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Gay Catholics Respond to Bishops' Pastoral Letter to Parents of Homosexuals: Sign of Progress but More Needs to be Done

Washington, DC, October 1, 1997 — DignityUSA welcomes the pastoral letter, Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to the Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministries, issued today by the board of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference. This pastoral letter is a positive step and we commend the bishops for their improved sensitivity to the issues which confront parents and their lesbian and gay children, but all is not perfect," says DignityUSA Executive Director, Charles Cox.

While this pastoral letter has been in development for five years, and does not break any new ground theologically, it does demonstrate greater pastoral sensitivity. Robert Miailovich, President of DignityUSA said: "The document points out the real dangers that confront gay and lesbian youth. It also offers some very practical advice to both parents and pastors. Our hope is that all bishops, pastors and parents will take it to heart and that we will see improved ministry to our community. Since its founding in 1969, DignityUSA has been working for improved pastoral attention to the real lives of gay men and women. The bishops' letter recognizes some of these needs and our task will be to hold them to their words."

Miailovich went on to say, "Though the letter is very pastoral, we continue to be disturbed by the bishops' continued distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity. This is a distinction that makes little sense to us and will be a stumbling block in the way of any effective pastoral program seeking to encompass the letter's recommendations. Further, the letter still leaves parents without guidance on how to respond positively to their children's same-sex relationships." Charles Cox also went on to say, "The most serious fault we find with the letter is the incomplete explanation and view it provides regarding chastity. Dignity believes that expressions of love, including sexual intimacy between two individuals of the same sex, can be morally acceptable."

Cox also said, "Today, however, DignityUSA is pleased with the tone and content of Always Our Children. Our hope is that this letter is only the beginning of a more open and fruitful dialogue between gay men,lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons and the Catholic Church. Dignity looks forward to meeting the 'outstretched hand' of invitation offered by the bishops."

The bishops' letter is especially timely in light of DignityUSA's sponsorship of Lesbian and Gay History Month throughout October and of Solidarity Sunday on October 5, 1997. On that day, Dignity urges all people to wear a rainbow ribbon marking their solidarity with each other, rejoicing in our diversity and praying that all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation may experience justice, peace, and love.

DignityUSA is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender individuals and their families and friends.

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