GLAAD, DignityUSA call on Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics during upcoming U.S. visit

Today, The New York Times exclusively broke the news that GLAAD and DignityUSA, backed by nearly 30 groups and individuals, have asked Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families during his visit to the United States.

A letter, signed by GLAAD's President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and DignityUSA's Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke and endorsed with 28 additional sign-on organizations and people, was mailed directly to the Pope in July. It explains that LGBT people, including those in the Catholic Church, face "a compelling pastoral need" for "great healing and reconciliation."

The letter continues:

Currently, our Church’s teaching and pastoral practices surrounding LGBT people are causing an enormous pastoral crisis, as well as upholding systemic, institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people and our families. In the U.S. and around the world, we are experiencing alienation from the Church, higher rates of poverty and violence, and discrimination in employment, housing, educational opportunities, and access to health care.

LGBT youth are particularly vulnerable, with nearly half of the LGBT young people in the U.S. considered to be at-risk. Lacking support at home, at school, or from faith communities, LGBT youth suffer bullying, experience depression, self-mutilate, attempt suicide, use drugs, become homeless or enter foster care at rates far higher than non-LGBT youth. This is a crisis that the church can help to address through effective pastoral care and programs that provides love and support for these youth.

What the letter and its call to action detail is the gap between support among Catholic people for the LGBT community, and the harmful sentiments and policies of the Catholic hierarchy. Among white, Hispanic, and other non-white Catholics in America, support for marriage equality is around 60% across the board, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Unfortunately, the hearts and minds of these LGBT-affirming Catholics and LGBT people's needs are not currently reflected by the Church leaders in power.

GLAAD and DignityUSA--an organization working for respect and justice for all people, including LGBT people, in the Catholic Church and world—have joined together on this project to close that gap in the Catholic Church. We hope Pope Francis will join them in pursuing that mission, as well.


Read the full letter here.

Signatories include:

8th Day Center for Justice

Catholics for Choice

Chicago Women-Church

Corpus USA

A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist

Familia es Familia

Human Rights Campaign

Latino Equality Alliance (LEA)

Latino GLBT History Project

National Council of La Raza

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Roman Catholic Womanpriests USA (RCWP-USA)

Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference

Jim FitzGerald - Executive Director, Call to Action

Charlie Davis - Ecumenical Catholic Communion

Justin Tanis - Managing Director, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry

Deb Word - President, Fortunate Families

Dr. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza - Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity, Harvard University

Sr. Jeannine Gramick - Executive Coordinator, National Coalition of American Nuns

Francis DeBernardo - Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

David Vásquez-Levy - President, Pacific School of Religion

Brian Cahill - Former Executive Director, San Francisco Catholic Charities

Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu - Co-Directors, WATER Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual 

Kate McElwee and Erin Saiz Hanna - Co-Executive Directors, Women's Ordination Conference (WOC)

Susanne Cassidy - Philadelphia, PA

Mary Ellen Chown - Oakville, ON, Canada

Erma M. Durkin - Glen Arm, MD

Darlene Noesen - Chicago, IL

Dr. Miguel de la Torre - Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO

Jane Clementi - Co-Founder, Tyler Clementi Foundation