Over a dozen Roman Catholic parishioners marched in yesterday's Chicago pride parade in solidarity with the Chicago chapter of DignityUSA, an independent ministry for LGBT Catholics that has chapters throughout the nation.
The parishioners, from Lincoln Park's St. Clement Catholic Church, made a bold statement for LGBT equality amidst an environment of opposition within Catholic leadership: Just last week, a document compiled by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church affirmed the Church's lack of understanding and acceptance of LGBT people. In Chicago specifically, the city's Cardinal Francis George denounced Illinois' marriage equality law earlier this year; and compared the Pride Parade to the Ku Klux Klan in 2012, a comment for which he later apologized.
The St. Clement parishioners, however, passionately reject the Church's official views reflecting a great lack of understanding and acceptance, and instead they advocate for equality and inclusion. "We don't want to be dictated to anymore," said Rob Svendsen, one of the marchers who has been a parishioner at St. Clement for nine years.
Chris Pett, former president of Dignity Chicago, said,
What St. Clement demonstrates is there are Catholics in the pews out there who think this is a time to be united and give witness to what the church's true mission is. We are here to advance justice. We should be a church united in justice, love and respect for one another ... Justice in religious traditions means right relationship … To feel really inclusive, to feel welcome, is as important an issue as same-sex couples coming together and being acknowledged legally.