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Gay Catholics Move Forward Under New Leader

San Diegan Patrick T. McArron Brings 30 Years’ Experience to Presidency

July 5, 2002 — DignityUSA, the nation’s largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) Catholics and their supporters, has announced that its new President is Patrick T. McArron of San Diego, CA.

McArron, who joined Dignity in 1972, just 3 years after its founding, has been a leader in the movement for over 30 years. He has served as President of the San Diego Chapter of DignityUSA, and was one of the first Regional Directors elected to the organization’s national Board of Directors. He served on the organization’s first national Board from 1977-1979 as Director of Dignity’s Pacific Region. After returning to regional and local leadership during the 1980s and 1990s, Pat returned to the national Board as DignityUSA’s Vice President, a position in which he has served since 1999.

McArron said, "I am honored to be assuming leadership of DignityUSA at this eventful time in our history. The GLBT movement and the Catholic Church have never needed us so much as they do now. Dignity is the only organization able to both provide fully affirming ministry to GLBT Catholics and our families, and to challenge those structures and teachings, especially in the Catholic Church, that try to maintain the oppression of our community.

"Right now, the Catholic Church clearly needs models for how to deal positively with sexuality and power. It needs to be able to minister effectively to people who have been abused and betrayed. DignityUSA has 33 years of experience doing all of those things. We are truly in a leadership position, and have a great deal to offer all people of faith who search for justice," McArron continued.

"My priorities for DignityUSA include increased pressure on the bishops of the Church to hold themselves accountable for their past transgressions and to be completely open and honest with the people of the Church. The bishops still need to apologize for their scapegoating of gay priests, and for the incredible damage done to innocent people by their mishandling of the sexual abuse crisis. I will emphasize the importance of involving our families and friends in the work of eliminating hateful, ignorant rhetoric that demeans and demoralizes GLBT people."

McArron’s predecessor, Mary Louise R. Cervone of Philadelphia, headed the organization for three years. She steps down after strongly challenging bishops and cardinals who blamed the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on gay priests and leading DignityUSA’s witness at the US Catholic Bishops Conference meeting in Dallas. Other highlights of her term included four-days of demonstration at the Vatican in Rome, to protest the Pope’s harsh statements against gay people that ended with a historic sit-in in St. Peter’s Square, and guiding DignityUSA’s transition from a focus on coordination of local services to national ministry and advocacy.

McArron assumed the Presidency of DignityUSA on July 4, 2002.

DignityUSA is the nation’s oldest and foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, our families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit with members and Chapters throughout the US.