Dignity to protest at Catholic Bishops' Meeting in Baltimore, Monday 11/13
DignityUSA presence at the
U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Meeting in Baltimore
DignityUSA, allied organizations and supporters will gather in prayerful protest in front of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna St., (just off S. President St. in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor), on Monday, November 13, 2006 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Look for the Dignity banner, bring signs, and help distribute Dignity’s document that counters the bishops' guidelines.
Soulforce members and readers of this forum, Catholic or not, are heartily encouraged to make our voices heard!
Leo N. Egashira
DignityUSA Board Member
Drat! I really wanted to be involved in this, but I'm unfortunately not in a position to get time off from work without at least a couple of working days' notice.
I will be thinking of you, and hoping for a peaceful and effective demonstration.
music for dancing · thinking · breathing · love · life
The People of God Respond to the bishops
Dignity, Call to Action and just about every other progressive Catholic group has issued a powerful statement to the bishops. I'll copy it below. I don't believe I've seen this united a stand in support of LGBTs before within our church. Kara
by the Undersigned Members of
Catholic Organizations for Renewal
November 12, 2006
An expected set of "pastoral guidelines" scheduled for review by the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at its annual Fall meeting in
Baltimore begins with an erroneous understanding of what it means to be
homosexual, Catholic reform leaders say in a letter to U.S. Catholic bishops.
The bishops' premise that homosexuality is a choice rather than a deeply
ingrained emotional and psychological attraction for members of the same sex
that is a part of one's basic humanity has caused much harm, Catholic church
reform leaders agree.
The bishops latest guidelines, entitled 'Ministry to Persons with a
Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care' begins with the
premise that homosexuality is an inclination towards same-gender, genital
activity and it denies the well-known existence of homosexual orientation as a
normal variation of human sexuality, members of Catholic Organizations for
Renewal, a forum of 23 North American church reform groups said in a letter to
the USCCB committees that drafted the proposed pastoral guidelines.
Because of the committee's mistaken premise and their failure to consult
widely with affected and knowledgeable lay members of the church, the group
says the guidelines are "deeply flawed."
Further the proposed guidelines are not at all pastoral but rather harmful
because they repeat the same 'spiritually violent language' used over the
past 20 years, describing homosexuality as 'objectively disordered' and
labeling same-gender relationships 'inherently evil.'
"We bear witness to the physical and spiritual harm done to the Catholic
community ourselves, our brothers and sisters, our sons and
daughters specifically because of this language."
Noting that under church law (Canon Law 212, 3), Catholics are encouraged to
make their concerns known to the bishops, especially in areas where they have
special expertise, the groups urge the bishops to withdraw the proposed
guidelines and begin anew with consultations with members of the church at
large, including those most affected by the document?homosexual Catholics.*****
Catholic Organizations for Renewal is a forum of 23 church reform and renewal
organizations in the United States and Canada, which meets twice annually. The
letter to the bishops was drafted and approved by the following signatories at
the group?s Nov. 1 -2, 2006 meeting in Milwaukee prior to Call to Action
USA's annual meeting, which drew more than 3,200 participants.
Call to Action USA, Chicago, IL - Nicole Sotelo, 857 928-4112 cell
Call to Action, Northern Virginia, Arlington, VA - Sharon Danner 703-680-0860
Catholics For a Free Choice, Washington, DC - Frances Kissling, President, 202
Catholics Speak Out/Quixote Center, Brentwood, MD - Rea Howarth, CoDirector
CORPUS USA - Anthony Padovano 973-539-8732
DignityUSA, Washington, DC - Sam Sinnett, President, 314 477-5798 (cell),
Eighth Day Center for Justice, Chicago, IL, Kathleen DeSautels, 312/641-5151
Ecumenical Catholic Communion, California - Charlie Davis
FOSIL, Southern Illinois ? Fred & Tari Harms, 618-985-2377
Save our Sacraments, Scituate, MA - Jan Leary, 508-655-1863
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference, Philadelphia, PA -
Regina Bannan, President 215-350-9877 (cell)
Spiritus Christi Church, Rochester, NY - Mary Ramerman, Pastor, 585-325-1180
Voice Of The Faithful, New Jersey - Theresa Padovano 973-539-8732
Women?s Ordination Conference, Fairfax, VA - Aisha S. Taylor, Executive
Director, 703 352-1006, email@example.com
Women?Church Convergence, Susan Farrell, 718-368-4511
I would love to be with you, but I am a long way from Baltimore.
