By Lewis Speaks-Tanner, Dignity USA Vice President
On September 20, 2013, America magazine published a lengthy interview with Pope Francis. In reading the article, there were many points that LGBT Catholics will find hopeful. It is the second time the Pope has made gay-friendly or gay-affirming comments. Yes, his tone is a sharp contrast from the rhetoric of Benedict. Unfortunately, we have not seen any change in tone from our own bishops. In fact, just this August, Minneapolis Archbishop Nienstedt claimed Satan is to blame for gay marriage and condoms. Cardinal Dolan, being interviewed extensively after the America article, reminded us at every opportunity that the hierarchy has not softened its teaching on homosexuality using the same good old phrase, “love the sinner but hate the sin.”
Cardinal Dolan’s message does not match what Pope Francis has been saying. What is the message? Will the Pope be able to change the conversation away from gays, abortion, and contraception, and focus on the poor, marginalized, and those who have been disenfranchised?
As we move into a new season and greet the coming autumn, I am hoping our Church will move into a new season as well. I am hoping that Francis is serious about change and that there is a profound change throughout the hierarchy. I am hoping that there is a renewed focus on the poor and disenfranchised, and that lesbian women and gay men can marry without interference of the Church. And I am hoping that Church leaders will speak out when there is violence against LGBT persons.
Now that summer is behind us, life returns to normal. Days get shorter and colder. Another school year has begun. Routines are re-established. As DignityUSA saw the fiscal year end in September, there was a change in Board leadership. We thank outgoing Board members, Paula Lavallee, Mark Matson, and Linda Pieczynski, for their many years of service. We welcome newly elected Board members Mary Kaye Radtke and Ray Panas as they join the Board of Directors at our in-person meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.
This autumn will keep our Executive Director busy! Recently, Marianne and Jim Smith met with our Equally Blessed partners in Philadelphia. Then within a few days of that meeting, Marianne represented DignityUSA at the Women-Church Convergence, which celebrated its 30th anniversary. The DignityUSA Board of Directors will be meeting the following weekend.
DignityUSA’s work proudly continues as it has for the last 44 years. It will be quite a while before the more positive words of Francis are put into concrete action throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but until then we will continue to march forward.