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, said that support “has been overwhelming.” His efforts began as a response to the public conversation between the Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth, and Dolan. Carl Siciliano, director of the Ali Forney Center (also a former monk) sent a letter reproaching 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 resign from his position with Catholic Charities. In a recent interview, Amodeo explained his reasons for resigning:
I believe that as Catholics and Christians and people of faith we are called to be charitable in our response to each other. The Cardinal’s response to the request that he meet with homeless LGBT youth was not charitable[…]The heart of the letter [from Carl Siciliano] was to say, please meet with these young people and witness their humanity and dignity. I decided the best way to show that I disagreed with this response of the hierarchy was to resign my position on the junior board.
Since, Amodeo’s resignation, the spotlight on the Catholic hierarchy’s stance against LGBT equality – and its conflict with its own churchgoers on this issue - has grown more intense. Last week, 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 we’ve seen. Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry and Jeff Stone of Dignity USA discussed recent anti-LGBT actions taken by the Roman Catholic hierarchy despite the fact that a growing majority of Catholics support LGBT people. In line with most lay Catholics, Amodeo believes the Catholic hierarchy needs a new perspective, saying, “We have focused too long on catechism and canon law. We need to focus on people.”
On Monday, Amodeo offered a retelling of a well-known gospel story to demonstrate what he thinks Christ would do in light of the disproportionate hardships faced by LGBT youth. He wrote:
I hope you will join me, and nearly 2,000 other people of faith, in asking Cardinal Dolan to follow the humble example of a man who nearly 2,000 years ago stopped ignoring a woman because of laws, turned to her, listened, and witnessed the great faith she exhibited. This same man sought a place to rest in the home of person that others deemed a sinner, but Christ saw as a righteous man in the eyes of God. Today, the petition I launched invites Cardinal Dolan to enter into a dialogue with those most in need, so as to begin to understand the LGBT experience and see the dignity of the human person.
GLAAD and the Trevor Project have extended public support to Amodeo’s efforts. GLAAD continues to applaud Amodeo’s courage to speak out on behalf of LGBT equality in the face of opposition from the Catholic hierarchy. Amodeo’s petition, (which anyone may sign here), currently has over 2,000 signatures.