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MSNBC Profiles Catholic LGBT Advocates

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Two prominent Catholic LGBT advocates spoke with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell about the growing disconnect between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and everyday Catholics in America who support LGBT people. The segment was one of the most in-depth media discussions of this issue in recent times. Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry and Jeff Stone of Dignity USA reacted to recent anti-LGBT actions taken by the Roman Catholic hierarchy despite the fact that a growing majority of Catholics support LGBT people.

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They discussed the Roman Catholic’s organized opposition to marriage equality, noting the refusal of several parishes to participate in a petition drive to repeal marriage equality in Washington State. One Seattle priest received a standing ovation when he announced that his parish would not be collecting signatures to repeal marriage equality. Gramick, the Executive Co-Director of the National Coalition of American Nuns, also discussed the recent Vatican investigation and rebuke against nuns in the US and her own silencing by the Vatican.

GLAAD has been calling on mainstream media outlets to tell the story of LGBT and pro-LGBT Catholics who disagree with the anti-LGBT attitudes of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Last week, GLAAD released ‘Missing Voices’, a study that found that mainstream media routinely use Roman Catholic and Evangelical Christian spokespeople, and that those messages are consistently anti-LGBT,  despite the fact that Roman Catholics are the most LGBT supportive Christian religion. It further exemplifies the discrepancy between the hierarchy and the people within the Roman Catholic Church.

The MSNBC report came after media attention earlier this week for Joseph Amodeo, who recently resigned from the board of Catholic Charities and launched a Change.org petition to urge Cardinal Timothy Dolan to meet with and help LGBT youth in need. Joseph witnessed the communication started by an open letter sent from the Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth. The letter was sent by Carl Siciliano, himself a former monk, chiding the Cardinal for anti-LGBT rhetoric that can result in harm for LGBT youth. Cardinal Dolan returned a dismissive letter to Siciliano, which prompted Amodeo to take action. Amodeo then resigned his position with Catholic Charities and launched the Change.org petition. The petition currently has over 1,900 signatures.

GLAAD was able to work with Jeff Stone in preparation for the MSNBC report. As a leader in Dignity, USA, Stone was in a perfect position to articulate the disparity between the words and actions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and everyday Catholic people. Stone spoke eloquently about Catholic conscious, noting that many everyday Catholics in the US are following their conscious, which has led them to oppose the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s anti-LGBT actions. This year, several Dignity chapters, including the New York chapter, are marking 40 years of ministry with LGBT Catholics. GLAAD helped stone articulate Dignity’s mission and ministry with LGBT Catholics so that he could offer a Catholic message that was affirming of LGBT people.

GLAAD will continue to amplify pro-LGBT voices of faith. We need to continue our work so that people can learn that most religious people are also LGBT-affirming. 

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