Sample Letter to Bishops for National Call for Prayer and Vigils, November 9, 2004
Dear Bishop__________ (your local bishop)
(See the USCCB website @ http://www.usccb.org/bishops.htm for the name, spelling and address of your bishop)
November 9, 2004, has been declared by Soulforce, Inc., as a National Day of Prayer & Vigils calling the Catholic Church back to its gospel message of justice for all God's children. In its advocation of the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appears to have abandoned, its stand on justice and equality for all.
The documents, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, July31, 2003, the USCCB's recent release, "Bishop's Head (Wilton Gregory) Welcomes Vatican Statement on Legal Recognition of Unions between Homosexual Persons July 31, 2003," and "Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions Approved by the USCCB, 2003" (www.soulforce.org/article/95) are but a few of those documents and policies that reflect a consistent attitude excluding lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT's) from the Church they love. Even more disturbing is the use of an antigay film in the middle of Mass in Canton, Massachusetts.
Despite recent letters from priests of the Chicago and Rochester dioceses calling for inclusion and welcome,(http://www.stmaryofcelle.org/SMCweb/news/openletterREgay&lesbian.html) these acts continue to reflect a growing atmosphere of homophobia within our Church. To many of us, it would appear that the Catholic Church is bent on driving all its LGBT Catholics out of the Church, once and for all. But the Catholic Church's support of the FMA, affects much more than just Catholics.
The Catholic Church has often been in the forefront in the fight for justice for all God's children. It deeply hurts us to watch as the Church leads a fight to discriminate against LGBTs. Surely, we could never imagine the USCCB trying to deny divorced people the 1,000+ rights and protections granted as benefits to those who are remarried under civil law. To promote denial of CIVIL rights, is contrary to the gospel of justice.
As the National Catholic Reporter in a recent editorial stated, "civil marriage has absolutely no effect on sacramental marriage or other religious traditions and their understanding of marriage. The advocating for civil marriage is not a cavalier defiance of church teaching because they are separate issues. Clearly there are many instances where church teaching and state and federal laws diverge - divorce and contraception being the first to come to mind. In terms of divorce, the Church has not sought to deny the civil rights of remarried Catholics."
Have we forgotten, that it was only a little over 150 years ago that the Vatican teachings on slavery, stated that slavery was neither contrary to natural law, nor was it intrinsically evil?
Clearly heterosexual marriage has been in trouble for some time now; but to blame that on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people makes no sense at all. As the National Coalition of American Nuns so aptly put it, " heterosexual marriage needs no legislative act to defend it because it is no more threatened by same-sex marriage than by celibate single persons."
[If you are planning on vigiling, we suggest you use this closing]
We hope you will decide to join us in the prayer vigils on November 9th and pray with us for compassion and understanding. We also ask that you consider being a prophetic witness, similarily as the priests in Chicago and Rochester, have and support families, be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual, to promote equal justice for all.
[If you do not plan on vigiling, we suggest this closing]
We ask that you consider being a prophetic witness, similarily as the priests in Chicago and Rochester have and support families, be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual, to promote equal justice for all.
We pray for and with you,
Your name and address