Chronology of the Soulforce Campaign with the Roman Catholic Church

Sept 16, 2000 – Letter sent to Bishop Fiorenza notifying him that Soulforce will be coming to Washington, D.C. in November for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Sept.24, 2000 – Response from Bishop Fiorenza

Oct 10, 2000 – Second letter to Bishop Fiorenza

Nov. 6, 2000 – Bishop Fiorenza responds

Nov. 13, 2000 – Bishop Fiorenza agrees to a last minute meeting with two bishops, a monsignor and a lay person to meet with two Dignity representatives and three from Soulforce. During the meeting the bishops consistently say they have no capacity to affect the teachings of the church and suggest we talk to the Vatican.

Nov. 14, 2000 – 200 people take part in Vigil outside the National Shrine – 104 arrested.

Dec. 18, 2000 – Mel White and Bill Carpenter fly to Rome and request meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger. Meeting refused. They meet with Roman police to explain direct action plans for Vatican. Learn that Roman police have never permitted a protest on St. Peters Sq.

Dec. 20, 2000 – Mel White and Bill Carpenter enter the office of Cardinal Ratzinger (by stealth). Ratzinger’s Aide accuses Soulforce of inflammatory language. Soulforce issues press release/webpage apology to Cardinal Ratzinger.

Dec. 21, 2000 White/Carpenter re-enter Cardinal’s office by stealth. Ask Cardinal’s Aide to issue similar apology. Security called. Soulforce delegation forced to leave the Vatican.

Jan. 2, 2001 – Soulforce and Dignity arrive in Rome with two dozen volunteers.

Jan. 3, 2001 – Soulforce brings gifts for orphans to St. Peters Square to have them blessed during Epiphany celebration. No one comes out to bless them; we deliver them to an orphanage outside of Rome

Jan. 4, 2001 Soulforce brings gifts for people with AIDS to be blessed. When no one comes out to bless the gifts we take them to an AIDS Ward at a Critical Care Hospital in Rome.

Jan. 5, 2001 – Soulforce brings gifts for battered women and children to be blessed – When no one comes, we take them to a shelter.

Jan. 6, 2001 Soulforce delegates bring pictures of themselves and Alfredo Ormando into St. Peter’s Sq. on the spot where Ormando burned himself to death to protest GLBT policies of the Roman Catholic Church: one of the first nonviolent protests ever in St. Peters Square. Three hour standoff with police. No arrests. Soulforce promises to return.

Jan. 15, 2001 – Following our experience in Rome, we call for a "Faithful Dissenters," campaign of withholding tithes and offerings from churches that oppress us.

Jan 21, 2001 – Catholic chair, Kara Speltz puts her first weekly Faithful Dissenters card into offering basket at her parish.

Jan. 28, 2001 – Second parishioner at Kara’s parish places Faithful Dissenters card into offering basket.

Feb. 4, 2001 – Kara is called into the pastor’s office and told that she will no longer be allowed to preach because of her protests at the Vatican and subsequent "Faithful Dissenter’s campaign

Feb. 11, 2001 3rd parishioner places Faithful Dissenters card into collection basket.

Sept. 19, 2001 – Soulforce sends letter to President of the USCCB requesting continued dialogue.

Oct. 15, 2001 – Soulforcees begin sending letters to individual bishops. Our website has 15 of these letters in the archives, https://soulforceactionarchives.org/

Oct. 31, 2001 – When no reply from the President of USCCB is received Soulforce writes a second letter.

Nov. 7, 2001 – Soulforce revises and updates their initial Critique of Natural Law Theology.

Nov. 11-15, 2001 – Approximately 3 doz. Soulforce volunteers stand in silent prayer in front of the USCCB meeting. No civil disobedience was planned for this action.

Nov. 26, 2001 – Soulforce sends a letter to the new President of the USCCB, Bishop Gregory.

Jan. 14, 2002 – Bishop Gregory refuses to meet with Soulforce, saying, "a dialogue on these matters would seem to serve no purpose at this time."

