Gay Catholic Resigns Board Position Over Cardinal’s Remarks

April 9, 2012

Joseph Amodeo

A gay Catholic man resigned his position on the junior board of Catholic Charities of the New York Archdiocese because of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent insensitive remarks in response to a plea for help for homeless LGBT youth, reports ABC News from an Associated Press article.

Joseph Amodeo, 24, sent a resignation letter to Charities’ Chief Development Officer and to the board’s staff person which he published in an April 5, 2012, HuffingtonPost.com blog post.     The resignation comes in response to Dolan’s comments about an open letter request to the Cardinal from Carl Siciliano, the executive director of N.Y.C.’s Ali Forney Center, a shelter and social service agency for homeless LGBT youth, to cease from anti-LGBT rhetoric:

“Certainly you must see your responsibility in fostering a climate where parents turn on their own children, for you have been a loud and strident voice against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of our society. When you compare being gay to being an alcoholic, as you did in interviews with the local media, you cause parents who give credence to you to see their LGBT children in terms of sickness and addiction. When you equate the state of New York with Communist China for granting its LGBT citizens marriage equality, you make the acceptance of LGBT people seem menacing and evil. You recently wrote to President Obama threatening “a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions” because of the Obama administration’s decision not to support a federal ban on gay marriage. I hope that you understand that thousands of LGBT teens will be wounded in this conflict you have decided to escalate.

“When you use your position as a religious leader to fight the acceptance of LGBT persons as equal members of our society, you inevitably make many parents less able to accept their own LGBT children.”

Dolan’s response to Siciliano included the following paragraph:

“For you to make the allegations and insinuations you do in your letter based on my adherence to the clear teachings of the Church is not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory. Neither I nor anyone in the Church would ever tolerate hatred of or prejudice towards any of the Lord’s children. In the future you ought to be more careful about personally attacking the character of those who espouse beliefs different than your own.”

Amodeo’s resignation letter makes reference to both the Cardinal’s response and to the anti-LGBT rhetoric coming from him:

“The comments that His Eminence has made regarding same-sex couples, the LGBT community in general, and his recent in-action in response to the Ali Forney Center’s plea for pastoral assistance, has left me with no other choice but to resign. Contrary to His Eminence’s response to Ali Forney’s Executive Director, Mr. Siciliano’s comments were not inflammatory, they were truth; they were a call for help; and they were expressive of the cry in the wilderness that LGBT people have been making for far too long. As a religious and pastoral leader for millions of Catholics, his voice is needed as together we work to create homes that are safe, affirming and welcoming for LGBT youth. The LGBT community is not asking the Cardinal to change Church teaching, but rather to exercise the Church’s social justice teachings. I hope the day will come when things will be less about “clear teachings” and more about what is truly right and just in the eyes of Truth itself.”

Amodeo was careful to point out that his disagreement was with the Cardinal,not with Catholic Charities:

“This resignation should not be seen as casting an aspersion on Catholic Charities, but rather an ethical dilemma of a personal nature related to Archdiocesan leadership. As someone who believes in the message of love enshrined in the teachings of Christ, I find it disheartening that a man of God would refuse to extend a pastoral arm to the Ali Forney Center and the hundreds of LGBT youth that are housed, fed, educated and provided free health services.”

The example of this gay Catholic man is a great witness to the rest of the church.  His criticism is both pointed and respectful.  He has a specific gripe and makes that known strongly without showing disrespect for the rest of the church and the faith.  But, most importantly, he did what few others seem willing to do in the church: he stood up for his beliefs.  If other Catholics who support LGBT rights would follow suit, we would see much greater movement towards a church of justice and equality for LGBT people.  Silence and inaction are two of our greatest enemies.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


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