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October 11, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Former Catholic priests announce support for same-sex marriage

A group of 63 former Roman Catholic priests spoke out Thursday in support of Referendum 74, the November ballot measure that will ask voters to approve or reject Washington’s same-sex marriage law.

The former priests, some with as many of 43 years of service and all now married, are all members of local parishes.

Pat Callahan, a member of the group, said that for the last 27 years members have been a source of fellowship and support for each other. This is the first time the group has taken a public stance on an issue this important to the church. All but a handful of the group’s 120 or so members agreed to take this stance.

Catholic bishops in Washington state have been active in their opposition to gay marriage, encouraging in-pew donations in many of its parishes.

“A number of us became concerned by the way the church hierarchy is getting so massively  involved in what we feel is a civil matter and politicizing the whole thing,” Callahan said.

They wanted to take this position, he said, to “give witness to the good Catholics who are getting so barraged with this message from the bishops that we feel they are hungry for some voice of some authority and relevance.”

In nationwide polls, nearly 60 percent of lay Catholics say they support same-sex marriage, a departure from the church’s core teaching and the positions taken by their bishops.

“We respect the right of the bishops to make policy within the church, but we feel that they are overplaying their hand,” Callahan said.

Comments | More in homepage | Topics: referendum 74, same-sex marriage, The Roman Catholic church

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