In Sign of Progress, Two Italian Bishops Lead Prayer Vigils Against LGBT Discrimination
Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry (USA), June 29, 2018
At least two Italian bishops participated in vigils marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) this past May.
Archbishop Corrado Lorefice of Palermo composed a prayer for an ecumenical vigil in that city which he helped lead, and he encouraged Catholic parishes to recite it at Mass. A La Repubblica article, translated into English here by the Italian LGBT group Progetto Gionata, quoted the archbishop:
“While we firmly deplore that homosexual persons have been and are still subjected to malicious expressions and violent actions, we pray that Christians, living on the grace of the Gospel, bear witness and proclaim, with prophetic audacity, the unconditional respect due to each person and denounce all forms of discrimination and marginalization.”
Ecumenical prayer vigils against LGBT discrimination occurred in several other Italian cities as well. For the eleventh year, communities in Italy and Spain passed a baton along, marking each stop with prayer vigils and torchlit processions, reported IDAHOBIT’s website.
Bishop Massimo Camisasca of Reggio Emilia and Guastalla led a Mass in his city. Crux reported that several gay people offered testimonies during the homily, after which the bishop told those gathered:
“I am not here for an acronym, LGBT, which doesn’t belong to me. Nor for an adjective, gay. I am here for a noun, persons. You are persons. . .Every person has equal dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation and deserves everyone’s respect. This has not always been in the past. It’s right therefore for society and faithful to apologize to those they have despised or put in a corner.”
Fr. Gianluca Carrega, who heads the Diocese of Turin’s outreach to lesbian and gay people, told La Repubblica:
“‘It is important. . .that these days of vigil are not just a declaration of what is happening around us, but also an opportunity to better know ourselves and make us enlightened by the truth of the Gospel.‘”
Such public stances by church leaders are important, and especially so in Italy, which remains behind in LGBT equality initiatives compared to other Western nations. Bishop Camisasca’s acknowledgement that society and the Church need to apologize to LGBT people who have been harmed is particularly notable, and follows-up on Pope Francis’ call for such apologies two years ago. Despite some Italian Catholic groups’ protests against IDAHOBIT and Pride events this year, there is a marked shift on LGBT issues in the country. Crux noted that during World Pride Day in 2000, which was held in Rome, then-Pope John Paul II said he had a “deep sadness” because Pride was an “offense to the Christian values.” Today, the three Italian church leaders above join the growing ranks of Catholic officials worldwide who recognize the need for IDAHOBIT events and the goodness of Pride celebrations.
As June ends, these episcopal prayers are worth celebrating, and they serve asan impetus to spend the coming year advocating so that more church leaders will raise their voices publicly in defense of LGBT people’s dignity and well-being.