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Vatican Accused of Intefering in Lives of American Citizens

To: Dignity Chapters and Friends
From: Mary Louise Cervone, President DignityUSA
Date: December 17, 2000
Re: President's Email 0001-05: DignityUSA and Soulforce Appeal to Clinton

Soulforce and DignityUSA Appeal to President Clinton on Behalf of Gays

Activists Say “We Love The Church Too Much To Let It Continue Its War Against Us.”

Laguna Beach, California — Today, Soulforce and DignityUSA announced that letters were delivered to President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright, and the American Ambassador to the Vatican, Corinne Boggs, requesting that they use every possible diplomatic channel to urge Vatican leaders to stop Roman Catholic funds from being used in the United States to deny millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans their civil rights.

"From Vermont to Hawaii, millions of dollars donated by faithful Roman Catholics for religious purposes have been used instead to defeat the civil rights of gay Americans," explains Karen Ball, Soulforce Legal Counsel. "If any other nation, large or small, were attempting to influence legislation denying civil rights for American citizens, there would be a major outcry from the public and the media. "

The National Catholic Reporter confirmed that over $310,000 was contributed by the Roman Catholic Church last year in California alone to ensure passage of Proposition 22, an anti-gay ballot initiative denying gays and lesbians the 1,047 rights and protections that go with marriage. The initiative passed.

"The Vatican is not simply the world headquarters of a religion with more than a billion members," explained Mel White, Soulforce Executive Director. "It is the political capital of a nation with an embassy in Washington, DC. Pope John Paul II is not just the spiritual leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics, he is also the undisputed political head-of-state of the Vatican nation. Many believe that there is no way that American bishops could use these religious funds for these political purposes if the Vatican did not give at least its tacit consent."

During the first week of the new millennium (January 2-7, 2001) Soulforce and DignityUSA are carrying their Stop Spiritual Violence campaign directly to the Vatican. The Soulforce, DignityUSA delegation, especially trained in nonviolent resistance, will conduct candlelight vigils January 2-5 and on the Eve of Epiphany will tape (not nail) their demands for truth and tolerance Vatican doors.

"Although we have great respect for Pope John Paul II," says Marianne Duddy, Executive Director, DignityUSA, "he and his colleagues in Rome are tragically misinformed about God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. They are wrong to support laws which deny us the right to employment, to housing, to equal government and employment benefits, to teach, to coach, to serve in the military, to adopt, to serve as foster parents or to marry the person we love. We are bringing truth in love to the Vatican in hopes of changing their minds and hearts about us." Soulforce is a growing network of people of faith committed to applying the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance for the liberation of sexual and gender minorities. DignityUSA is an American organization of gay Catholics, their friends and families who refuse to be driven into the closet by Church dogma.

"Although the delegation realizes that conducting an act of spiritual resistance in the Vatican could lead to arrest and imprisonment, if the Vatican refuses to meet with us or to take our requests seriously, we will respond with acts of nonviolent resistance, following the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr," states Jimmy Creech, Soulforce Board Chair. "We will not be turned away. To hold the Roman Catholic Church accountable, we will engage in public dissent whatever the cost to us may be, if it is necessary."

"For centuries the Roman Catholic Church, our Church, has been a primary source of misinformation about sexual minorities," says Mary Louise Cervone, President, DignityUSA. "Church teachings describe homosexual orientation as 'objectively disordered' and loving intimate acts as 'intrinsically evil.' In the last few weeks the Pope himself declared that same sex marriage is 'a deplorable distortion' and adoption by gay or lesbian parents 'a grave danger.' We love the Church too much to allow this war against God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children to continue without doing what we can to end it."

For more information on Soulforce or DignityUSA, see www.soulforce.org or www.DignityUSA.org The Open Letter to President Clinton can be seen at the SoulForce website.

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