HRC Welcomes Pope with Plea to Bridge Gap Between Acceptance in the Pews, Rejection by Bishops

by HRC Staff

Exclusive HRC polling shows overwhelming support among U.S. Catholics for LGBT equality, yet repudiation of the faithful persists in churches, schools and institutions

WASHINGTON - In anticipation of the historic visit of Pope Francis to the U.S., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is releasing polling data on Catholic attitudes toward equality, highlighting the stories of teachers and staff fired from Catholic institutions because of who they love, and asking the pontiff to embrace the LGBT faithful.

HRC this week will also hang a banner on its Washington headquarters, within view of the Cathedral of St. Matthew where Pope Francis on Wednesday will pray with Bishops,calling on the pontiff to welcome home to the Catholic Church the LGBT faithful.

“Many of us in the LGBT community have been heartened by Pope Francis’ compassionate words and willingness to take steps to more fully embrace people of faith long rejected by the Catholic Church,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.  “As leader of the Church, his words set a powerful example, and reveal our shared values of justice, equality, respect, and compassion.”

“But, sadly, many in our community are still being fired from their jobs at Catholic schools, and shunned by their church communities simply because of who they are,” Griffin said. “So while we join in welcoming the Pope to the United States, we will also be urging him to continue to move toward greater acceptance and embrace of members of our community who are longing to hear that their Church welcomes them-- and their families--fully. We are all God’s children.”


The HRC building banner will carry the message: “We Are Your Children, Your Teachers, Your Faithful. Welcomed by God. Dismissed By Our Bishops. Pope Francis, Will You Welcome Us Home?”  Members of the LGBT Catholic faith community will gather outside HRC while the Pope is at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, and as he travels near, to raise their voices in welcome while urging the pontiff to embrace them as God has.


In anticipation of the Pope’s visit, HRC is also releasing today exclusive polling data underscoring the fact that Catholic voters in the U.S. are more supportive of LGBT equality than the nation’s voters as a whole. Two HRC-commissioned polls conducted this year show U.S. Catholic laity markedly ahead of their fellow Americans on LGBT issues, including marriage equality and employment non-discrimination protections.


Additionally, HRC will be highlighting the stories of educators like Margie Winters, the highly-praised Philadelphia-area teacher fired from a Catholic school after a parent complained of Margie’s marriage to a woman.  Margie and her wife, as well as a student and parent who were among those who rallied to the teacher’s defense, are featured in amoving video that will launch HRC’s effort during the Pope’s visit to tell the stories of LGBT faithful who have been denied their livelihoods and financial security because of who they are. Margie will be a guest of HRC during the Pope’s time in Washington.

Coming Home Guide

The HRC Foundation is also releasing on the eve of the Pope’s visit a unique new guide for the LGBT faithful, Coming Home: To Catholicism and to Self, written for those seeking a path back to their beloved traditions, and to assist them in working with their faith communities for fuller inclusion. This follows HRC’s previously-released Coming Home: To Faith, To Spirit, To Self guide for the LGBT faithful; Muslim and Jewish Coming Home guides will be released later this year.

More detailed information on what HRC is respectfully asking of Pope Francis can be found here. And a primer on the Catholic Church’s stances on LGBT issues, from marriage equality to ordination and non-discrimination, is posted here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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