RELEASE: Faith leaders and Campaign to Unload hold vigil, ask Cerberus Capital to honor promises

Posted December 09, 2013

Private equity firm accepts letter asking it honor divestment pledge; work remains

NEW YORK – This morning, nearly a year after Cerberus Capital Management pledged to divest from assault weapons manufacturing, members of NYC faith communities gathered outside the international headquarters of the private equity firm on Third Avenue. After a short silent vigil and statements from faith leaders, representatives delivered a letter calling for Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg to honor his firm’s unfulfilled promise.

Carrying crosses, Stars of David and Islamic crescents representing those lost to gun violence since the 2012 school massacre at Newtown, Conn., vigil holders presented the letter to a Cerberus representative. The Campaign to Unload, a national coalition dedicated to assault weapon divestment, was the principal organizer.

“Investors in the gun industry are beginning to see these interests as toxic. This gathering was a reminder to gun investors like Cerberus that advocates for gun safety are not going away,” said Jennifer Fiore, executive director of the Campaign to Unload. “It’s been nearly a year and we’re just getting started.”

PRESS RELEASE: Pope to Right-Wingers: I’m Not One of You

Posted September 19, 2013

In startlingly honest interview, Pope confirms he believes the “imbalance” caused by the far right is damaging to the reputation of the church

WASHINGTON—Today, lay Catholics across the world are celebrating a wide-ranging interview given by Pope Francis to 17 Jesuit-affiliated periodicals. In the interview, published in English by the Catholic magazine America, Francis articulates his vision of moving the priorities of the Catholic faith away from divisive social issues, like what he calls an “obsession” with gay marriage, abortion and contraception, while refocusing on core Gospel teachings relating to poverty.

In the interview, found at America’s website,, Pope Francis makes a number of statements that provide hope to lay Catholics who want a church more rooted in social justice values:

On treatment of gay people:
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics to Anti-Gay Priest in Wisconsin: ‘Who are You to Judge?’

Posted August 08, 2013

Inspired by Holy Father’s support of gay people, Catholics United wonders where Altoona priest found motivation to discriminate against gay kids in Boy Scouts

WASHINGTON – Fr. Derek Sakowski of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona, Wis., recently became the latest member in a small group of Catholic priests who have chosen to ignore Catholic teaching on proper pastoral care of gay people when he issued a warning to his parish’s affiliated Boy Scout troop that he would disaffiliate the group if they chose to allow gay kids to join.

Despite strong statements in support of the new Boy Scout policy allowing gay kids from the likes of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, several bishops and, indeed, Sakowski’s own Diocese of La Crosse, the priest has chosen to disband the parish troop instead of allowing gay kids access to Scouting programs.

Catholics United’s Executive Director James Salt said he was in disbelief, especially after Pope Francis’ recent comments about treating gay people with dignity.

Holy Father Pope Francis on Gay People: 'Who am I to Judge?'

Posted July 29, 2013

Pope also calls for greater inclusion for women; Catholics United responds

WASHINGTON – Media outlets around the world are reporting on Pope Francis’ declaration that gay people who seek holiness, including priests, should be accepted with love and compassion:

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?” the pope said. “You can't marginalize these people.”

The pontiff went on to call for a greater role for women’s leadership in the Church, though he stopped short of allowing for women’s ordination.

Catholics United’s Executive Director James Salt made the following statement in response to Pope Francis’ comments:

Priest Denied Speaking Venues by Boston and Philadelphia Catholic Dioceses to Speak in Washington

Posted July 18, 2013

Reform-minded Austrian cleric Helmut Schüller, rejected from speaking at several Catholic institutions, to speak at Lutheran church

WASHINGTON – Austrian reformer-priest Fr. Helmut Schüller is continuing his speaking tour of the United States in D.C. Monday night. This will follow speaking engagements in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which have been marked with controversy. Fr. Schüller, who has generated growing international interest and support for his call for the acceptance of married and women priests to combat the increasing priest shortage, was denied the right to speak on Catholic property by the Boston and Philadelphia dioceses.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, who own and operate Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic institution in Philadelphia, will host Fr. Schüller’s presentation on Friday.

When the D.C. organizers of the speaking tour saw opportunities for a hospitable Catholic forum dwindle, they sought options with other faith traditions. After searching for weeks, Pastor John Kidd of Augustana Lutheran Church, a congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gave permission to hold the event at his church.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics Deliver Plea to Abp. Sartain: Stop Discrimination in Parishes

Posted June 28, 2013

Thousands of Catholics, people of faith signed on to petition imploring Seattle prelate to condemn ignorant remarks about gay kids

SEATTLE – Catholics across the country were in disbelief when a Seattle-area priest, Fr. Derek Lappe, disbanded his parish’s troop, affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, in response to the national organization’s decision to allow gay kids to join.

