By Jack Cloninger and Al Levy
On Sunday evening, August 15, 2010, Dignity/Palm Beach gathered in the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church for our bimonthly Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. We were very privileged to have a guest con-celebrant, John J. McNeill, world renowned author and theologian, and one of the founders of Dignity/New York during the first year of Dignity’s existence. John wrote The Church and the Homosexual, a groundbreaking book of prodigious scholarship that debunked the Church’s anti LGBT moral theology and gave hope, direction, and self-respect to a generation of LGBT Catholics. John visited our chapter to give a talk on his latest work: Sex as God Intended. In addition to members and friends of Dignity/Palm Beach, several members of Integrity, the Episcopal Church’s outreach to LGBT folks, joined us for both the Mass and the talk.
After a beautiful celebratory liturgy, we convened in the parish hall for snacks followed by McNeill's talk. At the start, the quiet of the room allowed for the sound of a pin drop. John soon had the audience roaring with laughter as he outlined his thinking about the true nature of sexuality, its relationship to God and Christianity, and the coming “Church of the Holy Spirit.” After his talk, which was met with enthusiastic applause, John autographed copies of his books purchased by attendees. Everyone seemed reluctant to have the evening end as John patiently and sensitively answered questions. What a wonderful evening for our tiny Dignity chapter!
John McNeill is truly a patriarch of DignityUSA and the LGBT community struggling with the toxic theology that oppresses us. Many people consider him a modern day prophet, "speaking the truth to power." Like most true prophets, he has suffered greatly for it—having been expelled from the Jesuit order which he loved so much.
For the third time since our founding, Dignity/Palm Beach was honored and privileged to have the opportunity to hear this incredible, holy man in person. For this we are very thankful to God.
Fr. John McNeill and Fr. Ed Co-preside at Mass
Audience Gathered for John J. McNeill's Talk on Sex as God Intended
(L to R) Fr. Ed & Fr. John at Dignity/Palm Beach for Feast of Assumption Celebration