An online petition has asked the Obama White House to designate the Catholic Church as a “hate group”, citing the Church for its teachings about marriage. According to a CNA report, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council of Washington DC, the petition reveals an “underlying agenda,” which is to “stigmatize any disapproval of homosexuality at all and essentially to silence us.” Referring to the Catholic Church, or other organizations morally opposed to the redefining of marriage to include homosexual partners, is simply “name-calling designed to cut us out of the public debate.”
The online petition began on Christmas Day, and by January 3 the White House had collected but 1,640. The petition argues that Pope Benedict's recent Christmas message to Catholic cardinals “demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world.” The petition is aimed at collecting 25,000 signatures by January 24. “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.” The petition also 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. Sprigg said that the petition is actually “distorting” the Pope’s words, which do not actually include hateful language.
In his address to the cardinals, the Pope did not directly reference “gay marriage” or “homosexuality” but did defend the Catholic Church’s understanding of sexuality and “the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child.” The pontiff refuted modern believes that hold that sex is “a social role that we choose for ourselves,” rather than “a given element of nature” and “bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being.” The differences and complementarity of male and female is part of “the essence of the human creature” and is foundational to the nature of the human being and the family, the pontiff explained.
Sprigg argued that the petition is misleading and “clearly has political purpose.” “The federal government does not designate hate groups. It prosecutes hate crimes,” he observed, explaining that a clear distinction must be made between moral opposition to homosexual acts and violent crimes against homosexual individuals.
Labelling so-called hate-groups is dangerous, said Sprigg. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labelled the Family Research Council as a hate-group. In August 2012, a gunman entered the Family Research Council headquarters, made a comment about disliking the group’s politics and then shot and seriously wounded a security guard at the Washington DC office.