HRC Calls on U.S. Catholic Hierarchy to Heed Pope’s Hopeful Message

Last Friday, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin wrote to the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the CEO of Knights of Columbus – an affiliate of the Roman Catholic Church – calling on them to follow Pope Francis’ message of welcome and mercy for gays and lesbians.

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In a wide-ranging interview released in a publication of the Jesuit order, Pope Francis expanded dramatically on his recent comments that “if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge”—making clear that he intended that tolerant message to apply to all lesbian and gay people, not just priests and members of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

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“This is a remarkable moment,” wrote Griffin. “In the past, the pronouncements of some leaders in the Church hierarchy have given license to those who discriminate, hate and even commit violence against LGBT people.”

“So today, in light of the Pope’s remarkable interview, I urge you to end your organisation’s public opposition to legal equality for LGBT people immediately. Doing anything less will put you in direct conflict with Pope Francis’ message of welcome and mercy—and create an even greater gulf between you and the broad majority of the American Catholic laity, who support their LGBT neighbours’ freedom to marry the person they love in a civil ceremony.”

As HRC has previously noted, the vast majority of lay Catholics in the United States support LGBT equality. A recent poll from New York Times/CBS News found that more than six in ten American Catholics support equal marriage, compared to 53 percent of the country as a whole. Despite this broad support among the laity, last year the Church hierarchy was one of the biggest investors in anti-LGBT campaigns in the United States—spending nearly $2 million in the failed attempts to write discrimination into the Minnesota constitution and stem marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.

Griffin’s letters are available online here: www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/Letters_to_Catholic_Hierarchy_Leaders.pdf

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