Cardinal thanks marriage petition supporters

BRIGHTON — Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley showed his appreciation for those who worked with Catholic Citizenship to gather signatures in support of the proposed amendment to restore the traditional definition of marriage by celebrating Mass in their honor at St. John’s Seminary Sept. 6.

The amendment, which garnered over 170,000 signatures in its petition drive last year, awaits a vote in the constitutional convention, currently scheduled to meet Nov. 9.

“What you are doing is a great service to society and to the Church,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his homily. “God is depending on us.”

In order to follow God and obey His commandments, people must disobey themselves, he said.

“Love is demanding, and it often means disobeying ourselves,” he said. “We live in a world where very often people are quite unwilling to disobey themselves.”

It is the job of Catholics and the Church to change laws and the hearts of others so that they are ordered with God’s plan, he added.

“Yours is a prophetic voice that is calling society to defend one of our most crucial institutions,” he said. “As Jesus’ life demonstrates, the prophetic voice is not always met with enthusiasm.”

In order to succeed, Catholics must be transformed by Christ and emulate Him, Cardinal O’Malley said.

“The struggle is arduous, and it requires the strength found in prayer and in the Eucharist,” he added. “Many people would like to dismiss us as anti-gay, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, but in our belief and all we do and say, we must show forth true humility, a spirit of love and a spirit that reflects who God is and who we are.”

Larry Cirignano, executive director of Catholic Citizenship, addressed those gathered at a reception after the Mass. He thanked all those who assisted the signature gathering, especially priests who held signature drives in their parishes., which organized the amendment campaign, seeks to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the state constitution. The amendment would leave existing same-sex marriages intact and would leave open the possibility of same-sex civil unions.

The amendment has already received the most signatures of any petition drive in the history of Massachusetts. In order to be successful, it must receive the approval of 25 percent of the Legislature meeting in joint constitutional convention in two sessions before it can appear on the ballot in 2008.

“This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon,” said Cirignano. “We have to get through the Legislature on Nov. 9, then we have to go through it again next year and then we go to 2008 when everyone gets to vote.”

Bea Martins, coordinator of the petition drive in Fall River and parishioner at Holy Trinity Parish in Fall River, said she became involved in the movement in order to protect the sanctity of marriage.

“As a mother of three and a grandmother, I became very concerned for the future generations,” she said.

The legalization of same-sex marriage confuses children because it upholds that same-sex relationships are normal and right, she said.

Martins added that the petition would not have been so successful without the cooperation of many volunteers.

Richard Regan, a signature gatherer who attends Mass at St. Camillus Parish in Arlington, said that gathering signatures was a difficult but necessary task.

“It was very clear to me that the institution of marriage was under attack and, therefore, the family,” he said. “I just in conscience couldn’t sit down and do nothing.”

Regan said he personally met with a lot of opposition from those who support same-sex marriage.

“People who are persuaded by the current mentality think you’re an idiot,” he said. “Even people who are with us are not anxious to stick their necks out.”

[Editor’s note: More information on Catholic Citizenship and the effort to defend traditional marriage is available at]