December 2006 Dateline

Volume 15, No. 12 
December 2006

Dateline File: 

Sam’s Thanksgiving Day Message

On November 22, 2006, the eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sam Sinnett, President of DignityUSA, sent the following message:

“Dear Friends,

“We have much to be thankful for and DignityUSA has much to be proud of..

“During the past month, DignityUSA was involved in one of its most intense and successful communication periods ever as the Voice for lesbian, gay, bisexual,and transgender (LGBT) Catholics.

“On November 14, 2006, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved their document ‘Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care.’

“Repeatedly, our comments and statements (see our November 12, 2006 press releasehttp://www.dignityusa.org/news/2006/061112pastoral.html) rejected the bishops` document as deeply flawed — ignoring scientific, medical, sociological, and psychological knowledge about homosexual orientation and human sexuality in general; unaware of the realities and blessings of same-gender relationships and families; and drawn up in secrecy without any consultation with the faithful — particularly, not with gay and lesbian Catholics nor our families. This effort of our bishops to speak 'less offensively' has been clearly revealed to the wider Church and the nation to be flawed at best and non-Christian and non-pastoral at its core.

“Major media throughout the United States and Europe were interviewing your DignityUSA leaders responsible for communications and media and quoting us and our statements from coast to coast, from local newspapers like the Lacrosse (Wisconsin) Tribune to major metropolitan dailies, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and New York Times, as well as national syndicates like the Associated Press, Reuters (for the UK, etc) and Agence France-Presse (for France, etc).

“‘Google’ searches on ‘Associated Press and DignityUSA and November 2006’ yielded 930 Internet web results on 11/17/06!

“DignityUSA leaders were also on TV in many markets from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to Washington, D.C.

“Our Voice was heard. Your Voice was heard.

“If we do not speak, who will? This is not a rhetorical question. No one could have spoken at this time with the authority of DignityUSA and have the trust of and contacts with so many major media sources. Decades of our doing a great job has paid off big time for our Church and those who cannot speak for themselves.

“Following our comments and statements, the bishops were questioned at their press conference and revealed that they never contacted any gay and lesbian people in their 4-year process of developing these guidelines. Reporters present were astonished to hear the bishops admit this, thereby confirming our statements.

“In the midst of our labor-intensive effort across the USA, a team of some of our best folks also took our 1987 Pastoral Care Letter from our website and drafted a marvelous update to it. On November 12, 2006, we introduced it to our members and to the media and began an open 7-month process for feedback and comments. This stands in stark contrast to the process of our bishops as does our history of pastoral care for LGBT people going back to 1969. You can see it again athttp://www.dignityusa.org/pastoral/pastoral-1.html. If interested, please send your feedback and comments to info@DignityUSA.org (with Subject: Pastoral Care).

“Sadly, our bishops continue to be more and more isolated, but the People of God continue to be more and more supportive of us and our issues. Working with our two main groups of allies — Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) and the National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), — very powerful statements were issued with many of our COR allies signing on to a letter to the bishops who proposed the guidelines.

By COR:  http://www.dignityusa.org/pastoral/cor-06.html

By NRLR:http://www.dignityusa.org/news/2006/061025bishops.html andhttp://www.thetaskforce.org/media/release.cfm?releaseID=991

“Your DignityUSA not only responded to the bishops but both proactively presented Pastoral Care guidelines that confirm our position as the Voice for LGBT Catholics and worked with Catholic and LGBT interfaith allies. (Work with allies is time-consuming and expensive and mostly behind the scenes but it surely pays off.)

“We hope you feel well-spoken for and will continue your membership and much needed and appreciated support for our great mission now and far into the future for the generations that follow us.

“Happy Thanksgiving from your DignityUSA Board of Directors and staff!!

“May God continue to shower you and those you love with all that we are so thankful for this week.”

[Editor’s Note: A more extensive set of responses to the USCCB guidelines will be found in our upcoming publication, DignityUSA’s Quarterly Voice.]

DignityUSA Participates in Call to Action 2006 Conference

DignityUSA participated in Call to Action’s (CTA) national 2006 conference held Friday to Sunday, November 3-5, 2006, in Milwaukee, WI.

DignityUSA leaders presented a workshop entitled, “A Queer Eye for the Catholic Church,” open to all conference attendees. The presentation highlighted several ecclesial documents related to gay and lesbian issues, including the then proposed U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) document prepared by the Committee on Doctrine.

The draft document entitled, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” was approved following some modifications by the bishops at their November 13-16, 2006, meeting in Baltimore, MD.

The DignityUSA workshop discussed the inadequacies of the proposed guidelines. The presentation pointed out the increasing ambivalence of the Catholic Church hierarchy regarding homosexual orientation in favor of using terms like “homosexual tendencies or inclinations.”

Members of DignityUSA present at the workshop reported that it was well-received.

On the opening night of the CTA conference, DignityUSA and local chapters hosted a reception open to all conference attendees. Members of the DignityUSA leadership team hosted a gay and lesbian caucus to provide a networking environment for members of DignityUSA and its chapters, as well as interested allies.

DignityUSA volunteers and members of the national board of directors staffed an information booth throughout the days of the conference.

CTA’s welcoming and inclusive environment provided a comfort zone allowing GLBT persons, family members and supportive others to approach the DignityUSA information booth to ask questions and discuss matters with persons staffing the booth.

Donations to DignityUSA amounted to $126.00. There was one DignityUSA Convention 2007 pre-registration at $100.00. 52 people/couples filled out DignityUSA change of address/ membership application forms. Of these, 35 are new members.

For more information on CTA go to www.cta-usa.org.

DignityUSA Fundraising

Dignity/Seattle celebrated its 33rd Anniversary on Saturday, November 4, 2006, with the board of directors providing and serving all the food.  A silent auction and raffle during dinner to benefit DignityUSA raised $905.  At the November 8th chapter board meeting, board members voted to add $600 from the Dignity/Seattle treasury for a total donation of $1,505 to DignityUSA.

Dignity/Chicago hosted a Thanksgiving Party on November 18, 2006, for chapter members who made a donation to DignityUSA during 2006. A big push for September donations, which is the end of DignityUSA’s fiscal year, increased the net to about $2,500!

Dignity/Boston is saving change for DignityUSA. Boxes were given to members to save their change for three weeks. Boxes will be collected in December, the coins counted and rolled, and a check will be sent to DignityUSA. The three DignityUSA Board Members from Boston, Chris Lawrence, Lourdes Rodgriguez and Peggy Burns will be organizing a fundraising event in March. Details will be in a future issue of the Dateline.

Curious about how to organize a successful and fun house party, auction, traveling dinner or other fundraising events for DignityUSA?  Please contact board members Peggy Burns mgtburns@comcast.net or Lewis Tanner lewistanner@yahoo.com for ideas and an organizational template.

Happy Anniversary

  • Mid-Hudson (NY)* - 19 years
  • Boston (MA) - 34 years

* A Dignity/Integrity Chapter