On 3-28-98 AMERICA magazine published an article by Eric Stoltz, entitled "Notes From A Community — Catholic and Gay".
DignityUSA President responded to the article. An edited version of this letter appears in the April 18, 1998, edition of AMERICA.
April 2, 1998
106 West 56th St.
New York, NY 10019
Eric Stoltz' "Notes from a Community--Catholic and Gay" (America 3-28-98) provokes a mixed response from those of us working for the education and reform of our Church in its ministry to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. I am happy that Mr. Stoltz and apparently many other people have been able to find a home in his parish church. Yet he notes the absence of women from his community and the significant number of formerly Catholic gay men who are now feeding their spiritual needs in other denominations. He notes the struggle against the imperfections of the church, but does not name the stumbling blocks that prevent the replication in other churches and communities of the positive advances in his parish. He describes a church where gay couples bring up the gifts for Eucharist, but where a "don't ask, don't tell" way of life prevents the church from blessing these gay unions.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Stoltz does not share the names of others in his community or even the name of his parish a name that is so widely and well known that one has to ask whether it is omitted to really protect somebody or more as artifice. We are pleased that DIGNITY is mentioned the only name given in the article. However, I hope that there was no intent to somehow unfavorably juxtapose the described parish community with the various DIGNITY communities.
DIGNITY is working throughout the United States to assure that there are many more welcoming and affirming faith communities for gay and lesbian people. We are working to make real the Church's teaching that homosexual persons are to be accepted with dignity, compassion, sensitivity and respect. We are working to implement the Church's teaching that all forms of unjust discrimination are to be gotten rid of. We are working to assure that Mr. Stoltz' parish does not stop and rest on its laurels, but that it continues to make even more progress. DIGNITY is proud to be so sufficiently out that we can be named on behalf of the all-too-many persons who still suffer from an impaired sense of self-esteem because of inadequate or inappropriate Catholic ministry. DIGNITY invites all people to join us in our efforts of education and reform, regardless of their individual parish affiliation or situation. To the extent that our Church has made progress in improving its ministries to sexual minorities, DIGNITY with its 29 years of effort is willing to take and does claim credit.
In the meantime, let us remember that high church liturgies, with silver encrusted lectionaries and multiple acolytes in robes, may be artistically pleasing to some people and maybe even inspirational to some, but they are not essential . One has to challenge any ministry to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people if that ministry, for example, does not include woman among the robed acolytes or does not seek to use inclusive language. I hope that the liturgies sponsored by our DIGNITY chapters are all both inspirational and sensitive to the "liberal agenda".
Robert F. Miailovich, President, DignityUSA