WASHINGTON (CNS) — Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco said June 16 that his Catholic faith requires him to “proclaim … the whole truth” in support of traditional marriage.

He made the statement in a letter addressing recent criticism of his participation in the second annual March for Marriage to take place in Washington June 19.

The march brings thousands of grass-roots activists to the National Mall to illustrate that a “majority of Americans still stand for marriage” as the traditional union of one man and one woman, according to event organizers.


Listed as a speaker at the upcoming event, Archbishop Cordileone has received several recommendations that he cancel his appearance at this year’s march to show opposition to its sponsors, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council, whose critics say have taken a hostile stance against same-sex marriage and the homosexual lifestyle in general.

“The March for Marriage is not ‘anti-LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender].’… It is not anti-anyone. … Rather it is a pro-marriage march,” said Archbishop Cordileone, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “It affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union.”

A June 10 letter addressed to the archbishop and signed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and 89 other public officials, community groups and religious leaders said the archbishop’s appearance at the event was implicit endorsement of its sponsors.

While the signatories said they understand people of good will can have “genuinely heartfelt differences” regarding the issue of same-sex marriage, they urged the archbishop against participation in the march.

“By standing alongside these individuals and organizations, you appear to be endorsing their troubling words and deeds, which directly contradict the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral teaching that ‘God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual,'” said the letter. “Sadly, the actions of NOM and its invited speakers push us farther apart rather than bringing us together.”

The group’s letter claims “NOM has a long and well-documented history of publishing material that connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest and falsely suggests that gays and lesbians are trying to ‘inculcate children.’ Likewise, the Family Research Council … has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their vitriolic rhetoric.”

In a June 17 statement, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, disputed such claims.

“The National Organization for Marriage has never linked homosexuality to pedophilia or incest,” Brown told Catholic News Service. “We have always affirmed the inherent dignity of every person as our brothers and sisters made in the image and likeness of God. NOM is waging a principled battle in defense of God’s truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This ugly charge is leveled at us to discredit our work in affirming the truth of marriage.”

The Family Research Council also has challenged the “hate group” designation. In 2010, Tony Perkins, the council’s president, described the labeling as a “deliberately timed smear campaign” against the work that the council does to promote “faith, family and freedom in public discourse.”

After Archbishop Cordileone received additional advice to cancel his appearance at the march from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and an online petition that has collected almost 30,000 signatures, he released his letter explaining why the event is important to the mission of the Catholic Church.

He said he must stand in support of traditional marriage and the truth about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing … in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular. … That is what I will be doing on June 19.”

He thanked those who signed the June 10 letter for affirming “the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life,” and also encouraged them to avoid misinterpretation of various groups who may hold different views.

“Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images and comments taken out of context,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings.”

He offered to meet with his critics “not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other.”

“It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. … When we come together seeking to understand the other with good will, miracles can happen,” he said.