They say that hindsight is 20/20. As a professor of mine once observed: truisms are truism because they are true. Some employ this old adage dismissively as if it was a waste of time and effort to look back, especially at a failure. About one year ago, I was listening to an interview on the BBC, a journalist was speaking with a leading CEO and asking him about the question of failures in business. The CEO responded that in corporate culture, failures are either denied, they are blamed on some external cause or on someone else. He went on to say that this was a huge mistake. The truth is that we don't learn from our successes but rather, from our failures. If we deny that we made an error in judgement or, that we we acted on faulty information, we will never learn, we will never grow. As a Spanish philosopher noted, "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it." So, as we look back on this year, especially on the debacle of Proposition 8, what can we learn from our failures?
Perhaps the first and most important lesson is: Know who your friends are. Who helped us in our time of need? Who was there for us when our civil liberties were under attack? Who opened up their checkbooks and raised their voices on our behalf? Some of these companies and organizations are: Apple, PG&E, California Teachers Association, United Farm Workers and SEIU/United Healthcare Workers/West. We should remember and reward these companies and organizations with our support.
Equally important to review, is who worked against our civil rights. It is widely known that one of the largest contributors of funds for the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). But, what is less widely known is the fact that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco invited and encouraged the Mormons to become so involved in the Yes on 8 campaign. He had previously acted as the Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to this he served as a faculty member at St. John's Seminary and as a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This is particularly painful for me personally, not merely because I am a Catholic but, because Archbishop George Niederauer was my spiritual director for part of my years in the seminary. I have always thought highly of him and am very sadden by this revelation. I can only think that he acted out of blind loyalty to Benedict XVI. Having said this, it is important to distinguish between objective acts and subjective emotions. The act was damaging in the extreme and hurtful to the civil rights of Gay and Lesbian persons.
The brilliance of inviting the Mormons to become involved is twofold. First, they bankrolled a significant share of the costs for "yes on 8." Second, they take the PR body punch for having done so. The Catholic hierarchy of California donated only a small amount of the total funds, their proclamation on Prop. 8 was understated and almost apologetic. The Knights of Columbus anted up the lion's share of "Catholic" cash, thereby relieving the bishops of California financially and in PR fallout. In brief, it was brilliant. The Mormons shell out the cash, take the PR hit for having done so and the Catholic bishops sneak away whistling in the dark. After all, it was the Mormons and to a far lesser extent the Knights of Columbus who wrote the checks. Everything goes back to business as usual and the gays are kept down in their place. I think it is time to review the role of organized religious groups in political campaigns. It is one thing to express a view on various moral issues. It is quite something else to operate as a PAC (Political Action Committee).
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- How It All began
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight