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DignityUSA Urges Catholic Bishops to Keep Homosexual Ministry Pastoral Letter Intact and Concentrate on Implementation

Washington, DC, November 10, 1997 — DignityUSA is alarmed about efforts both inside and outside of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) to rescind or negatively amend the October 1 pastoral letter, Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. The Committee on Marriage and Family of the NCCB issued the statement.

"The pastoral statement and its recommendations are not all that we would hope for, but the letter provides significant, positive pastoral assistance in ministering to gay and lesbian people and their families. It emphasizes the loving, inclusive embrace of Jesus Christ. Since the letter's release on October 1, DignityUSA has received many reports from parents and friends who find the letter's pastoral guidance and compassion enlightening and reassuring," said DignityUSA President Robert F. Miailovich. He went on to say, "We strongly urge the bishops who are holding their annual conference this week in Washington, DC to resist any efforts to withdraw or water down the letter. The pastoral guidance offered in the letter is not a 'new' Church theology, rather it is a message that too often in the past has been ignored or not applied to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics. We believe that this is not the time to repeat or dwell on the severe legalisms that all too frequently are seen as the sole focus of ministry. Instead, today we are urging the Catholic bish ops of the United States to listen to the appreciative voices of parents and friends of lesbian and gay children, to implement the letter, and to follow their heart."

DignityUSA Executive Director Charles L. Cox said: "We will be at the Washington, DC bishops meeting to talk with as many of them as possible about the need to focus attention on the implementation of the recommendations to parents and ministers in all the dioceses and parishes of our country. The pastoral guidance offered by the letter cannot be allowed to fall on deaf ears. DignityUSA, its chapters and members stand ready with our assistance and participation. Our hand, like that of the bishops' letter, too is 'outstretched' to share the message of the lived experience of our lives."

Founded in 1969, DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and their families and friends.

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