Dear Archbishop Dolan,
Last week you accepted the resignation of Daniel Avila, who had served as policy adviser for marriage and family to the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. His recent column in the Boston Pilot suggesting that being lesbian or gay is the result of satanic influence proved an indefensible embarrassment.
That our bishops hired an individual with such extreme views to help influence the public policy of a diverse nation is highly problematic. It marginalizes Catholics in public debate and trivializes our proud history of representing those most excluded from our country’s aspiration of liberty and justice for all. It pushes our Church to the fringes of moral relevance.
Even more significant is the pastoral damage done by this incident, and the many others like it in recent months. Catholic officials have sought to ban access to subsidized housing for lesbian and gay elders, terminated foster care and adoption programs rather than place children with trained, certified, loving same-sex couples, fired gay and lesbian people from their jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with professional performance, and banned our children from Catholic schools. Bishops have led the fight against access to equal benefit under the law for same-sex couples in committed relationships. Many of these battles have been brought to the pulpit, with homilies, video messages, and bulletin inserts that make us and our families feel attacked in the very place that should provide sanctuary for all. These actions contribute to the continued flood of members out of our Church, and to diminishing commitment among those who remain.