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 Washington, DC, April 8, 2002 — The Board of Directors of DignityUSA, the nation's largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) Catholics, met here this weekend and devoted much of its meeting to issues raised by the clergy sex abuse scandal unfolding in the Catholic Church. The following statement was issued at the conclusion of the Dignity Board's deliberations.

"As leaders of DignityUSA, we once again express our profound sorrow to all who have been affected by the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. In particular, we reach out to those who suffered abuse by priests, those whose complaints were disregarded or dismissed by bishops, and all whose faith has been shaken by the ongoing revelations of the abuses of power in our Church. We call on our leaders to respond honestly and fully to this crisis, to ensure that their actions are motivated by care for their people and consistent with Christian compassion, and to commit to comprehensive reforms that will prevent further harm to vulnerable people. We believe that all allegations of sexual abuse by priests or other Church personnel should be referred to the proper legal authorities for investigation in a timely manner, and that Church officials should cooperate fully with civil authorities in the resolution of criminal complaints at all times.

"DignityUSA is saddened and angered by continued efforts by some in our Church to deflect concerns about sexual abuse and the decades of cover-up by Church officials by laying blame for these problems with gay priests. We recognize and affirm the dedication and commitment of the many fine gay priests who have served and who, with integrity, continue to serve Roman Catholics around the world. A priest's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his ability to fulfill his responsibilities as a minister of the Gospel. We urge our Church leaders to ensure that their responses to the current crisis are consistent with this fact.

"The Board of Directors of DignityUSA reaffirms our belief that sexuality is a gift from God, and to the exercise of sexuality in an ethically responsible manner, consistent with DignityUSA's Statement of Position and Purpose. Further, we commend to our members DignityUSA resolution H-12-0885, affirmed in 1985, that states, in part, '[We], the members of Dignity, believe it is imperative to maintain an age of consent in order to exercise one's sexuality in an ethically responsible manner; further, we believe that children, during their formative years, should be free from undue sexual influence of a heterosexual or homosexual nature.'

"Finally, we commit ourselves to providing whatever resources and leadership we as DignityUSA can offer to help resolve this crisis in a way that builds a more just Church. As an organization, we have over 30 years' experience in creating small faith communities that nurture individuals who have been hurt or rejected by the Church. We have assisted tens of thousands of people to develop a healthy sense of sexuality that is based in Catholic values, and have advocated for the development of a more mature and realistic sexual ethic within our Church. DignityUSA is willing to share our experience with others. We extend this offer to victims and survivors of sexual abuse, to their families, and to our Church."

DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit, with members and Chapters throughout the US.