The message of the Archbishop of Palermo (Italy) on the occasion of the IDAHOT
Progetto Gionata, 15 may 2020, translated by Andrea D.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse from Galatians 3:28 was the central theme of this year’s Ecumenical Vigil held in Palermo for the overcoming of Homophobia and Transphobia.
Archbishop Corrado Lorefice of the Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo (Italy) participated in the vigil by sending his personal message on this occasion which was read out during the prayer service.
The Organizing Committee of the prayer vigils for the overcoming of Homophobia and Transphobia in Palermo decided to be present (for the fourteenth consecutive year) to renew its commitment to come together in prayer online in such a difficult time during which we cannot be physically together.
The vigil took place on 14th May at 19:00 hours and brought together over twenty groups from Palermo, including LGBT Christian groups, churches of different denominations, Catholic parishes, ecclesial movements, civil rights movements, schools and many other realities that decided to join in this initiative, under the patronage of the Municipality.
The message of the Archbishop of Palermo, H.E. Mgr. Corrado Lorefice, on the occasion of the prayer vigil held to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia:
Last year, Pope Francis spoke about the onset of new forms of oppression “typical of Nazism and its persecution of Jews, gypsies, people of homosexual orientation”. This was the result of the throwaway culture that, “combined with other widespread psycho-social phenomena in affluent societies, is manifesting a serious tendency of degenerating into a culture of hatred”. He also added: “It is necessary to be vigilant, both in the civil and ecclesial aspects of life, to avoid any possible compromise – assumed to be involuntary – with such forms of degeneration” (Speech, 15 November 2019).
In times of crisis – all the more so in the present time – every society produces scapegoats and “mimetic contagion leads to the explosion of beastly violence” (R. Girard).
May the remembrance of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia contribute to spreading a message of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation so that every human being is recognized and accepted.
Let us listen and open up to the ‘first form of dialogue’, to answer the first question God puts to man: “Where are you? And where is your brother? Yes, precisely the one you pushed aside, neglected, eliminated? “
The face of the other person represents us, narrates us, enables us to recognize ourselves and helps us to become, in our turn, persons. It makes us ‘responsible’. It reminds us that we are relational beings, called to welcome and embrace each other tenderly, to be brothers and helpers, and not oppressors.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the distances imposed upon us lead us to become more ‘curious’ about the face of our brothers (i.e. the rescuers) and, in turn, ‘curious’ about the true face of God (i.e. worshippers), often misrepresented in the name of religious affiliations.
In the life of Jesus Christ, one finds only goodness, innocence, meekness, closeness, good news. He defeats hatred with love, violence with meekness, indifference with care for others. The dominant feeling that characterizes Jesus is one of compassion and this, in turn, reveals the merciful face of God.
It is not about doing something new or difficult. We are all called to be initiators of a culture of compassion and hospitality, to be tenacious rescuers and true worshippers.
Palermo, 6th May 2020
+ Fr. Corrado Lorefice