In response, local Catholics organized a petition asking Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to condemn this action and the priest’s ignorant remarks about these kids. Today, dozens of Catholics and people of faith delivered the more than 5,500 signatures to the Archdiocese at the chancery in Seattle.

“This petition asks the Archbishop to confirm what every good Catholic knows: God loves gay people, and of course that includes gay kids,” said Tee Earls, a gay Seattle Catholic, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the 1990s. “All kids deserve respect and the opportunity to enjoy Scouting, and this priest took that opportunity away from kids in his parish. We hope this petition encourages Archbishop Sartain to remind Fr. Lappe of what the Church really teaches.”

Catholics to Seattle Archbishop: Stop Bigotry in Our Parishes

Posted May 31, 2013

In response to a diocesan priest’s absurd claims about gay kids, Catholics United asks bishop to reaffirm Catholic teaching

WASHINGTON – Last Sunday, Fr. Derek Lappe of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton, Wash., decided to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America. The reason? The Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow gay kids to join.

According to a statement from Fr. Lappe, his parish cannot affiliate with an organization “that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 year old boy as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual.’” In Fr. Lappe’s mind, gay kids don’t--or shouldn’t--exist. He supposed there may be instances of “same-sex attraction,” which are brought on by “lack of interest in sports,” “extreme shyness,” “lack of hand/eye coordination and resultant teasing,” and other theories.

PRESS RELEASE: Progressive groups also subject to IRS scrutiny, despite claims by Catholic far right

Posted May 15, 2013

Those who lack moral credibility should be ashamed for politicizing personal issues

WASHINGTON – Anne Hendershott, a far-right Catholic political activist aligned with Glenn Beck, today made the claim that the IRS’s 2010 audit of her personal finances was directly motivated by her criticisms of “ObamaCare” and the law’s proponents, such as social justice organizations like Catholics United. Talking to Glenn Beck’s online publication, TheBlaze, Ms. Hendershott repeatedly misstates facts about Catholics United and other Catholic groups.

More importantly, however, Ms. Hendershott erroneously implied that only conservative organizations were the subjects of heightened IRS scrutiny. In 2010, Catholics United Education Fund, an affiliate of the progressive advocacy group Catholics United, attempted to incorporate as a tax-exempt non-profit organization. The application languished for years, required multiple follow-up informational requests and cost thousands of dollars in legal fees. After many months of examination, the registration was approved.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Continues Search for Christ's Elusive Condemnation of Gays

Posted March 26, 2013

In response to so-called “family values” groups protesting marriage equality hearings at the Supreme Court, CU announces in-depth investigation into missing anti-gay Gospel teachings

WASHINGTON – With the oral arguments underway at the Supreme Court for cases relating to California’s controversial Proposition 8 decision and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, activists on both sides of the marriage equality debate are demonstrating in front of the highest court in the land.

On hand are so-called “family values” groups who claim Biblical authority of carrying out Christ’s message in their opposition to civil same-sex marriage rights. Noticeably absent, however, are the purported words of Christ to support this endeavor. Catholics United continues to search for that elusive condemnation text supposedly hidden somewhere deep in the Gospel.

Of course, that’s impossible. Christ never said anything about gay people. Still, this hasn’t stopped certain right wing groups from using his word to divide and confuse.

HABEMUS PAPAM! Catholics Celebrate Pope Francis

Posted March 14, 2013

Catholics Celebrate Pope Francis
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina selected to rebuild this Church

WASHINGTON – Catholics United Executive Director James Salt made the following statement upon the election of Pope Francis as the leader of the universal Church:

“So as God called on St. Francis of Assisi to ‘rebuild His Church,’ Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, has been called to rebuild the worldwide Church on Earth.

“We are grateful to have a leader like Francis, with a long history of solidarity with the poor in the developing world, to continue to guide the Church into the 21st Century. We hope and pray that our Jesuit Holy Father has the wisdom and strength to direct the faithful around the world in a radical new direction: one that emphasizes the rich tradition of caring first for the least among us. May he be a prophetic voice of hope against oppression, and a leader of a social justice renewal of the world.”

Catholics United has spokespeople available in Rome, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere for comment.