On the morning of September 23, Dignity/Washington members Ray Panas and Daniel Barutta were among those gathered on the South Lawn of the White House, at the invitation of President and Mrs. Obama, to welcome Pope Francis on his historic first visit to the United States. Meanwhile, at the Human Rights Campaign building, a half a block from Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, several other Dignity/Washington members joined HRC members and allies to greet His Holiness upon his arrival in his iconic Fiat for a noon prayer service and address to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington and the U.S. bishops. Both the HRC and Dignity/Washington banners were on full display to be seen by the Pope and bishops as they arrived for the event. Dignity/Washington was proud of its prophetic witness that day. Later on October 17 at Dignity/Washington’s 43rd Anniversary Dinner, the Human Rights Campaign was awarded the Colfer Award for its support of Dignity/Washington’s activities during the Pope’s visit. Special recognition was given to Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera who so deftly assisted Dignity/Washington with logistics to make the presence occur.
On October 17 Dignity/Washington’s Center resounded with the festivities surrounding the chapter’s 43rd anniversary. The evening celebration included a silent auction, a pot-luck dinner, live entertainment, and the presentation of this year’s Community Service Awards. More information about the event can be obtained on the Dignity/Washington website at www.dignitywashington.org.
Incorporating ideas from an article she authored in Heterosexism in Contemporary World Religion: Problem and Prospect (edited by Marvin M. Ellison and Judith Plaskow, Pilgrim Press, 2007), Dr. Mary E. Hunt led off Dignity/Washington’s 2015-2016 Speaker Series on October 18. Not a stranger to Dignity/Washington, Dr. Hunt is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), based in Silver Spring, MD. Her talk, and the discussion she later led, focused on “Tensions and Trends Among Contemporary Catholics.