The Archdiocese of San Francisco, home to the head of the Catholic point man on marriage, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, mocked marriage equality advocates on its Facebook page last week. When less-than-kind messages predictably poured in, officials there cried foul, claiming anti-Catholicism and bigotry.
The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign encouraged marriage equality supporters to change their profile pictures to a red equals sign during the recent Supreme Court arguments around Prop 8 and DOMA. The Archdiocese riffed on that image, changing it first to a red plus sign and then to a red division sign with “Luke 12:51” below it. Here’s that verse:
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
The Archdiocese’s spokesman, when asked about comments left in response to the image:
“We were slammed with some very ugly messages,” he said. “It was obviously an organized attack. It’s probably the same group that’s been attacking us. They are very anti-Catholic and very bigoted.”
There is, of course, legitimate concern that it is increasingly difficult to debate controversial issues in the public square without resorting to ad hominem attacks, slander, hyperbole, and even outright lies. There should always be room for reasonable, respectful dialogue on all sides of issues that affect how we order our lives.
But “anti-Catholic” and “very bigoted”?
Yes, some of the comments were probably ugly and hateful, but who feels sympathy for an institution of power, in this case the Catholic Church in San Francisco, when it seems to mock and ridicule a movement that many consider to be the civil rights issue of our time? Are their complaints simply a case of being able to dish it out but not take it in return? Or is this part of an emerging narrative on the right, in which some preach against same-sex marriage, sometimes using incendiary and hurtful language, and then act indignant when called out or taunted by opponents?