LGBT Catholics & Families to Send Pilgrims to World Meeting of Families

Written By Call To Action

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August 12, 2015

LGBT Catholics & Families to Send Pilgrims to World Meeting of Families

30 Groups send Letter to Pope Francis Requesting Meeting with these Families 

Contacts:  Marianne Duddy-Burke, 617-669-7810, Execdir@dignityusa.org

                     John Freml, 217-953-0613, Coordinator@equallyblessed.org

August 4, 2015. When thousands of Catholic families from around the world gather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this September for the World Meeting of Families (WMF), a dozen families proclaiming their support for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) members will be among them. Their presence is part of an effort by Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations working for equality of LGBTQI people in the Church and society, to draw attention to the challenges faced by this community and their loved ones.

The Pilgrims represent a diverse group of Catholics and Catholic families, all concerned about the state of LGBTQI people in the Church. They include:

  • An intersex woman from El Salvador and her mother
  • An Asian-American transgender man from Detroit
  • A Latina mother of two lesbian daughters, and grandmother to their children
  • A Philadelphia area couple whose gay son does not feel welcome in the Church
  • The mother of a transgender son who died of a drug overdose
  • A married lesbian couple who are both active volunteers in their Philadelphia parish
  • A married gay man and his mother from Illinois
  • A married lesbian couple and their two adopted daughters
  • A married gender-queer person, their husband, and their mother, who has become an activist in the Cuban community in Miami, Florida for families with LGBTQI members
  • The mothers of two married lesbians
  • A Philadelphia mom and grandmother with two gay sons, who has been an activist with PFLAG and the HIV/AIDS community for more than 20 years

“Each and every one of these Pilgrims is deeply committed to their Catholic faith,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, a member of the Equally Blessed coalition who will be attending the World Meeting of Families with her wife and daughters. “The Church has a huge number of LGBTQI members, and they all have families, so it’s important that this part of the Church be visible during the World Meeting of Families. We have to address the challenges that current Catholic teaching presents, and the way too many people are hurt by things that happen in the Church. We also want to witness to the steadfastness that many LGBTQI Catholics and families demonstrate in remaining part of the Church, even when they experience significant pain and discrimination.”

Anthony Garascia, President of Fortunate Families, added “Our Pilgrims will be attending all of the sessions, liturgies, and gatherings of World Meeting of Families just like any other attendee. Our goal is to share our faith and our lives with other Catholics, and with Catholic officials who will be present. We want to pray, to listen, and to share as full members of the community that gathers. We expect to find a great deal of support for our presence, to get a lot of questions about our families, and to have important conversations with Catholics from diverse backgrounds. All of this is very exciting, and could have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Members of Equally Blessed, along with 26 other organizations, have sent a letter to Pope Francis requesting that he meet with LGBTQI Catholics and their families during his visit to the U.S. The letter urges a meeting because “our Church’s teaching and pastoral practices surrounding homosexuality are causing an enormous pastoral crisis, as well as upholding systemic, institutionalized 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.”

Equally Blessed sponsored a similar pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013. Six Pilgrims attended that event, holding over 1,000 conversations about issues facing LGBT Catholics with people from 81 different countries over a 5-day period.

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To contact any of the WMF Pilgrims please contact Marianne Duddy-Burke (617-669-7810, execdir@dignityusa.org) or John Freml (217-953-0613,coordinator@equallyblessed.org)

Equally Blessed is a coalition of Catholic organizations committed to equality for LGBT persons and their families in the Catholic Church and in society. It consists of Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry, who have over 125 years of combined experience in ministering with the LGBT Catholic community.

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