In keeping with his stated desire to support family acceptance, the organizations have asked the Pope to meet with LGBT families of the Catholic faith. In a letter sent to the Vatican this week, the organizations wrote:
Many LGBT people and family members have experienced a resurgence of hope for full acceptance in our Church as a result of your words and reports of personal meetings with LGBT people. We see your visit to the U.S. as an opportunity for you to hear from us how central our faith is to our lives, and to work together towards creating a Church where all families know that we are truly loved and welcomed.
Currently, our Church’s teaching and pastoral practices surrounding LGBT people are causing an enormous pastoral crisis, as well as upholding systemic, institutionalised discrimination against LGBT people and our families. In the U.S. and around the world, we are experiencing alienation from the Church, higher rates of poverty and violence, and discrimination in employment, housing, educational opportunities, and access to health care.
The full letter can be viewed here.
Approximately 60% of Catholics in the United States, of diverse backgrounds, support marriage equality, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. The Catholic Church’s teaching and pastoral practices on LGBT people, however, often cause “an enormous pastoral crisis, as well as upholding systemic, institutionalised discrimination against LGBT people and our families,” the letter states.
“Millions are hopeful that the Roman Catholic Church can change its hurtful rhetoric and policies toward LGBT people. But that change cannot come without hearing about the faith and struggles of LGBT Catholics,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “It’s time for Pope Francis to get to know LGBT Catholics and their families, because you can’t turn your back on someone whose story you know.”
“Pope Francis has shown a great willingness to meet with lots of different kinds of people. It is very important that he sits down and listens to LGBT Catholics and our families. We love our Church, but struggle with being excluded, preached against, and misunderstood. We hope that if we have a chance to tell our stories, he will see how important it is for the Church to be more welcoming,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA.
Twenty-eight additional organizations and individuals co-signed the letter calling on the Vatican to address the compelling pastoral need for healing and reconciliation for LGBT members of the Catholic Church. The letter was mailed directly to the Vatican in advance of the Pope’s September 2015 visit to the United States.
Additionally, GLAAD will soon release “Reporting on Pope Francis & LGBT People,” a resource guide for journalists covering Pope Francis and his upcoming visit to the United States. The guide provides the best practices and story ideas, a timeline, and prominent statements about LGBT people from Pope Francis and U.S. bishops.