Aug. 22, 2002 Soulforce again sends letter to President of USCCB

Oct 22, 2002 Soulforce sends follow up letter to President of USCCB

Nov. 10, 2002 Soulforce begins silent prayerful vigils outside of the Hyatt Hotel, where the bishops are meeting.

Nov. 11, 2002 Soulforce continues vigils at Hotel and also outside the Shrine. Three Catholics attend Mass and attempt to receive communion and are refused. Soulforce volunteers meet to plan response.

Nov. 12, 2002 – Mel White writes an open letter to the Bishops in response to the refusal of Eucharist.

Nov. 12, 2002 Soulforce volunteers enter the Hyatt Hotel gather in the lobby where the bishops are just exiting a meeting. There are hundreds of priests and bishops in the lobby as well as news media, who are interviewing the bishops. The 3 who were refused Eucharist kneel down with outstretched hands and ask that they be given Eucharist. The priests and bishops scramble out of the lobby, leaving only the press and the security people, and Soulforce. The three refuse to leave and are placed under arrest for trespassing.

Nov. 13, 2002 – The three are arraigned after spending 30 hours in jail and told to return to D.C. Nov. 21st.

Nov. 21, 2002 – Trial of the D.C. 3 is set for Jan. 23, 2003, after the three decide to plead not guilty and take the case to court.

Jan. 23, 2003 – D.C. 3 return to Washington, D.C. for trial, but the case is put off 1/29/03.

Jan. 29, 2003 Trial of the D.C. 3. Bishop Gumbleton flies to D.C. to testify on behalf of the D.C. 3.

Jan. 30, 2003 Judge finds the 3 guilty, but refuses to sentence them, or even to bar them from the Hyatt Hotel, saying that the bishops need to hear their message. She ends the trial with the traditional Mass ending – Go in Peace!

Sept. 30, 2003 – Soulforce sends letter to Bishop Gregory President of USCCB, explaining we will again be at the USCCB meeting.

Nov. 9, 2003 – Silent, prayerful vigils start outside the Hyatt Hotel where the bishops are meeting.

Nov. 10, 2003 – Mike Perez and Kara Speltz meet with the two priests who refused them Eucharist last year. They are told that if they wear the rainbow cross they will be refused Eucharist again.

Nov. 10, 2003 – Soulforce volunteers pass out rainbow crosses to those attending the Mass and ask them to stand in support of LGBTs. Many of the volunteers attend the Bishops Mass and those wearing the rainbow cross are refused. Mike Perez decides not to wear the cross and is offered Eucharist but refuses it because others are being denied it.

Nov. 11, 2003 – Soulforce continues vigils and attends Peace Mass offered by Bishop Gumbleton

Nov. 12, 2003 – Soulforce ends vigils with a statement condemning the support the USCCB is giving to the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment.

Jan 23, 2004 Catholic Denominational Team writes Bishop Gregory and his successor. No answer is received

Jan. 23, 2004 Catholic Team writes individual letters to bishops who have indicated some support of LGBT issues. Several have responded and phone conversations have taken place.

May 26, 2004 Catholic chair writes Cardinal McCarrick a personal letter concerning the refusal of Eucharist.

June 7, 2004 Catholic chair renews discussions with one of the priests who refused her Eucharist, in an attempt to continue the dialogue. These discussions have continued at approximately once a month basis. At one point Cardinal McCarrick was reportedly considering a listening session during the USCCB to discuss the issue of LGBTs and the Eucharist. That has now been "postponed."

July 2004 Soulforce initiates plan to send out on a monthly basis, a card to every diocese in the country calling them to return to Gospel teachings, and to recognize the effects of their campaign to deny civil rights to LGBTs.

Aug, 2004 – Local groups start sending out letters to their local bishops asking that they rescind their support for the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Aug 18, 2004 – Soulforce calls for Nov. 9, 2004 to be a National Day of Prayer and Vigils.

Aug 25, 2004 – After numerous phone calls to Cardinal McCarrick’s office, we began discussion with the Cardinal’s secretary, regarding the denial of Eucharist at the Shrine. The dialogue is still continuing.

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