Why We Stand Vigil: An Open Letter to John Paul II

December 17, 2000

We are here to protest Roman Catholic teachings and actions against homosexuality and homosexuals. We respectfully submit that these teachings and actions have tragic consequences in the lives of millions of people around the globe (Catholics and non-Catholics alike).

Church teachings declare homosexual orientation "objectively disordered" and loving, intimate acts "intrinsically evil." In recent days, the Vatican has declared same-sex unions "a deplorable distortion" and adoption by gay parents "a grave danger." The Vatican supports laws which deny us the right to employment, to housing, to equal government and employment benefits, to teach, to coach, to serve in the military, to adopt, to serve as foster parents or to marry the person we love. Millions of dollars of Church funds are being used in the US to support ballot measures that would deny gays their civil rights. Priests who defend their gay congregants (or even provide them pastoral care) are being silenced and even stripped of their ministries. While the HIV/AIDS epidemic rages, Roman Catholic teachings against safer-sex practices have become a public health hazard. The Vatican even refuses members of Dignity/USA the right to meet on Church property or be served the Eucharist by a priest.

These teachings and these actions by the Church suggest to the general public that at the core of their very being gays and lesbians are mentally ill; that their moments of sexual intimacy are condemned by God and a danger to society; that they are a threat to children; that their relationships are contemptible; that their presence in the military brings down morale and undermines discipline; that even God cannot love them as they are. And when the Church refuses to allow the openly gay and lesbian Catholics of Dignity/USA to meet on Church property or be served the Eucharist by a priest, the Church is saying "Go away! God rejects you and so do we."

If your teachings and actions imply that God rejects them and that you reject them, is it any wonder that their families and friends reject them, that they are demeaned by their classmates, fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, hunted down and hounded out of the military, harassed and taunted in the streets, and even killed by teenagers with guns and baseball bats?

We know that you believe sincerely that these anti-gay teachings and actions do not contribute to the current wave of hatred and violence against sexual and gender minorities. But we believe as sincerely that they help motivate that hatred and give license to that violence. Worse, those same teachings and actions cause lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics to hate themselves. When your teachings cripple the human spirit you are guilty of spiritual violence against the very people you are called to serve.

Our demand is simple. We ask you, Holy Father, to sit down with gay people. Hear their stories. Share their suffering. Consider seriously the evidence we bring that current Church teachings about sexual orientation are based on ancient prejudice, superstition and fear. We trust the Holy Spirit to guide you and ask only that you agree to seek the truth in Christ’s name and for His gay children’s sake.

Gandhi said, "It is as much our moral obligation not to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good." In the Spirit of Jesus who called us "to do justice, love mercy, and seek truth" if you refuse to hear us, we have no other choice but to resist relentlessly your teachings and actions against homosexuality and homosexuals. We begin with a call to Catholics to withhold their tithes and their talents from the Roman Catholic Church until these tragic teachings end. And we ask our friends and allies around the world to join us in this campaign to Stop Spiritual Violence by the Church against God’s gay children.

As we stand in silent vigil, we are praying that God will change your mind and heart. Please, Holy Father, hear us, reach out to us, and bring hope and healing to the Roman Catholic Church and to millions of God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. Until that day when you truly open wide the doors we will stand before them in silent, respectful vigil. We will fast and pray, risk misunderstanding and arrest, to see truth prevail and justice roll down like a mighty stream.

The People of Soulforce www.soulforce.org and Dignity/USA www.dignityusa.org