CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP GEORGE NIEDERAUER PETTINESS CONTRASTS WITH INSPIRATION OF MAYOR NEWSOM – SAN FRANCISCO ANNUAL INTERFAITH BREAKFAST26 November 2008
Tension apparent Tuesday between Roman Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer, left, and Mayor Gavin Newsom at the San Francisco Annual Interfaith Breakfast. Niederauer’s church made defeat of the California Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban its political priority during the November election campaign, while marriage equality was launched on world stage by Newsom. Many San Francisco Catholic clergy began refusing Communition to Newsom four years ago. Newsom remains a devout church-going but no longer requests Communion.
Photos by Bill Wilson © 2008
BY BILL WILSON
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Wilson is a veteran photographer whose work is published by San Francisco Bay Area media. His photos capture decades-long historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years.
It is difficult to know how to start these words. The passage of Prop 8 has been very painful to me. I can only think of one other time in my life as painfully shocking, when my brother, David committed suicide.
Then, like now I kept hoping that someone would tell me it had all been a mistake. It wasn’t then, it isn’t now. So I have to learn to cope and go on, even though I don’t understand why my love wasn’t enough. Why do 52% of the voters in California think my love is different enough from theirs that they need to protect their marriages from me?
At the 11th annual Mayor’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, Mayor Newsom spoke very eloquently about the role of faith in his life and then talked about what he termed “the elephant in the room” the role of some of the faith community in the passage of Prop 8.
When he returned to his seat next to Archbishop George Niederauer, the Archbishop literally turned his back on the Mayor. I was amazed that he would express in his actions so symbolically what people have experienced within the Catholic church.
At what point does the “moral authority” of the church overtake the ability to be a human?
The Mayor had mentioned the death of his aunt, would it have hurt the Archbishop to say, “Mr. Mayor I was sorry to learn of the death of your Aunt.” Or “Mayor Newsom we disagree on Prop 8 but there is much we can agree on.” I think those would have been human responses.
I admire that the Mayor had the courage to stand his ground, which on this issue has always been the high ground. It helps to know that there are our allies who understand the need for speaking up and out.
Having witnessed Mayor Newsom’s act of courage contrasted with the Archbishop’s pettiness, inspires me.
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