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March 16, 2007 –  DignityUSA President Sam Sinnett sharply criticized the decision of Archbishop Harry Flynn of Minneapolis to forbid the celebration of Mass at an upcoming conference on homosexuality and Catholicism sponsored by New Ways Ministry, an organization that seeks to build bridges between the Catholic Church and the gay and lesbian community.  According to conference organizers, about half of the more than 500 registered conference attendees are priests or nuns, while the rest are mainly Catholic lay people involved in professional ministry or the parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people.  Three are Catholic bishops, one of whom was apparently scheduled to preside at the conference’s Mass.

Sinnett stated:  “Archbishop Flynn’s decision to deny the Eucharist to this gathering of faithful and committed Catholic leaders is both dismaying and outrageous.  His actions inherently contradict the role of Christ as Good Shepherd the Archbishop is ordained to imitate. The Good Shepherd always sought out the lost or marginalized and condemned the powerful religious authorities who legalistically lorded their power over those to whom they were called to minister.  By denying the Eucharist, Archbishop Flynn seeks to deny the gift of Himself that Jesus so generously left us to share in remembrance of Him. We urge all who gather for this conference to celebrate the Eucharist together as planned, as is their baptismal right.

Sinnett continued: “The actions of many Catholic officials to deny the Eucharist to faithful GLBT Catholics, and to those who seek to better form their consciences on related issues, seems to be on the rise. It began in 1986, when DignityUSA chapters began to be thrown out of their Catholic parishes and off of Roman Catholic Church property. GLBT Catholics responded to this forced exile by seeking asylum in other churches, and still do today. We have found legitimate ways to receive the sacraments that our Baptism -- and Church canon law -- entitle us to. This is a sad time in the history of our Church. We weep at this waste of our Church’s moral teaching authority and at this willful ignoring of Christ’s love and pastoral care for all.”

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 the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and society.