I will pray for you.
Keep us posted.
If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?
I will be with you in thought and prayer. I hope it goes well. Please let us know how the event progressed when you get a chance!
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not. -- George Bernard Shaw
DignityUSA's Pastoral Letter
Thanks for posting the press release earlier! Below is the pastoral care letter that DignityUSA issued Sunday, November 12, 2006, as a counter to the bishops' proposed, misguided "guidelines" for pastoral care to LGBT people.
DignityUSA Letter on Pastoral Care of LGBT People 2006
Draft 1, November 12, 2006
“By the grace of God I am what I am, and God's grace to me has not been without effect.” (I Corinthians 15:10)
“We believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics in our diversity are members of Christ's mystical body, numbered among the People of God. We have an inherent dignity because God created us, Christ died for us, and the Holy Spirit sanctified us in Baptism, making us temples of the Spirit, and channels through which God's love becomes visible. Because of this, it is our right, our privilege, and our duty to live the sacramental life of the Church, so that we might become more powerful instruments of God's love working among all people.”
Opening of DignityUSA Statement of Position and Purpose
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics and their families, like all Catholics, need and deserve pastoral care from ministers and members of the church that is respectful, affirming, challenging and directed towards helping them mature and deepen their commitment to the Gospel. DignityUSA draws on thirty-seven years of providing this care for LGBT people, and on the lived experience of thousands of faithful LGBT Catholics, to put forth the following declaration of what this care should encompass.
1. Pastoral care for LGBT Catholics must truly embody and reflect the truth that we are equal in worth and dignity to other people. As children of God, we are created in God’s divine image and likeness, as are all people. We should, therefore, be treated with respect, and be constantly challenged to respect others, especially those unlike us or unfamiliar to us. As individuals and as a community, we deserve the same legal protection of basic human rights enjoyed by other members of the church and of civil society. These include the rights to safe housing, equal opportunity in employment, and freedom from physical and verbal violence. These rights should not merely be affirmed, but actively supported by leaders and ministers of the church in the arena of public discourse and civil legislation.
2. LGBT Catholics must be welcomed as full and equal participants in the life of the church. All sacraments and roles of ministry, leadership and service should be open to LGBT Catholics, as they are to other members of the church. Church employees and volunteers must be free of any harassment or discrimination due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, regardless of whether that orientation has been publicly disclosed or acknowledged.
3. Ministry to LGBT Catholics and our families must be sensitive to the history of alienation caused by decades of negative statements and actions directed against our community by church officials and ministers. Awareness of the pain and fear of religious institutions carried by many LGBT Catholics and family members, and a willingness to work to regain trust, are essential qualities for all involved in these ministries. LGBT people will need space and time to tell our stories, and to be heard with a sincere openness and willingness to learn about our lives, our relationships, and the relationship between our lives and our faith.
4. The lives and experiences of LGBT Catholics must be reflected in the liturgical, educational and social events of the church. For too long, the invisibility of LGBT people in church and society has enabled our continued oppression. Maintaining the veil of secrecy leads to isolation, confusion and a sense of shame. It invites those who do not understand us or are hostile to us to dehumanize and pathologize LGBT people, and to view us as threatening and alien. Our lives and experiences must be counted as normal dimensions of God’s creation. We must be made visible – for our own sakes, and that of the rest of the human family. Rituals that help to sanctify aspects of LGBT people’s lives are needed to help ensure that the church is truly welcoming.
5. A revised theology of sexuality must acknowledge that many intimate relationships express unitive love, even in the absence of possible procreation. This must be affirmed as an expression of divine love. The church has long acknowledged that one of the primary functions of the sexual relationship within marriage is the unitive function, which facilitates the development of a bond of love and intimacy between partners. Furthermore, the church sanctions marriage between men and women who have no possibility of procreating, whether by reason of age or infertility. Sexually intimate relationships between same-gender couples must be affirmed as having the same potential for holiness as those between opposite-gender married couples. Guidelines for ethical expression of sexuality are welcome, to the extent that they promote respect, freedom from exploitation, honesty and mature love between partners.
6. Same-gender partners must have the opportunity to formalize our commitments sacramentally, as well as through civil marriage. Equality in the eyes of God and under the law must be affirmed. LGBT people must have the same access as our heterosexual sisters and brothers to the sacrament of marriage and to legal protections that support and provide public affirmation of our commitments. Church leaders should be in the forefront of advocating for equal recognition of commitments between same-gender partners.
