U.S. Activists Will Risk Arrest on Saturday, January 6, in St. Peter’s Square

Soulforce-Dignity/USA Delegation To Intensify Their Resistance to Anti-Gay Teaching

Soulforce and Dignity/USA Press Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Email: soulforcemedia@aol.com
Rome Contact: 011-39-3807052353

(Rome, Italy) Soulforce and Dignity/USA volunteers plan to cross the police barriers on Saturday to St. Peters Square, carrying pictures of themselves to represent the gifts gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals bring to the church and demanding that the church stop its spiritual violence against them.

A delegation of 24 activist leaders will intensify their weeklong vigils on Saturday, January 6, 2001, in protest of the anti-homosexual teachings and actions of the Roman Catholic Church.

The group plans to wait at the Square in front of the Nativity on Saturday until they are blessed by a Vatican official or arrested by police. The group came to Rome bearing gifts for orphans, people with AIDS, and battered women, requesting that a Vatican official bless their gifts. After three days of vigils, no blessings have been offered. Up until now, the group has cooperated with the police.

"It is time to stop supporting our own oppression. Saturday, we will refuse to move when asked by police. We will ask Catholics, straight and gay alike, to withhold tithes and offerings until the anti-gay teachings end and to stop their spiritual violence against us," said Rev. Mel White, Executive Director of Soulforce.

Immediately after the confrontation, Mary Louise Cervone, President of Dignity/USA will attempt to present a list of demands to Cardinal Ratzinger at The Congregation of The Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to stop spiritual violence against gay Catholics. If denied access, the demands will be taped to the gate inside St. Peter’s Square leading to the CDF office.

WHAT: A historic act of non-violent resistance at St. Peters Square: arrests are anticipated

WHERE: St. Peter’s Square, inside the barriers in front of the Nativity

WHEN: January 6, 2001 at 2:00 pm

WHO: Faithful Dissenters from the United States, protesting the anti-gay teachings and actions of the Roman Catholic Church

WHY: To launch stage two of the Soulforce Stop Spiritual Violence Campaign: withholding tithes and offerings until the anti-gay teachings end

Media is invited for interviews and to walk to St. Peter’s Square on Saturday with the delegation, starting at 1pm at the Hotel Spring House, Via Mocenigo 07, Rome.

Soulforce is an interfaith network committed to applying the principles of nonviolent resistance as taught by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities. Dignity/USA (www.dignityusa.org ) is the oldest and largest independent national lay movement of GLBT Catholics, their families, and friends.

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