US Catholic Bishops Meeting, Washington, DC — US Catholic bishops have been using the Eucharist and other sacraments of the church as weapons against gay and lesbian Catholics for decades, according to leaders of DignityUSA. The statement came after three Catholics who had spent the day protesting outside the bishops' meeting with the gay rights group Soulforce were denied Communion at the Bishops' Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on November 11, 2002.
"What happened to these three people is symbolic of what gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics have experienced for decades," said Marianne Duddy, Executive Director of DignityUSA. "Church leaders have banned us from Catholic churches and ordered priests not to say Mass for us. Bishops have used the Sacraments as a weapon to intimidate us into staying in the closet. They don't want us to speak out about the fact that we find our sexuality to be a blessing and a gift, and our relationships to be holy."
"We support our sisters and brothers of Soulforce, and are deeply sorry for the pain that they feel due to our Church leaders' callous refusal of Communion to them. We believe that Jesus invites all to the table, and this is our practice whenever Dignity meets to celebrate Eucharist," continued Duddy.
DignityUSA will sponsor a Mass at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church at 7:30 PM on November 12. The Mass will include a ritual of healing for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and a celebration of ministries of those the Church does not affirm, including women, married priests and gay priests.
"We look forward to welcoming straight and gay, young and old, rich and poor, people of every color to this Mass," said Duddy. "We hope this liturgy will be a source of healing to all who have been wounded by Church leaders who have abused their authority."
DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, our families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is a nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the US.