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Gay Catholics Challenge Vatican Opposition to Decriminalization of Homosexualty by U.N.

Groups Say Vatican's Stance Amounts to Condoning Anti-Gay Violence

Boston, MA-Leaders of the Catholic groups DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry and Call To Action, spoke out today to condemn the Vatican's opposition to a proposed U.N. declaration that would lessen against the discrimination against of lesbian, gay and bisexual people worldwide.

The U.N. proposal, which is sponsored by France and backed by 27 European Union nations, seeks to end the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation.

The leaders of the Catholic advocacy groups said the Church's official statement against the proposal amounts to condoning anti-gay violence. "For too long, there has been a terrible conflict between the official Catholic Church's policiesy and pastoral practices as they relate to gay people," said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA. "Despite the good work being done in so many parishes, Vatican policies lead to our entire Church being associated with discrimination and anti-gay violence. It has sad, even tragic consequences for lesbian and gay people and our families."

"We are so disappointed that the leaders of the Catholic Church would object to protecting gay people from the often violent threats they face. Supporting the UN declaration against imprisonment or execution of gay people is exactly what the church should be doing," said Frank Francis DeBbernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry. "Our organization is committed to creating dialogue among members of the Catholic Church and I know from experience that the statements of the Church's leaders do not reflect the views of the majority of Catholics, who favor protecting gay people from life-threatening violence."

Call To Action, a group of 25,000 Catholics who seek to foster peace and justice in the Catholic Church and society, was equally surprised that the church would stand against such legislationa proposal.

"The Vatican should be committed to promoting the social welfare of all people worldwide and this official statement from the church flies in the face of that," said Nicole Sotelo, communications director of Call To Action. "The church should be striving to promote peace, instead of supporting state-sponsored violence against gay people across the globe."

During Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. in April 2008, DignityUSA held a prayer service outside the United Nations before the Pope's address to the General Assembly. During the service, those gathered asked the Pope to call on all countries to end state-sanctioned violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"There are nearly 70 countries where being gay is still a crime, and a dozen where being gay can result in the death penalty," said Duddy-Burke. "We believe that our Pope, our Church, with its belief in the sanctity of human life, should be leading efforts to end this most egregious form of oppression. Instead, our leader has chosen to stand with countries that continue to name us as criminals."

The groups are planning various responses as the plan is presented to the United Nations on Dec. 10, the 60th anniversary of the U.N. declaration of human rights. The groups will urge the Vatican to reconsider its stance on the United Nations plan. The groups urged individuals to express their own objections to the Vatican position.

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