October 22, 2010-Boston, MA.--DignityUSA, the nation's largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics and our supporters, is shocked and saddened by the actions of San Antonio Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu, who ordered a local parish to stop hosting a weekly Mass for gay and transgender Catholics and their families. The letter, dated October 13, 2010, ordered the liturgies to end as of October 18, 2010.
"This is a very sad day for a community of Catholics who have worked very hard to hold onto their faith in a church that is often hostile to them," said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA's Executive Director. "There has been no attempt at dialogue or discussion with the people affected. The bishop just sent a letter of expulsion to a pastor who has tried to respond to the needs of local Catholics. How can this be consistent with the teachings of Jesus?"
Duddy-Burke continued, "Bishop Cantu no doubt believes that he is upholding Church teaching with this action. But the Catholic Church has long taught that the bishops are not the only source of theological truth. That truth also comes from the people in the pews. The people of Dignity/San Antonio know in their hearts that they are living their lives in a way that honors the teachings of Jesus. And we know from many different polls that most of the Catholics in the United States and increasingly around the world have come to agree with them. This is not just the fashion of the day or an embrace of secular values. Rather, it is an embrace of the deepest Catholic and Christian values of love, inclusion, and the fundamental dignity and goodness of all people as they have been created by God."
Fred Anthony Garza, the President of Dignity/San Antonio said, "Our community was shocked to arrive for Mass and discover this was the last time we could meet at the parish that has been our home for more than 15 years. It's like being kicked out of our home. We are all very sad. It's especially sad for the members of our community who have children, who could not find Catholic parishes who would baptize or provide First Communion for them. Those children have grown up in our community, and can't understand why their family cannot go to Mass here anymore."
Garza continued, "Our faith teaches us that the Church is a community of people, not a building. So we will continue to meet in a more welcoming environment. There are many people who believe that the Catholic Church needs to do a better job of providing care for lesbian and gay people and our families. We are committed to continue offering Mass, education, and social support that helps people keep practicing their faith, despite not being able to do that in a Catholic space anymore."
Dignity/San Antonio, the local chapter of DignityUSA, has provided Mass for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their supporters in the San Antonio area since 1976. The organization has also been active in local peace and equality efforts as a member of the interfaith organization PRO-San Antonio and conducts monthly food drives for Hope Action Care, a local organization that provides services to poor and homeless people. "It's important to us as a community to find ways to live out our faith," said Garza. "We will continue to do this work no matter where we meet to pray."
While deciding on a permanent location, Dignity/San Antonio has accepted an offer of temporary hospitality from the Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. The Chapter will meet there effective Sunday, October 24 at 5:15 P.M.