The nation's largest LGBT Catholic group on Feb. 11 encouraged cardinals who will elect the next pope to select someone who will be a shepherd to "all of God's people." The request followed news that Pope Benedict XVI is retiring this month due to health concerns.
DignityUSA, in a statement, said, "Like all Catholics, we appreciate that Pope Benedict put the needs of the Church first in determining he is no longer able to meet the demands of his position. We wish him a peaceful retirement."
Vatican officials have said the conclave of cardinals that will elect the next pope likely will meet in mid-March and should name a successor to Benedict before Easter.
DignityUSA said, "At this time of significant transition, we hope that the cardinals who will elect the new pope take time to listen to the people of the church, and that they hear the voice of the Holy Spirit calling for a pope who will be a shepherd to all of God’s people. We hope for a leader who will work to heal the divisions of recent decades, and who values dialogue above conformity."
Benedict, whose election in 2005 was opposed by liberal Catholics, has been an anti-gay leader who has said that the marriages of same-sex couples threaten world peace and humanity.