From Palermo (Italy) to Quilpué (Chile). Italian and International Cities Hold Prayer Vigils to Remember Victims of Homophobia
Gionata Project (Italy) press release on May 8, 2013
For the seventh year in a row, Christians from various denominations and faith traditions (including Catholics, Waldensians, Old Catholics, Methodists and Baptists, among others) will be holding prayer vigils along with Gay Christians in order to remember the numerous victims of homophobia. The vigils will be celebrated in various locations on and around the International Day Against Homophobia on May, 17 2013. They will all be united by the Bible verse “There is no fear in love!” (I John 4:18).
Prayers will remember that “we cannot silently stand by when millions of sisters and brothers in the world suffer (and are threatened, tortured and even killed in some countries) just because they exist and want to live out the emotions the Lord gave them.”
As a prayer vigil video presentation made by young Palermo filmmaker Giovanni Capizzi tells us, “God does not categorize or rank His love for His children.”
There are some interesting new aspects to this year’s vigils. For the first time, a majority of events organized with Gay Christian groups will be held at Catholic churches. These churches include Madonna della Tosse in Florence, San Bartolomeo della Beverara in Bologna, Santa Maria della Pietà alla Kalsa in Palermo, SS. Crocifisso della Buona Morte in Catania, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in Padua, Basilica SS. Bonifacio e Alessio all’Aventino in Rome, Chiesa di San Benedetto al Porto in Genoa, Cuore Immacolato di Maria in Pinerolo (near Turin) and a Diocesan parish in Cremona (near Milan).
During the month of May, various Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian communities will dedicate their Sunday Worship Services to remembering victims of homophobia. As president of the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy (UCEBI), Pastor Raffaele Volpe, states that churches “are often still deaf to the cries of homophobia’s victims. We have tried opening the doors of our churches. Not only has it been moving and emotional to hear stories of violence, but we have also experienced confidence and encouragement through prayer and trust in God.”
The long series of initiatives held in major Italian cities from Palermo in the South to Trieste in the North will begin Sunday May 12 in Florence and Milan with Waldensian Sunday morning worship services in memory of victims of homophobia. During the evening of Monday May 13 Gay Christian groups in Milan have organized an ecumenical prayer vigil and candlelight procession. The event will start from Via Pinamonte Baptist Church and end up at Incoronata Catholic Church.
These two vigils will be connected by a candlelight procession through central and lively Corso Garibaldi Street. This event aims to “connect Christian churches of different denominations through a ribbon of light in a common effort to win over all types of homophobia and transphobia using the force of love.”
On Friday May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia), there will be an impressive ecumenical prayer vigil in memory of victims of homophobia and transphobia held by Ali d’aquila (LGBT Christian group) in Palermo at S. Maria della Pietà alla Kalsa parish church in collaboration with the Palermo Archdiocese Vicariate, Palermo Lutheran church, via dello Spezio Waldensian church, Waldensian church of Marsala and Trapani, San Gabriele Arcangelo and San Giuseppe Artigiano parish churches, San Francesco Saverio all’Albergheria community, Comboniani Lay Missionaries and the Kairòs community.
The long series of vigils will come to a close on Sunday May 26 with a Sunday worship service at the Waldensian church of Rimini and an ecumenical vigil at the Cuore Immacolato di Maria parish church in Pinerolo (near Turin).
Many cities beyond Italy will also be holding vigils at the same time as these Italian moments of prayer. Organizations and locations include: Drachma Parents and LGBT groups (Malta’s group of Catholic parents of LGBT children) in La Valletta (Malta), Ichthys Gay and Lesbian Christian group in Seville (Spain), AFIRMACIÓN CHILE association of Lesbian and Gay Mormons of Chile in Quilpué (Chile) and Saint-Pierre-Apôtre Catholic church in Montreal (Canada).
The call issued by Italian Gay Christian groups “to remember victims of homophobia” was picked up in Europe by the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Christian Groups and at a worldwide level by the international IDAHO Committee. The IDAHO committee, which coordinates the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, has invited all believers to consider this Italian initiative so that it can become “a meeting place for new paths” to tolerance and project the “voices of so many religious people who … oppose the use of religion to justify hate, refusal and even violence or crimes against homosexual and transsexual people.”
On behalf of all the volunteers at Gionata.org, an Italian ecumenical project, we wholeheartedly subscribe the words of Fabio at the Gay Christian group in Palermo, who writes “I have a dream: one day there will be no need for prayer vigils against homophobia and transphobia and Gay Christian groups will no longer be necessary in order to focus attention on discrimination against LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersexual and Queer) people”.
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