Several leading Catholic theologians, academics and activists have signed onto a petition calling on Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez to apologize for his Nov. 4 speech in which he denigrated social justice movements as “pseudo-religions.”

The petition, which has garnered the signatures of more than 9,000 Catholics and others, is the latest development in the fallout from Gomez’s controversial address to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid. 

In the speech, Gomez framed today’s social justice activism, including the anti-racist movement in the United States, as an angry Marxist-inspired, anti-Christian expression of a corrosive secularism being pushed by an “elite leadership class.”

“In fact, as they see it, religion, especially Christianity, only gets in the way of the society they hope to build,” said Gomez, who is also president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gomez’s remarks angered leading Black Catholic theologians, academics and activists. Groups such as Pax Christi USA and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests have released statements in recent days condemning the archbishop’s comments.

“Your speech was particularly painful and offensive to Black Catholic advocates in the United States who have organized for racial justice in the face of indifference and even hostility from many white Christians,” reads the new petition, which was released Nov. 12 and was organized by Faith in Public Life and Faithful America.

Fr. Bryan Massingale, a leading Fordham University theologian and author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church signed the petition, as did Shannen Dee Williams, a history professor at the University of Dayton who is a leading scholar of Black Catholic history in the United States.

Other notable signees include Miguel Diaz, the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See who is now a theologian at Loyola University Chicago; Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University; and Fr. Clete Kiley, chaplain for the Chicago Federation of Labor and board member of the Catholic Labor Network.

Full story at National Catholic Reporter.