“Dear Holy Father, a gesture against homophobia”. The appeal of the European Forum of LGBT Christians in Rome
By Delia Vaccarello, L’Unità (Italy), 6 June 2011, translated by Kathryn
“Holy Father, the silence of His Holiness is often interpreted as tacit approval by those who commit acts of violence, torture and assassination against LGBT individuals.
As with the passages of the Bible that condone slavery, the passages of the Bible that support the killing of people who engage in sexual activity with those of the same sex should not be interpreted literally”.
The European Forum of LGBT Christians (44 groups in 23 countries) sent on the 10th of June an open letter to the Pope. The underlying message is clear, liberating, and offers a firm foundation for change.
Christian believers refuse to be considered “against nature”, people who “need to be cured”, and certainly not to be pitied.
They are individuals who have the right to be happy and who know how to give the best of themselves both to their work and to others.
With this missive, we are asking for a clear statement against homophobia, a condemnation against all acts of violence (such as the assassination of the Ugandan Kato), and cooperation for the decriminialisation of homosexuality at the world level.
New winds are blowing within the Catholic Church, as the Forum can attest to, which approved the letter to be sent to the Pope at the end of May, timed in order to coincide with the European Conference of LGBT Christians in Rome.
Amongst the speakers was John McNeil, one of the founding fathers of gay theology, excluded from the Jesuit order on account of his homosexuality.
With this letter to the Pope Christians move from victims of fear and desperation, because excluded and often condemned, to persons who have the coruage to break the silence.
Among the key points, the letter highlights with clarity the damage provoked by so-called “reparative therapies”.
“There still exists pressure on the part of some Roman Catholic clergy members to coerce LGBT Christians to subject themselves to “reparative therapies” to change their sexual orientation.
This strategy of the Church and the demand of the Church that LGBT individuals live a life of chasity is the cause of much pain and suffering, including suicides and serious depression, among those who try to observe strictly and heroically the teachings of the Church”.
The demand is clear: “Your Holiness, let there be no more instructions for homosexual people to subject themselves to “therapy”, but rather for them to have the right to loving relationships with a framework of faithfulness”.
How will the Pope respond? The text is such that it demands a response. Does the Pope know that some dioceses have started to welcome gay groups within their fold?
There have been no injunctions from the hierarchy, which could mean that bishops have been given some discretionary power in this area?
If the Catholic community could see in their churches active gay and lesbian members like all others, anti-gay prejudice would reduce.
There are many novelties regarding faith and homosexuality at this year´s Europride in Rome: the photographic exhibition “My spirituality”, voices and souls of LGBT Christians”, by Luca Lo Iacono, text by Andrea Rubera.
At this year´s Europride for the first time all of Europe´s LGBT Christians, from countries as diverse as Italy, Germany, Norway , France and England will come together under the same banner.
The Pope will not be able to ignore their faces and words.