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Letter from DignityUSA President Patrick T. McArron to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President, US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory
President, US Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20017-1194

October 23, 2002

Dear Bishop Gregory,

I am writing to share with you some of my thoughts and concerns regarding the current situation of sexual abuse.

Like you, I want to see justice served within our church and justice cannot be complete without the full recognition of culpability on the part of our bishops.  I seek justice for those who have suffered the pain of abuse, and of having seen their abuser shielded from swift accountability for his crimes. I want those who are accused of such horrible crimes to be reported to the civil criminal justice system, which has proven more capable of protecting the rights of victims and the accused than has our Church. I seek justice for all who feel betrayed by the Church and its leaders. It is very troubling that our bishops continue to deflect attention away from themselves.  It is equally troubling that gay priests as a group are being treated as the guilty parties when in fact that is not the case.  It is a known fact that pedophilia and homosexuality have no connection.

In addition, I seek justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, our families and our friends.  I need to point out that as long as the official position of the church is that homosexuals are "objectively disordered" and the expression of our love for one another is "intrinsically evil" then justice cannot be fully attained in our church.  It is unconscionable to me that such language is used to describe a human trait that is no more unhealthy or immutable than is one's race.

Need I tell you of the unnecessary pain that is inflicted with such demeaning and deplorable language?  Need I tell you of the suicides that have been committed because of this; or the lies that so many tell for self preservation including many of our priests, bishops and cardinals?  That many of our clergy are gay is no secret and it serves no good purpose to continue down a path of hypocrisy.

Truth and honesty, not lies and secrecy, are what the church faithful crave more than anything.

Surely I am not saying anything here that you do not know to be true in your own heart and mind.

In 1986 the doors of our churches were closed to Dignity across the country because we would not compromise on the issue of sexual expression.  Sixteen years later, and thirty-three years after its founding by a devoted Augustinian priest, Dignity is still ministering and still providing the healing pastoral care that all dioceses should be providing and most are not.

It is not the homosexual who should be seeking repentance but rather the church should be seeking forgiveness for having caused so much pain.  It is a sad irony that homosexual Catholics must seek spiritual support and the Eucharist within the walls of Protestant Churches.

I pray for the day when homosexuality will no longer be treated by our Catholic Church as a "condition" to be cured or to endure but rather embraced as one of God's many gifts to humanity. 

I pray for the day when homosexuality is no longer seen by our Catholic Church as a threat to family.  As one who has been in a committed stable relationship with another man for 30 years I believe I have something to say about what makes a family, and I know countless others who are in similar situations, including members of the Catholic Church.  Isn't it ironic that gay and lesbian couples are told that physical expression of love is reserved for those persons who are married and then told they can't marry or that lesbian and gay persons are accused of being promiscuous and then denied the structures that support stable relationships?  Equally ludicrous is the instruction that all gays and lesbians are called to a life of celibacy, even those who have joined in a lifelong committed relationship.

I pray for the day when the Church follows Christ's example of unconditional love and removes the ridiculous conditions it places on one's love for another.

I am deeply saddened and angry that some officials of our Church have used the sexual abuse crisis to increase their attacks on my community, and that they have chosen to focus their anger on gay men who faithfully serve the people of God as priests. As a matter of justice, this must stop. The Church has a sacred responsibility to correct its past errors, and to ensure that a climate permitting the abuse of its people will never exist again. To do this, the bishops must focus on finding and implementing real solutions. Scapegoating gay people does nothing to further these goals. I trust you will use your position to emphasize this at the upcoming meeting of the US bishops in Washington, DC.

I welcome the opportunity to meet with you in Washington DC during the USCCB meeting.

I await your reply.

Very Sincerely,

Patrick T. McArron, President
1500 Massachusetts Ave NW Suite 11
Washington DC 20005-1894

www.dignityusa.org   1-800-877-8797


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