Catholic Communities Featured Prominently in Two Pride Parades

June 22, 2013

PrideAround the globe, June is traditionally celebrated as Pride month in the LGBT community.  It is common for cities, large and small, to host parades, festivals, and other events to acknowledge the contributions of LGBT people and to let folks know about the supportive resources and organizations within the local community.

LGBT-friendly religious groups also take part in Pride celebrations, though having a Catholic presence in these events is a rare occurrence.  Sometimes the presence of a Catholic group sparks controversy, as happened last week in Portland, Oregon, when a St. Andrew Parish marched in the city’s Pride parade, even though their archbishop told them not to do so.

On the east coast of the U.S., another Catholic parish also marched in its city’s Pride parade:  St. Matthew’s in Baltimore, Maryland.  The parish’s LGBT ministry was lauded by the LGBT community for their presence and leadership.  The More Light Presbyterians website had these accolades for their Catholic friends:

When the Gay Pride parade kicked off in Baltimore on June 15, a number of faith communities were present – and Presbyterians were an important part of the event.  Faith Presbyterian – one of the organizers of the effort – and Brown Memorial Park Avenue– were proudly marching behind the banner, FAITH COMMUNITIES OF BALTIMORE with PRIDE – as was First & St. Stephens United Church of Christ.  But the largest number came

St. Matthew's contingent in  Baltimore's Pride Parade

St. Matthew’s contingent in Baltimore’s Pride Parade

from St. Matthews Roman Catholic church – the real instigator of the effort.  Long before we started actively recruiting walkers, St. Matthews had paid all the entry fees (Faith paid for the banner)!  Their goal was to have 100 walkers – I think the final number was 115!  Their enthusiasm was contagious as we planned the event.  Their LEAD ministries – their program to welcome LGBTQ’s – is an important part of the life at St. Matthews – and fits well with Faith’s participation in MORE LIGHT Presbyterians.  Faith and St. Matthews are long-time friends – both are active participants in the events of the Loch Raven (Blvd) Ministerium.  In fact the two churches are planning to do anti-bullying workshops together in the fall.  And we’re already talking about Gay Pride 2014!

Dignity/Washington's contingent in the Capital Pride Parade

Dignity/Washington’s contingent in the Capital Pride Parade

In nearby Washington, DC,  another Catholic community was also celebrated in their city’s Capital Pride Festival.    Dignity/Washington, which marked 40 years of service last year, received the Festival’s “Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions to Pride.”   The  Capital Pride Festival’s website details Dignity/Washington’s many contributions to the local community, particularly their contributions to Pride celebrations:

“Dignity/Washington has participated in every LGBT March on Washington. Dignity/Washington was one of the earliest organizations to take part in the local Pride celebrations and has been a Capital Pride participant for over three decades.  Dignity/Washington became a Capital Pride Community Partner in 2007, even before the Capital Pride Alliance came into existence.  In 2008, Dignity/Washington was one of the organizations that supported the decision to award the Capital Pride Alliance the right to produce the celebration.  Dignity/Washington donated free space at the Dignity Center to the Capital Pride Alliance in the first few years after the Alliance came into existence. “

Heather Mizeur

Heather Mizeur

At their Pride liturgy, Dignity/Washington hosted Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur, a Catholic lesbian woman who is considering a run to become the state’s governor.    Mizeur was instrumental in getting Maryland’s marriage equality law passed.

Congratulations to both St. Matthew Parish and Dignity/Washington for being recognized for their wonderful and important contributions!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


QUOTE TO NOTE: Fr. Fred Daley on the Blessing of GLBT Gifts and Talents

June 19, 2012

An article entitled “Syracuse Gay Pride parade celebrates diversity” on Syracuse.com quotes Fr. Fred Daley, pastor of All Saints Parish in this upstate New York city.  Fr. Daley, an out gay priest who recently led a focus session on gay priests at New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, stated:

Rev. Fred Daley

“There’s so much ignorance around the issue of orientation. As church, it’s our responsibility to proclaim the truth. No one chooses their orientation. It’s set before you’re four years old. We as a parish are so enriched by the presence and involvement of the GLBT community. How blessed we are to celebrate their gifts and talents.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


British Education Secretary Investigates Petition Distribution in Catholic Schoools

May 3, 2012

England’s Secretary for Education is investigating whether or not the organization which runs the country’s state-funded Catholic schools was in violation of the law when it solicited signatures from students on a petition against a proposed marriage equality bill.

According to an article in London’s Guardian newspaper, Michael Gove is responding to complaints that first came from PinkNews.co.uk, a British LGBT news source, concerning the Catholic Education Service’s (CES) distribution  to high school students of  a petition against marriage equality organized by the “Coalition for Marriage.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education explained the investigation:

“Schools have a responsibility under law to ensure children are insulated from political activity and campaigning in the classroom. . . . While faith schools, rightly, have the freedom to teach about sexual relations and marriage in the context of their own religion, that should not extend to political campaigning.”

A spokesperson for the CES, which is run by the nation’s bishops, defended the distribution of the petition:

“Catholic state schools have always been permitted by law to teach matters relating to sex and relationships education, including the importance of marriage, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic church. . . .

“The Catholic church’s view on the importance of marriage is a religious view, not a political one.”

The PinkNews.co.uk article which broke the story about the petitions focused on an assembly at  St. Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, Carshalton, which informed students of the petition and where, according to one student, pupils

“from 11 to 18 years of age had been ‘encouraged’ to sign the anti-equality pledge by the school’s headmistress.”

A sixth form student described student reaction:

“In our assembly for the whole Sixth Form you could feel people bristling as she explained parts of the letter and encouraged us to sign the petition.

“She said things about gay marriage and civil partnerships being unnatural. It was just a really out-dated, misjudged and heavily biased presentation.

“A few of us in my year are buying Gay Pride badges to pin on our uniform and thought about staging a Stonewall coup by posting the ‘Some people are gay – get over it’ posters around school.

“Most importantly though, there are several people in my year who aren’t heterosexual – myself included – and I for one was appalled and actually disgusted by what they were encouraging.

“After all, that’s discrimination they were urging impressionable people to engage in, which is unacceptable.”

Terence Weldon, an astute commentator and blogger on Catholic LGBT issues, made the following point on QueeringTheChurch.com:

“The CES insistence that it is simply presenting church teaching is misleading. It is one thing to offer guidance on how to conduct their own lives, but quite another to encourage them to impose those views through the political process on people of other faiths, or of none. The letter sent to schools, and the encouragement to support the petition against gay marriage, is a direct intervention in a political process, and is unacceptable.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,011 other followers