SAN FRANCISCO - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today kicks off a seven-city public prayer sojourn to send a message of inclusion and acceptance to bishops meeting with Pope Francis in Rome.
The effort, Pray, Listen, Discern -- Raising the Voices of LGBT Catholics, begins with a vigil and praying of the rosary at St. Mary’s Cathedral here and will travel over two weeks to cities where U.S. bishops have targeted LGBT Catholics with particularly heartless comments. It coincides with the Vatican’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a gathering of 150 Catholic leaders in Rome to consider family issues and challenges facing the church.
"As we gather here in San Francisco, we pray that our U.S. representative in Rome, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, 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."
Rosary and prayer vigils organized by HRC and local leaders will also be held Oct. 9 in St. Paul; Oct. 13 in Springfield, Ill.; Oct. 14 in Chicago; Oct. 15 in Cincinnati; Oct. 17 in Philadelphia; and Oct. 19 in Baltimore. More information about bishops in those cities, and their harsh comments about the LGBT faithful, can be found in the HRC Foundation document, The Best of the Worst: Catholic Bishops Across the Country.
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, also reflected in Pope Francis’s messages, is not, however, expected to be carried to Pope Francis by U.S. clergy.
"The church laity is not misguided; it is not unknowing of the word 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.”
“We urge the bishops to climb down from their towers and hear our voices raised in prayer,” she said.
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.
“What is most important is the opportunity to create precedent for change,” said Meléndez Rivera.
More information on the synod can be found in this HRC Foundation publication, The Vatican’s Extraordinary Synod: Catholic Church at Critical Juncture.
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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