Contact Information:

U.S. Gay Catholics Join Over 140 International Groups in Issuing Challenging Statement About Leadership in the Roman Catholic Church

Washington, D.C., October 15, 1998 — For the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election as the head of the Roman Catholic faith community, over 140 groups in 27 countries, including DignityUSA, have issued a statement entitled A Pope for the Time to Come: Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor. The group statement challenges their faith community by calling for a model of church built on a "discipleship of equals" and a style of universal leadership that is collaborative, dialogic and open to fundamental change.

As the United States' oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and their families and friends, DignityUSA President Robert F. Miailovich said:

"Dignity recognizes that if progress is to be made in the cause of justice and social improvement, it will be done in collaboration with other like-minded organizations and in dialogue with everyone. We support the full statement, but we particularly are pleased with its inclusion of matters of special concern to gay, lesbian, bisexualand transgender Catholics."

DignityUSA Executive Director Charles L. Cox pointed out that:

"The statement calls for a pope who will consider welcoming all persons to ministry regardless of sexual orientation; who is a respecter of the consciences of those who seek dialogue on theologies, moral teaching and policies in the church; who is a reconciler of all factions in the Church; who is a leader that recognizes and celebrates diversity; and who is a prophet that is tireless in promoting justice, equality, peace and nonviolence."

"Because we want the gospel message heard in our own time, we seek to build a church that is welcoming for all people and open to restoring Christian unity in the coming century. To do this, we have focused not on 'candidates' for pope, but on qualities of leadership." said Elfriede Harth, spokesperson for the International We Are Church Movement (IMWAC) that issued the statement. The statement and list of endorsing organizations was sent in mid-September to all members of the College of Cardinals and to Pope John Paul II himself.

IMWAC is an international network of Church reform movements. DignityUSA President Miailovich was one of the American representatives at an October 1997 IMWAC meeting in Rome that gave impetus to the present statement and other collaborative efforts.

A copy of the statement in Spanish, and contact information for each of the endorsing organizations is available upon request.