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News Archive (2014)

One Church, Two Synodal Gatherings

As this issue of DignityUSA Dateline goes to press, in two cities more than 5,000 miles from each other, flights will be landing, hotels will be checked into, local hosts will undergo a final flurry of preparations as Church leaders gather to pray, deliberate, and work for the future of our Church. In Rome, Italy, this gathering will be the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a gathering of the bishops who head most of the worlds’ national bishops’ conferences, papal advisors, and a few carefully-vetted laypeople who will work to create the agenda and foundational documents for a follow-on, larger Synod that will occur, again in Rome, a year later. This too, will be a gathering of bishops (although many more), papal advisors, and carefully-vetted laypeople.


by Jim Smith, Associate Director, DignityUSA

It only takes a split second for me to recall the terror I felt nearly every day of my teenage years. What terror? Quick, guess.

Yep, the terror of being known by my peers as a “fag.”

Are those days of terror over for kids in 2014? Don’t bet on it. There’s still a good bit of self-shame to go around, encouraged by any number of folks, including one’s peers, fellow Catholics, Catholic leaders, and the content of some of the Church’s teachings.

Remembrance of Deenie Dudley

​by Kathy Healy

Deenie Dudley, one of the Foremothers of Dignity, died suddenly on August 16, 2014 following an emergency surgery for an aortic aneurysm. Deenie was 67. A few dear friends were with her as she passed peacefully. She died as she had lived, on her own terms, making her own decisions to the end.

An Open Letter to the Members of St. Leo the Great Parish, Lewiston, Montana

                The Body of Christ in your parish has suffered a great wound. The removal of Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick from their parish ministry roles because they got married has torn your community, and put you on the front lines of the struggles for justice in our Church.

Filed under: 

A Nation’s Tipping Point: A Time to Talk

By James and Evelyn Whitehead

Time Magazine provided the official announcement: the cover story, with a picture of Laverne Cox, transgender member of the Orange is the New Black series, declared: “The Nation’s Transition.” (June 9, 2014) In the previous months citizens of many vocations—scientists and novelists, priests and professors—were coming out as trans- gender members of society. Old prejudices were dissolving; laws of non-discrimination were multiplying.

Trans Information

1%: Approximately one-percent of persons experience themselves as gender-diverse, that is, as not conforming to traditional categories of exclusively masculine or feminine. This may be so small a percent as to be irrelevant: “what has this to do with me?” But if I myself or my child or my spouse or a sibling is included in this percentage, this is no small matter. Because of widespread cultural sensitivity concerning gender, these persons are often seen as marginal—misfits or outcasts.

Forsaking the Normal: Biblical Tales of Transformation

We go to the Christian Scriptures for guidance in our moral lives. What are the norms we should follow? In search of the normal, we instead find the Bible telling endless stories about paradox, reversals of fortune, and transformation. Yet, convinced that diversity represents defect or signals deviance, we cling to the belief that the normal will keep us on the straight and narrow. The church conspires in this longing, interpreting biblical passages (“male and female God created them”) to insist on a normal that admits no variance.

Graceful Bodies and the Play of Gender

It is you who formed my inmost parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139)

Catholics of an earlier generation were taught that as infants we begin life already marked by original sin. This wound, we learned, stains the soul and is registered in the body, particularly in the lustful urges that may lead to sins of the flesh. We begin life as damaged goods.