Last Friday, I caught up with some of the pilgrims that HRC sponsored to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, days after the height of Pope Francis' visit to Washington, D.C. It was a wake up call to all the work still needed to be done within the Roman Catholic Church.

Sanctioned workshops ended Friday and explored a range of topics, but time and time again presenters spoke about LGBT people as "intrinsically disorder" and reiterated the need for us to be celibate and "fixed.” Even the one and only gay speaker and his mom spoke in this tone. Curiously enough, his workshop was moved from an auditorium to a much smaller room leaving hundreds outside.

“I have two lesbian daughters who were raised Catholic. And as I sat through the official workshops of the World Meeting of Families, I could only imagine how hurt they would have been,” said Rosa Manriquez, a facilitator of HRC’s A la Familia project, an initiative of HRC’s Religion and Faith program.

On Saturday, I attended a workshop following the ending of the conference that explored gender identity in Catholic perspectives. There, I had the privilege of listening to stories from trans and intersex Catholics.

"We are here to share the love our family has for one another, and give visibility to the diversity of families which belong to faith communities," said Nicole. Vilma, Nicole’s mother, added, "I do not wish to see any child, young person, or person at all, committing suicide, or living without hope simply because the church rejects them for being humanly different... God is love and ALL of their creating is perfect."

Their stories were heartbreaking and hopeful. Contrary to the tone of sanctioned workshops, these messages were ones of inclusion and acceptance. They represented the success of our work.

Our work will continue as we now attend the founding meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome and the beginning of the 2015 Ordinary Synod for the Family, as well as launch the 2015 "Pray, Listen, Discern" Rosary Vigil Tour.

HRC’s Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program is working to create a world where nobody is forced to choose between who they are, whom they love and what they believe. Thanks in part of this work, more and more Catholics aren’t simply engaging in dialogue around LGBT equality, they’re leading the conversation. They do this not in spite of their Catholic belief and values, but because of them. Learn more at

Filed under: Religion & Faith

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