Archbishop of Albany to hold Mass at LGBT Catholic Conference; Vatican Investigates LGBT-friendly Catholic Community in Mexico

In additional promising Roman Catholic news, Bishop Howard Hubbard, archbishop of Albany, New York, will hold a Vigil Mass at the 2011 Conference of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry (CALGM).

This year’s conference, which will take place September 22 - 25, 2011 in Albany, is titled “Setting the Table for LGBT People in a Diverse Church.” Just some of the many workshop topics include outreach to LGBT youth and college students, resources for straight spouses of LGBT people, and strategies for building welcoming parishes.

Bishop Hubbard has already received criticism from conservative Roman Catholic groups, but so far no official Catholic body has chosen to look into his decision to hold a Vigil Mass at the CALGM Conference.

Unfortunately, the San Elredo community, run by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico, has not been so lucky. The Bishop has become the target of a Vatican investigation after being accused by a Catholic agency based in Peru of “promot[ing] homosexual relations.” Bishop Vera argues that his ministry does not go against Roman Catholic teaching. Instead, he says, the San Elredo community “work[s] with (the gay community) to help them recover their human dignity, which is frequently attacked at home and in society, and they are treated like scum.”

Like many Roman Catholic clergy who have supported the dignity and humanity of LGBT people, Bishop Vera has a history of standing up to social injustice in other forms, as well. The San Elredo community was founded in 2002 by the Rev. Robert Coogan, an American-born priest who also works as a prison chaplain. He and Bishop Vera have been outspoken in their support for LGBT protections in Mexico, even advocating for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Although Roman Catholic clergy like Bishops Hubbard and Vera and Rev. Coogan still face backlash from conservative Catholic groups and the Vatican itself, it is heartening to see that they still stand up in support of protections and human dignity for LGBT people. GLAAD commends all three men for their important work.