Is it just me, or are these news items becoming a daily occurrence?

Here’s the latest, courtesy of Joe.My.God: the office of Baltimore Cardinal Edwin O’Brien is requiring that a pro-marriage discrimination letter, authored by the cardinal himself, be read aloud at Mass as part of a weekend petition drive to collect the signatures needed to ensure that a statewide referendum to overturn Maryland’s new marriage equality law makes it onto the ballot in November.

The cardinal addresses Catholics directly in the letter: “Today after Mass, you will have the opportunity to sign this [marriage discrimination] petition, and I strongly encourage you to do so.” Later, he falls back on the anti-LGBT fear-mongering that seems to have become priority #1 for Catholic leaders, saying that the “Church’s understanding about marriage” is being “deeply threatened” by the specter of marriage equality. (Funny, I thought the only thing being threatened by marriage equality was the ability of churches to write their religious dogmas into civil law, but I must have missed something…)

And just in case there are any rogue priests who would rather not use the Mass as a pretext to stir up division and hatred against LGBT people — or simply wish to respect the consciences of the 71% of Catholics who support marriage equality — the heading on the cardinal’s letter leaves no room for interpretation: “To be read at Masses the weekend of the petition drive.”

That’s not a request, that’s an order.