, Sinise explained that he had wanted to avoid controversy in his mission of serving the troops.
"For me, faith has been a catalyst for my mission to honor the men and women who serve in our nation's military," Sinise stated. "I don't want my mission – which is designed to be unifying – to be disrupted by these, or any controversies," he added, citing "controversy surrounding some of the (summit) participants."
Baier withdrew because of "the controversy surrounding some editorial stances in the organization's magazine," according to a FOX News spokesperson.
Legatus explained that its support of Church teaching should not be controversial.
"LBGT groups should not feel threatened by our organization, whose mission is to study, live and spread our faith according to the teachings of the Catholic Church," the group said.