LGBT catholics get warm welcomes in Rome
Lgbt catholics Westminster (UK), Media release, 1 march 2015,
LGBT Catholic pilgrims based at London’s Farm Street Jesuit Church returned from Rome after 6 days spent marking the beginning of the season of Lent (17-22 February 2015). While in Rome the London group linked with 49 LGBT pilgrims from the United States’ New Ways Ministry to celebrate Mass at St. Albert’s International Carmelite Centre and at St. Mary Major’s Basilica, as well as taking part in Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday Audience. The group from the Immaculate Conception Jesuit parish in London’s Mayfair was first in the list of English-speaking groups announced as present at the Audience.
The pilgrims met members of Nuova Proposta, a Rome-based LGBT Christian group, to share different experiences of LGBT pastoral care in the USA, England and Wales, and Italy. They heard from two journalists working in Rome, Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio and Robert Mickens of Global Pulse magazine, on their experience of “Reporting a Reforming Pope.”
The UK pilgrims also celebrated Evening Prayer in Rome’s ancient San Bartolomeo Church, now dedicated to the memory of modern martyrs. The moving liturgy remembered the lives of victims of homophobic and transphobic violence, as well as those who had given their lives in witness to LGBT concerns. They also celebrated Mass at San Alfonso, the titular church of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who had sent a special greeting at the start of the pilgrimage: “You are at the threshold of Lent. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. What an excellent time to be on pilgrimage in Rome! You are at the thresholds of the Apostles. What an excellent place to be on pilgrimage at the beginning of Lent.
May Saints Peter and Paul, and indeed all the Apostles, be your constant teachers, guides and companions throughout your stay in Rome – and when you return. Their heroic witness to the life, death and resurrection of the Lord is an inspiring example for us all. May their prayers again turn your gaze to the merciful face of Jesus, who calls out to you in unfailing love. He will give you grace to be his faithful missionary disciples. May you bring others into the family of the Church, founded on the Apostles, teaching us how to follow the pathways of faithfulness to Jesus in all the different aspects of our lives.
In this way may your lives be a true witness to all who are striving to find God’s love. Only Jesus can truly bring us the joy and fulfilment for which we all yearn. Let us be close to him. Be assured of my prayers for each and every one of you. Please pray for me at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, and at all the holy places you visit.
Have a wonderful pilgrimage. God bless you all. + Cardinal Vincent Nichols.”
Further to a request made on behalf of Catholic members of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christian Groups, two members of the LGBT Catholics Westminster community were welcomed by His Eminence, Peter, Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and his Personal Assistant, Fr. Michael Czerny S.J.
The discussion on 21 February 2015 included an exchange of views about the global impact of criminalisation on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Cardinal Turkson reaffirmed his opposition to the criminalisation of homosexuals for who they are, while also urging that neither people nor states be penalized for not embracing such behaviour. The Lineamenta for the 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family, with particular reference to its paragraphs (55 & 56) dealing with same-sex relationships, also came up, with the hope that the pastoral needs of LGBT Catholics, their parents and families, including those of children in same-sex families, would meet with informed discussion during next October’s Ordinary Synod of Bishops.
Further information: Martin Pendergast – Pilgrimage Leader firstname.lastname@example.org