Blah, blah, blah -- the defenses for Prop 8 support keep on coming and are offensive, bigoted, ignorant -- and wholly expected. It's nice to see the Catholic church, as a "mainstream" religion, accept that its role in the battle to pass Prop 8 was to give the Mormon church PR cover and utilize the wealth of its flock and the control it wields. So now it has to take on a big role in damage control.

"Religious leaders in America have the constitutional right to speak out on issues of public policy," Niederauer wrote in a statement posted on the archdiocese's Web site. "Catholic bishops, specifically, also have a responsibility to teach the faith, and our beliefs about marriage and family are part of this faith."

Niederauer, who has declined interview requests, wrote that "to insist that citizens be silent about their religious beliefs" would have had a detrimental effect on history, gagging the voices of important abolitionists and people in the civil rights movement.

Niederauer's statement, coming more than a month after the vote to ban same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state, underscored the complex role he plays. As archbishop of San Francisco, Niederauer is the ultimate teacher of Catholic doctrine in a region at the forefront of gay and lesbian rights.

During the campaign, Niederauer issued statements, sent flyers and gave a videotaped interview posted at But Niederauer's most prominent action was drawing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members responded with intensive grassroots organizing and an estimated $20 million in campaign contributions from individuals that accounted for half of the Yes on 8 campaign's total.

The Mormon church has said Niederauer, previously the Bishop of Salt Lake City for 11 years, played a pivotal role in its joining the cause.

"We were invited to join the coalition," Michael Otterson, managing director of public affairs for the church, told The Chronicle in an interview shortly after the election. "We didn't unilaterally go into the battle."