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A Call to Solidarity - Rome at Home

To: Dignity Chapters and Friends
From: Mary Louise Cervone, President DignityUSA
Date: December 18, 2000
Re: President's Email 0001-06: A Call To Solidarity – Rome At Home

An Invitation from Soulforce and DignityUSA

Dear Friends:

As you probably know, Soulforce and DignityUSA are going to Rome, Jan. 5th & 6th to take our demands to the Vatican to STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE. We need your prayers and support. We believe that having simultaneous prayer vigils throughout the country will draw much needed attention to the Vatican's continuing attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, especially GLBT Catholics. Whether it is just two or three of you in a dozen cities, or larger gatherings, the simultaneous actions will help to focus attention on our action to bring to the Vatican the truth about God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children.

Attached to this letter are the requests that we presented to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and will be presenting to the Vatican, called "Why We Vigil." You may also access "Why We Vigil" at http://www.soulforce.org/romevigil.html.

There are several things to keep in mind as you start to organize such a gathering, whether you are a member of the Catholic Church or not.

1) We are witnessing to the importance and depth of faith in the lives of GLBT people, despite centuries of oppression and discrimination. We love our churches and we long to claim our rightful place in them, openly and proudly, celebrating who God created us to be.

2) We do all things in the spirit of nonviolence. We come in love, seeking reconciliation in justice and truth. We are calling chancery officials and other Church leaders, to the dialogue that has been avoided for too long. We need them to understand the reality of our lives and loves, so that, together, we can bring about fullness of justice in the Church. We are willing to listen to them, person to person, to hear the truth that they bring, as well. This is the time to get past rhetoric and talk heart to heart and soul to soul.

3) Individuals participating in the "Rome At Home" vigils should be familiar with the principles of non-violence, as outlined on the Soulforce web page at www.soulforce.org. Please be sure they can participate in that spirit.

We are listing below three links to websites: DignityUSA, Metropolitan Community Church and a listing of gay-friendly Catholic Churches throughout the country. Please check out these websites, and make the connections in your local area, immediately.

Contact any other people of faith you know who would be interested in taking part; don't forget to include PFLAG members. Begin spreading the word. Use this opportunity to build a community of faith to respond to future situations that will need quick organizing. If you live in a city that has a chancery, call the chancery in your area as soon as possible. You can probably find them listed under the "Diocese of ______(whatever city you are in). Check at this link to see if your city is a diocese http://www.nccbuscc.org/dioceses.htm – National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference.

Ask for an appointment for the evening of Jan. 5th, if it is available, to emphasize solidarity with those who are going to be in Rome, and explain that is why you would like to meet on that date. However, any good faith effort to provide a meeting within a reasonable time frame should be respected. If they refuse to meet with you, do not be deterred. Make plans for your group to go to the chancery offices and "tape" the demands to the doors of the office. If you do not live in a city that has a chancery office, find another suitable site to hold your prayer vigil.

Contact your local gay and straight media now to let them know about your plans. Be sure to tell them that this will be happening in conjunction with the actions at the Vatican and throughout many cities in the U.S.

Below is a suggested prayer service for you to consider. On Friday, Jan. 5th (the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, and the official end of the "Year of Jubilee") go to your local chancery office, hopefully meeting with some representative, but if, as we said earlier, their doors are shut, then tape the demands and the apologetics to the door in the presence of the media. If there is no chancery office then simply hold your prayer vigil.

Within two weeks, follow up with this action by calling together those who have been a part of this organizing project and debrief and see if there is an interest in keeping the group active.

Please be sure to let us know what you are doing. Send your information to Kara4Peace@AOL.com no later than Dec. 31st. If you do not have your information together by that date, send it to Karen Weldin at Karen@cwis.net.

Last of all, don't forget to pray for those of us who will be in Rome and for all of us who carry this important message to the Church. If you have any questions, please contact me at Kara4Peace@AOL.com.

In the spirit of love and nonviolence,

Kara Speltz,
Catholic Co-chair, Soulforce Advisory Committee for NCCB/Vatican Actions

Mary Louise Cervone
President DignityUSA



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