White House petitioned to label Catholic Church a 'hate group'

January 5, 2013

An online petition asking the White House to designate the Catholic Church as a "hate group" for its views on marriage is drawing criticism for generating unjust animosity.

The petition reveals an "underlying agenda," which is not simply to prevent violent crimes, but to "stigmatize any disapproval of homosexuality at all and essentially to silence us," said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

He explained to CNA on Jan. 3 that applying the "hate group" label to organizations that are morally opposed to redefining marriage is simply "name-calling designed to cut us out of the public debate."

WHITE HOUSE - CATHOLIC

Initiated on Christmas Day, a petition on the White House website had collected 1,640 signatures by Jan. 3.

The petition - which is aiming for 25,000 signatures by Jan. 24 - argued that Pope Benedict XVI's 2012 Christmas address to the College of Cardinals "demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world."

"Using hateful language and discriminatory remarks, the Pope painted a portrait in which gay people are second-class global citizens," it charged.

"Pope Benedict said that gay people starting families are threatening to society, and that gay parents objectify and take away the dignity of children," the petition said. "The Pope also implied that gay families are sub-human, as they are not dignified in the eyes of God."

It called for the Obama administration to recognize the Catholic Church as a hate group, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

However, Sprigg argued that the petition is "distorting" the Pope's words, which do not actually include hateful or discriminatory language.

In his address to the cardinals, the Pope did not directly reference "gay marriage" or "homosexuality" at all. Rather, he defended the Church's understanding of sexuality and "the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child."    

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