2005 Suggested Letter to Send to Your Local Bishop

Dear Bishop__________ (your local bishop)

(See the USCCB website www.usccb.org/bishops.htm for the name, spelling and address of your bishop)

As people faith who reside within your diocese, we are writing to you to express our concerns regarding the increasing attacks by the Catholic hierarchy against, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBTs) Catholics, and their families.

While we recognize the difficulties bishops face in speaking out against the ongoing campaign to paint LGBT’s as an evil, immoral force, we applaud those who stand against this bigotry. As one Roman Catholic Bishop so beautifully articulated, in his recent column, as he began a new ministry to welcome LGBT’s in his diocese, "How deep is our river of faith if we are not actively working to be sure that all are welcome in their own home — the home given to each of us when we became members of God’s family through baptism? … [W]ill we allow our hearts to grow if we simply lay aside preconceived notions of who does or does not belong? Jesus, loved all, lived for all, and died for all."

Historically, the Catholic Church has often been in the forefront of the struggle for justice for all God’s children. It deeply hurts us to watch as the Magisterial Church joins with other extreme religious groups, in leading the fight to deny civil rights to LGBT people. Surely, we could never imagine the USCCB trying to deny divorced people the 1,000+ rights and protections granted as benefits to those who are remarried under civil law. To promote denial of CIVIL rights, is contrary to the gospel of justice.

Last November as Soulforce stood vigil outside of the USCCB in Washington, D.C. they carried pictures of four people whose gifts to the Church have been outstanding, and, in many instances, even heroic. These four people, Fr. Henri Nouwen, Fr. Mychal Judge, Mary Moylan and Dr. Thomas Dooley are heroes and s/heroes, who just happen to also be gay and lesbian. They are but a few of the many in our "luminous cloud of witnesses" whose sexual orientation made them exiles within their own church. But Jesus was definitively clear – he welcomed and embraced the exiles.

This year Soulforce has called for the week of November 7 – 12th to be a "National Week of Prayer & Vigils." In response to that call, many of us will vigil at our local chanceries, seminaries and cathedrals to express our concerns regarding the scapegoating of gay priests and the continued diatribe against God’s gay children and their families.

We plead with you to have the courage to speak out against this ongoing demonization of LGBTs and to take a stand for justice.