Priests/Deacons Ordered Not to Participate
Monday, May 12, 1997, Boston — In a letter sent to approximately 750 priests, bishops and deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston, Bishop William Murphy forbids Diocesan personnel to participate in the national convention of DignityUSA, which will be held in Boston July 10-13. Dignity is the national organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends. The letter advises priests that Dignity should receive no support because "they espoused a position contrary to Catholic moral teaching supporting that (sic) moral correctness of sexual relations between two persons of the same sex in a 'faithful and loving relationship.'"
DignityUSA President Marianne Duddy, a Boston resident, commented, "We certainly did not expect the support of the Archdiocese -- I think it's safe to acknowledge that we disagree on certain questions of sexual morality. However, this prohibition goes far beyond a lack of support. It's a clear statement that the Church in Boston refuses to even have dialogue with us. I would have hoped, in these days of the late Cardinal Bernadin's Common Ground initiative, we would be beyond this kind of pettiness.
"This letter also prevents local priests from exercising their own best pastoral judgment. The Dignity Convention will offer significant resources for priests seeking to better understand gay and lesbian Catholics in their parishes, for parents and family members of gay and lesbian Catholics, and, importantly, for gay and lesbian people who are struggling to remain connected to the Church. Bishop Murphy has effectively obliterated access to this resource."
Lourdes Rodriguez, another Boston resident and co-chair of Dignity's Convention Planning Committee, responded, "This letter shows precisely why Dignity has to exist. The Church hierarchy has refused to accept gay and lesbian people. The Dignity Convention is a place where people will feel embraced by a loving God, instead of rejected by Church officials. It makes the Convention even more important. Where else will the children of God get what they need?"
Dignity's convention features internationally known speakers such as Dr. Elizabeth Stuart, Chris Glaser, and Dr. Mary Hunt, and will draw participation from throughout the US and Canada. Comedienne Kate Clinton will perform a special show. In addition, the Convention offers nearly two dozen workshops on topics such as Pastoral Care for People with AIDS and the Role of Straight People in the Gay Movement. It will be held at the Park Plaza Hotel.
Dignity's Boston Chapter celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year. Chapter President Michael J. Leclerc expressed dismay about the letter from the Archdiocese, noting, "This is another example of how the hierarchy is out of touch with the people who are the Church. What a shame they felt the need to do this."
For more information about the Convention, whose theme is "We Are Called...Prophets to the World," call DignityUSA at 1-800-877-8797, ext. 4.