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Holds Pontiff in Prayer 
But Notes Serious Injustices Against Gay People During His Papacy

Washington, DC – The leadership of DignityUSA, the organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Catholics, marked the death of Pope John Paul II with prayer and reflection and called on DignityUSA members and Catholics everywhere to hold the Pope and the Church in prayer during this time of momentous change.

The leaders praised Pope John Paul II for his admirable efforts in inspiring unity and social justice for some of the poor and oppressed of the world and expressed gratitude for his consistent call for peace among nations in our violent world.

But during Pope John Paul II’s long papacy GLBT Catholics were demonized by Church leaders and made the scapegoat for weakened family structures in Western societies and for the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the church in the United States and in Europe. Under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican issued the now infamous “Halloween letter” in 1986 that resulted in the expulsion of DignityUSA chapters from Catholic churches, social halls, convents and other properties

“While we join millions around the world in earnest prayer for the Pope’s eternal salvation and the future of our Church, we remember that this papacy has used harsh and derogatory language such as ‘objectively disordered and intrinsically evil’  to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said DignityUSA president Sam Sinnett. “This Pope led the Church in teaching damaging misrepresentations about the health and holiness of our loving relationships — calling them part of an ‘ideology of evil’ — and about the raising of our children while covering up the real abuse of children and related abuse of power by some of John Paul II’s brother bishops and priests.”

The leaders of DignityUSA and other gay rights groups note that John Paul II also used his unique authority and power to advocate denial of equal civil rights and full legal protections for GLBT people in many sovereign nations, including the United States, Canada and the nations of the European Union. “He also misused his authority to stop even fellow cardinals and bishops from speaking for the obvious moral good of using condoms in the prevention of the spread of HIV,” commented Sinnett.

“We are saddened that John Paul II has left this life without having used his personal faith, intellect and authority to learn how God is speaking through GLBT people to spread the Gospel,” continued Sinnett. “We believe GLBT people have much to offer our Church in terms of our spirituality and our lived experiences and we will continue to offer those gifts as John Paul II offered his gifts to the Church and humanity.”

The Next Pope

Looking toward the future, Sinnett continued: “We believe the next Pope must address the sexual theology of the Catholic Church in light of current science and research. The Church's teachings on sexuality and personal responsibility are arrested in a juvenile stage. They show no respect for the moral development of individuals nor for God’s work in each of us in the development of our consciences and spiritual lives.  It is time for Vatican leaders to move beyond the limited view many hold of GLBT people. In this regard, we believe they must fully inform their consciences as moral law requires by seeking to understand the spiritual lives of GLBT Catholics, by considering the ongoing works of theologians and social science researchers knowledgeable about GLBT issues and relationships, and by exploring the genuine Gospel call of Jesus Christ to love and inclusion. We join Catholics everywhere as we pray that the Holy Spirit will continue God’s work in the world as the next leader of the Catholic Church is chosen.”

On behalf of DignityUSA members, the leaders of DignityUSA pledge to continue their witness to Catholic Church leaders in this country, to the Vatican and to our sister and brother Catholics in the pews that our lives as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics can and are being lived in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

DignityUSA is the nation's foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the country. DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and Society.