December 19, 2000
An Invitation from Soulforce and Dignity/USA
As you probably know, Soulforce and Dignity/USA are going to Rome, January 5 & 6 to take our demands to the Vatican to STOP SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE. We need your prayers and support. We believe that having simultaneous prayer vigils throughout the country will draw much needed attention to the Vatican’s continuing attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, especially GLBT Catholics. Whether it is just two or three of you in a dozen cities, or larger gatherings, the simultaneous actions will help to focus attention on our action to bring to the Vatican the truth about God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children.
Available on the web site are the requests that we presented to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and will be presenting to the Vatican, called "Why We Vigil."
There are several things to keep in mind as you start to organize such a gathering, whether you are a member of the Catholic Church or not:
- We are witnessing to the importance and depth of faith in the lives of GLBT people, despite centuries of oppression and discrimination. We love our churches and we long to claim our rightful place in them, openly and proudly, celebrating who God created us to be.
- We do all things in the spirit of nonviolence. We come in love, seeking reconciliation in justice and truth. We are calling chancery officials and other church leaders, to the dialogue that has been avoided for too long. We need them to understand the reality of our lives and loves, so that, together, we can bring about fullness of justice in the churches. We are willing to listen to them, person to person, to hear the truth that they bring, as well. This is the time to get past rhetoric and talk heart to heart and soul to soul.
- Individuals participating in the "Rome At Home" vigils should be familiar with the principles of non-violence, as outlined on the Soulforce web site. Please be sure they can participate in that spirit.
We are listing below three links to websites:
Dignity/USA, Metropolitan Community Church and a listing of gayfriendly Catholic Churches throughout the country. Please check out these websites, and make the connections in your local area, immediately.
http://www.dignityusa.org/chapters.html– Dignity/USA – Local Chapters
http://www.ufmcc.com/dircongs.htm– UFMCC GLOBAL DIRECTORY: UFMCC LOCAL
http://www.bway.net/~halsall/lgbh/gayparishes.txt– Gay friendly Catholic Churches
Contact any other people of faith you know who would be interested in taking part; don’t forget to include PFLAG members. Begin spreading the word. Use this opportunity to build a community of faith to respond to future situations that will need quick organizing. If you live in a city that has a chancery, call the chancery in your area as soon as possible. You can probably find them listed under the "Diocese of ______(whatever city you are in). Check at this link to see if your city is a diocese http://www.nccbuscc.org/dioceses.htm – National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference.
Ask for an appointment for the evening of January 5, if it is available, to emphasize solidarity with those who are going to be in Rome, and explain that is why you would like to meet on that date. However, any good faith effort to provide a meeting within a reasonable time frame should be respected. If they refuse to meet with you, do not be deterred. Make plans for your group to go to the chancery offices and "tape" the demands to the doors of the office. If you do not live in a city that has a chancery office, find another suitable site to hold your prayer vigil.
Contact your local gay and straight media now to let them know about your plans. Be sure to tell them that this will be happening in conjunction with the actions at the Vatican and throughout many cities in the U.S.
Below is a suggested prayer service for you to consider. On Friday, January 5 (the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, and the official end of the "Year of Jubilee") go to your local chancery office, hopefully meeting with some representative, but if, as we said earlier, their doors are shut, then tape the demands and the apologetics to the door in the presence of the media. If there is no chancery office then simply hold your prayer vigil.
Within two weeks, follow up with this action by calling together those who have been a part of this organizing project and debrief and see if there is an interest in keeping the group active.
Please be sure to let us know what you are doing. Send your information to Kara4Peace@AOL.com no later than December 31st. If you do not have your information together by that date, send it to Karen Weldin at Karen@cwis.net.
Last of all, don’t forget to pray for those of us who will be in Rome and for all of us who carry this important message to the Church. If you have any questions, please contact me at Kara4Peace@AOL.com.
In the spirit of love and non-violence,
Kara Speltz, Catholic Co-chair,
Soulforce Advisory Committee for NCCB/Vatican Actions
Mary Louise Cervone, President
SUGGESTION FOR PRAYER VIGIL IN SUPPORT OF SOULFORCE/DIGNITY ACTION IN ROME:
SONG: O Healing River
READING: Ezek 36: 24-28
I will take you away from among the nations gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers and mothers, you shall be my people and I will be your God.
SONG: Amazing Grace
READING: M.L. King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham City Jail
But the judgment of God is upon the Church as never before. If the Church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early Church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the Church has risen to outright disgust.
Maybe again, I have been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual Church, the Church within the Church, as true ecclesia and the hope for the world. But again, I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom.
Brief chance to share our responses to the readings.
Lighting of Candles and Presentation of "Why We Vigil" to the Chancery.
SONG: We Shall Overcome