/ Who We Are /

What is Sign of the Crossing?

Sign of the Crossing is a educational organization founded in Maryland in 2013.  It grew out of a Maryland ballot issue committee, "Support Maryland's Dream Act," which was formed during a referendum on immigration.  That committee worked to educate people who were serious about the Bible but were planning to vote against the Dream Act. 

Sign of the Crossing is educational, not political.  The founders are John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe and Charlie Tramazzo.  Both have extensive backgrounds working with charitable and religious organizations.

Sign of the Crossing has three meanings.  It refers to the way Catholics begin prayer -- with the sign of the cross.  It also refers to the courage and initiative that immigrants need to make the crossing into the United States.  It also refers to our long-term intention of helping leftwingers understand rightwingers, and helping rightwingers understand leftwingers, helping both to "cross over" in their imaginations, to bridge old chasms, to cross over old divides.

The first task we are taking on is to help pro-lifers and pro-immigration activists listen to each other. The leadership of the Catholic Church -- from ancient times through the history of the Church, from the Bible through the Vatican to the American bishops -- are all solidly pro-life and solidly pro-immigrant.  But in the pews, there is often a division: leftwingers usually support the Church's position on immigration but not abortion, while rightwingers usually support the Church's position on abortion but not immigration.

In the long run, we hope to help a healthy bird fly with two strong wings.  We do not want to see the right wing overcome the left wing, or vice versa.  We hope to see both remain firmly attached to a single healthy body.  The abortion/immigration divide is a single example -- large problems, but still only part of an even larger pattern.  When Jesus was crucified, both his hands were nailed to a cross.  It turned out that he was very tough indeed, and he didn't just rot away.  So if he was nailed to right and nailed to left, the left and right can't get more than about five feet apart, if we stick to him.

We do not expect to solve the abortion or immigration challenges.  Our work is limited: we want to help bring about unity in the Church on these issues, by healthy dialogue and mutual respect.  The consistent teaching of the Church requires a commitment to personal morality and social justice -- both!  No Catholic or other Christian should feel pressure to choose between morality on the right hand or justice on the left hand.  We intend to provide tools for mutual understanding, translation, cross-pollination, networking.

Some possible next steps.  To explain who we are, it might help to describe some intermediate plans or hopes or dreams.  These may change, but they help to explain what we are about.  We are starting dialogue about abortion and immigration, and in the long run we have our eyes on the unity of the Church.  In between ...

1. Celebrate the heritage of Cardinal O'Boyle!  Cardinal O'Boyle was a civil rights champion, a leftwinger, until 1968.  Then he supported Pope Paul VI (another leftwinger) in a battle over contraception.  In a few months, both men were branded as rightwing fanatics.  Without moving an inch, they went from far left to far right -- quite a trick!  Perhaps in 2013, we can remember Cardinal O'Boyle's legacy in its fullness.  2013 is the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.  Rev. King was able to give that speech at a rally in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial -- because Cardinal O'Boyle made it happen.  Sign of the Crossing plans to make sure that Catholics remember him with pride.

2. FAIR and related anti-immigration (or pro-low-immigration) groups abuse Scripture, limiting the teaching in mind-boggling ways.  Last year they hid it a little (under pressure?), which was a step forward.  But they should just drop it!  Perhaps Sign of the Crossing can focus attention on their abuse, and end it.

3. Is it possible to expand the discussion of the meaning of marriage?  Are we already locked into sloppy silly caricatures, and can we still think big?  Are we stuck at the level of sex and affection?  Can we include teleology, eschatology, honesty, economy, and other levels of human experience that are shaped by our understanding of marriage?  At Sign of the Crossing, we would like to provide some simple tools to expand the discussion. 

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