7. Pastoral care for the families of LGBT people—both the families from which we originate, and the families we create—should emphasize respect, ongoing inclusion, love and affirmation, while providing support for the particular struggles that LGBT people and their families undergo. Many parents, grandparents, siblings and extended families find their love for LGBT Catholic family members in conflict with social and religious messages. They struggle to maintain positive relationships with family members who “come out” by disclosing their sexual orientation. The experience of “coming out,” which can be a painful as well as a graced one for all involved, requires compassionate support. Church officials and ministers must urge family members to maintain relationships, offer unconditional respect for one another, and communicate honestly with one another.
8. Church leaders must affirm and support LGBT individuals and couples who parent children, as well as the children of these families. The number of families with children headed by LGBT people is considerable and growing. The formation of these families, which include both biological and adopted children, is motivated by the fundamental human desire to love and nurture the young. Church leaders should provide equal and free access to all relevant sacraments, work to ensure equal legal protections for all families, and lead efforts to end verbal and physical violence experienced by members of these families.
9. The church must work to ensure that all youth, including those who are “coming out” or questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation, are safe from verbal or physical harassment and violence at school and in other social settings. The opportunity to mature with a positive sense of identity is vital for all young people. They need a variety of positive role models, strong boundaries, and encouragement to act in ways that demonstrate respect for themselves and others, even as they take risks that help them understand their capabilities and limitations.
10. LGBT Catholics, like all others, should be challenged to live out the Gospel values of service, compassion and community. LGBT Catholics must be involved in serving people living in poverty, suffering illness or living at the margins of society. We must be part of the faith-sharing that builds spiritual community. We must be reminded that loving neighbor as self is part of the Great Commandment. We must extend to all others the respect and dignity we have worked so hard to gain for ourselves.
Thanks for your moral support
Thanks to all of you who offered moral support to Dignity's actions with respect to the bishops' meeting in Baltimore today. I am in the same category, being 2500 miles away in Seattle! (I'm "just" the Communications Chair on the DignityUSA Board of Directors, hence responsible for postings on allied sites like Soulforce.)
To those of you who did not receive notice of the protest in time to take off work or reschedule other commitments, I offer my sincere apologies. The timing of the action was only decided upon Friday . . .
Leo N. Egashira
DignityUSA Board of Directors
Associated Press Report on Bishops' Approving Guidelines
Bishops Pass Guidelines to Gay Ministry
By RACHEL ZOLL
AP Religion Writer
November 14, 2006, 12:33 PM EST
BALTIMORE -- The nation's Roman Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved new guidelines Tuesday on outreach to gays, trying to support gay parishioners while strictly affirming the church stance that same-sex relationships are "disordered."
Gay Catholic activists immediately judged the document a failure that will push gay and lesbians away from the church.
The statement, "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination," upholds the Catholic prohibition against same-gender marriage and adoption by gay or lesbian couples.
Yet bishops insisted that they're trying to be more "welcoming than condemning."
The document says it's not a sin to be attracted to someone of the same gender -- only to act on those feelings. The bishops also state that children of gay Catholics can undergo baptism and receive other sacraments in most cases if they are being raised in the faith.
Still, under the guidelines, parishes must instruct gays to remain celibate. The bishops are also discouraging gays from making "general public self-disclosures" within their churches about their sexual orientation.
"It is not sufficient for those involved in this ministry to adopt a position of distant neutrality with regard to Church teaching," the bishops stated. Gay outreach must include teaching that is "welcoming yet challenging, loving but firm in the truth," they said.
The 194-37 vote, with one abstention, came at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, said the new guidelines reflect the bishops' ignorance about sexuality. He said the document would alienate gays.
"This document recommends the most unhealthy thing to do which is to stay emotionally and spiritually in the closet," Sinnett said.
Some bishops anticipated such criticism.
"For the person with the inclination, they find that very very difficult to accept, personally," said Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah , Ga. , during the floor debate Monday. "They feel that the church is saying to them that as a person they are disordered. I recognize that it is crucially important to say this, but to apply it pastorally it can be difficult."
On another matter Tuesday, bishops overwhelmingly adopted a statement encouraging Catholics to obey the church's ban on artificial contraception.
Church leaders at the gathering are also discussing how Catholics can make themselves worthy to receive Holy Communion. Several bishops said Monday that Catholics who persist in ignoring church teaching, including gays who are sexually active, should not take the sacrament.