Dignity/Seattle Contact: Leo N. Egashira, 206/723-4759
The membership of Dignity/Seattle, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) Roman Catholics, voted overwhelmingly on September 22 to disassociate itself from the Seattle Archdiocesan Catholic Gay/Lesbian Ministry and to leave St. Joseph Catholic Church on Seattle's Capitol Hill, where it has held weekly Masses for the GLBT community, their families and friends, for over 21 years.
The decision was prompted by the Archdiocese's opposition to Dignity/Seattle's increasingly gender-inclusive and same-sex relationship affirming ministry.
The Catholic Church holds that the homosexual orientation itself is "objectively disordered" and that any gay sexual expression is "intrinsically evil." Further, the Church holds that only sexual relations conducive to procreation within marriage are acceptable. DignityUSA and Dignity/Seattle believe that GLBT people can practice their sexuality in a loving, life-giving and life-affirming manner that is consistent with Christ's teachings.
The Archdiocese of Seattle and Dignity/Seattle have also long been at odds over a statewide GLBT civil rights bill. Dignity/Seattle has consistently supported this legislation, whereas the Washington State Catholic Conference, of which the Archdiocese of Seattle is a part, has consistently opposed it.
Dignity/Seattle spokesperson Leo Egashira stated that, "In order to stay on Catholic Church property, we have had to compromise our struggle for full and equal rights for GLBT people in church and society. It's been like an ecclesiastical version of 'Don't ask; Don't tell.' That is, 'don't ask too many questions and don't tell about your relationships with those you love.'
"There has even been a ban against using our name: Dignity. By moving off church property, we intend to realize a vision of a prophetic Catholic Church that is fully gender-inclusive and supportive of gay and lesbian relationships. We want to provide spiritual growth in the Catholic faith tradition, conduct commitment ceremonies among our members and foster the creation of families in our community."
Egashira further states, "It is only by living our lives as gay and lesbian Catholics and speaking out against all forms of injustice in the Church that change can be brought about. It is hypocritical and demeaning that the Archdiocese of Seattle can, on the one hand, claim to have an effective ministry to GLBT people, while on the other hand, refuse to support laws giving us equal rights to jobs and housing. How can the Church possibly minister to gays and lesbians in a credible and effective manner when it refuses to support our basic human rights?"
Egashira also made it clear that Dignity/Seattle has nothing but gratitude and respect for St. Joseph Catholic Church, its pastor and its parishioners. "They have courageously welcomed Dignity/Seattle and the GLBT community at their church for over two decades and have unfortunately been caught in the middle of this struggle," he said.
As a result of the decision by its members, Dignity/Seattle will begin holding weekly liturgies and prayer services every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. at Ravenna United Methodist Church, 5751-33rd Ave NE, Seattle, beginning on October 7.
Dignity/Seattle is a chapter of DignityUSA, one of 70 throughout the country. For further information, please visit http://www.dignityusa.org.