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A Sermon of Silence in Response to Prop 8

A somber Catholic Church amongst cheers in San Francisco.

It was the stillest place in the happiest city in America. While politicians and gay marriage supporters erupted with cheers at City Hall after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop. 8 this morning, just up the street at Cathedral Hill things were as quiet as a church mouse. At the time of the announcement, the doors were closed and the halls were dark at the Archdiocese of San Francisco, while churchgoers, priests, and nuns filed into a small 8:00 AM mass at Saint Mary’s Cathedral across the street. A solemn tone filled the pews as a handful of parishioners gathered in the back of the near-empty cathedral for daily prayer with the dome of City Hall conspicuously peaking out above the cityscape behind the altar. 

While most of those in attendance refused to comment on the Court's rulings, one disappointed churchgoer, John Rolandelli, saw it as an unfortunate decision, though one that he accepted with resignation. "You are who you are and things change over time,” he said. But not everyone present agreed with Rolandelli who, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sees marriage as a union strictly between man and a woman. Another parishioner smiled at the mention of gay marriage and proclaimed how happy she was for members of the gay community.

Just a few hours after the ruling, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage called the Prop 8 decision a “tragic day for marriage and our nation.” Dolan and Cordileone urged same-sex marriage opponents to continue to promote and defend marriage as defined by the Church. “Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters," the two Church leaders said in a joint statement. "While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up.”

On this morning inside the church, however, there were few who would hear their call.

To learn more about Salvatore Cordileone and his role in the Proposition 8 campaign, read our profile from last January: The Archbishop of No.

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