Web site seen as attempt to intimidate petition signers

A woman stares at her computer screen, looking more than a little perplexed at what she sees there, presumably the name of a friend, neighbor or colleague who does not support same-sex marriage. Her daughter sits in the background and the headline reads, “Do they think some families shouldn’t exist?” This is the image on the homepage of a new Web site, KnowThyNeighbor.org, which promises Massachusetts residents information about who supports the ballot initiative that will allow voters to determine the definition of marriage in the Commonwealth.

“In the fall of 2005, extremists will attempt to convince 65,825+ Massachusetts voters to sign a petition that would add anti-family language to our state constitution,” the Web site reads, adding in bold, “Those who sign it will be listed here.”

The site already lists the name, address and zip code of the first 30 signatories, which have been collected and certified by the secretary of state, and promises to list future information about signatories and make it searchable by town, last name and street address. Additionally, the Web site allows those interested to sign up for e-mail updates of who in their neighborhood has signed the petition.

The petition effort the site refers to, VoteOnMarriage.org, would amend the state constitution to limit future marriages to heterosexual couples but leave existing same-sex marriages intact. The question could come before voters by 2008.

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who has said he supports same-sex marriage, approved the initiative on Sept. 7. The campaign to garner some 66,000 signatures for the initiative will take place over a 60-day period from Sept. 21 to Nov. 23.

Kristian Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute which is heading the campaign, said KnowThyNeighbor.org raises his concerns. His name and address are already posed on the site.

“I immediately took it to be a form of intimidation,” he said. “The public service of the names being available is already provided by the secretary of state. There’s no reason to further broadcast the names and to entice the Web site viewers to be personally notified when someone from their town signs the petition.”

According to the Boston Herald, Tom Lang, co-creator of the Web site, said he plans to use the information to express his displeasure with those who sign the petition.

“I have the fight in me now, and if people I know, or that I support, or that I do business with are on that list, I might not support them or their philanthropies or their business,” he told the Herald.

However, the site’s webmaster and other co-creator, Aaron Toleos refutes claims that information on the site is meant to be used for intimidation. The Web site will encourage “civil, legal and respectful discourse,” he said. Citizens who sign the initiative should be held accountable for that action because they are acting as legislators in the political process, Toleos told The Pilot.

“What’s actually happening here is that people are not being intimidated by us, they’re being intimidated by the realization of the process and how integral they are to it, and how powerful they actually are as citizens,” he said.

Toleos added that he hopes making the signatures more accessible will cause voters to take the initiative seriously and only vote if they feel strongly about the issue.

“The signatory requirement of the petition becomes more of a test of how lazy or hardworking the sponsoring organization is rather than a measure of how the people actually feel on the issue,” he said.

Most reasonable people would not sign the initiative if they knew that their signature is public information, he said.

Although Mineau acknowledged that KnowThyNeighbor.org could negatively affect the signature-gathering campaign, he said so far the converse is true.

“Initially we’re seeing a tremendous response from people who are very upset about this and motivated to do something in the opposite direction,” he said.

Currently Mineau’s organization is exploring legal options for having the Web site removed, he said. In the meantime, he encouraged Massachusetts voters to sign the petition and reassured them that even if the Web site continues to operate, it will be several months before any new information is posted.

“The secretary of state has to certify the names by Dec. 7, and then he has upwards of 66,000 or more names that he has to tabulate into a single source document, so that’s going to take some time,” he said.

Even some supporters of same-sex marriage have also denounced the Web site. Marty Rouse, campaign director for Mass Equality, said the Web site should be taken down.

“We strongly oppose it. We think it’s mean-spirited,” he said.

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...