Joseph Amodeo, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities, today launched a Change.org petition asking Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, who also serves as the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to meet with leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and homeless LGBT youth. Amodeo, a New York City resident and religious education teacher, resigned from the Executive Committee of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities, the social service arm of the Archdiocese of New York.
An openly gay man, Amodeo was committed to the mission and ministry of Catholic Charities. Instead of simply resigning and walking away from his faith, Amodeo is using the attention around his resignation to rally other Catholics to the plight of LGBT homeless youth. He is launching a Change.org petition, calling on all pro-LGBT Catholics to send a message to Cardinal Dolan that they support LGBT youth. It also calls on the Archdiocese of New York to meet with LGBT youth and speak out in support of all of God’s children.
Amodeo witnessed an exchange between Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Carl Siciliano, the executive Director of the Ali Forney Center. Siciliano, a former Benedictine monk and a member of the Catholic Worker movement, wrote an open letter to Cardinal Dolan, asking the Cardinal to stop his anti-LGBT rhetoric and support LGBT homeless youth. After Cardinal Dolan’s terse and defensive reply, Amodeo felt that he had enough. He penned his own open letter, offering his resignation from the Executive Committee. In his letter, Amodeo stated that he did not make this decision lightly.
As a gay Catholic who teaches religious education…is active in parish life and supports Catholic organizations, I'm afraid that the Archbishop has caused my heart to ache and my soul to feel pierced. With a discerning mind, I have tried to overlook the Cardinal's actions and comments, but this has now become impossible in light of his curt words to Mr. Siciliano and New York City's homeless LGBT youth.
Joseph Amodeo is a faithful Roman Catholic gay man, which is a voice that is often missing in mainstream media. GLAAD’s ‘Missing Voices’ study finds that Roman Catholic voices in mainstream media are disproportionately negative, despite the fact that a majority of Catholics are supportive of LGBT equality. Amodeo accurately points out that there is a divide between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and Roman Catholic people in America. This past week, we have seen an increasing number of Roman Catholic parishes in Washington state who are refusing to facilitate petition drives to repeal marriage equality in that state.
In a Huffington Post article published today, Amodeo asks all people of faith to speak out and call on their own churches to be beacons of social justice and love.
As Catholics and others listen to the messages coming from those in positions of power in the Church, I hope they will realize that the heavy-handed approach to LGBT issues is not shared by all Catholics. Although those in the hierarchy may have the pulpit, there are far more pews than there will ever be pulpits…We can only hope that those in the Church leadership will turn and listen to our voices, so as to see that our prophetic witness is merely asking them to look into our hearts and see the people God has created us to be.
Amodeo’s initial resignation letter from Catholic Charities received media attention in the Associated Press, New York Daily News, and hundreds of news outlets, prompting an international dialogue about the growing support for LGBT people among Catholics. As Amodeo's story and the 'Missing Voices' report demonstrates, the media needs to share more stories like Joseph and spotlight the growing support for LGBT people among Catholics and all religions.
You can speak out now too. Sign the Change.org petition and add your voice to those who are calling for a more inclusive church and world.
Suggested tweet: Ask Cardinal Dolan to stand with #LGBT youth in need - sign the petition http://chn.ge/DolanHearUs #DolanHearUs #Catholic