The faith sojourn, Pray, Listen, Discern — Raising the Voices of LGBT Catholics, organised by HRC and local leaders, begins tomorrow in Wichita, Kan., at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and will continue with events at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami on Oct. 13; the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence on Oct. 15; and the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore on Oct. 25. The cities are home to bishops who have been among the most outspoken in their rejection of LGBT Catholics, their civil rights, and their rightful place in the church,
More information about Bishop Kemme, as well as Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, and their harsh comments about LGBT people, can be found in the HRC Foundation document, Who Are My Brothers? Catholic Bishops Across the Country.
The prayer events come on the heels of the Pontiff’s historic visit to the U.S., and as he participates in the Vatican’s Ordinary Synod on the Family, a gathering in Rome of more than 270 Catholic leaders–including many U.S. Bishops– to consider family issues and challenges facing the church. Last week, more than 31,000 HRC members signed an online petition urging Pope Francis to act on his message of tolerance and inclusion by ensuring that LGBT Catholics are embraced and respected by the Church and its senior officials.
“As we prepare to gather in Kansas, we pray that Bishop Carl Kemme of the Diocese of Wichita listens to our voices and sees the value of recognizing and including all families in the Catholic fold,” said Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, director of HRC’s Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives. “On behalf of all of those who have been excluded from the church — from the LGBT faithful and divorced families, to those who have been fired for simply being who they are — we offer them Holy Mary’s wisdom and God’s clarity.”
The Rome Synod is expected to address issues of profound importance to LGBT Catholics who are experiencing increasing acceptance among church laity. That movement toward inclusion and moderation, which at times has also been reflected in Pope Francis’ messages, is not, however, expected to be carried to Rome by U.S. clergy.
“The church laity is not misguided; it is not unknowing of the work and mandate of God,” said Meléndez Rivera. “On the contrary, we continue to listen to God and, just like his son, we also aim to create an inclusive church that can serve us all. And we urge the bishops to climb down from their towers, hear our voices raised in prayer.”
In addition to addressing questions about the family, the Synod in Rome will consider issues of fertility, surrogate birth, and contraception. Though the Synod will not result in recognition of marriage equality or the ordination of women, participants have the opportunity to take steps toward greater inclusion — including extending the baptismal sacrament to children of LGBT Catholic families.
More information on the synod can be found in this HRC Foundation publication, The Vatican’s Ordinary Synod: Catholic Church at Critical Juncture.